So, turned out I did need to do the bandit camps after all thus:
Then I looked and saw a pale horse. Its rider’s name was Death
So it was for the bandits, all the bandits. Save for the last camp, doing these with the Shield-Weaver armour was the definition of overkill, but very fun.
So the endgame beckons… One day, one day I’ll play an endgame that isn’t total arse - to be fair Yakuza 0’s was actually pretty good. HZD’s really isn’t, the best way I can summarise it? Imagine a guy on a balance beam, he takes a few steps forward, slips, cue crushed balls - and the game does that again and again.
Doesn’t look like spoilers work anymore so click to read, don’t say you weren’t warned.
It starts with a boss fight with Helis, who ain’t actually man enough to go mano-a-mano, nah he has a load of goons with him, those die quick. But Helis? Oh no, this supposed human takes more ordinance to kill than a damn Thunderjaw! Which really breaks the story completely because he is still supposed to be human, a human does not get to walk through 10+ explosive tripwires - story goes out the window in favour of video game artifice. Still, finally killed the arsehole so next bit?
The next bit has you using the same type of cannon from the Free Heap mission and it’s as inaccurate as ever - the game then throws Deathbringers, plus a host of corrupted enemies - Watchers, Scrappers, Longlegs, Ravagers, Bellowbacks then, just for fun, as you’ve got this crappy, unreliable cannon, throws in a load of Glinthawks and a Stormbird. Yeah, it was as fun as it sounds - not very. So you get through that and it really is more of a chore than the big climatic action sequence it wants to sell itself as and what happens?
Well, the game strips you of health and then you have to leg to the Spire. Once there you have a Corrupted Deathbringer boss, plus Corrupted minions and a time limit. This is not forgetting of course that the Deathbringer can always regenerate the weapons you blow off it and never runs out of ammo. I did it with 5 mins to spare but was it good? Was it fun? Absolutely not, it was a pain in the arse.
The storytelling and the characters remained very good to the end, what let it down was the gamewplay and structure of the final quest. The penultimate quest was very well-executed and I was very happy I got the All Allies Joined trophy, which is what I was really going for.
It’d be fair to say I probably hated around 75% of the main quest, certainly the majority of it - the narrative was excellent but the bits in-between the pieces of it? Far less so, especially the human enemy sections. In contrast I found most of the sidequests, errands and other miscellaneous pieces far, far better.
The world design is quite brilliant, setting a new graphical standard for the PS4, with a high variety in environments but with a geographical sense of logic to how they work, altitude being a key indicator.
The robot creatures are a triumph of aesthetic design and gameplay, in that you will have to frequently changes strategy and tactics - it is massively satisfying to take out an entire set of enemies having prepared everything - you can even do this to a Thunderjaw, though be very careful in how you set it off, those things can kill you quick and do not go down easily no matter what preparations you make.
I racked up just over 88 hours on it, but certain pieces of it did really piss me off. There’s also a good few, quite key, mechanics in it that the game doesn’t do that good a job of explaining too - the aiming being one example of this.
Finally it’s biggest success is Aloy, as they’ve created an excellent lead character and hero. One of Aloy’s best traits is she’s confident without being arrogant or acerbic, she’s not a character who is abrasive in order to maintain their ‘edge’, she’s confident enough that she doesn’t need to be. As a game character she gets and keeps the player interested, in part this is due to the brilliant opening tutorial which really gives a sense of attachment to the character.
How do I rate it overall? That’s a hard one, it does a whole lot of things very well but that main quest is seriously flawed in its gameplay. A flawed masterpiece? Yeah, that fits. It’s going to be interesting to see what they do with the upcoming DLC, hopefully more robots, less humans, at least in terms of enemies.
It is, in every sense, a very good exclusive for the PS4. It has a gameworld and adversaries like no other and realised in a way that it probably couldn’t be until the current generation of consoles came along. Have you played a game like this before? No, you haven’t.