Guerrilla Games expansion for Horizon Zero Dawn, The Frozen Wilds, released on November 7th. Since then, I’ve been delving into the ruins of the Cut and exploring what the frozen wilderness has to offer. It’s more than what you were probably expecting.
The entire story revolves around the mysterious Banuk, their odd culture, and Aloy helping them defeat a Daemon which is causing the machines to become extremely hostile. A Chieftain name Aratak and his Shaman — Ourea are attempting to hunt this Daemon down, trying to calm the machines, losing many warriors/hunters in the process. Aloy reaches Aratak right at the beginning of the Cut, after being warned by a traveler of the danger she faces ahead.
Other Banuk tribes are… distant with Aratak’s, believing them to be foolish. The rest I will not spoil.
As far as where this story is placed, these events apparently happen before the end of battle of the game. Cilens chimed in over my Focus to tell me to get back to the task at hand, even though I had already completed all of the main game missions.
So when I arrived to the Cut, I figured combat was going to be a breeze. Wrong. The Daemon I spoke of earlier, it affects most of the machines, making them seriously strong. They appear to be another version of corrupted machines, but instead of seeing red while looking through your Focus, you see purple.
These machines are a lot tougher to play ball with though, but once you get a rhyme down it does become easier to deal with them. It’s the new machines you really need to watch out for, as they have some interesting ways to kill you.
There is also a new addition to the section of passive-aggressive machines that’s unique to The Frozen Wilds. It’s called a Control Tower. From the development side it’s genius, on the player side, it’s downright cruel.
Control Towers send signals to a surrounding area to all nearby machines, friendly and foe. All friendly machines are affected negatively, like your mount will be shocked and you will get kicked off of it (even my Shield-Weaver armors force shield would deplete when it shot out a signal). The real dirty part is, every hostile machine you are fighting near it will heal every time it shoots a signal. It’s a serious pain to get rid of the towers, especially when they are being guarded by something heaving hitting or fast, like a Daemonic Stalker. Definitely take out the Control Tower first, if you can.
The Frozen Wilds introduced 8 new skills into the tree. Some of which I wish were in the original game. A few of these stand out:
- Mounted Pickup — This allows players to pick up resources and search downed enemies while staying mounted. Sooo useful.
- Shard Salvager — Disassemble resources and mods into 50% of their Metal Shard value. No more wasted items!
- Mount Repair — Repair your damaged mount with Metal Shards.
- Dismount Strike — Press Square to launch off your mount with a jumping attack. It damages medium machines and can take down small machine and humans. Also really useful.
Those were just four of the eight skills in The Frozen Wilds sections of skills. All of them have their own uses and come in handy. It makes me want to play New Game+ all over again.
Weapons and Armor
If you have played through the main story of Horizon Zero Dawn, then you should be level enough and most likely have purchased everything in the original section of the game. So, the upgrades to some of the best weapons and armor are a sight for sore eyes.
You can purchase these weapons and armor from blue marked merchants on the map. However, it can only be purchased with Bluegleam currency, which is native to this expansion. You can find Bluegleam around the map, or by doing side quests.
You would think, “Ohh, who wants to look at the snow all the time?” Well, it’s actually not that bad. You don’t just see the snow though, you see other amazing views like geysers, frozen caves, beautiful lakes. Also, the snowstorms are interesting to be in when riding on a mount, especially in the dark. Feels like I can’t see anything. Makes for a good experience.
There are also tons of new animals in the Cut including goats, squirrels, owls, badgers, as well as some others. There are also a couple regulars, like foxes, boars, and trout. As usual, the animals are needed for crafting and obtaining maps for collectables, as well as small amounts of XP.
They gave a decent sized area for you to explore, including another Hunting Grounds to complete, a bandit camp to flush out, along with side missions to distract you from your story task. There are also new collectables, like Pigments, Animal Figurines, and new regulars like audio, text and hologram datapoints. If you are into Photo Mode, The Frozen Wilds is a great place for it. Especially when the heavy snow starts to fall.
The Bottom Line
Horizon Zero Dawn: The Frozen Wilds does offer enough gameplay for the value it’s worth. When doing all this expansion gives, it should have at least 15 hours worth of DLC. If you really enjoyed Horizon Zero Dawn, it’s gameplay, and the way it’s story was told, The Frozen Wilds is worth the pick up. If you are don’t like the idea of being stuck in the same environment the entire time, the setting is actually way better than I expected. You forget about the snow and focus more on what you are doing in it.