Uh okay, I’m not sure how to say this so I’m just gonna say it. I have a huge confession to make: I like Horizon Zero Dawn more than The Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild. There I said it! I’m a terrible Nintendo fangirl… You know what though? I’m use to having the wrong opinion on video games. Flame away, internet!
It’s not by much, but it’s enough for me to shove “the best game ever” aside in favor of finishing Aloy’s adventure first. The brutal truth is that HZD’s story has me captivated, and Link’s adventure is still essentially “Go save the princess!” (even if she is doing something useful). The cranky old woman I have become prefers narrative above most other things. I’d be crushed if something spoiled Aloy’s story for me so I need to see it through, as quickly as possible. In addition, I feel a very special connection with Aloy, and it’s one the BoTW iteration of Link doesn’t even come close to having with me. There was brief time when Aloy rivaled even Lightning for the special place in my heart, designated for my favourite badass idol. Clearly, this special bond must be corrupting my video game judgement. Besides, Link’s seemingly endless land of Hyrule isn’t going anywhere. I think I’ll enjoy Breath of the Wild much more if it’s my sole focus.
If you’re reading this, it means you haven’t rage-unfollowed me yet. I appreciate it! I feel free now that I have confessed my sin to the internet. Since Aloy has the majority of my short attention span, I’ve been making serious progress in Horizon Zero Dawn. And it’s not main story progress either. It’s a treat just to explore the hostile environments, figure out angry robot weaknesses, and to help out many unfortunate souls I’ve come across. I want to do all the side quests to see how Aloy reacts in certain situations, while learning more about the “Apocashitstorm” that reduced Earth’s humans to a primitive state. For once, side questing doesn’t feel like a chore I should do in order to level up, get cool weapons, and/or earn shiny trophies.
The side quests I’ve done so far have covered may depressing topics such as suicide, religious fanaticism, gender equality issues, poverty, technology dependence, and general trust issues. I love learning about this post-apocalyptic Earth, while watching Aloy destroy anyone dumb enough to try anything with her. I also enjoy the collecting the collectibles. There are only a few left for me to find and I’ve discovered many breathtaking views by going after them. To put into perspective just how much side content I’ve been doing, the next main story mission has a recommended level of 12. My Aloy is now at level 39, and she’s armed to the teeth with all the Shadow quality weapons.
Aloy’s Level – 39 (2455/39000 until next level up)
Game Completion – 62.92%
PSN Trophies Unlocked – 27/56
Check below for details on what I’ve been up to. SPOILERS will be present so DO NOT read more of my ramblings, unless you want the game ruined. I’m serious!
⚡SPOILER territory (last warning)⚡
Last update I left off by saying I was getting bored with the collectibles, and that I was going to head to Meridian for the first time (finally). Well, I lied. I took a slight detour to climb another Tallneck wandering around inside of a heavily fortified evil human cultist camp (after an embarrassing first encounter with a Thunderjaw). I just wanted to innocently climb the Tallneck, to reveal more juicy map details, but everyone insisted on attacking Aloy. I had no choice but to level the entire camp, using their own weapons against them. It was purely self-defence, I swear.
After that epic battle, I decided to head south in the direction of Meridian. After another detour to take in the sights of a Vantage Point, I arrived at the gates of Meridian city proper. The well-kept trail that led to the city was actually quite beautiful and felt alive with scenery. Along the way, many Carja Guards saluted Aloy as she passed them. Unlike the Nora tribe, most women in Carja society play a more traditional domestic role, but the respectful male guards give credit where it is due, no matter your gender. At first Aloy wasn’t having much luck convincing the guard to let her into the city. An evil group of humans, known as the Shadow Carja, had been attacking recently so the city’s defenses were to the max. A drunk old friend named Erden showed up and ordered the guard to let Aloy in. Erden was part of the Carja diplomat group that Aloy met, shortly before the unfortunate events that happened at The Proving.
Despite his newfound alcoholism, Erden is moving on up in the Sundom! He had recently been promoted to guard captain. Unfortunately, he was only promoted due to his sister’s murder, the former captain, at the hands of the Shadow Carja (alcoholism explained). Aloy convinced Erden to let her search Olin’s estate for clues about where the suspected traitor might be. It took some convincing but Erden finally agreed, and he escorted Aloy through the crowded city streets. An amusing chat between the pair made me chuckle:
“How do you think with so many people around?” – Aloy
“By keeping on drinking” – Erden
Using her Focus and a not-so-discreet crate drop technique, Aloy uncovered a secret area in Olin’s basement. It turns out Olin isn’t such a traitorous scumbag after all. The killers who murdered Rost (and many other Nora) at the Proving event are holding Olin’s family hostage. If he doesn’t cooperate they will be horrifically murdered. Aloy also discovers that the Shadow Carja’s evil god wants her dead. After finding the area, Erden wants Olin’s head, but he calms down when Aloy explains what she found. Aloy wants to run off solo to the area where Olin might currently be, but Erden wants her to help him avenge his sister’s murder. Aloy tells him he’s on his own, but Erden brings out the sad puppy dog eyes while saying: if Aloy can have vengeance, why can’t he? Not even Aloy can argue against that. She promises to help him out once she has free time.
Two main story quests are now available, but I spent way too much time doing side activities on the opposite side of the map:
- Exploring Meridian City. I found some vendors where you can exchange sets of the collectibles for reward boxes. One of the vendors seemed to be a hipster dude. He thought the Ancient Vessels (aka broken old coffee cups from pre-apocalypse era) were used by the lost civilization in beard shaving rituals.
- Errand: Helping two merchants who couldn’t agree on what damn robot component they wanted.
- Side quest: A priest in Meridian wanted Aloy to help 3 people with grieving rituals. This involved killing Snapjaws in a swamp, beating a flock of Glinthawaks on a mountain, and telling off an arrogant priest who preferred the ruthless ways of the former bad Sun King.
- Side Quest: A distressed man approached Aloy in Meridian Village asking her to help his family’s estate. It was unexplainably attacked by angry machines. Long story short, the dude was secretly evil and set up a machine lure. He wanted his family dead so he could inherit the property. His plan backfired, Aloy kicked ass, and now his sister is the only person left alive in the family
- Did all the trials in the stealth Hunting Grounds. I’m usually the guns blazing type of gamer so I needed to learn this.
- Climbed another Tallneck (one more to go!)
- Explored to find shiny collectibles, Corrupted Zones, Vantage Points, and Bandit Camps.
- Cauldron XI: Guarded by human bandits. After reaching the core, there was an interesting 3 way battle going on (Aloy vs bandits vs angry machines).
- Cauldron Rho: Pretty straightforward with easy fights. It was meant for level 11 and I was level 35 at the time. I did spend way too much time running around in circles in the Blaze Processing room though. There was an obvious Override Point bridge I kept missing.
- Side Quest: A Carja prison was being attacked by Behemoths. After taking them out, a rare female Carja Guard asks Aloy to go hunt down 3 escaped criminals, and not to bother bringing them back alive. One attacks Aloy without provocation and is put down. Her crime was stealing a child and she feels the strong take from the weak. The second is an explosives nutcase that Aloy has to chase through a proximity bomb-ridden canyon. When she catches up to him, he blows himself up as Aloy safely dives into the water below. Aloy mumbled something very amusing to herself afterward: “At least he died doing what he loved.” The third is just a typical smuggler who got himself killed by messing with the wrong people.
- Errand: A man who is obsessed with Aloy’s spear sends her off to go collect an artifact he can’t reach. It’s a trap and Aloy murders the group of thugs he sent after her. When she catches up to him, she let’s him go with a warning to all his bandit buddies: Nobody else messes with her, or her spear, and lives to tell about it. She’s such a badass!
- Side Quest: A distraught man on a bridge is worried his depressed daughter might be suicidal and he can’t find her. Aloy tracks her to an island and discovers the girl is secretly seeing a Shadow Carja gentleman (treason!). The girl is upset he hasn’t shown up after lighting the signal fire, and Aloy agrees to go look for him. Aloy enters a Shadow Carja base and finds the man getting brutally interrogated for his odd behavior. Aloy kills the bad people, but unfortunately the man is beyond helping. In his dying breath, he gives Aloy a key and tells her he didn’t reveal any information about his lady friend. Aloy breaks the bad news to the girl, who now actually wants to commit suicide. Aloy empathetically talks her out of it (if the girl kills herself, he lover’s sacrifice would have been for nothing). Before leaving, Aloy convinces the father to have a heart-to-heart chat with his daughter.
- Errand: A kind hearted fruit vendor lady noticed someone is stealing from her. Aloy offers to track down the thief and she finds him in trouble with a flock of Glinthawks. Aloy kills them and the impoverished man fears they were the Sun’s Judgement for his petty crimes. Aloy tells him to just go apologise to the nice lady (she will understand).
- Hunter Lodge and Redmaw: The Hunter Lodge is place in Meridian where tough people who like destroying machines meet up. Aloy is reluctantly allowed in by the ignorant leader of the once boy’s club, Sunhawk Ahsis. She is assigned to protégé under a Hawk named Talanah. After proving herself, Talanah accepts Aloy as her Thrush (to the Sunhawk’s ignorant rage). After I take out my first Thunderjaw and Stormbird (I can’t describe how awesome those battles were), Aloy discovers Talanah and Ahsis ran off to go kill Redmaw, the mythical beast machine that kills everyone who goes near it. Ahsis, being the ass that he is, bribed some bandits to ambush Talanah so he would get the full glory of the kill. Aloy arrives to help her Hawk and they run after Redmaw together. They arrive just in time to see Ahsis get smashed into the side of a rock face (ouch!). Then the most epic battle ever ensued! I used Redmaw’s own severed Disk Launchers to dwindle its health and eventually destroyed the hulking monstrosity with many exploding things. Ahsis is alive enough to say some ignorant dying words, and Talanh is promoted to the progressive new Sunhawk. Aloy, Despite the Nora is now free to continue her main quest.
After ALL of that, it was my intent to resume the main story. I headed north toward Olin’s last known location, but got sidetracked yet again. In a quarry area, 5 guards were brutally shredded by an unknown entity. Aloy investigated to discover my first Rockbreaker. It was also a tough machine to figure out! It burrows under soft ground and pops up under Aloy, along with violent projectile attacks. I used the Shadow Ropecaster to tie the beast above ground, and then unleashed the Shadow Rattler on its vulnerable exhaust ports. This did the trick nicely! Barring any unforeseen events, my next mission is to get some answers out of Olin.
End of spoiler territory
Wannabe Writer’s Notes:
–Blogger Achievement Unlocked: 1337 Likes. WordPress seems to think I’m “elite” (HA! That’s the biggest joke I’ve ever seen). Thanks to anyone who reads my posts and clicks that little “Like” button!
-My tattoo won’t be finished until Sept 7th now. The tattoo shop is undergoing that awful moving process, and the amazing artist has a HUGE waiting list, so I understand (But I’m still a little sad).