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Feature Article

GameSpot's Best Games Of 2017 #6: Horizon: Zero Dawn

Expand your horizons.

GameSpot's Best Games of 2017 has finally kicked off, so join us as we unveil what we thought were the 10 best games released this year. At the #6 spot is Horizon: Zero Dawn, which is available on PlayStation 4. Read on to see why we chose it as one of the best for 2017.

GameSpot's Best Games of 2017

It's a commonly held fantasy that our race to master technology will one day cripple humanity as we know it, be it the result of unchecked hubris or an egomaniacal ruler. Horizon Zero Dawn flirts with the possibility of a fractured society clawing its way back to enlightenment after just such a collapse. But unlike our own stone-age ancestors, Horizon's primitive people must shepherd the burden of a previous era's mistakes while battling mother nature and trudging through their own rocky development.

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For them, it means a life of many hardships. For us, it results in an exciting open-world game with ferocious robotic monsters patrolling breathtaking landscapes. Guerrilla Games wields the sci-fi-tinted man-against-nature conflict with apparent ease, and its first post-Killzone work is an artistic and technical marvel that's also highly enjoyable to play. Rumbling with Horizon's fiercest enemies requires confidence and deft timing. In the span of a couple seconds, you can sprint, dodge, craft ammo, and reload your bow or slingshot, and maybe leap off of a boulder for a slow-motion killing blow between a pair of incandescent eyes. Impressively, Horizon does all of this without breaking a sweat.

Our capable character is a young warrior named Aloy, whose connection to the world runs deeper than most, and sure enough, her journey of discovery is punctuated with frequent surprise. Faced with a turning point, she's forced to reflect on former truths and accept a new reality that propels her headlong into a battle larger than any tribal conflict or wild robotic encounter, with a touching payoff as her ultimate purpose comes into view.

At a time when nobody would blame you for feeling burned out on open-world games, Horizon came along and re-lit the smoldering flame.

The steps Horizon takes to put us at destination's door are consistently well designed and action packed, but it can be just as fulfilling to blindly wander off and soak in your surroundings. Enjoy a nice day of hunting boar in sunny woods, and stay up late to stalk mechanical deer under chilling moonlight. Aloy is also a capable climber, granting you access to mountain tops and the roofs of ruined skyscrapers. The sprawling painterly views tempt you with promises of beauty and danger alike, all thanks to Guerrilla's creative prowess.

At a time when nobody would blame you for feeling burned out on open-world games, Horizon came along and re-lit the smoldering flame. It fell back on a few common practices seen in other games, sure, but it's predominantly defined by unique traits and accomplishments. You look back on it once the credits roll in awe of where you've been and what Aloy has become. And once you're done processing the impact of the ending, you'll wonder: where will this possibly go next? It's not immediately clear, but we can't wait to find out.


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    Peter Brown

    Peter is a Senior Editor at GameSpot who's passionate about gaming hardware and game preservation.
    Horizon Zero Dawn

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