I'm around 20 hours deep, level 21, just cracking the complexity of combat and how to multitask different elements and mods. I've been astounded by the presentation so far and exploration is a real joy. So I'm headed toward the day tower, following the main quest line, but deviate to hunt down a metal flower at what appears to be a dead end mountain trail heading north. I climb up a vertiginous slope, overlooking a still lake, near an abandoned village. Scrappers hold the high ground above me but I make short work of them and continue the ascent. As I begin to crest the mountain pass a storm whips up around me and the ground shakes, a sawtooth is prowling the path between myself and the flower. I plant my traps and draw the beast toward me, in a few tense moments it collapses, sparking, in the snow. I harvest the flower. Rather than head back I decide to see if the path ahead is a dead end…The rocky pass is blocked by the white of the storm and as I walk forward the sun breaks the clouds and I'm stood on a cliff top path looking out across red plains and huge canyons. To my left, far in the distance the shape of a vast citadel, glinthawks circle in the middle distance. My world, Aloy's world, explodes in scale. The green valleys behind me seem tiny in scale and the sense of adventure that lead me this far turns into pure wonder.
This is technology in service of art. I've played many games, but few that seamlessly tell me new stories every time I play and with such efficiency and style. My new favourite open world adventure by a long way.