Horizon Zero Dawn: The Frozen Wilds DLC: Review
Trekking through snow up to her knees, Aloy mutters to herself “I feel like I’ll never stop being cold.” Her teeth chatter and she visibly attempts to warm herself up. I can feel the frozen wind whip across my face as Aloy makes her way into “The Cut” for the first time. Within seconds the first enemy of The Frozen Wilds appears; a Daemonic Scorcher. Even with a fully ranked up Aloy this battle challenged me, maybe even more than some of the later campaign missions. After rolling away from charging attacks, ducking for cover when I could find it, and using the most of the slow motion aim ability, I finally took down the mechanical beast. It was already settled: I knew that this DLC was worth every penny and every second spent playing it.
Without spoiling the story, The Frozen Wilds picks up directly after the completion of the main campaign. You are tasked with stopping a new AI threat that is corrupting machines and constantly churning out new devastating creatures. Similar to HADES from the original story, HEPHAESTUS is an AI system that is attempting to eradicate the human race by creating powerful machines whose sole purpose is to hunt and kill humans. Think of these new “Daemonic” machines as more powerful versions of the corrupted type from the original game. You aren’t able to override the new creatures encountered in The Cut until after you complete all the main side quests present in The Frozen Wilds. The inability to override Scorchers, Fireclaws, and Frostclaws makes each encounter tense as you figure out the best course of action. Silent strikes aren’t very effective on these beasts, which require you to aim down the sights of your trusted bow more often than not. The Frozen Wilds succeeds in bringing fast paced action with moments that will leave you floored, while also continuing to unfold the deep history of a world with so many questions still left unanswered.
It goes without saying that in the midst of these new, more deadly machines, there has to be a way for Aloy to even the score. Through acquiring a new item called Bluegleam, you are able to trade with merchants for powerful new weapons. Each new weapon has two to three customization slots to maximize their potential. Guerilla did a great job making these weapons feel unique and not just like upgraded versions of your established loadout. There are new outfits as well but after unlocking the Shield-Weaver at the end of the main story, I don’t see it necessary to use anything else. Truly one of my favorite parts about this DLC is continuing to find new audio and text clips throughout the world. These clips serve a tremendous purpose as they paint the picture of what caused the world to end up in the state that it’s in. One of my favorite parts of Horizon Zero Dawn as a whole is the fact that Aloy knows as much about the world as the player. She is finding out the history of a world gone wrong at the same exact time as I am, connecting us as we journey through the stunning landscape.
Enough can’t be said about how beautiful this world is. When I played through the original story I was using the regular PS4 with just an HDTV. This time around I experienced this world in stunning 4K on the PS4 Pro. Let me tell you, the difference is noticeable and it’s spectacular. Walking through a blizzard in the middle of the day felt laborious to the point you could sense it wearing on Aloy. As she stumbles through the snow drifts you can feel the frost biting her exposed skin. The day and night cycles add a great touch and sense of realism. There is almost this eery, calm chill that comes over the world at night. It’s hard not to stop what I’m doing and enter photo mode to capture the beauty of the world around Aloy.
Speaking of Aloy, Ashly Burch delivers another heartfelt performance. When she’s in the middle of a battle you can hear the confidence in her voice. When she’s convincing a tribe they charged the wrong man with murder, the conviction and compassion pours off the screen. As the player you feel what Aloy feels because of the way Burch delivers each syllable with genuine emotion. Aloy gains respect in game from each new character she encounters because of her abilities expressed by the player controlling her. Aloy gains respect as one of the best playable characters of all time because of the soul given to her by Ashly Burch.
My only complaint with this DLC is that I never wanted it to end (pretty good problem to have). I want to uncover each data point and collectible just so I can keep spending time with Aloy in this gorgeous setting. Guerilla Games has truly created something special with Horizon Zero Dawn and The Frozen Wilds is a worthy extension of the original game. If you have completed the main story I can’t recommend picking up this DLC enough. If you haven’t completed the main story, you’re simply missing out in a big way. Horizon Zero Dawn has been one of the best gaming experiences I’ve had to date, and it is deserving of all the accolades and awards it has and will likely continue to receive.