Horizon Zero Dawn 2—or whatever title Guerrilla Games decides on as the name of their highly-anticipated sequel to 2017 GOTY-nominee Horizon Zero Dawn—is something that fans of Horizon can’t stop thinking about. The first game ambitiously juxtaposed a dystopian setting with a primal society in which the natural world was devastated by vicious machines. Although many were skeptical at first, Guerrilla really delivered, creating a fantastic game that delighted many players all over the world.
Not so long ago, for one of my first ever PSLS articles, I wrote about the reasons as to why Aloy is a great contemporary video game protagonist. Although many readers labelled me an “SJW feminist,” I feel inclined to point out that not once in that article did I mention Aloy’s gender or compare her to other protagonists based on theirs. Aloy, as a person, is a phenomenal lead, and although some found her boring, I personally thought that she was established as a morally-sound and ambitious heroine. I, for one, can’t wait to see how her story continues in Horizon Zero Dawn 2.
I am aware that many people won’t have played Horizon Zero Dawn, so I’m not going to get into the ins and outs of the narrative or discuss the ending in this article. I will, however, say that there is so much potential for future installments that it seems the making of a sequel is an absolute certainty. The Frozen Wilds DLC attests to this, too, as Aloy’s story features many pages that remain to be unwritten. Also, there are tons of characters in the story that could become as memorable as Mass Effect‘s Thane and Dragon Age‘s Morrigan if they’re given room to do so. The foundations are there, so Guerrilla will definitely continue to build.
As a means of introducing those to the series without spoiling and plot details, I’ll just comment on some of the features of Horizon Zero Dawn that made it a worthy contender for GOTY in 2017. If it had been a less-stacked year, it likely could have won, but with titles like Breath of the Wild and Persona 5 to compete with, Horizon Zero Dawn had a full house while Zelda held a royal flush. A great hand—one of the best—but even great hands can lose out to the one-in-a-million best hand.
Horizon Zero Dawn does some things better than the majority of games. In particular, though, two things stood out to me, both of which can be attributed to the power of Guerrilla’s Decima engine—which, by the way, is being used for Hideo Kojima’s Death Stranding.
First of all, the visual integrity of Horizon Zero Dawn is a spectacle that truly attests to the power of the PlayStation Pro. In Horizon, it’s easy to forego objectives in favor of just exploring the beautifully vivid game world. Filled with gorgeous fauna and terrifying machines, the game features landscapes that juxtapose metallic tech with picturesque natural scenes, as Tallnecks traverse the game world through the desolated remains of former cities and Glinthawks soar through the skies beneath an alien stratosphere. There were many occasions during which I spent hours at a time exploring the colorful world of Horizon, with nothing to do and nowhere to be.
Perhaps most impressive of all, though, is the game’s combat system. I feel obliged to commend it here ahead of Horizon Zero Dawn 2 because I genuinely can’t offer and meaningful advice on how to improve it. If you can, please do in the comments, as I’m keen to hear what people think could be improved on a system that’s already second-to-none. Horizon holds its own against combat-oriented games like Bloodborne, Dark Souls, and Nioh, with intuitive controls and fantastic level-scaling. After getting used to the game’s controls, you’ll be able to take down an invisible Stalker with finesse and precision, knowing exactly where it will strike from and how to strike first.
With larger enemies, fights are prolonged, necessitating tons of skill and perseverance in order to endure. That’s one thing I would like to see in a sequel—more types of enemies. Horizon had loads, don’t get me wrong. I do think, however, that because all of the enemies in Horizon were so interesting and unique, adding an even larger array of machines could make the next title incredible. Even the human enemies in Horizon exhibit an uncanny AI that makes them feel like actual threats, unlike the mob-based bores of too many games.
All in all, Horizon Zero Dawn was one of the most innovative RPGs I’ve played in years and I look forward to seeing what Guerrilla can produce next. With a talented team, an incredible engine, and everything that they learned from the first game, I have no doubt in my mind that Horizon Zero Dawn 2 will earn Guerrilla yet another GOTY nomination when it comes out—only this time, they might have a royal flush of their own.