Horizon

March 8, 2017 by Tim

Horizon is pretty amazing. And amazingly pretty. I’m not sure I would say it has revolutionized anything… but it does so much really well that it’s hard to find fault with it. Hard, but not impossible.

When you have a really well-crafted game like Horizon, especially an open world game, I think it becomes harder to mask some of the mechanics. The more alive you make the world seem on the surface, the more glaring the underlying mathematics that govern it can become.

I really only have one nitpick with the game (aside from not having enough time to play it as much as I’d like), and it’s not even a dealbreaker. In fact it’s pretty benign, which says a lot about the rest of the game. But it stood out to me like a sore thumb, for some reason.

Aloy can whistle to attract one nearby enemy. One. One nearby enemy, identified as the “closest and most centered in her vision” will hear this whistle. Somehow, Aloy has learned how to sniper whistle. A precision, targeted whistle, on some frequency directed solely toward the enemy of her choosing.

What?

It doesn’t matter if there are ten enemies around her, only one of them at a time will hear the whistle. Combined with the auto-kill stealth takedown she can learn, this basically defines a large portion of the gameplay.

Find Bush > Whistle > Kill Enemy > Repeat Until Area Clear.

There is, honestly, little reason to play a situation any other way unless you have no other choice in the matter. I’m playing on the hardest difficulty, and I find this to especially be the case, as the damage can come in quick and you’ll find yourself overwhelmed with too many enemies.

It almost feels like the whole stealth mechanic was an afterthought? Like “Hey, we’ve got huge, fun robot dinosaurs to fight! Oh, and I guess we could toss some stealth shit in there too.”

It doesn’t ruin the game for me or anything, but it feels like the ability to turn a bush into a vortex of insta-death would have been enough. Some strategic rock-throwing could have provided the means to separate/lure enemies to your hiding spot. The single-target whistle just seems like a very odd and distracting design choice.


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