So I've now finished, and platinumed, Horizon Zero Dawn. So what do I think?
The Witcher 3 is one of my all time favourite games. I've spent over 300 hours in that game and its DLC's. I'm also probably one of the very few people ever who do not like the Hearts of Stone DLC. I admit I haven't played TW1 or TW2, but when I first played TW3 it was on the easy setting. No knowledge or expectations really, and it seemed a bit stiff in the beginning. There was something in the story that kept poking my attention. Yeah, yeah, this is about Horizon, right? Well, yes, but bear with me, I'll get there.
TW3 was an adventure. I wasn't just part of a generic story, but shaping it as I went along. It was my actions that determined how things would turn out. I was herding the story like a flock of sheep. In control most of the time, and then all of a sudden not at all anymore.
Hearts of Stone was a great story, but to me, it wasn't a great game. The adventure was gone. The story was a book. I was there to turn the pages, and progress to the next chapter.
Blood and Wine finally returned me to the adventure. The flock was smaller. It wasn't as complex, but there was an adventure all the same. I could go off to a few side missions and not just having it feel like a pause in the story. It also brought things to a conclusion.
So why all this about The Witcher? There are many similarities between TW3 and Horizon Zero Dawn, but they're also very very different games.
It's a beautiful world. There is a multitude of variation, from forests and snowy mountains to jungles and deserts. Side quests and characters enhance the world even further. None of that is what makes Horizon a great game.
Horizon has an astonishing story. I won't really mention much of it, but it's very good. But the story isn't what makes Horizon a great game either.
The story in Horizon is fairly linear. It's already written. I'm not there to create the story. I'm there to unravel it. And THAT is what makes this game one of the greatest, most amazing ones ever. It doesn't make me want to read a good story. It's not a book. It makes me want to not only find out what content of the story is, but it makes me want to find out how to find the content. The adventure is the finding, not what is found.
This is then beautifully constructed using the varied world, the side quests, characters and everything else. It strives towards exploration of more than just an open world. It rewards curiosity. It keeps you cautious and on your toes. The first time I saw a Thunderjaw, I just said, nope, I'm not going that way. I'll take the longer route. Does that mean a Thunderjaw can't be dealt with? No, of course not. Does it mean it was too much that time? Probably not, but I didn't know. I choose to be careful.
So is it a perfect game? No, there are issues. They are minor. Things not reacting when you move through them. Outfit changes during cutscenes. Waypoint guides being tricky to follow sometimes. Minor things.
It took me 80-85 hours to get through the story and most of the side quests, and obtain the platinum trophy. It never felt rushed. It never felt slow.
CD Project Red and The Witcher 3 gave me a story from an adventure. Guerrilla Games and Horizon Zero Dawn gave me a story from curiosity.
No other game has managed what Guerrilla Games did with Horizon. That's why I'm now inclined to consider this the best game I've played, ever.