Earlier this year, Sony first-party studio Guerilla Games launched a brand-new IP that took the video game landscape by storm. Horizon Zero Dawn hit all the right notes in terms of story, world-building, and gameplay; and quickly became a must-own PlayStation 4 exclusive title. Fast-forward eight months and the critically praised action game received its first and last DLC expansion. Does The Frozen Wilds raise the bar higher than vanilla Horizon Zero Dawn? Let’s find out.
More of What You Love
If you’ve played Horizon Zero Dawn side-quests, then you know exactly what to expect from The Frozen Wilds. In terms of story and epic set-piece moments, this expansion is less ambitious than the main quests in the game. Funny enough, the DLC is labeled as a side quest in the pause menu. However, The Frozen Wilds expansion brings plenty surprises and epic moments to the table.
A new section of the map is available to travel to whenever you purchase the DLC. This sizable new area is sprawling with gorgeous snowy mountain tops and frosted valleys that glisten in the night. In short, the game’s presentation is still top-notch. There’s plenty of new secrets in uncover in The Frozen Wilds, and a handful of new machine creatures to take down. I found these new machines to be exhilarating to fight because their special attacks are, well, badass. To me, the new monsters seem to be much more thoughtfully crafted in comparison to the creatures in the vanilla game. The fire-breathing scorcher for example, it has a bunch of fire-based attacks that you have to observe and strategically counter. Its movements and animal-like instincts are fascinating to watch, as goes for the other new machines featured in this expansion.
I also loved the inclusion of The Legend of Zelda-like puzzles deep within ancient ruins. They’re the same type of ‘connect all the dots’ puzzles throughout the game, but I thought they mixed up the pacing splendidly. Also, the environmental storytelling within these new ruins is fascinating to observe. I was reminded just how much Guerilla Games succeeded at bringing this world to life.
I personally can never bring myself to talk too in-depth about story details. I believe games like Horizon Zero Dawn that are heavily story-driven are better-experienced going in with a blank canvas. I will say though, The Frozen Wilds tells gripping and emotional stories that I definitely didn’t expect when jumping in. Things are on a smaller scale this time, you’re not aiming to save the world, but rather experiencing more scaled-down, personal stories. I enjoyed the change of pace but was slightly disappointed at the lack of connection this DLC has to the main game.
The expansion offers around 15 hours of additional content. There’s a slew of side-quests and errands that are fun to complete. Basically, if you enjoyed all of the side-things to do in the base game, you’ll love The Frozen Wilds. It’s mostly busy-work, not that it’s a bad thing though, as it’s some of the best gameplay I’ve experienced year. The North is a vast and wonderful new area to explore, and my new favorite section of the Horizon Zero Dawn map.
The Frozen Wilds is more of what I loved in Horizon Zero Dawn. While the stories within the expansion don’t go as big as the main game, they’re fantastic personal tales that were a joy to complete. This new chunk of content is a great sendoff for the game as we look to the distant future for an inevitable sequel.