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Some significant (though early) plot spoilers for Horizon Zero Dawn


Proved!  Finally!  Played until I got to the bit where I don’t have my focus.
Man..I’m liking this game.  Even when it’s bad it’s good.
I mean, sure. Let’s get this out of the way right off the bat: There were some cliches.  Maybe more than some.  Ok, lots.  Big snarling baddie who ALMOST kills our hero, father figure making a sacrifice that the hero WILL REMEMBER (Frankly, I thought that would come later in the game, but whatever), faceless baddies that snarl almost as loud as the loudest one, who is the one one that doesn’t wear a mask because he’s loud, etc.
BUT….in spite of all that, I loved last night’s playing session.
Because even though there was stuff that was the same, cliche, predictable, there was SO much that was different, and refreshing, unpredictable.
First, the scene with the lanterns.  Holy hell, the scene with the lanterns.  The scene with the lanterns was so good.  Themes without being overt, a choice that probably meant nothing and I STILL thought about it (Which is probably EXACTLY what Aloy would have felt, ergo awesome game design) and graphics so good it, in one scene, justified my Pro/4K set up.
Second, not one, but TWO instances where I was genuinely shocked.  In a playing session with cliches!  Cliched expository devices everywhere and TWO instances where I was shocked.  First, killing the matriarch there.  She WON!  All is well and THWACK!  I did NOT see that coming.  And if you deny you thought it was the irritating kid at first, you’re lying.  I did.  I was like “Whoa…they made the brat the bad guy and he’s THAT BAD?” I maligned him.
The other one was HIM DYING!  And Vala!  I mean….these are NAMED CHARACTERS!  One was a character we had a CHOICE about when we were doing the KID SCENES!  When you have a named character, or a character with a choice attached, or a character you’ve seen in two time frames, or ALL THREE of those things, they do not die so EARLY.  I was already slotting those characters into my idea of how the game was gonna go: Dude was either gonna be the “bad guy who finds loyalty, like Garrus or EDI or Leliana,” and Vala was going to be the “Staunch, loyal, sassy friend who’s bad assed but not as bad assed as the hero, a la Alistair, Varric, etc.”
They don’t DIE THIS EARLY.
I tell ya, this game, yes, there’s things that have been done, but they’re doing a damn good job making old, tired, worn out things new again.
Proving! Yes!
I’m with you–there was a lot of cliche, but also some genuinely surprising moments. I, too, was already figuring how I’d spend the rest of the game with Vala and Bast at my side , sometimes arguing and not liking each other but always being there for each other because we have the same ultimate goal in mind, and (grudgingly in some cases) respecting each others’ abilities, and–oh, OK, so that’s not going to happen.
Also: did not really anticipate the giant gun. If I had listened to the old lady’s story, at this point I might have said, “ah, right, some people still use the cursed old technology.” As it was I just thought “ah, right, post-apocalypse, not fantasy.”
Maybe this Meridian that guy was talking about is a higher-tech city than I initially assumed.
Did you use the giant gun? I picked it up a couple of times, but couldn’t make it work. Trying to fire it just made me drop it. I fell back on my usual sneaking and assassinating instead. I think Aloy would really be more comfortable with that anyway.

This game is doing a very good job dealing with the cliche. We’ve seen this before with good new AAA Ips. I mean, the studios are NEVER going to just chuck a gabillion dollars at a new IP and say “Ok, go completely off the reservation.” There has to be SOME cliche. I’m reminded of TLOU, which was a very different game in practically ever way but for the fact that it, too, was mired in zombie cliche and rose above it. This game, sure, has open world/grumbly bad guy/dead father cliche, but it’s rising above by having more than enough originality.

And playing with our gamer heads! I mean, we were both thinking about the NPCs that way because we have played many, many games. I’m guessing 99.9% of people that are playing this have, too. And they KNEW that! They KNEW we all would be sitting there automatically thinking about how games work because games and they turned it upside down.

Very cool.

Even with the story, I was slightly taken aback by the appearance of the guy with the gun.

But it’s interesting you say ‘post-apocalypse, not fantasy’ because I still think this game is playing on tropes of both, and will continue to. The tropes even seem to support the theme. We have the religious, “fantasy” tribe who dress like “fantasy” game characters, and we have the gun toting baddies who are all dressed like extras in Mad Max. They’re representing different views of similar stories, and different themes.

And I hope Meridian is high-tech! Cuz this gun/caveman thing is pretty cool.

Though, HA! I TRIED to use the gun. But the game committed a cardinal sin: Games, don’t give players a lesson on how to do something new in the middle of a fight. I was not ready to read directions. So that popped up and I was really thinking “Dude! Not now! Dudes over there!” and then I thought “Well, this IS a big gun….I think it said triangle…” so I hit triangle, and that was either wrong or I was standing too close to a plant because instead of unleashing holy machine gun death upon my enemies I, very carefully, knelt down to pick a root.

Needless to say, rather anti-climactic.

And when I was finished picking the root, the dude was on top of me so I just speared away.


You back on strike?


No, sorry, had to take the kid to the dentist. Cut into my writing time.


Damn them and their expensive teeth!

If I log in and see you’ve gotten seven trophies today you’re so busted.


I would never do that! Unless I had thought of it before this afternoon.