Electronic Entertainment Expo 2016

Horizon: Zero Dawn the standout game

In this action role-playing game, players control Aloy, a young redheaded hunter who leaves her tribe to discover the truth behind the fall of humanity, in a universe a thousand years in the future.
In this action role-playing game, players control Aloy, a young redheaded hunter who leaves her tribe to discover the truth behind the fall of humanity, in a universe a thousand years in the future.PHOTO: SONY COMPUTER ENTERTAINMENT

Horizon: Zero Dawn was one of the marquee titles at the PlayStation booth at E3, and for good reason.

The PlayStation exclusive was one of the most innovative, refined games on the show floor, set in a vibrant post-apocalyptic world which felt familiar and alien all at once.

Developer Guerrilla Games created a universe a thousand years into the future, when mysterious mechanical creatures walk the land.

In this action role-playing game, players control Aloy, a young redheaded hunter who leaves her tribe to discover the truth behind the fall of humanity.

In the demo at E3, we got to interact with some basic robots, such as Watchers (velociraptor lookalikes), Broadheads (mechanical bulls) and Shell-Walkers (crab-like creatures with crates on their backs).

Aloy fights such creatures with primitive weapons, such as ropes, different types of arrows, and explosive traps. Some of this ammunition can be crafted from materials found in the world.

Combat is fast-paced and strategic. Many creatures have a weak spot that can be exploited, or defences that need to be overcome.

As many of them can deal heavy damage if a blow lands, players have to keep Aloy constantly on the move, exploiting terrain to stay out of reach or rolling out of harm's way.

Some robots can be hacked and tamed, a new feature that was revealed at E3. During the demo, I used ropes to tie down a Broadhead, before hacking it and using it as a mount to cover long distances more easily.

Aesthetically, Horizon: Zero Dawn is a story of contrasts. The visuals are a mishmash of the primitive and futuristic, with tribesmen in wooden guard towers looking out over complex, intelligent machines.

The game's sound stood out the most for me in the demo. Like the game's visual aesthetics, you get a picture of polarity with the sound too. Combat is a cacophony of mechanical grinding, tearing and electrical sizzling, layered over a quiet background rustle of dried leaves and the chirping of birds.

Horizon: Zero Dawn was one of the stars of this E3, and looks set to also be one of the biggest titles on PlayStation 4 next year.

Lisabel Ting

•Release date: Feb 27, 2017

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 22, 2016, with the headline 'Horizon: Zero Dawn the standout game'. Print Edition | Subscribe