Horizon Frozen Wilds

I am not usually one to buy DLC.  Well, perhaps if we’re talking about actual content.  Quality stuff.  Adding an extra car chase, or a different mode (like in the Batman games) just isn’t doing it for me.  Full-on extra work on an already great game… XCOM and Pillars of Eternity are good examples.

I make no secret that I really enjoyed Horizon Zero Dawn.  I think it’s the best PS4 game this year (and probably the best overall since I don’t have a Switch).  It is a near perfect game and when an expansion was announced, I was hopeful it would keep pace.

Frozen Wilds is an improvement on the macro of the game, while keeping the hyper-polished micro in line.  You still shoot a bow and run around (or on mounts), but all the enemies a whole lot harder to take down.  That super armor you get in the base game doesn’t have a whole lot of use here.

You can get some new weapons (close range and distance) that change a bit of the combat tactics.  If you can manage to draw the bow for maximum output, you deal more damage.  If you can’t, then it’s a lot worse than the best bows in the base game.  This means that you need to be a whole lot more tactical in combat rather than just unloading an entire quiver.

You get a few new skills, mostly about being mounted and a slight increase in inventory space.  Which is doubly ironic since mounted combat still has weak controls, and the inventory issues deal more with multiple stacks of the same item rather than too much stuff.  That said, due to the increase in enemy hit points, I found myself going out of stock on materials for the first time in the entire playthrough.

All the normal base enemies are here, though slightly upgraded with more power, health, and resistances.  They are accompanied by a dozen or so towers that continually restore their hitpoints, making some fights insanely hard if you’re not focusing on the right target.

Some new additions are here are too.  The Scorcher is a super fast robot cat that can shoot mines… very similar to the Stalker.  He’s so fast that the new bows are almost useless against him.  You need to take off his mine layer and take him out that way.  The Frostclaw is a giant frozen bear.  Where Thunderjaw was a huge threat from range, these guys continuously charge you, and throw all sorts of frost attacks.  When you first meet them, you’re really underpowered.  Even at max, they are a heck of a challenge.

Finally, the Fireclaw.  Here’s a video of the first time you fight one.

I died a half dozen times here, and I was really well geared.  The video above uses much worse gear than I had, and a different set of tactics.

The main story quest follows the Banuk up in Yellowstone.  I think it’s a better and more tightly written story than the main one, where the same characters are seen for the 8 hours it took for me to play through.  That consistency, and the fact that they accompany you on the quests, really helps sell the relationships between the NPCs.  The lore aspect of the story is top notch, with a more positive spin on the downfall of humanity.  It’s a vastly different take on the Banuk that what I had assumed, but it’s a wholly better one for it.

Frozen Wilds does not revolutionize the game like War of the Chosen did for XCOM2.  It takes what worked in the base game and then makes those pieces work together in a slightly different (and better) way.  It is highly recommended.

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