Victory!

Happy Weekend TAY! It is a long-weekend around these parts. I don’t have much in the way of plans but there is a giant arts and crafts festival downtown that we might attend. Every year is CRAZY-busy at this event, so we haven’t committed to the idea yet. It might also be fun to just stay around the house and play some Rock Band in the evenings.

I *finally* finished Horizon: Zero Dawn. Spikespeigel pointed out two weeks ago that it seems I have been playing Horizon for forever. I started playing in the third week of June and with all the events around here this summer I’ve only been able to play sporadically. 68 hours is what I clocked in actual playtime. That’s quite long for this type of game, though it won’t take most people five weeks. I’m not sure it needed to be quite that long, though, I did spend a lot of time completing most of the side missions and collection tasks.

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One of the things that impressed me the most with Horizon: Zero Dawn was the smooth progression of your character’s abilities. In Far Cry 3 and 4, you could quickly grind for most of the skills that weren’t tied to the story missions and end up being severely overpowered for a good chunk of the game. While I never focused on specifically grinding XP in Horizon, I did almost end up at the level cap of 50 when the game ended. While I felt powerful at the end of the game, I never felt super-powered and that is a rare thing in games nowadays.

The “Very Hard” difficulty setting was pretty good in the end. Stealth is overpowered so general travel rarely becomes lethal, but there were a few sections and bosses that had me repeat them several times. The final boss was particularly satisfying and vicious.

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I don’t know if too much Far Cry has rubbed me a little raw for this type of gameplay, but I wasn’t completely blown away with Horizon. It was a great game to be sure, but it didn’t hit that maximum fun-factor for me. Like many stealth games, it has a level of tedium that really shouldn’t have a 70-hour runtime.

The story was great but the presentation bugged me a little by having dungeons and cities as giant narrative hubs that take a LONG time to sift through. I dislike most conversations that root me in general, so these story filled areas felt like a chore.

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When the game decides to allow me to move and listen at the same time, this introduces another irritant for the story presentation. During playback of audio-logs, if your character comments or you are having another conversation, the game just layers the conversations on top of each other instead of pausing one. This, of course, makes it impossible to understand anything that is being said in any of the conversations.

Once all the talking was out of the way, there were some great experiences in Horizon and the map exploration was loads of fun with the tight controls. I enjoyed just traveling the lands, taking in the sites, and hunting the creatures that dwelt there.

I wish I could have used mounts more often, but not being able to collect resources while riding really ruins the flow of the game. This issue needs to be addressed with mounts in many games. I never want to ride in games as it immediately becomes annoying when you have to collect resources. The upcoming DLC could use a resource collection-bot like the Dholes you can tame in Far Cry Primal.

Horizon: Zero Dawn is definitely one of the prettiest PS4 games and makes a good case for HDR. I missed the 60fps I was getting in Uncharted 2 on PS4, but performance was solid overall at 30fps.

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The sound was absolutely one of the best features in Horizon. The well acted main cast (there are some stinkers in the general NPC pool) gave great performances. Sony continues to prove that great voice actors can make a huge difference in the quality of their characters.

The overall sound quality is amazing and gives your subwoofer a good workout. I think this is also the first game that made me appreciate a well-calculated echo effect. Every sound in Horizon seems to have been meticulously picked to be pleasant to the ear and to allow sound to be used as one of your senses in the game.

I’m definitely looking forward to the upcoming DLC.

The rest of last week saw lots of gaming as well. My kid and I continued on with Yoshi’s Woolly World, my wife and I have started Uncharted 3, and I am now on to Titanfall 2. I imagine all of those are on tap for the weekend. What a great summer!

So, what are you playing this (long) weekend?