When “Horizon Zero Dawn” arrived on PlayStation 4 back in February, critics and players alike were dazzled. The gorgeous, massive third-person action game received near-universal critical acclaim, and Sony reaped the benefits of a blockbuster hit: huge sales numbers.
On November 7, the already gigantic “Horizon Zero Dawn” is getting a huge new expansion. It’s called “The Frozen Wilds,” it looks super fresh, and we already know a lot about it.
In 'The Frozen Wilds,' which arrives on November 7, the game's main character Aloy will explore an entirely new region, with a new culture and new robot animals.
The 'Frozen Wilds' is a reference to where you're going, of course -- the 'Banuk' territory, north of the mountain range that would otherwise have stopped you in the original game.
As a result, the expansion is essentially a condensed version of the original game: There's an entirely new map, with new weapons and animals and a new culture to explore (the Banuk peoples). Here's the managing director of Guerrilla Games, Hermen Hulst, giving an overview of the expansion from an interview back in June:
'We start with a new territory. We go across the northern mountain range into the territory of the Banuk, the tribespeople of the Banuk. They are very hearty. They live in these wild lands. It's so cold, and it's very hard to survive there. It's very beefy, it's a good-sized map. There will be plenty of new stuff in there.'
The expansion is a direct continuation of the main story. 'Let's call it a new chapter in Aloy's journey.'
One of the best things about 'Horizon Zero Dawn' is its surprisingly deep, interesting narrative. Many games try, and most games fail, to marry strong gameplay and strong storytelling -- 'Horizon Zero Dawn' is a rare standout in this regard.
The game's development studio is advancing that narrative in 'The Frozen Wilds.' Rather than telling a side-story, or exploring an alternate 'what if?' scenario, the new expansion will continue Aloy's journey of self-discovery.
Snow and ice are sure to play a crucial role in 'The Frozen Wilds.' What role that will be remains to be seen. Perhaps snow can be used as cover for sneaking around?
'Horizon Zero Dawn' is set in a future Earth, in a deserted Colorado that's been retaken by nature. Colorado, as you know, can be cold and snowy. It's neighbour to the north, Wyoming, can be even colder and snowier -- and Wyoming appears to be the setting for 'The Frozen Wilds.'
We have a good idea that the expansion is set in Wyoming specifically because of this image -- people are saying this is the Grand Prismatic Spring of Yellowstone National Park.
And, ya know, it looks an awful lot like photos of the real Grand Prismatic Spring. Like this one:
(image url='http://static.businessinsider.com/image/536e5b5ceab8ea1d767c70c1/image.jpg' alt='Grand Prismatic Spring wyoming hot spring rainbow' link='lightbox' size='primary' align='center' nocrop='false' clear='true')
From the shots we've seen so far, it looks like 'The Frozen Wilds' will be as beautiful as the original game. Beyond being fun to play, and beyond the great story, 'Horizon Zero Dawn' is a downright gorgeous game -- it's a genuine accomplishment that Guerrilla Games got the game to look so good, and run so smoothly, on the PlayStation 4 (a piece of technology released in 2013).
At the heart of the story in 'The Frozen Wilds' is Aloy's ongoing search for answers about her origins.
As you see above, Aloy's going after that crazy-looking mountain (astride a mechanical beast, per usual). It appears that she knows something we don't; perhaps there's a massive facility inside of that mountain, as so many were in the game's main story? That's not clear. What is clear is that Aloy will apparently have to face down a massive (presumably new) beast in order to access the mountain.
Some fans are speculating that the mountain is actually the result of Yellowstone's famous 'Caldera' -- 'a volcanic caldera and supervolcano located in Yellowstone National Park in the United States, sometimes referred to as the Yellowstone Supervolcano,' as Wikipedia puts it. Here's hoping for a supervolcano eruption mid-game!
As evidenced here by the 'Longneck' in the distance, there will be new dinosaurs to climb -- this lines up with the inclusion of new settlements to overtake, a new culture to discover, new weapons to use, and new mechanical animals to hunt and/or ride.
When 'The Frozen Wilds' arrives on November 7, Hulst says it's 'gonna be very substantial.' At $US19.99, players will no doubt expect a lot. From the sound of things, Guerrilla is prepared to meet those expectations.
If you're interested enough that you're willing to put down money early, PlayStation Plus subscribers can pre-order the expansion at a slight discount: $US14.99 instead of $US19.99, right here.