horizon zero dawn frozen wilds dlc

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You need to play the best winter-themed video game DLC ASAP

Winter wonderland.

Sony

December brings with it holiday celebrations and, for those in the right places, a soft blanket of snow across the land. While people may dream of a white Christmas, it isn’t always great to have to go outside in below-freezing weather — no matter how pretty it may be. For those who want to experience winter landscapes without the downside, video games offer a great alternative and there is no better winter wonderland than the one in Horizon Zero Dawn’s snow-themed DLC The Frozen Wilds.

Let it snow — The world of Horizon Zero Dawn was already gorgeous. From thick jungles to golden desserts, the ecosystems of Guerrilla Games’ impeccable open-world RPG are incredibly varied. But the one biome missing from the base game was a snow-filled playground for Aloy to explore. The Frozen Wilds, the game’s story DLC, rectifies this.

Until January 5, Horizon Zero Dawn Complete Edition is available for only $16.49 on Steam.

The Cut is a stunning snowy landscape filled with new things for players to encounter.Sony

Narratively, The Frozen Wild’s finds Aloy traveling to an area that was once today’s Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks in order to uncover the mystery of newly aggressive machines as well as a mountain bellowing smoke. This leads her to the area known as the Cut, a cold landscape unlike anything Aloy or the player has previously encountered.

As a DLC, The Frozen Wilds does everything a good expansion should. There are new enemies, all appropriately themed, like intimidating bear machines. There is a new clan, the Banuk, with their own culture and story that are influenced by the realities of living in a frosted world.

But most stunning is the sheer beauty of every vista that the Cut contains. White landscapes are more complicated than an initial look suggests, with different shades of blue that are dotted with bright colors in the forms of hydrothermal pools with concentric circles of yellows, greens, and oranges.

Harsh winter — The Frozen Wilds snowy landscape is more than a pretty sight, and the DLC uses this new biome to play with the base game’s mechanics. One opening moment exemplifies this expertly — the Cut’s Tallneck.

The Cut’s Tallneck forces the player to rethink basic gameplay loops.Sony

Tallnecks are a giraffe-like species of machine littered throughout the base game of Horizon Zero Dawn. They walk in small circles and Aloy must scale these beasts in order to expand the game’s map. When you first arrive at the Cut you will quickly stumble upon the area’s Tallneck — it sits broken, frozen and unmoving. An ice-covered spire on a frozen plateau.

The player is so unused to this, and the game forces you to find a new way to solve your problem. Scattered in the immediate area are three broken-off pieces of the Tallneck. They have been torn off of its corpse by other machines and scattered to be forgotten under the ever-growing blanket of snow.

Repairing the Tallneck is a slow process that forces the player to confront the Cut’s dangerous landscape. By mechanically making a routine process the player can mostly do through muscle memory alone after completing the base game, The Frozen Wilds resets the player’s expectations and communicates to them that this is a new challenge that will require effort.

All of this takes place within one of the most dazzling environments in any game. The beauty of The Frozen Wilds is that it manages to effectively create a new environment that feels fresh to the player and offers a visual change, in its snow-covered peaks and valleys. It also gives the player a fresh take on the gameplay, revitalizing the excitement of play. During the cold season, there is no better game to play than Horizon Zero Dawn: The Frozen Wilds.

Horizon Zero Dawn: Complete Edition is available on PS4 and PC.

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