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Horizon: Zero Dawn – Open World Discussed, Focusing on “Density” of Objectives Over Empty Space

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Guerrilla Games Executive Producer Mark Norris recently spoke to IGNLATAM about the development of Horizon: Zero Dawn. He was eager to establish what would set Horizon apart from other post-apocalyptic IPs, as well as other open-world games on the market.

One of the first things we noticed about Horizon: Zero Dawn was its stunning and lush landscape. That’s something that Norris believes is an important foil to other post-apocalyptic settings like Fallout or Mad Max.

“Our game is different because it is set thousands of years after the collapse of civilization. That’s what separates us immediately, because usually in other games with similar themes we see the world immediately after an apocalyptic event, and how the world looks and how people behave while in our game, people no longer remember how it was before the world, has no memory of it… and there is a specific reason for that. We have this juxtaposition of having this beautiful world while the depressing colors of typical post-apocalyptic games are replaced with the greens and blues of a new hope, a new growth, new life horizons.”

But it’s not enough to be pretty. Many open-world games struggle to find a balance between overall scope and meaningful content, and that’s something that Norris says this team has been very mindful of.

“I think it’s always interesting when we talk about an open world we wonder how big is the map. I think one of the things you should ask is how dense is the population of that map, what activities will be there, or if it will be a map where you are gonna run where there is absolutely nothing. We are really seeing the quality of the content that will be on the map, the number of secondary missions, how we want to shape the main story over the world map and feel full. We do not have a size that we can give, but I can say that we have done an analysis of other games and I think we have achieved something that will be good for Horizon.”

Ultimately, Norris says, Guerrilla Games has committed to making sure Horizon: Zero Dawn provides a rich and fulfilling single-player experience. They have felt the industry pressure to include some form of multiplayer gameplay, but for now they have pushed that aside in favor of an unapologetically single-player game.

“The reality is that we are putting together a new IP, are making a new franchise for the first time in 10 years and what we really want to do is improve the experience for the player. When you get to face these machines as Eloy, with this great character who is the real star of the story and everything that happens, you have this connection with her. But what happens when you take the elements of multiplayer, you play as Eloy? You play as a supporting character? How does that work? And of course, we played other games and we really liked that. The Witcher 3, which has an iconic character and is fantastic… does not have multiplayer. It is an action RPG with a single player experience that not apologizing for anything. I think we’re similar in that way, we want this to be the story of Eloy. Although a multiplayer mode is great and maybe we’ll think of something for the future, we want Horizon Zero Dawn’s story to have Eloy as the center and when you play with it, is fantastic.”

Horizon: Zero Dawn is en route to the PS4 later this year. Stay tuned to OnlySP on Facebook and Twitter for further updates on Horizon.

 

Andrea Giargiari
Feature Writer, Bachelor of Arts in Communications (Media and Culture) via UMass Amherst

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