With the release of Horizon Zero Dawn on the PlayStation 4 earlier this year, Guerrilla Games’ step away from first person shooters was a success. It was critically acclaimed and gave PlayStation 4 owners yet another great reason to own the console in terms of exclusives only playable there. It offered players a big open world to explore, in a unique setting of a post-apocalyptic world where humans had seemingly gone back to square one in terms of their technological capabilities. It was this contrast between a world full of technology and robots, that the inhabitants of which looked at as god or spirtual entities. While it has been a long wait for the first downloadable content for Horizon Zero Dawn, The Frozen Wilds is a worthy piece. It gives players a big land mass to explore, a handful of multi-step quests that push forward both the overarching storyline for the game and one of a new tribe. It also introduces a number of new enemies and items to collect along the way.
The Frozen Wilds introduces Aloy to the Banuk
In the Northern Mountains lives the Banuk Tribe. Survivalists by nature, the Banuk endure the harsh life of the Cut. The Cut is essentially all of the new landmass in The Frozen Wilds DLC. The donwloadable content is too short to spoil all of the story bits, the crux of it is that Aloy must team up with the Banuk to banish a rogue A.I. The Frozen Wilds DLC is seamless integrated into the game world, it’s accessed simply by getting a new quest in the game and Guerrilla integrates it nicely in such a way that it doesn’t really matter how far along you are in the game to experience it. However, it is recommended that players are a level 30 or above and quest requirements top out at level 50 before finishing all there is to play.
The snow covered landmass of the Cut is brutal in terms of its inhabitants if you’re just making the grade in terms of level. While many of the creature are considered to be new, most that you find here are familiar. The map itself offers a good chunk of land to explore and the quests from the content will take you all over it. Of course, being an open world game you can go wherever you please, shooting straight through the story content or veering off for exploration. Both are equally rewarding. I found the Banuk side quests and characters found within to offer variety. Aloy will be looking for the approval of the Banuk in order to help a new acquaintance. She’ll be tasked with dangerous mission that will prove her worth before having to race through an obstacle course to challenge the leader of the tribe.
There’s plenty to find in terms of new items and weapons in this DLC
There’s also plenty to collect in the DLC. A new currency called Bluegleam and three different Pigment sets can be found throughout the Cut which can be traded for end-game weapons and armor for Aloy. As always, exploration is a lot of fun in Horizon Zero Dawn — The Frozen Wilds is no different. Picking up treasure maps will help out with finding these items but the hunting and exploration aspects of the games still shine in this DLC. It offers more of everything. There’s a new skill branch to be filled in and the new gear will come in handy against the heavy-hitting fast-moving machines that Aloy will need to face as she ventures out of The Cut and towards the finale of this DLC in terms of story.
While the landmass will always be there to explore, there is a “point of no return” portion of the DLC where you’ll leave the open world area and head towards a more linear dungeon. Here, The Frozen Wilds is at its weakest. It puts players on a straight line that consists of the game’s weaker elements. It features climbing puzzles, the energy lock puzzles seen in the main game, mixed in with some canned battles against some of the strongest creatures in the game. While this area is weaker in terms of gameplay it is beautiful to look at. This underground area is the site of a volcano, and has a great mix of different colors that give it a unique look.
The linear portion of the DLC isn’t quite as good as the open world
The Frozen Wilds is, for better or worse, more Horizon Zero Dawn. If you’ve been waiting patiently for a new reason to pick up this wonderful game it certainly won’t disappoint. While Guerrilla offers very little new in this game in terms of gameplay, it’s still an excellent expansion that offers plenty of value due to the ability to play it at your own pace. For those that are invested in the story of Horizon Zero Dawn, the ending is definitely worth seeing. It gives us answers about what happened to this world to make it the place it has become. It’s a great payoff that’s rarely seen in DLC. Though it does keep the door open for further adventures.
It’s been a long wait, but Aloy’s new adventure into The Frozen Wilds is every bit as fulfilling as the main game.