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Horizon Zero Dawn: The Frozen Wilds Review [PS4 Pro] – An Icy Return for the Nora Warrior

Enter the dangerous lands of The Cut

Earlier this year, Guerilla Games launched their new IP set throughout a vast and gorgeous postapocalyptic world in Horizon Zero Dawn. The adventure/RPG took players on an enduring journey 1,000 years into the future where humanity has devolved back to tribal living conditions – only to find themselves an outcast in a world overrun by the many ravenous and hostile machines. Months later, the gaming community uncovered the sacred hidden truths about the ancient world before the fall of civilization and craved more from the Nora warrior, Aloy.

The icy region of The Frozen Wilds glitters the screen with heavy snowflakes and tundra-like conditions. The Banuk tribe has settled up north in Song’s Edge, a village just before The Cut – a snow-covered territory ravaged by never-before-seen machines, frozen peaks, mountain ranges, and the looming threat known as Thunder’s Drum. A billow of smoke suffocates the sky on the far edge of the map, but reaching the volcanic mountain comes with its own string of both physical, and spiritual, challenges.

The snowy peaks of The Frozen Wilds is an impressive sight, even with the billowing smoke of Thunder’s Drum.

Within the frigid lands of the Cut, Aloy will spend her time completing various tasks and objectives, similar to what she accomplished in Zero Dawn. Along with a new area of the map to explore, new weapons, outfits, characters and, of course, tribe-slaying machines, all await in the sizeable expansion to one of this year’s top releases. Adding more depth to the complex and driven personality of Horizon’s protagonist, Aloy will dive further into the truth surrounding the confusing relationship between the rationally intelligent machines, and their curious, and otherwise unstable, human creators.

The looming threat of Thunder’s Drum

Through the main line of quests featured in The Frozen Wilds, you’ll be introduced to the Banuk settler’s striving to survive in the snowy regions. Led by the chieftain, Aratak, Aloy finds her determination to discover what made the machines so hostile at the feet of the stout and fearless Banuk chieftain. With countless Banuk warriors lost to Thunder’s Drum in previously failed missions, very little hope rests in the dwindling tribe too proud to give in. Luckily, the fierce and persistent Nora warrior sheds any doubt that may inhibit her natural instincts to discover what lies in the depths of the scorching bowels of Thunder’s Drum.

Aloy finds new companions – Chieftain Aratak and Shaman Ourea – in the Banuk settlement, Song’s Edge.

The weapons earned from proving your worth to the Banuk reflect the growth and perseverance our beloved heroine so faithfully exhibits throughout her encouraging story. The Forgefire relentlessly engulfs targets in a rage of flame dealing severe, close-range fire damage, while the Icerail freezes enemies with crisp ice damage in a short-distanced stream of frosty mist. Jolts of electric energy launch from the dominant Stormslinger, adding a useful long-range weapon to the list of cutting-edge weapons found in the treacherous wilderness of The Cut.

In addition to an arsenal of elemental weapons, a fourth skill tree has been added to accommodate the increased level cap. Focused on various travelling aspects of the game, players are now able to grant Aloy with a variety of new skills and abilities. Gathering loot while mounted on an overridden machine, or striking from the back of your travelling companion with the Dismount Strike attack are only a few examples of the added perks to Aloy’s skill tree. Many of these new abilities provide useful and tactical approaches to increase travel time, storage space and repairing your hard-earned, overridden machine mount.

The new Tallneck viewpoint in The Frozen Wilds will first need to be reactivated before climbing atop the roaming machine.
Persevere against all odds

At the core of The Frozen Wilds Aloy finds herself in the midst of a lopsided war between the Banuk warriors, and another corrupt, machine-controlling virus, known as Daemon. Located in the depths of Thunder’s Drum, the Banuk have made their courageous run to infiltrate the mysterious plume of smoke, only to retreat empty-handed, and under-manned. Aloy will be put to the ultimate test of strength and will to determine if she has what it takes to uncover the secrets that lay within the volatile mountain. With the help of the spiritually obedient Shaman, Ourea, players will traverse the frigid lands in search of the hidden mysteries that make up the world Aloy so tenaciously pursues.

The frozen regions of The Cut opens players up to a new cast of keen and colourful characters eager to task Aloy with adventurous missions and reward her with extravagant loot. New hunting missions, side quests including an exciting new Tallneck viewpoint errand, as well as new bows and outfits crafted from the rare and exclusive resource, Bluegleam, are scattered throughout the snow-covered tundra. However, with improved weapons and skills comes new enemy machines, the likes that no warrior has faced before.

Scorchers and the virus corrupted Daemonic Machines are weak but persistent adversaries, while Fireclaws and Frostclaws are enormous and agile machines that deal corresponding elemental damage, often in rapid succession. All of these machines are capable of receiving healing waves generated by the new corrupted Control Towers, which must be destroyed or carefully overridden to reverse its healing effects. These towers are sprawled across the frost-riddled Cut, typically guarded by hordes of hostile machines.

A handful of puzzles await in the Cauldron that rests in the belly of Thunder’s Drum.
Survive. Prevail. We are Banuk.

Horizon Zero Dawn has proven that the courage, confidence and determination of a young, fierce woman, who is overwhelmed with curiosity and under-appreciated by the culture around her, is enough to overcome even the most perilous odds. The Frozen Wilds expands heavily on the brave and righteous protagonist, bringing with it a tale revealing a spiritual Shaman devoted to bringing peace back to the lands in the name of her God, a chieftain too proud and mentally resilient to give in, and a sole survivor achieving everything she can to unravel the mysteries of a world overrun by unpredictable threats, and a dark, catastrophic past.

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