I like that there's no such thing as 'casual' combat in this game. The Watchers could put you on your butt if you don't play smart.
But the way I play open worlds? I like to explore, get all the collectibles, get all the side missions before I do anything serious with the main story arc. I did the same thing with the Arkham series.
But HZD, you come over a ridge, and suddenly find yourself nose to nose with a Thunderjaw, and at least five other assorted metal… Just like that, you're fighting for your life in several different directions.
It wasn't a boss battle, it wasn't a mission objective, I was just… caught, while going for a jog. The fight lasted for at least five minutes, and it didn't let up or slow down the entire time.
And I won. I feel like mounting the thing's head on my wall. Take it back to the hunting Lodge, buy the other hunters a pint, and tell stories of glorious combat!
I've never come out of a random, open world battle with a spawned foe, and needed to take a few minutes to gasp for breath the way I do with this game.
I actually set my controller down to recover for a minute. On the screen, Aloy was hunched over, hands on her knees, breathing hard. Yeah; no kidding, gorgeous.
I need to craft some more… everything.