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Victory Lap: E3 from the eyes of a first timer

The following article is a travelogue based on my trip to E3 2017. It is an account of what I saw and experienced during my time at the show. My objective was to write an article about being at the show, as opposed to the games I saw there.

-----Travels, Day 0-----
I’ve always enjoyed flying. That probably makes me crazy.
There’s just something about flying that makes a trip feel like you are going to a truly different place. It’s entirely mental, to be sure, but the progression from airport to airplane to airport helps separate origin from destination. Crazy or not, I find myself at Cleveland Hopkins Airport with a 6 hour itinerary for Los Angeles to attend E3. I’ve been reading about the show ever since I was in middle school, and for the first time ever it’s within my means to actually attend. So as I sit at an airport bar, playing The Legend of Zelda whilst enjoying a beer and a cinnamon bun, I can only imagine that I’m grinning like an idiot.
E3, the Electronic Entertainment Expo for the uninitiated, is one of the most important video game industry conferences of the year. While it doesn’t boast the world’s highest attendance numbers, it’s the undisputed main event when it comes to announcements of new games, projects, and hardware. It draws in publishers, developers, merchandisers, service providers, and let’s not forget, journalists from both mainstream and gaming media outlets. Technically, E3 has always been an industry only event, but it’s an openly known secret that anyone who really wanted to get in could with enough money and effort. This year is different though. For the first time, 15,000 public passes have been made available for anyone to purchase. I recall that I got my notification that the passes were available for sale while sitting through the end credits of Doctor Strange. I didn’t even make it back to the theater lobby before I had made my purchase.
4 months later, here I stand, listening to the Ubisoft press conference while waiting to board a 737 to Denver. Side Note: No Yevs… no one has ever once asked what would happen if the Mushroom Kingdom were invaded by Rabbids. Given that Mario + Rabbids looks amazing though, that probably reflects more on us than you. Unfortunately, I am unable to finish the conference before takeoff. I make a mental note to finish it once I land in Colorado.
The flight itself is largely unremarkable. The middle passenger in our row is a no show, to the delight of my neighbor by the window. During the flight she asks me what that device I’m playing with is, which leads me to demonstrating my Nintendo Switch to her. After a quick round of Two Player Tetris, she decides that her kids would love one. Reggie Fils-Aime would be so proud.
My flight touches down in Denver, and I hastily make my way through the terminal. The much larger, and far busier travel hub makes Cleveland Hopkins look quaint and sleepy by comparison, but not so much that I have trouble getting to my next gate. I arrive with plenty of time to spare, and finish watching the Ubisoft conference. Turns out I only missed one announcement. Beyond Good and Evil 2. I hold back tears of joy. I don’t hold back giddy chatter. Half an hour later, our plane has boarded and we’re on our way to LA.
The flight from Denver to LA is much shorter, but along the way I demo the Switch to yet another curious traveler, this time with Street Fighter II. At this rate I’m going to have to start billing Nintendo. As the plane starts making its final approach, I end up chatting with my new single-serving friend. Turns out he works in video game marketing, and he might to go E3 on an industry pass. The conversation turns to eSports and VR before we part ways at the baggage claim. Funny though, it only now dawns on me that I never did ask his name.
I did however get the name of my Lyft driver. I’m omitting it here, but I will say that he was a blast. Being from Ohio, I’ve long dreamed of taking out any form of Orange Road Barrier, so when my driver runs over a portable pylon, drags it half a mile under his car, then uses a curb to deposit it just off the driveway of a loading dock, I make a mental note to give him a larger tip. Not too crazy though, I need to spend my money wisely.
To be honest, finances were a major concern for me attending E3. LA is not a cheap city to stay in, and my initial booking plans only revealed it to be even worse so for the event. To offset this, I decided to stay in a hostel. Hostels, contrary to what you may have seen in your favorite horrosnuff films, are low cost lodgings where you shack up with other people. The upside to this is that they generally run for a fraction of what a regular hotel room costs, 90% less in my case. The trade off though is that privacy is nearly non-existent, and the only thing you are really guaranteed is a bed and hopefully interesting conversation. The result is that you never know who you might end up meeting; so when we pull up at the main building of the hostel and I hear what’s clearly a pool party, I’m not entirely stunned. No, that won’t happen for another 2 minutes.
Because as I walk through the archway and into the pool area proper, I ask the first person I see where I go to check in. Unfortunately, I can’t understand their accent, so I ask someone else. Then I see their t-shirt…
“Devolver Digital”
I look around again. I see white plastic cups labeled “Devolver Beer Cup, 20 fl. oz.”, more Devolver t-shirts, and then it dawns on me. I’ve seen this patio before. No, not from when I made my reservations 4 months ago. Yesterday. On Devolver Digital’s twitter.
http://imgur.com/wEh2BPM
I just walked into their pool party.
I generally like to think that I am pretty adaptable to unexpected circumstances, but the combination of 7 hours of travel, my mental clock being at roughly 1am, and the fact that I genuinely like Devolver for their renegade indie style… My brain sort of locked up for a good minute. Just a day ago I watched their faux press conference in which they straight up pulled a Scanners on the host, and here I am trying and failing to not gawk.
Once I manage to reboot back into a semi-functional state, one of the Devolver guys directs me to a small side house that’s apparently the office, and we spend a few minutes talking. Turns out, Devolver has rented out the entire main building, and I’ve been moved to a secondary property a few blocks away. We briefly discuss E3;
Cool Devolver Guy: “What do you do in the industry?” Absolutely Not Cool Me: “Uh… I play video games… and I’ve wanted to go to E3 since I read about it in Nintendo Power in the 90’s...”
The man returns to the party, and tells me that I’m free to hang out if I want so long as I’m cool. I sit by the pool for a few minutes, but as we’ve established, I’m not nearly cool enough, so I leave. I regret not getting a picture of one of the beer cups to prove that I’m not crazy.
A few minutes later, I’ve landed at my bunk a few blocks away. Turns out, about half of the people in the house are also here for E3, so we talk briefly before I pass out.
It’s been a good day.
-----Day 1, “I made it, b******!”-----
I didn’t sleep great. After about 4 hours drifting in and out of consciousness, the dawn of the first day has arrived. Thankfully I have a wonderful blend of childhood dreams, adrenaline, and stubborn tenacity coursing through my veins to keep me functional. Also in my favor is the fact that my brain has not adjusted to Pacific Time yet. My body thinks that it’s 8:30 AM and I need to be awake already, damnit! Forget the fact that literally everyone else in the building is dead asleep, you got shit to do! A quick, stealthy shower and clothing change later, and I’m on my way to the LA Convention Center. On the way, I manage to snap the best photograph I’ve ever taken.
http://imgur.com/eToek6h If only I took this photo with a good camera...
To my surprise, the venue’s entrances are actually open when I arrive at 6:30 AM, local time. There is still a small amount of clean up work being done though, so make a note not to bother anyone. Stepping into the center of the south atrium, I can see a series of Final Fantasy banners hanging from the rafters, and behind them hangs a giant E3 logo. Unable to resist, I pull out my phone and post a selfie with the caption “I made it, bitches!”
http://imgur.com/0mQPreR Maximum Nerd Achieved My friends are amused.
I spend the next hour or so wandering entrances, taking photos and video while it’s still mostly empty. It’s strange actually walking the grounds, as I’ve seen them countless times before in photos and news articles. Some people might think that’s silly, but you have to understand that I’ve never had the chance to attend this show before. It might not be that big of a deal to someone local, or to someone whose job means covering E3 each year. At the same time though, to me this is like going to Disney World for the first time. I know full well that the event is a full force marketing blitz, but it doesn’t stop me from feeling like a kid in a candy store.
As 7:30 rolls around, I head back outside to get in line for badge pickup, that being the main reason I’m here almost 6 hours before show open. By chance, I end up talking to one man who used to work with the Video Game History Foundation (I think I’m getting that name right…), and another who works on soundtrack licensing for the 2K basketball franchise. We pass the time discussing fighting games and whether Randy Pitchford is in danger of being the next Peter Molyneux until we are able to get our badges. We part ways shortly thereafter, but not before he tells me to hit him up if I need any games. I’m not certain, but I may have just made my first industry contact. Also, he might think I’m a real journalist and not some random dork. That’s fine by me, too.
T-Minus 4 hours. The grounds are starting to fill up, and the entry lines for the show are already leading out the door. Despite this, I decide to find a seat off to the side and catch up on my notes as I record the people milling about the room. Up at the front, the crowd erupts into a cheer, presumably for a live stream or some such. Would have been nice to get a shot of it, but alas, with only one cheap camera sacrifices must be made. Not that it would have mattered anyway, as I would later find out that my camera would lose many of the videos I would try to record. In other words, I’m not mad about missing the shot, because my camera would have forgotten it anyway.
With my notes caught up, I join the line outside and dig in for the long wait. http://imgur.com/NdJjnrz
No big deal though, I’m from Ohio. I’ve been forged in the fires of some of the best amusement parks in the world; This is nothing. Vendors walk the line to provide brief amusement and occasionally gummy fruit snacks. A small while later, a local news crew starts interviewing random people in the crowd, including the kid next to me who happens to be from Texas. The anchorwoman is equal parts amused and mystified that this many people would travel so far for video games, but she’s nice about it, so it’s no big deal. Also during the wait, Nintendo holds their Direct livestream. I’m not the only one watching either, as at least 30 other people in line started cheering with the announcements of Metroid Prime 4 and Pokemon for Switch. There’s already a sense that Nintendo just “won E3”, though to be fair they are playing from a strong hand, what with the Switch being a runaway success. It’s also not like there was much competition this year anyway, except for Ubisoft.
2 hours in, and the line begins moving forward. The crowd whoops and cheers at the delusional idea that they are actually opening E3 2 hours early. In reality, the convention center is just concerned that people are going to have heat strokes in the street, and is trying to get as many people into the shade and air conditioning as possible. I don’t know if anyone was actually in any danger, but the gesture is appreciated. The line will continue to compress in further a few more times before the show opens, each time making the atrium louder and louder. Thankfully, my headphones are decent at noise isolation, so it’s not unbearable.
Something else I periodically notice is really, really expensive camera gear. About every ten minutes I see someone with a high end DSLR running up to something in the atrium to either take a picture of a display or get to a spot where they can photograph the crowd. These people aren’t even media all the time either. E3 Badges have color coded sleeves, and at least half of the people I see with these $1000 cameras have yellow “Expo Passes”, code for non-professional attendees, aka the unwashed plebeian masses…
Like myself.
I have to assume then that Youtube is going to be a minefield of personal videos from E3 being posted by normal people who want to try and make a name for themselves off the event…
Also like myself.
What, I know what I’m doing. Only difference is I brought this archaic tool called “pen and paper”, and my camera is barely Fisher-Price by comparison, what with it being terrible at still images, color balance, focus, and remembering to save my damn files… I’m getting off track.
It must be fascinating watching all this from a professional viewpoint. I know that the professionals are watching, too, because I can see them setting up on a balcony overlooking the atrium. I try to get a video recording of them video recording us. I even wave, but they do not wave back. I have to imagine that it must be like being on the final platform of a roller coaster, looking back at the beginning of the line. Although to be fair, most of the people in the atrium won’t end up in that glass hallway, including myself. It takes hard work, dedication, and as far as I can tell a healthy dose of luck to do this professionally. I’d be thrilled to be able to cover gaming professionally, and I’m willing to put in the work given the chance, but I’m also not going to just expect it to happen because I want it to.
As the fruit snack and Amazon vendors make another pass up and down the line, a few things dawn on me. Most obviously, I think I might be the one of the only people here who is entirely solo. I’m not meeting up with anyone, I’m here entirely on my own. It’s not a big deal honestly; for reasons of money, work, or other obligations, I didn’t have anyone who could travel with me. My dad said that he would have come had I asked, but there’s a catch. In truth, I know he would have come with me had I asked. I probably could have stayed at an actual hotel, even. At the same time though, I’m also fairly certain he would be bored to tears here. E3 might be referred to as “Gamer Christmas”, but unless you are really invested in gaming as a culture or a career it’s not that exciting. At best, I’m going to wait for an hour or two to play an unfinished video game for 5 to 10 minutes, then shuffle off to do it again and again for two days. Not exactly compelling stuff when you consider that I am the only computer nerd in a family of gearheads.
The other thing I’m noticing is that I’m also the only person who is writing… well anything. In fact, I’m pretty confident in saying that I might be the only person with a pen and paper out of the few hundred some guests in the atrium. I probably look strange furiously scribbling into my white notebook binder, but I’m OK with that. There’s only so much that a camera can capture about a moment, and even then only if it’s pointed in the right direction.
I’m snapped out of my contemplation by another roar coming from the front of the crowd, responding… something. Honestly, I can’t tell because the atrium has become an utter cacophony, and it’s getting louder. You’re lucky to be able to understand the person right next to you, let alone anyone more than 10 feet away. That’s becoming less an issue though as the crowd is being packed in even tighter. My watch claims that there are just 30 minutes to go. From my position I can now see that the doors to the show floor are open, but I can’t really see anything other than red light across a backdrop. The front of the group starts yelling again. Turns out that the fruit snack vendors are doing a last minute product toss. I’m more interested in the man who’s using the captive audience to advertise his local console repair business. I’m unable to get one of his cards before he wanders away, but I respect him.
15 minutes to go. Up on the press balcony someone in a white suit appears to be interviewing someone in a blue polo. Hell if I know who. I don’t have much time to contemplate it anyway, as the dam finally gives way and the show floor is opened early. The sea of bodies gradually makes its way toward and up the escalators. The guards, in a desperate attempt to prevent a stampede, shout orders at the waves of gamers. Meanwhile, a man in a Crash Bandicoot mascot suit does his part by yelling puns into a megaphone and doing the Crash Dance. Truly he is the unsung hero of E3.
Within a few minutes, I manage to make it up to the escalator and step onto the show floor. My first hour on the floor is an overwhelming blur, and I’m not even trying to play anything yet. I’m just walking the show floors trying to record as much as I can with my malfunctioning camera. One of the things that immediately strikes me is that this place reminds me of an amusement park, only with the attractions packed way too close together for no reason. Most of the booths are making no decent attempt to manage the crowds either, and it’s already starting to become a problem. Ubisoft, for example, is basically a Just Dance mosh pit flanked by small areas for Mario + Rabbids and Assassin’s Creed. Bethesda and Capcom are doing a little better by having more room, clearly marked lines, and by not having their presentation stages in the middle of game demonstration areas. Meanwhile, Square Enix and ArcSys are wrapping people around the outside walls of their booths, taking up a small amount of main pathway space, but it’s not too bad.
However, in the North Hall, it’s another story entirely. Nintendo is doing the equivalent of running around screaming while on fire. It’s really hard to understate the chaos of Nintendo’s area on day one. What starts as a curious wander through the swing and jazz themed space quickly turns into a 15 minute ordeal just trying to escape its walls. It’s pretty much just jam packed with people all desperately trying to see if the new Mario is good. If there are actual lines for any of the 50 some Mario Odyssey setups, I can’t see them. Honestly, I’ve seen more organization while watching children run away screaming on the last day of school.
Sony, on the other hand, has a completely different strategy, ditching lines almost entirely. Instead you have to make an appointment on the Playstation Experience app, then return at your designated time much like how an amusement park “Fast Pass” system works. This inevitably leads to several people waiting in short lines that do not exist, only to be turned away because they didn’t know about the app. Not the worst idea in theory, but it could have been communicated better. All of today’s appointments are gone anyway, so I’ll have to go without Spider-Man, I suppose.
My first actual attempt to play something is over at the Sega booth, because I absolutely NEED to know if Sonic Mania is the Sonic game I’ve wanted since the Genesis died. Fortunately, what with Sega being the industry underdogs anymore, the wait isn’t that bad. I bide my time watching a developer spotlight video about the design of Bayonetta and playing more Tetris on my Switch, before striking up a conversation with a few other people. The discussion revolves around just how well Sega has been handling itself in recent years, and which Persona game is best (5, 4, 3. Fight me.) when the couple I’m talking with hand me their business card. Turns out they run an independent video game store in Anaheim called Video Game Geeks. They also happen to be acquainted with Aaron Webber, the man behind the brilliant Sonic the Hedgehog twitter account. Nice people, you should check out their store if you get a chance.
After about 40 minutes, I finally get my hands on the game. Within seconds, I can tell that Sonic Mania exactly what I’ve been waiting for. It looks beautiful, sounds awesome, and every minute I spend in the one level that I get to play feels perfect. It’s over in about 5 minutes, but just like a good roller coaster, it was worth the wait. Unfortunately though, standing around for the past 6 hours with a 15 pound bag of gear is starting to take a toll on my batteries and my back, prompting me to find a power station to rest and catch up on my notes.
One of the things that I find striking is how friendly all the other attendees are. For example, while sitting here recharging my equipment, I had a random conversation with another guest about why Quake is awesome. It’s not all sunshine and rainbows of course, but I’ve yet to run into anyone who is an outright jerk. In a way, it’s a breath of fresh air to me. 2016 saw the end of a 7 year stint in video game retail, and while I have no real desire to go back, I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t miss the daily conversations with other gamers. In a way, my experience so far almost feels a bit dissonant from the stories and complaints I’ve heard about past E3s. It’s no secret that many journalists and industry folk dislike E3. In the days following the event, several articles will be written about how E3 was different this year and how industry insiders almost or did hold the new guests with disdain. But having actually been here, interacting at the booths and with the other guests, I didn’t experience much hostility myself. To be fair, there was one incident… But we’ll get into that later.
In a way though, I get it. E3 has always straddled a strange line between cultural touchstone and business strategy. The show’s origins are actually rooted in gaming not being taken seriously. Before E3, video games often got lumped into a dark corner of a larger tech convention, at least in the US. One of the worst stories I’ve heard described a show where they were given a small area at the back of the hall… next to the porn. The situation was hardly ideal, to say the least. However, the mid 90’s saw the formation of the ESA and the ESRB Rating system, themselves a response to US lawmakers demands for game developers to self-regulate their content before the government did it for them. Shortly thereafter, the ESA started putting on E3, and the rest is history.
Thanks to the combination of investors, journalists, and other industry insiders who would attend, E3 became the best place to reveal and discuss new projects, especially hardware, and people noticed. Over time, despite the business focus of the show, E3 became something that gamers celebrated, albeit mostly from afar. E3 was where your favorite game got a new sequel announced, or where the next big console was revealed. Where everyone’s new greatest game of all time was first unleashed into the world. But to the people who are actually there? Sure, I’m certain that there is some fun to be had, but ultimately, they are all at work. Who wouldn’t be annoyed by a bunch of tourists wandering around while they are trying to do their jobs? Maybe that’s the problem, though. Maybe standing on both sides of the business/consumer fence keeps E3 from fully serving either camp, and if that’s the case, maybe E3 is as doomed as the naysayers say. Maybe it’s not that simple, and what problems E3 may or may not face are beyond where the ordinary person can see, let alone begin to solve. Personally, I don’t think that E3 is in any real danger, not yet at least. I actually think that once the vendors learn how to handle a larger crowd that features non-professionals, E3 could become stronger than ever, but who knows?
Overthinking aside, my devices are charged, meaning it’s time to wander again. I promised several friends footage of Dragon Ball Fighter Z and Marvel VS Capcom Infinite, and as such I make a bee line… anywhere but there. Instead I end up back at the ground floor of the south atrium to try out the Crash Bandicoot remake. While I’m in line, I meet yet more friendly people, challenging them to rounds of Street Fighter while we wait. One pair even happen to be the top streamers on Microsoft’s Mixer platform, which is neat I guess. I’d never heard of Mixer prior to this E3, let alone watched any streams on it, so I can’t say I know who they are. They were super nice though, so maybe it’s something to look at later, I suppose. The Crash remake is good, too. Not much to say about it really. It feels pretty much exactly like what the first three Crash games should feel like, just prettier. Honestly though, I’m finding myself thinking more about the people I’ve been interacting with than the games I’ve been playing. It’s not a complaint about the games, because I’m certainly not bored. Rather, it’s the other way around; The people I’ve been meeting today are just as fascinating as the new games that I’m watching. That’s cool, really.
Stepping away from the Crash booth, I check my watch. 4:45. With just enough time for maybe one more line, I decide to head to the Quake Champions Team Deathmatch setup. I’m actually familiar with Quake Champions, having played the beta for the last two months, so outside of a few maps and a champion there’s not much new here for me. I’m not here for the game though, rather the people. Back home, I don’t have many people to play Quake with, let alone have a LAN battle like here. Looks like I’m getting lucky, too, as once I step into line the attendant closes it behind me. I end up talking with my future teammates about the game’s mechanics, and just before our match I even get to talk to a developer about how they are balancing the game. As for the match itself… My D key keeps sticking, but our team still wins and I get 4th on server. Both teams get neat Quake hats, and I make two new Steam friends as we are shuffled out the doors.
At the end of the day, I am absolutely exhausted. Back at the hostel I take one last pass at my notes and hang out with the other guests. I had a total blast today, and I can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings.
-----Day 2, Threats and Thoughts-----
A Threat. Today brought a Warning and a Threat.
Like the previous day, I was up with the sun, sneaking about the hostel trying to get ready for the day without waking up anyone. I don’t have to pick up my badge today, but the earlier opening time coupled with the lines I saw yesterday once again has me out the door as the sun rises over LA. I’m not the only one either. Once I’ve fueled myself with vending machine coffee and granola bars, I join a crowd of about 200 people to once again wait for 3 hours.
About 30 minutes later though, with another 300 people in the atrium, a tall black suited security guard wearing a g-man earpiece wades into the crowd and begins yelling for everyone’s attention. It’s hard to clearly make out what he’s saying specifically, but we all get his message. Anyone caught filming or photographing in the building will have their memory cards confiscated, their badge revoked, and will be banned from E3. We are also told to get out our ID’s and keep them available all day, as the guards will be carding everyone in the line, and we could be carded at any time during the show. The group collectively groans, but we do as we’re told. Ten minutes later, the same guard comes back out. He’s making some sort of clarification regarding areas that can be filmed or photographed, but it’s nearly impossible to make out what he actually says other than “I had bad information before”. It takes us a while to corroborate what we all heard, but apparently cameras are OK in the atriums, while on the show floors “it depends”. Word is certain vendors had been openly complaining to security about people with cameras. Meanwhile, some idiots from GameStop are selling their 3 day “Expo Pass” and “Expo Pro” badges on eBay for upwards of 500 dollars. Another separate rumor has also started floating around regarding heightened security for Hideo Kojima, but it’s hearsay at best.
Security doesn’t attempt to clarify the poorly worded warnings any further, so the threat of, “We will throw you out at any time because we feel like it.”, cools more than a few enthusiastic attitudes. It’s hardly dour; No one is openly upset or mad at it. We all just sort of go, “Well shit, I guess this is a thing today.” Thankfully, the next two hours quickly pass, and soon the sea of bodies is flowing up the escalators yet again. The guards yell at people to face forward and put away their cameras. No one listens, but by now security seems to have realized that trying to enforce the no camera policy is laughable at best.
Before I continue, I have to mention that I actually brought up the camera ban threat to a few of the vendors, asking if it would be OK to take any photographs with my phone. Universally, every one of them expressed confusion at the idea of it, and said that it wasn’t a problem. One person even asked point blank “Why the hell would you complain about cameras here? It’s publicity!”, before offering to take the picture for me. It’s likely not a question I’m ever going to get a real answer to either, because no sane company would confess to being the driving force behind an open threat aimed at some of their most enthusiastic fans. It’s also worth noting that I did not see anyone get stopped by security for any reason, anywhere. No carding, no camera bans, nothing. Who knows what ever came of it.
Regardless of the poor conception of the policy, I’m on the floor now, and I have a promise to make good on. First order of business is to get to the ArcSys area and try out Dragon Ball Fighter Z, then hit up the Capcom booth for MvC: Infinite. I get about 4 minutes on each, then report my findings back to the group; Both are good, but I think Dragon Ball is better if only because while both play well, Dragon Ball’s presentation is 1000 times better.
With my mission complete, I decide to shift gears and check out the smaller booths in the main hall. Some booths feature peripherals that range from fascinating, such as a motion capture compression vest that uses special embedded circuits, to terrible, such as a mouse that is easily the least comfortable object ever designed.
http://imgur.com/vdwK0OG Not Pictured: The Identity Disc I wish existed
One indie booth featured a VR demo for a cinematic rail shooter that was fairly cool. Another person showcased what I can only describe as a bad attempt at a surrealist music video, also in VR. Keeping up the theme, I swing past the Bethesda booth again to look in on Doom VR. 90 minute wait… moving on.
Although I skipped it yesterday, one of the other titles that I had put into my “must play” list was Super Mario Odyssey, which meant going to the North Hall again. Looking for a shortcut, I ended up on the relatively hidden food truck lot, where I meet a pair of cameramen. Curious, I ask if they had been approached about the camera ban, which led to talking about how and why they were at E3. Turns out, the main cinematographer lives not much more than 20 minutes away from my house. We exchange numbers and share examples of our work before splitting up. He likes what I’ve done so far, which helps to boost my ego a little bit.
Back on task, I wade my way across the North Hall to get to the Nintendo booth. Nintendo seem to have learned from yesterday’s chaos, establishing amusement park style queues that stretch back into what appears to be an unlit loading zone behind their area. The change earns them a few jeers from people about long lines, but in truth they are now moving people through the demo area at an impressive rate without anyone being trampled. It only took me a little under an hour to get through the line. At the demo area I meet a Nintendo rep who is exhausted from explaining the same gameplay for hours on end. To his relief, I had payed attention to his explanations to the person before me. By chance, I heard him mention that only one person had managed to make it to Bowser all E3, but wasn’t able to beat him in time.
Well then… I got all 120 stars back in the day… Challenge Accepted.
I knew the demo was on a 10 minute timer, and just from watching it I could tell that the game mechanics were mostly similar to Super Mario 64, so I dove into it with the goal of getting to the end as fast as possible. I’m pretty sure that the rep would have hugged me if he could just for the change in pace. He started cheering me on, offering me quick tips on where to go for speed. I did fairly well too. I made one major mistake that cost me a small amount, but I still made it to the final area. There are two fights here, a minion and Bowser himself. Just as the zone loads in, the demo times out. The rep was crushed, but he still congratulated me for making it that far, giving me a voucher for a googly eyed Mario visor. It’s awesome. The game is really good too, if you were wondering.
Sadly though my day is coming to an end, and with it my time at E3. True, the event runs for 3 days, but I have travel plans for tomorrow, meaning this is my last hour here. I swing back through the Square Enix area and snag some souvenirs, then wander to the eSports Arena, where Twitch streamer Rapha of Team Liquid is destroying his teammates in Quake Champions. Enroute, I peek into the Doom VR area one last time, where I see Victor Lucas behind a glass pane, plinking away on his phone.
Victor Lucas is kind of a big deal to me. Along with Adam Sessler, he’s one of the first people I ever really understood to be a video game journalist. He used to host a show with Tommy Tallarico called Judgment Day, and I watched it religiously as a kid. I’ve also been watching his revival of Electric Playground on Youtube as well, so the combination of current presence and nostalgia… I’ll admit, I zoned out thinking about it. Unfortunately, Victor also happened to look up right as I was being a complete dork. The only response I could muster was to wave back sheepishly. Sorry man, I didn’t mean to be a weirdo.
Because of the security guards warnings, my actual camera stayed in my bag all day. However, I decide that I need one more sequence as I leave, and record myself as I walk out of the venue, bringing my E3 experience to an end. Sadly, my camera loses the footage, along with almost everything else I had recorded the past two days. Thank god for my notebook, that’s all I can say.
In the days following, I would read articles that discussed people’s complaints about the show. Long lines, crowded areas, high entry costs. I even saw a few complaints from the media itself about the addition of the public passes, mostly just about the added congestion though. To be fair, E3 as an event was entirely not prepared for the added influx of enthusiasts. Both main halls were poorly laid out, making the mistake of cramming all the larger attractions into the central areas of the floors. This ended up choking out the space, forcing lines to cross and overflow into walking paths. Perhaps a better option would have been to take a note out of theme park design, and spread out these main areas along the outer edges of each floor, with the smaller and shorter booths spaced out in the center. A few vendors, like Nintendo, managed to figure it out, implementing and organizing lines more effectively. Others though just had no clue what they were doing, which only made problems worse.
Even with the difficulties though, I can’t say I’m disappointed. The people that I met, the experience of finally getting to go to E3. To me, it was incredible. After spending the last year away from video game retail, getting to immerse myself in this culture again was like a breath of fresh air. Sure, you can complain that E3 is one big marketing firework, because in many ways it’s supposed to be. But to be in a hall with thousands of other people who love gaming as much as you do… You don’t get that through the press conferences or the live streams. If the entirety of your exposure to E3 was through work or through the internet, then I wonder how complete a picture you actually got. Similarly, one of the things that I found kind of strange was the fact that several of media outlets set up booths on the floor behind plexiglass and fabric walls. While I would sincerely hope that no one reported on the whole event from the sterile side of a plexiglass cubicle, but I wouldn’t be shocked either. There are tons of things to see at E3, and yes, it absolutely takes a professional team with a plan and the right equipment to even attempt to tackle it all. I entirely understand the need for them to set up bases of operation for E3, though I do question the wisdom of doing so with actual showroom floor space. It’s just another part of the operation that I don’t understand quite yet, though I want to in the future.
It’s not all perfect, to be totally fair. Even with the various methods I used to save money, E3 was still fairly expensive for me to attend. And even if I didn’t particularly mind the lines, I was still unable to see much of what I wanted to. I had spent hours planning out how I wanted to tackle the conference, but like any plan, it didn’t survive first contact with the enemy. All the same, the fact that I was finally able to go to E3, and the experience I had there will be something I’ll cherish, if only for the people that I got to meet.
I’ll conclude this article by talking about one of the people that I met at the hostel. He’s an independent filmmaker, and when he saw me writing the night of day one, he asked if I was some kind of journalist.
“I’d like to be”, I replied.
His response caught me off guard. He seemed almost insulted, pointedly asking me what I was waiting for. He beseeched me to seize the moment. That if I truly want to be a gaming journalist, I need to throw everything I have at it. In a way, he’s right. Anyone who simply waits for their dreams to be handed to them accomplishes nothing. All the same, real life has a way of interfering with your ambitions, and dropping everything to chase them is irresponsible at best. While I have no desire to go back to retail, I do miss the industry. I don’t know if I’ll ever make it back, or if I’ll even find a way to do so. But regardless of whether my trip is the end of the line, or the beginning of a new journey, I consider all the time I did get to spend in the industry, however insignificant it may have been, to be a privilege.
When I first started writing this article, I kept it in a file titled “Victory Lap”. I did so because for me, finally making it to E3 after all this time felt like winning… somehow. Looking at it now from the other side, it’s a somewhat naive sentiment. There is a grain of wisdom in it though. Because after you finish your victory lap, you have to prepare for the next race.
Go pursue something. Even if you fail, you’ll at least have a story to tell. http://imgur.com/Vf0JyHu
EDIT: Trying to clean up the formatting to make it easier to read.
submitted by Dudeman_Jones to gaming

Horizon Zero Dawn - Review Thread

Game Information

Game Title: Horizon Zero Dawn
Platform: PlayStation 4
Media: E3 2015 Trailer | E3 2016 Trailer
E3 2016 Gameplay Trailer
E3 2016 'Meet the Watchers' Trailer
PS4 Pro 4k Gameplay
'Evolution of the Machines' | 'Creating a New World'
PSX 2016 'The Machines' Trailer
Story Trailer
'Secrets of the Past'
'Explore the Wilds' | 'Earth is Ours No More'
'Thrill of the Hunt' | 'Overwhelming Odds'
'The Hero: Aloy'
Launch Trailer
Developer: Guerrilla Games Info
Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Release Date: NA - February 28, 2017
PAL - March 1, 2017
More Info: /Horizon | Wikipedia Page
Review Aggregator: OpenCritic - 89 [PS4]
MetaCritic - 89 [PS4]

Reviews

Areajugones - Juan Linares - Spanish - 9 / 10 (PS4/Pro)
Horizon Zero Dawn was as good as everbody expected. A powerful narrative and a solid gameplay make this Guerrilla game one of the best titles that 2017 has to offer.
Attack of the Fanboy - Dean James - 4.5 / 5 stars (PS4/Pro)
Featuring a likeable new protagonist in Aloy alongside a compelling story, deep combat system and stunning visuals -- Guerrilla Games has already raised the bar for exclusives this year with Horizon: Zero Dawn.
CGMagazine - Brendan Quinn - 8.5 / 10 (PS4)
Horizon Zero Dawn is the gaming equivalent of realizing that sounding too much like the legends—when done well—is just fine.
COGconnected - Shawn Petraschuk - 100 / 100 (PS4/Pro)
Horizon Zero Dawn is Guerrilla Games’ crowning achievement in video game development.
Destructoid - Chris Carter - 7.5 / 10 (PS4/Pro)
Horizon Zero Dawn is a fascinating premise wrapped in a tortilla of tropes. It has detective vision, radio towers, skill trees, masked load screens (Tony Hawk's American Wasteland gets no credit for popularizing this in 2005, by the way), and a world map littered with billions of points of interest -- all stuff you've seen before. But after you set up and execute a cunning plan to decimate a pack of giant robot crocodiles and that smile hits your face, it's more excusable.
Digitally Downloaded - Matt Sainsbury - 3.5 / 5 stars (PS4)
Horizon is a remarkably refined and technically brilliant game, but Guerrilla has yet to prove that it can take that next step and produce a genuine classic.
Easy Allies - Brandon Jones - 4 / 5 stars | Written (PS4/Pro)
Horizon Zero Dawn feels like a franchise in the making. While not packed with narrative high points, it’s still a compelling introduction to a world in turmoil that answers a lot of questions, but still gestures toward a more climactic future. Its primary element, squaring off against mechanized animals, is such a success, it makes up for the ongoing repetition of the game’s activities. When we look into Horizon’s future, we see a sequel that can take this world and make it into something remarkable.
Eurogamer - Martin Robinson - Unscored (PS4)
Guerrilla Games goes open world in this sumptuous, enjoyable yet overly generic new age sci-fi RPG.
Game Informer - Jeff Marchiafava - 8.8 / 10 (PS4)
Horizon doesn't reinvent open-world gaming, but it delivers consistent fun, challenge, and intrigue from start to finish
Game Revolution - JamalR - 4.5 / 5 stars (PS4)
To simply put it, there is a certain appeal to Horizon: Zero Dawn which I have not found in any other open-world RPG game. Perhaps it is the addition of shiny robots to the mix or the story of Aloy herself. Either way, this game has my full attention and I wouldn't call it anything less than stellar.
Gameplanet - Tim Stanton - 9 / 10 (PS4)
Guerrilla Games' punt on a new IP has paid off handsomely, as despite its silly title, Horizon Zero Dawn is a magnificent open world action-adventure that lives up to its hype.
GamesRadar+ - Zoe Delahunty-Light - 4.5 / 5 stars (PS4)
An open-world that tailors to each and every interest, Horizon: Zero Dawn keeps combat fresh, with an intriguing protagonist to match.
GameZone - Carter Washington - 9.5 / 10 (PS4)
Horizon: Zero Dawn is a PS4 must-own exclusive. It crafts a wonderful, fully realized and explorable world, and an interesting story that's worth seeing through to the end, if just to find out what Zero Dawn actually means!
GamingTrend - Travis Northup - 85 / 100 (PS4/Pro)
Horizon Zero Dawn is an excellent open-world experience that puts fighting towering robots at the center of the action. It’s held back somewhat by its weak narrative, and occasional glitches, but that doesn’t stop it from being the most badass game I’ve played this year.
Giant Bomb - Jeff Gerstmann - 5 / 5 stars (PS4)
Horizon: Zero Dawn is familiar but also really refreshing. It's not a short game (I spent around 30 hours with it), but the storytelling still feels concise and efficient. The combat has some nice options that make encounters fun, even when you're just stacking up stealth kills from the relative safety of a bush. And the presentation end of the game holds up its end of things with a solid soundtrack, great voice acting, and a cohesive design that makes all its disparate parts fit together. All in all, it's a great game, it's Guerrilla's strongest release to date, and I suspect I'll go back in after the fact to clean up whatever side quests and errands I have remaining, if only to spend a little more time in that world.
Hardcore Gamer - Kevin Dunsmore - 4.5 / 5 (PS4/Pro)
Guerrilla Games took a risk developing a brand new IP that is such a drastic departure from previous titles, and it worked.
IGN - Lucy O'Brien - 9.3 / 10 (PS4/Pro)
Across a vast and beautiful open world, Horizon: Zero Dawn juggles many moving parts with polish and finesse. Its main activity - combat - is extremely satisfying thanks to the varied design and behaviors of machine-creatures that roam its lands, each of which needs to be taken down with careful consideration. Though side questing could have been more imaginative, its missions are compelling thanks to a central mystery that led me down a deep rabbit hole to a genuinely surprising - and moving - conclusion.
New Game Network - Alex Varankou - 80 / 100 (PS4)
Horizon Zero Dawn offers an entirely unique world and a thrilling experience as an action game, complete with a great story and likeable characters. It doesn't reach its grand RPG aspirations, but the highs are so memorable and entertaining that it's easy to forgive the shortcomings.
NZGamer - Keith Milburn - 8 / 10 (PS4/Pro)
Aloy’s quest through the post-post-apocalypse is one of pros and cons. Encounters with robotic wildlife are equal parts tactical and reflexive, but fights against humans are awkward, and the camera is unwieldly. The world is lush and gorgeous, but traversing it can be a chore. Horizon Zero Dawn is a breath of fresh air, and a welcome departure from Guerrilla’s previous offerings – but the journey takes some missteps.
PlayStation LifeStyle - Paulmichael Contreras - 10 / 10 (PS4/Pro)
Horizon Zero Dawn is an early contender for game of the year. Guerrilla Games has outdone themselves, in astounding fashion. This is a glorious game, the result of a team of masterful artisans who not only had a story that they wished to tell, but a world that was living inside of them which they wanted to share with us all. Now, we get to play inside their creation, and it is a breathtaking experience to behold. A massive, open world filled with equally massive, terrifying robots, juxtaposed against the beauty of the Earth, nature fighting back the darkness as it tends to do. Horizon Zero Dawn is the kind of game you play to get lost in, and can be enjoyed by players of all types. This could be the beginning of a stellar franchise, and there is something for everyone here. If you own a PS4, you owe it to yourself to give Horizon Zero Dawn a go.
PlayStation Universe - Kyle Prahl - 9.5 / 10 (PS4/Pro)
Horizon Zero Dawn reinvigorates open-world RPGs with an excellent story, creative science fiction, and demanding gameplay. Aloy’s debut is one of PS4’s greatest games.
Push Square - Sammy Barker - 9 / 10 (PS4/Pro)
Debuts don't get much stronger than Horizon: Zero Dawn. Guerrilla Games' latest borrows liberally from a variety of different sources, and yet it leverages these fundamentals to forge an experience that's daringly unique. The main quest tires a little towards the end, and the writing never hits the same highs as The Witcher 3 – but the tactical action stands leagues ahead of what we've come to expect from the genre, and the presentation is quite simply unmatched.
RPG Site - Natalie Flores - 9 / 10 (PS4)
Through its stunning world, thrilling combat, and heartwarming story, Horizon Zero Dawn is bound to be one of this year's most memorable games.
Telegraph - Kirk McKeand - 5 / 5 stars (PS4)
If you went into Horizon Zero Dawn without knowing a thing about it, you would never guess that this open-world RPG comes from Guerrilla Games - the studio behind weighty first-person-shooter series, Killzone.
The Jimquisition - Jim Fucking Sterling, Son - 9.5 / 10 (PS4)
Horizon: Zero Dawn is just brilliant. I speak as a critic who has played more "open sandbox" games than any one human should and has grown so very weary of them. I should have gotten sick of this thing in an hour, but I've been glued to it for days and days and I don't want it to end.
TheSixthAxis - Stefan L - 8 / 10 (PS4/Pro)
Horizon: Zero Dawn is a bit of a slow burn, but there’s more to Guerrilla Games’ latest than just its staggeringly pretty graphics. The story surprises as it takes several twists and turns and explores the past, but the games beating heart is with its excellently tense and engaging robotic monster hunting.
USgamer - Caty McCarthy - 2.5 / 5 stars (PS4)
Horizon Zero Dawn is disappointing. It has a story that I struggled to care about (complete with massive expository dumps—yay), a bland protagonist, and overtly repetitive and constraining missions that worked against its open world sensibilities. When Horizon Zero Dawn hit its rare strides—from its gloomy Cauldrons to traveling across its sprawling vistas—it only made me wish the rest of the game were as worthwhile.
GameSpot - Peter Brown - 9 / 10 (PS4)
Horizon: Zero Dawn is an exciting and breathtaking odyssey.
Metro GameCentral - GameCentral - 8 / 10 (PS4/Pro)
State-of-the-art visuals help create one of gaming’s most entertaining open worlds, even if the gameplay doesn’t quite reach the same standards.
Stevivor - Steve Wright - 7 / 10 (PS4/Pro)
For all the hype that's been extended to Horizon: Zero Dawn, it hasn't managed to fully deliver.
Shacknews - Steve Watts - 9 / 10 (PS4)
When I began Horizon: Zero Dawn, I was anxious it wouldn't be able to maintain itself for thirty-plus hours. I'm thrilled that fear was unfounded. The play was constantly rich and rewarding, and the mysteries constantly unfolding. I'm left not just feeling satisfied the entire time, but wanting more. This one is something special.
Polygon - Philip Kollar - 9.5 / 10 (PS4)
Horizon Zero Dawn feels like a storied developer finally finding its voice
AusGamers - Joaby - 9.6 / 10 (PS4)
All my gripes are just areas for a brand new, spectacular franchise to grow from though. It even feels a bit off talking about them, because Horizon came out so big to begin with. It's odd to think that a team could get away with doing less — probably a lot less — and still earn acclaim.
Cheat Code Central - Patrick Tretina - 4.9 / 5 (PS4)
When all is said and done, Horizon Zero Dawn far exceeds my expectations and is on course to be one of the best titles the gaming community has seen in a long time.
IGN Spain - Juan Garcia, David Soriano - Spanish - 9 / 10 (PS4/Pro)
There's so much to love on Horizon: Zero Dawn. You may love its gameplay, its magnificent world, its crisp visuals or the excellent sound design. An experience that's worth it.
XGN - Theo Weber - Dutch - 9.7 / 10 (PS4)
Guerilla Games has set the bar while it ventures into a new genre. The game looks phenomenal, and it offers variety, tens of hours of fun and an accessible system. It challenges you in every fight to play intelligently. This may be the best game of 2017.
Paste Magazine - Reid McCarter - 6 / 10 (PS4)
There is much beauty to see in the game's world—such incredible vision and craft exercised in its conception—but it's subservient to a poor story, lackluster combat and, worst of all, an evident paranoia that players won't appreciate the world Aloy inhabits unless it's put within the context of a laundry list of tasks that have to be completed.
Arcade Sushi - Jason Fanellie - 9.5 / 10 (PS4)
With Horizon Zero Dawn, Guerrilla Games crafted a beautiful open world filled with life, both mechanical and human, and crammed full of things to do.
Forbes - Paul Tassi - 9 / 10 (PS4)
I was impressed with Horizon from the outset, my interest lagged a bit in the middle, but by the end I was a convert. This is a very cool universe with a genuinely likable new lead. Gameplay is excellent in most sections, and it avoids some irritating open world tropes like overloading players with substance-free side missions. There are some problems that reflect Guerrilla being new to this genre, but ultimately the good far outweighs the bad.
God is a Geek - Chris White - 9.5 / 10 (PS4/Pro)
It’s been a long time since a game has been put together this well. The combat is awesome, the visuals are stunning, and Aloy is 100% badass. Go and buy this game!
Ars Technica - Sam Machkovech - Recommended (PS4/Pro)
You’ll remember new hero Aloy—and her massive, explosive journey—for a long time.
M3 - Billy Ekblom - Swedish - 9 / 10 (PS4)
Horizon: Zero Dawn doesn't reinvent the wheel – but delivers an immersive action experience, set in a gorgeous world with lots of mysteries and thrilling encounters.
Twinfinite - Chris Jecks - 5 / 5 (PS4/Pro)
Horizon Zero Dawn is a treat to every PS4 owner. Its magical world is a wonder to explore, it controls and looks exceptional, and the unique, modular build of its enemies ensures that combat never gets old.
FZ - Fredrik Eriksson - Swedish - 4 / 5 stars (PS4/Pro)
The fighting system is the most unique part but Horizon Zero Dawn isn't that revolutionary. All games doen't need to reinvent the wheel and reach for the stars, to get to the tree tops is more than enough.
Kinda Funny Games - Greg Miller, Colin Moriarty - Recommended (PS4)
Moriarty: This does everything it does extraordinarily well. This is in the pantheon of the greatest open world games I've ever played. This is in the pantheon of some of the great stories I've ever heard in video games. Aloy's an amazing character with a lot of interesting depth. I know people are excited she's a woman and stuff and that's great, but there is more to her than just her gender. There is more to her than just–you just feel sorrow for her–you long for her to find closure in these certain different ways and also find information, and the world building is perfect, the enemies are interesting, the science fiction is fascinating. This game does everything really well like The Last of Us. (24:54)
GamesBeat - Mike Minotti - 87 / 100 (PS4/Pro)
Like with God of War and Uncharted before, Horizon: Zero Dawn should be the start of another PlayStation iconic franchise. It offers a gorgeous and interesting world rich with adventure (including plenty of giant robots to kill). While it borrows heavily from the likes of Far Cry, it’s a more interesting and less repetitive effort than we’ve seen from that series.
The presentation suffers a few hiccups, but it’s mostly a beautiful game. It’s also a long one. Horizon will keep you busy for a good chunk of time with its multitude of side-quests and extra activities.
Game Over Online - Jeremy Peeples - 98% (PS4)
Horizon Zero Dawn is Guerrilla Games’ best effort, one of the PS4’s greatest games, and the best game ever crafted from the ground up for the platform. It combines a gripping narrative with intense action that blends both fast-paced combat with slower-paced, tense stealth sections perfectly. Everything about their vision for this game clicks into place and is accentuated by a stellar presentation. The game features top-shelf graphical work, a unique and enjoyable soundtrack, alongside a fantastic cast to make an unforgettable experience.
Next-Gen Gaming Blog - Ben Ward - 9 / 10 (PS4/Pro)
A magnificent technical achievement, Horizon Zero Dawn mixes up the open world style in all the right ways, with an intriguing premise that kept me entertained, and which dug its hooks into me the deeper I got into it. A stunning game that deserves your attention.
Daily Dot - AJ Moser - 4 / 5 stars (PS4)
Though Horizon doesn't represent a revolution in open-world adventures, it borrows heavily from past success stories and elevates the genre to a beautiful new standard.
GameMAG - xtr - Russian - 9 / 10 (PS4/Pro)
Horizon Zero Dawn is one of the most exciting games of the year. The story is amazing and touches the most delicate strings of the soul. The journey of Aloy absorbed all the best from the industry and with unique design of the robotic animals created something completely new. The developers managed to maintain the magic that makes you come back to this shattered world again and again to explore the beautiful scenery, collect ancient artifacts, or just hunting for the rare creatures.
GamingBolt - Aaron Main - 10 / 10 (PS4)
Guerrilla Games have outdone themselves with Horizon Zero Dawn. A studio that was known for delivering linear first person shooters took a risk with developing an open world game, a genre which is over-saturated at this point. Horizon Zero Dawn is right up there with the best and is easily one of the best games of this generation. Guerrilla Games not only managed to provide a world that is a wonder to explore but they have raised the bar for open world games development.
Guardian - Dan Silver - 4 / 5 stars (PS4)
Its huntegatherer gameplay hasn’t moved on from Far Cry and Tomb Raider, but Zero Dawn sets a new visual benchmark
Worth Playing - Chris "Atom" DeAngelus - 8.5 / 10 (PS4)
Horizon: Zero Dawn is a perfect example of strong, competent and enjoyable gameplay. It doesn't reinvent the genre, but it's a lot of fun to play. The mecha-dino combat is the highlight and represents some of the most enjoyable open-world combat on the market. Burning through powerful foes and looting their corpses for rare treasures captures an excitement rarely felt in open-world games. The rest of the gameplay is somewhat dulled in comparison. A somewhat weak plot drags down the experience but isn't enough to detract from the enjoyment. All in all, Horizon: Zero Dawn is one of the better exclusives on the PS4 and a great addition to any PS4 owner's lineup.
VideoGamer - Colm Ahern - 8 / 10 (PS4)
Destroying large robot beasts while frantically switching between weapons is intoxicating, but the strength of Horizon Zero Dawn is in Aloy's engaging quest to find out who she really is.
ZTGD - Ken McKown - 8 / 10 (PS4/Pro)
I really enjoyed my time in the world of Horizon. From its gorgeous landscapes to its interesting combat, the game feels like a world begging to be explored. However, some of its systems feel half-baked and shoehorned into the mix, creating a lopsided experience at times. Still, like most Sony first-party games, it still feels like a special event, and I would love to see Guerrilla Games get another shot at something outside the Killzone universe, heck I would definitely be in for another game in the Horizon universe. This is a great experience, and one PS4 owners will definitely not want to miss.
TrustedReviews - Brett Phipps - 4.5 / 5 stars (PS4/Pro)
I didn’t expect Horizon: Zero Dawn to be this good. I doubt I’ll be the only one saying they were surprised that the Killzone developer has been able to deliver a game with such breadth, depth and consistently rewarding gameplay.
Kotaku - Patricia Hernandez - Unscored (PS4)
Horizon is not what you may have expected from Guerilla Games. For years, the studio has been Sony’s Killzone factory, churning out first-person shooters set in a grim world. With Horizon, the studio is finally let loose to show us how much more they’re capable of, and what they’re capable of is jaw-dropping.
Digital Trends - Will Fulton - 4.5 / 5 stars (PS4)
'Horizon Zero Dawn' nails every aspect of the open-world action RPG, including robot dinosaur hunting.
TechnoBuffalo - Joey Davidson - 4.5 / 5 stars (PS4)
When Horizon Zero Dawn shines, it’s the best game on the PS4. Not one of the best. The best. No question. When tense, terrifying moments turn into loud, deliberate battles and you feel like a genius, it’s perfect. There are moments, though, where it feels like it leans too hard on open world convention set in place by other games. I’m not having fun clearing out bandit camps anymore, devs. That stopped being fun back with Far Cry 4.
This is a good game, though some of that goodness is hidden in the wilderness. Sometimes, that wilderness can be tedious. Other times, it’s something you want to get completely lost in. As you make your 2,000-meter trek to the next objective, you’ll surely get distracted. Those distractions are when this game sings loudest, and I loved it for that.
Atomix - Emilio Reyes - Spanish - 93 / 100 (PS4)
Horizon: Zero Dawn offer us a very interesting story with good characters, and a huge beautiful world that invites you to explore with its narrative. With interesting tribes, dialogues, myths, towns and ruins of our civilization, the travel of Aloy in the adventure to know herself is completely enjoyable and the hunting of mechanic beasts is a memorable experience that found its basis to create the new big PlayStation IP.
LevelUp - Rodrigo Villanueva - Spanish - 8.6 / 10 (PS4)
Horizon: Zero Dawn represents the birth a new and promising IP, thanks to a clever concept, solid combat mechanics and an outstanding presentation. Having said that, it can be repetitive at times and the lack of spontaneity stops Horizon: Zero Dawn from being a true classic.
Digital Chumps - Nathaniel Stevens - 9.8 / 10 (PS4/Pro)
Horizon Zero Dawn proves that a big time developer like Guerrilla Games is more than a one-trick pony and that Sony might want to pick their brains for new and exciting titles in the very near future.
VGS/AM640 - Andy Borkowski - 10 / 10 | Written (PS4)
Horizon Zero Dawn is a prodigious evolution in the expression of narrative in video games. Like a technological advancement that propels the medium.
TrueGaming - محمد البسيمي - Arabic - 8.5 / 10 (PS4)
Horizon: Zero Dawn is an amazing experience by Guerrilla Games. It gives us a glimpse of what great things they can deliver in the future.
Washington Post - Christopher Byrd - Unscored (PS4)
"Horizon Zero Dawn" reminded me very much of a deftly engineered Hollywood movie. I wasn't especially surprised by its plot twists, but that didn't mean I didn't generally enjoy it. Let's see if it develops into a franchise with worthwhile staying power.
Sirus Gaming - Lexuzze Tablante - 10 / 10 (PS4)
Horizon: Zero Dawn is the game that perfected the open-world RPG genre, there are still a lot of secrets that I have yet to uncover in the ruins beyond the land of the tribes. The minor faults didn’t affect my final score for Horizon since the great parts of the game outweighs it. Horizon entices me to come back for more, there was never a time that I got bored with its side-missions which I usually care less in most RPG titles. Horizon: Zero Dawn is by far the best cinematic and most immersive game I’ve played this year.
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - Max Parker - 8.5 / 10 (PS4)
"Horizon Zero Dawn" hits the mark in almost everything it sets out to do, and it's that much more impressive that it's the team's first attempt at an open world game such as this one. Unfortunately, the character experience gets stale toward the second half. But, story woes don't ruin everything the game has to offer. It's still absolutely gorgeous and the combat is varied enough to be satisfying. There's room for improvement, but that just makes me more excited to see what's possible in the eventual sequel.
Gadgets 360 - Rishi Alwani - 9 / 10 (PS4/Pro)
Clocking in at around 30 hours if you were to stick to the main story alone, and much more if you were to experience everything it has to offer, Horizon Zero Dawn is welcome addition to a generation of games that’s seen developers push open-world tropes into many a title, some with barely any reason. The end result is a game that easily surpasses Guerrilla Games’ other works - yes, even Killzone 2. Horizon Zero Dawn is an essential for PS4 owners and role-playing game fans alike.
DualShockers - Giuseppe Nelva - 10 / 10 (PS4/Pro)
Guerrilla Games has broken free from the claustrophobic limits of linear shooters and has spread its wings with a gorgeous open world RPG that sets itself as a strong contender for game of the year… and it’s only February.
EGM - Matt Bucholtz - 9 / 10 (PS4)
Horizon Zero Dawn is a great choice for those craving action and adventure. With a terrific combat system, a strong female protagonist, and a deep pool of side content, it will surely go down as one of PlayStation’s star exclusives.
Saudi Gamer - مشهور الدبيان - Arabic - 4 / 5 (PS4)
Horizon: Zero Dawn exceeded my expectations in almost every way. Although it has a number of annoying issues, it's still a must-play game whether you usually enjoy open world games or not, as the game delivers a unique experience through a great world and its own unique gameplay style.
Slant Magazine - Justin Clark - 5 / 5 stars (PS4)
This is the benchmark of the truly great open-world title: creating a world that captivates you just by the very act of having you feel as if you're living within it.
Toronto Sun - Steve Tilley - 5 / 5 stars (PS4)
Amsterdam-based studio Guerilla Games, best known for PlayStation's grim but visually impressive Killzone franchise, spent more than six years on Horizon Zero Dawn, and it shows: in the beauty of the game's visuals, the depth of its backstory and the tightness of its design. Hopefully this isn't the last we'll see of this high-tech savage land. (Horizon Forbidden West, maybe? Please?)
AngryCentaurGaming - Jeremy Penter - Buy (PS4/Pro)
This is definitely a 'Buy'. Is it perfect? No, not even close, and its issues will be noticeable depending on what you yourself care about. But for me, any small inconveniences really paled next to the exploration or just trying to get one more hunting lodge award for excellence with my electro-slingshot. It doesn't matter if it's perfect, it matters if it's good, and this is.
Fortress of Solitude - Deville Louw - 9.5 / 10 (PS4)
Horizon Zero Dawn takes the established open world formula and makes it feel unique and refreshing. It truly deserves its place among the pantheon of great PlayStation games.
SA Gamer - Marko Swanepoel - 9.6 / 10 (PS4)
Guerrilla Games, you nailed it. This game should resonate for a while to come and it’s a strong contender for my GOTY already. Just get it already.
DigitalCentralMedia - Jordan Michael - 88% (PS4/Pro)
Horizon Zero Dawn is an outstanding game and the best looking PS4 game to date. Recommended to everyone who has a PS4.
Cerealkillerz - Gabriel Bogdan - German - 9.5 / 10 (PS4/Pro)
Horizon: Zero Dawn combines a fresh setting with some of the best parts that were already established by some Open-World Games and on top of that, it looks amazing. Besides a weak enemy AI and some minor animation issues you get one of the best action-rpgs of the last years.
Pennyworth Reviews - Nick de Bruyne - 4.5 / 5 stars (PS4)
Polished, fun and intriguing! Horizon is in many ways like The Witcher 3’s younger, less complicated sibling. Not as deep, but interesting and fun to hang out with.
IBTimes UK - Jake Tucker - 4 / 5 stars (PS4)
Horizon: Zero Dawn is a stellar open world game. Guerrilla has crafted a magnificent and utterly gorgeous adventure game with surprising depth that rewards player skill and will more than likely prove to be PS4's next major action franchise. It's just a shame the game's open world is so desperate to validate its own existence that it never lets you truly enjoy the thrill of the hunt.
Critical Hit - Alessandro Barbosa - 9 / 10 (PS4)
Horizon Zero Dawn is a love letter to the finer details, as they reinvigorate an open-world setting in startling ways. Its tight combat and engrossing world are icing on a package that just shines from all angles, making it an easy recommendation to not only play on PS4, but to buy one in the first place.
GameSkinny - Auverin Morrow - 9 / 10 stars (PS4)
Some people might think it's just a pretty re-skin of every other action RPG out there, but Horizon takes some bold steps in the right direction when it comes to aesthetics and streamlined functionality. In spite of some issues with control mapping, combat flow, and narrative execution, this game is really quite impressive.
GameSpace - William Murphy - 9 / 10 (PS4)
Horizon Zero Dawn won’t be remembered for being superbly unique. It’ll be remembered because it’s so well-crafted, lovingly cared for, and downright stupendously executed. It doesn’t chart new territory in gameplay, but it charts plenty of new ground with its world, characters, and more. Guerrilla took a major risk shifting IPs and genres, and with Horizon New Dawn they’ve created a universe I can’t wait to explore again. If you own a PlayStation 4, this is a game for you. And if you don’t? Maybe it’s time you bought one.
Post Arcade (National Post) - Chad Sapieha - 9 / 10 (PS4)
It's so unlike anything Guerrilla Games – a studio better known for macho, gory shooters – has done before, and it's so fully formed right our of the gate for such a vast and ambitious game that it just seems sort of…well, improbable. And yet here it is. A giant open-world action RPG that can stand toe-to-toe with some of the biggest and best in the genre.
PS4Blog.net - Tracey - 9.5 / 10 (PS4)
Horizon Zero Dawn is an incredible game. It is so easy to end up immersed in Aloy’s world as time stands still. The game’s story is great and offers several twists and surprises. And even though I mentioned it at the start of my Horizon Zero Dawn review, this is certainly one of the best-looking games on the PS4, no question. I highly recommend this game, and if you have a PS4 Pro, you’ll enjoy even better visuals that will rock your world!
Thanks OpenCritic for the review formatting help!
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