I’d love to write at length about Horizon Zero Dawn: for me it is that rarest of breeds, a game that lives up to the hype. I played at bit when it launched at midnight, and as much as I could yesterday. All told I have about 9 hours into it and I’m loving it. Sadly for me, you’re spared from my walls of text because I have to go to work very soon. Still I needed to say SOMETHING about it.
I also don’t have a lot of good media to share. I’m playing HZD on an HDR TV and it looks absolutely stunning, but the downside of HDR (on the PS4 anyway) is that something goes wonky on the trip from live gameplay to screenshot or video cap. The color palette gets munged up and screenshots tend to look too dark (though not always), and video look like you’re watching them through a colored filter. I’ll have to turn off HDR to capture some good media but man, I don’t want to. The lighting in particular is amazing. Sometimes a sunbeam slices through the trees and is so bright that your instinct is to shield your eyes.
So if I only have time to talk about one thing, I’m going to talk about the health system because it feels a little unusual. Protagonist Aloy (brought to life by the talented Ashley Burch and of course Guerilla artists and animators) has a health bar. Below that health bar is another bar representing her medicine bag. As you travel around you’ll forage for plants. Some of these have medicinal value and they go into the medicine bag, which causes that second bar to fill up. At any point you hit Up on the D-Pad to heal yourself. In non-lore terms, the medicine bag bar represents a reserve of hit points that you can use to refill your health bar. The catch is that it takes time
and you have to hold that button down while [I don’t know how I’d convinced myself you have to hold the button down but today I tapped it by accident and my health bar filled up, so scratch that ‘hold the button down’ bit] while the health flows into Aloy. It can be hard to find time to heal this way in battle.
But there are also health potions. While not instant, these are a lot faster to use. They reside in the tools menu. You push left< ->right on the D-Pad to select an active tool, then Down to use that tool. Aloy will pause briefly to quaff the potion so you still need to pick your moments, but generally health potions are for in-combat healing and the medicine bag is for out of combat healing.
Health potions can be purchased from vendors or crafted from meat that you get from hunting organic wildlife (so far I’ve hunted raccoon, fox, rabbit, turkey, fish and boar) and there are not only health potions but elemental resistance potions and things of that nature. Initially you can only carry a couple of each type of potion and of course they require the prep time of remembering to buy or craft them. (Being prepared for combat is a big part of HZD.)
So there you have it, one tiny aspect of the game that struck me. As I said, I could go on and on, but duty calls. Loving the game so far, though. It gets a big thumbs up from me.