We know the feeling. You’ve been waiting for months to be able to pick up Horizon: Zero Dawn. You play it incessantly for the first week; it’s amazing, beautiful, and highly addictive. Then all of a sudden you’ve completed it, and aside from going back and playing it all over again, you’re lost for what to do.
Don’t have Horizon: Zero Dawn yet?
We also know the other feeling. Horizon: Zero Dawn is the most highly anticipated game of early 2017. You’ve been reading about it since last year. The adverts have been spewed all over the TV, the internet, even bus shelters. Then it finally comes to release date and the whopping $60 price tag puts you in a conundrum; buy this game, play it for a week and then have no money left for anything else, or wait a few months until it’s in your price range.
Luckily for players on both sides of the court, we have a solution. We’ve picked out 5 games that will give you a similar world or gaming experience to play in as Horizon: Zero Dawn. True, they you may not enjoy them as much but still, they’re great games to play in their own right.
Far Cry: Primal
Primal is here ahead of its predecessors because of small similarities, namely characters’ prehistoric appearances, the overall primitive environment (although Horizon: Zero Dawn is in a futuristic setting), and the use of primitive weaponry such as the bow and arrow. Aside from this, Far Cry 3 and 4 are just as similar in gameplay.
Whilst Primal takes you back in time and Horizon takes you forward, both games are at similar points in their worlds. Humans aren’t at the height of the hierarchy as we know them to be, and this results in basic weaponry and environments. If Horizon is most like any game then it’s Far Cry; it’s an open world adventure in which you can forage for materials, upgrade your inventory, and diverge towards its many side quests. This certainly isn’t a bad thing – the Far Cry series is great fun to play, and whilst it may be getting old-hat now, Primal’s setting felt refreshing and innovative. It isn’t as fine-tuned and polished as Horizon, but it will still be enough to keep you fascinated in its world and narrative.
Rise of the Tomb Raider
When the original Tomb Raiders released in the ‘90s they were met with critical acclaim and commercial success, but also a great deal of animosity. Although Lara was the first major female character to grace a gaming system, many disliked the number of pixels that were used just for her breasts, and the lack of those for her shorts. Fast forward to 2016 and 2017 and Rise of the Tomb Raider and Horizon: Zero Dawn cast new heroines in leading roles, and they’re much more badass than 32-bit Lara ever was.
To say that the only thing that links these two great games is the sex of their protagonist would be unjust though. Rise of the Tomb Raider and its original in the reboot series, 2013’s Tomb Raider, are third person adventures, and whilst not fully open world, there are enough side quests, collectables and secret locations to make it feel like part of the genre. Similar to Horizon: Zero Dawn and the Far Cry series, the Tomb Raiders use a progression system, with materials you collect along the way being used to improve your weaponry. The original was a great game, but Rise of the Tomb Raider is more expansive, tells a more interesting tale, and shows Lara how we’ve always known her to be.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
This is the game for the fans of Horizon: Zero Dawn who sought out every quest filled their inventory with the best equipment available and discovered every secret. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is a huge expanse of a game, with side quests galore, a plethora of secrets to find, and even a card game within the game which has since seen its own release. For Western RPG fans, this is the epitome of what the genre has to offer.
Although weapon progression is different between both games, character progression is similar, and is provided through a skill tree; increase the amount of XP you have and your skill sets will improve. Geralt, the protagonist in The Witcher 3, may not have the agility for the acrobatics that Aloy does, but nevertheless, both are characters within deep and emotional narratives. You may not be battling robots, but with Geralt, your hunts will be every bit as surreal. The world is inhabited by demons, the likes of which you are trained to defeat. Taking up well over 100 hours to fully complete, your hunts are sure to fill up most of your Horizon-less time.
Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor
On the surface of it, Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor may seem to have nothing in common with Horizon: Zero Dawn at all. Whereas the latter takes place in a bright, vibrant, futuristic world filled with robots, Middle Earth takes place in, well, Middle Earth, Tolkien’s fictional fantasy world inhabited by Orcs, Nazghul, and the embodiment of all things evil, Sauron. There are no rings in Horizon either.
Yet there are similarities between both games. There are enough side-quests in Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor to keep you playing long past the main campaign. Its open world is huge, and within it you can conquer more and more armies, building upon your own more powerful one. Character progression is similar and allows for customization of what skill sets you want to play with throughout the game. Whilst they may have completely different plots, a lot of the gameplay and mechanics are similar between the two. Also, with Middle of Earth: Shadow of War being released later this year, now is as good a time as any to get your hands on a copy.
Monster Hunter (Generations for 3DS owners or 3 Ultimate for Wii U owners)
The Monster Hunter series has flown relatively under the radar since Tri, probably because 3 Ultimate has been the only home console version, with the rest being portable games for the 3DS. Nevertheless, it’s an RPG that Horizon has obviously taken a huge amount of inspiration from, not least because both games are about hunting behemoths of creatures.
Monster Hunter is a mix of genres, containing elements of RPGs and action games, and forcing them into a fantasy world. The environments won’t be too dissimilar to that of Horizon, and whilst they may not have the gloss that Aloy’s do, they’re still filled with enough elements to entice you into exploration. Players begin at a basic level, and over time progress to become more skilled hunters, whilst materials can be collected and forged into new and improved weaponry, allowing them to take on bigger enemies. The main quests centre on hunting monsters, surprisingly, with dozens of more side quests which take you away from the central storyline, and in turn reward you with more items to improve your character. Like Horizon, there is a whole world available in Monster Hunter, and it’s up to you as to how long you want to spend exploring it.