Horizon: Zero Dawn has received its first major expansion with The Frozen Wilds. Is it worth shelling out a little extra cash for? We took a look.
When Guerilla released Horizon: Zero Dawn it felt like they had once again delivered a showpiece game for a new console. They did it with their Killzone titles for the Vita and PS4, and Zero Dawn did more or less the same for the Playstation 4 Pro. Even though the facial animations weren’t quite up to the level we’ve seen elsewhere, it was gorgeous to look at. The Frozen Wilds, in many ways, is more of the same – with a few tweaks here and there.
Seamlessly integrated with the main game (you can tackle the challenges in The Frozen Wilds at any time, though I’d strongly advise against using it as a tutorial mission), the new expansion’s main draws are a brand new (snow-filled) land to discover and the new characters that inhabit it. There are new weapons, enemies and other items to encounter as well, but for me it was the location and the characters that felt like the most significant changes.
While exploring The Cut, which is what the new region is named, you’ll quickly run into the Banuk, a tribe you will help in uncovering a few secrets while going up against the Daemon, a new foe. Speaking of which, Horizon’s huge mechanical beasts make a return as well – with memorable designs including wolf- and bear-inspired behemoths who fit the snowy new locales perfectly.
The Banuk, as well as the other new characters in the expansion, feel like they’ve been given a tad more personality than the characters in the base game. Although the facial animation system hasn’t changed, their dialogue feels livelier and more personable this time around. This is a change for the better, as you’ll frequently interact with these characters. This is partly due to the main quest lines, but also because of the side quests you will undertake in order to acquire precious gems you can use to buy upgrades.
Many of the new weapons in the expansion are merely upgrades of what you’re already familiar with, so combat doesn’t change radically because of them. The same can be said of the new skill tree that’s available – and based around traveling. I felt like the skill tree mainly introduced all-too-familiar RPG elements to the game, like the ability to carry more stuff or turn unwanted inventory items into credits (in the form of Horizon’s familiar shards).
The Frozen Wilds is, like I mentioned, really more of the same – but luckily that means it’s more of something that was already excellent. It might not be enough to entice former players to come back, but it makes the full Horizon: Zero Dawn package even more appealing to new and current players.