Horizon Zero Dawn: The Frozen Wilds – Review

Horizon Zero Dawn was released earlier this year on PlayStation 4 and was an absolute masterpiece. It is going to be in the game of the year discussions for sure and now there is some more content for you to sink your teeth into. Horizon Zero Dawn: The Frozen Wilds adds on another area to an already expansive map and, like the name suggests, the whole area is frozen with snow coming down almost everywhere. At times it can be a bit hard to find the path you are looking for due to the snow but the map definitely helps with that and I couldn’t help but to marvel at how great everything looked in this expansion. When I would leave the beaten path to try and take a shortcut or whatever I loved seeing how my footsteps affected the environment. It looked just like it does when you try to make your way through snow in real life. The environmental elements are really well done and can make for some pretty awe inspiring vistas, especially if you pair those with the game’s photo mode.

The Frozen Wilds has a new story for you to go through with a familiar routine. One thing I will point out is that the missions for this DLC are always either under “side quests” or “errands”. After you beat the main story in Horizon Zero Dawn the game puts you back in the world right before the final mission. So with that being the case the “main” mission will always be listed as that last, final battle. So please keep that in mind and don’t get confused because you won’t ever see missions for this DLC in the “main” category. I mentioned familiar routines up above and if you have gone through the game before playing this DLC you should immediately recognize everything that you see. I will say though that this DLC has been tuned for people who have reached a character level of 30. During my initial playthrough earlier this year I maxed out at 50 so I was good to go and even then there were definitely some times I was challenged in combat.

This new area of the map has some new towns and some campfires all over the place where you can save your progress. There are also a couple of new collectibles to find if you are someone who wants to try and do everything and get all of the trophies. These new collectibles include animal figurines and pigments. You will also run across something new to the game called a control tower. The basic story of The Frozen Wilds is there is this Daemon that is causing a bunch of trouble and it is your job to figure out what is going on and to try and stop it. Going through the new environment you will come across these control towers which help heal machines as well as turn them into something more violent than they already are. So with that being the case you need to take care of these towers in one of two ways. If you want to you can run right up to a tower and override it using your spear so that the tower stops transmitting signals to the machines in the area. Keep in mind there are machines usually around the tower so it isn’t as easy as just running up to the tower in question. The other option is keeping your distance and shooting the tower from afar. After a few well placed arrows the tower will explode and stop transmitting. Either way you need to get rid of these towers.

Going through the DLC I didn’t really notice any new enemies. Some of them might have had a different name, such as the frostclaw, but they are the same enemies I encountered while I was going through the main game. Keeping with the familiar theme you will also have to do something with a Tallneck, there is a new bandit camp to raid and another hunting ground that you will eventually want to visit. There is also something else making a return as well but I’m not going to go into specifics as you don’t find out about it until you get towards the end of the DLC and I try to keep my reviews spoiler-free when possible.

As you go through the story there is the overarching situation that I mentioned above but there are also some underlying stories as well. You will learn about a tribe and how they approach certain situations. They touch on the connection between a brother and a sister at some point and how duty can get in the way of relationships. It is a fascinating thing to see how different groups of people even within the same tribe approach different situations due to different beliefs. You will come across a cast of new characters that you will want to help out and you will be rewarded for your kindness. There are some new weapons in this DLC as well as some new skills added to the skill tree. The level cap has also been raised from level 50 to level 60 so you will always be working towards leveling up your character and trying to get the best possible weapons. There are new outfits and everything for you to wear as well but during my time going through The Frozen Wilds I kept my Shield-Weaver outfit on due to its damage-absorbing force shield that saved me on more than one occasion.

The region that you are exploring with this Frozen Wilds expansion is called The Cut. It is a harsh environment full of dangers and like I mentioned above, don’t even think about entering this area until you are at least level 30. You can, of course, but I think you would quickly regret that decision. Perhaps it was just my time away from the game not having played it much since I got the platinum earlier this year but the battles in this DLC seemed to be more difficult than I remember from the main story. This Daemon that seems to be controlling everything seemed to have super charged some of these enemies and it took me a little while to get back into the Horizon Zero Dawn groove. It took me an hour or two but once I did it was like riding a bike. I was switching between arrows in the heat of battle whenever I needed to or if I was running low I would quickly craft some more ammo. I was whipping through the menus and tackling challenges as they appeared. During my very first fight with one of big machines I got completely destroyed. It quickly snapped me back to the realization that Horizon Zero Dawn does not play around. You can not run into a battle without a plan and expect to survive. After that wake up call I was back to strategically picking my battles and avoiding others. If there was some tall grass around I would crouch down so the enemy couldn’t see me and I would fire my arrow and then relocate. I quickly got used to using my Focus again and would either target my enemy so I didn’t lose track of him or highlight their path so I could plan out the best possible spot to launch my attack. The thrill of the hunt remains in The Frozen Wilds and it is fantastic, just like it is in the main game.

Going through this new content you can see that Aloy looks as good as ever. In fact the majority of the characters you come across look pretty damn amazing. The team over at Guerrilla Studios has done a great job on this once again. The voice acting is really well done and Aloy still has her sharp wit and won’t hesitate to use it if she doesn’t agree with something. The snow falling on her looked fantastic and the crunching sounds of her walking through the snow sounded just like it does in real life. There were quite a few times where Aloy would remark about how cold it was in that environment and by the time you get to the end of the DLC you have probably heard her say everything multiple times. It would have been nice if she could have had some more variety in this aspect but that is a minor complaint.

Horizon Zero Dawn: The Frozen Wilds is a great addition to the main game. The new area fits seamlessly with the rest of the world, as does the new story and characters. If you were a fan of Horizon Zero Dawn you should really enjoy this new content. If you weren’t a fan, however, then this won’t change your mind. I did appreciate how it filled in some holes for some of the characters you met during the main story though and I eagerly await the sequel to find out even more. If you would like to learn a bit more about Horizon Zero Dawn be sure to read my review from earlier in the year by clicking here. If you are on the fence about whether or not you should pick up The Frozen Wilds I highly recommend you do. It is a pretty big piece of content that weighs in at around 12 hours or so. If you are someone who wants to try and do everything though then you should definitely eclipse that time. This is another solid effort by Guerrilla Games and I can’t wait to see where the franchise goes next.

Score: 9/10
Originally posted on Gaming Target

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