I have officially reached the point of old-man decrepitude where shoveling the driveway – after a not-all-that-terrible snowstorm, for that matter – renders me immobile for at least 24 hours. Everything hurts. My back is totally fucked up, of course, but even the palms of my hands hurt. I took a personal day yesterday, because I could barely move. I can sorta move, now, but very slowly.
Anyway, my worries about not being able to finish Horizon: Zero Dawn before starting Mass Effect: Andromeda may have been ill-founded. I think I’m approaching the home stretch, as far as the main questline is concerned. I’m somewhere around 70% complete, I think:
- I’ve done quite a lot of the errands and side missions, though I’ve avoided the hunting, because that can wait;
- I’ve found all the “vessels” and ascended all the tallnecks; there are two other large sets of collectibles and I may or may not go after them;
- I’m one power cell away from unlocking the best armor in the game, which is supposedly so powerful it’s nearly game-breaking. I’d like to get that and mess with it before it gets nerfed in a patch.
As noted in my previous writeups about HZD, it is difficult for me to avoid comparing it to other, similar open-world games, especially when there are certain things that it does that are directly lifted from its inspirations. I mean: Aloy’s detective/tracking missions are as close as you can get to Witcher 3 without copyright infringement; and the tallnecks are essentially large, mobile Far Cry 4 towers. There are certain environmental platforming sequences that are straight out of Tomb Raider and/or Uncharted, though in fairness they are much shorter and Aloy is far more nimble and agile than either Lara or Nathan.
And yet, and yet, and yet. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that HZD is pressing all the right buttons for me. I adore this kind of game – the large-scale single-player open world adventure. It handles the open-world thing just right by guiding you gently, making quests easy to find, and making fast-traveling super easy; and while there’s always a sense of forward momentum, it’s also easy enough to turn off the HUD and simply explore the wilderness. There might not be as many nooks and crannies to uncover as in, say, Witcher 3, but as a result it’s also far less overwhelming. And the world itself is staggeringly beautiful; it can be difficult to stay away from the game’s Photo Mode.
I’m not yet at the story’s end, and there’s enough ambiguity in the story to keep me from guessing exactly how it will end, which is good! I mean, I know who the big bad guy is now, and he will get his comeuppance, and I’m sure the final boss gauntlet will be something of a pain in the ass, but still: if there’s room for a sequel, consider me signed up.
And if nothing else, I’m grateful that HZD is as good as it is, because it’s making it that much easier for me to ignore Zelda. I’m sure I will succumb to the hyperbole eventually, but for the time being the Switch is all but impossible to buy, and next week is Mass Effect, and then eventually we’ve got Red Dead 2, and… well… I can keep myself very pleasantly occupied for the time being.