During a preview event hosted by Sony in Paris, DualShockers had a chance to check out Horizon Zero Dawn‘s expansion The Frozen Wilds, which will in a few days to a PS4 near you.
The expansion isn’t a sequel to the main game, but it’s actually set in parallel, opening a large new area named “The Cut” to the north of the map. It also adds a whole new questline centered on a mysterious force that is affecting the machines and a lot of side quests. According to Guerrilla Games, it offers at least fifteen hours of additional content.
The Cut is seamlessly connected to the original map, forming a larger open world, and it comes with a snowy landscape that is basically perfect to play during the Holiday season. It’s populated by the Banuk, a tribe that is exotic even by Aloy’s standards. They’re warlike and fearless, laser-focused on fighting and surviving in the harshest possible conditions.
As shown by their definitely temporary structures, the Banuk are a nomadic tribe. They’re ready to take off and carry their belongings with them at a moment’s notice. Life in the north is definitely harsh.
The Cut is without a doubt the most beautiful area in the game. It’s dominated by a giant volcano, and the billowing smoke rising from the crater, often illuminated by electric discharges, is a sight to behold. While the expansion doesn’t include large sweeping visual upgrades, new snow effects have also been added, adding a further degree of realism. Conversations with NPCs also received a facelift, including better motion capture, better overall animations, and improved camera work.
The snow itself, and the harsh weather conditions create vistas that will probably have the most creatively-oriented players spend several hours with the photo mode.
As Aloy delves into the territory of the Banuk, she’ll learn about the Daemon, but to find out more, she’ll have to track down a missing shaman and things will end up being more difficult than they appear. The problems will be accentuated by the fact that the culture of the Banuk, unforgiving and lacking empathy for the weak, is definitely at odds with Aloy’s personal beliefs. This conflict appears to be a recurring theme during the story.
We’ll also have to fight new machines, including the lethal scorchers, which carry a deadly mine-launchers that can deploy a large array of explosive devices. Skilled players will be able to rip the weapon off the machine’s back and use it against its former owner.
There are a lot of new sidequests, including one that will grant Aloy the ability to upgrade her spear. The development team made a conscious effort to improve the rewards received from quests throughout the expansion, including new modifications, weapons, and armor. A new currency has also been added, that can be spent to acquire even more rare loot.
Players will also be able to unlock a whole new skill tree alongside the three we already had: the new set of skills is called “Traveler,” and it includes many quality-of-life abilities like “Mounted Pickup,” that lets you gather resources and loot without dismounting. The “Shard Salvager” skill allows you to deconstruct equipment and items, getting back half of their value in shards. “Expert Carver” increases the chance of receiving rare loot. “Hoarder” increases your inventory capacity. “Dismounting Strike” lets you leap off your mount and kill smaller machines in one blow, while larger ones will receive considerable damage. Of course, there are plenty more.
Interestingly, another innovation brought by the expansion is the presence of a lot more chances for Aloy to fight side-by-side with companion NPCs. This offers new tactical situations that were not present with this degree of depth in the original game.
While it’s early to give a final judgement on the quality of the expansion, I think it’s safe to assume that the many who loved Horizon Zero Dawn are in for quite the treat.
Horizon Zero Dawn: The Frozen Wilds launches on November 7th, exclusively for PS4. The base game is, of course, already available. If you’re unfamiliar with it you can check out our review.