Review: Horizon Zero Dawn – The Frozen Wilds

About this Game

Horizon Zero Dawn - The Frozen Wilds (DLC)

Publisher

Sony Computer Entertainment, Inc. (SCEI)

Developer

Guerrilla Games

Release Date

November 07, 2017

Console

PlayStation 4

Time to Plat

~15h

Platinum Difficulty

Easy

Online Trophies?

No

Difficulty Trophies?

No

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The Frosting on the Cake

So, here’s something we’ve never done before but have wanted to do for a good long while; a DLC review (and Trophy Guide) and where better to start doing this than with Horizon? A game I love so much I platted it twice.

Most copies of Horizon sold now are the “Complete Edition” and come with the DLC as part of the package, so many people may not even realise it’s DLC unless they’re trophy hunters and have noticed they’re getting non-base-game trophies.

Aloy on Strider, Horizon Zero Dawn
Heading out into the Frozen Wilds.

The DLC adds 3 new machines, several new and very useful skills, new activities, new errands, new side quests, a full story campaign, new map region, and 21 additional trophies!

Horizon Zero Dawn – The Frozen Wilds Review

You can start The Frozen Wilds quite early on in the game, but you would need to be around level 30, and then level 40, to take on many of the challenges you’ll face there so the chances are you won’t head to the new region for a long time. However, the new storyline does take place before the penultimate missions of Horizon Zero Dawn’s base game, blending in with the rest of the content.

The Daemon of Thunder’s Drum

The Frozen Wilds shines a spotlight on one of the lesser-explored civilisations of Horizon’s world; the Banuk.

Heading far north of Nora territory, into the snow-coated mountains of the Cut, Aloy meets several new faces and explored the many nuances of Banuk culture, from a musician who plays “music” by banging on the pipes of an old dam’s overflow basin, to brave hunters who closely follow traditions which strictly prohibit receiving help – even on death’s door.

Aloy and Laulai, Horizon Zero Dawn
Banuk musician, Laulai

During her time with the Banuk people, she learns of a new machine threat, similar to the corruption plaguing the machines to the south. Machines up in the Cut are being controlled by a power called “Daemonic” and so there are many hyper-aggressive and powered-up machines roaming the cut with purple tendrils emitting from their necks, indicating Daemonic influence.

All the people can tell is that the corruption originates from the thunderous-smoke-billowing volcano in the region, dubbed “Thunder Drum” by the Banuk.

The Thunder Drum, Horizon Zero Dawn.
Thunder Drum.

Facing the northern snowstorms head-on, Aloy will have to climb frosted cliff-sides, fight powerful new machines, solve fun new puzzles, and gain the favour of the stubbornly traditional Banuk who would rather cower in fear of the Daemons than try to resolve the issue.

Frosted Side-Content

I particularly liked how in-depth the side quests were in this DLC expansion compared to the main game. There was one side-quest which saw me entering into an abandoned dam where I met a very… lovably annoying fellow. The quest went on for a good 15-20 minutes if not more and I had a lot of genuine fun exploring and solving the various puzzles.

Horizon Greycatch Dam
Exploring “Greycatch” dam.

All of the side-quests were like that to a degree, and even simple side-tasks like overriding the Tallneck had a whole to-do list of things attached to it. It was a nice and refreshing change from the formula I’d gotten so used to seeing in the base game.

The Bandit Camp had a boss, the Hunting Grounds had additional pre-requisites to using it and many quests even had a new enjoyable type of puzzle which required you to map out a path for a beam of light (or water, in one case). It felt like the base game with an upgrade, which is how DLC should be really, as opposed to just being more of the same.

One new feature of the game that I am – for some reason – dying to talk about is the snow! The thicker snow in The Frozen Wilds will deform to anything which moves through it, allowing Aloy to wade through, leaving a path of where she’s been, or if you get into a scrap with a machine then you will both paint the story of your battle into the snow on the ground.

Horizon Zero Dawn Snow Deformation
The awesome snow deformation!

It’s not the most impressive snow in a videogame, but when I first saw this in 2017 I was blown away, I’d never seen anything like it. Of course, when Guerilla let Kojima borrow their engine for Death Stranding, he also got access to this snow deformation and we saw it in a more improved form.

When people say “It’s the little things” when talking about videogames and how cool it is that cars in GTA V tick down when the engine shuts off, I think about the snow in The Frozen Wilds and how it did nothing for the story or the gameplay mechanics, but it did so much to build the world and make it immersive.

Another new feature comes in the form of three new weapons. The electricity-launching Stormslinger, the portable avalanche that is the Icerail and the flame-throwing Forgefire.

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Eat Forgefire, Smokey.

These new weapons offer elemental damage on a level you can’t get from any other weapon, but use up ammo like crazy. For the first time I actually started to run out of ammunition-crafting resources because I was using these weapons.

I also found it cool that each one was a reward for a quest or event and then there were three new side quests tied to upgrading them which could be found at an NPC called Varga in Longnotch.

Claws out

There are 5 new slots in the Machine Catalogue following the Frozen Wilds DLC, but with two of them being taken up for “Daemonic Machines” and “Control Towers” (large plant-like machines broadcasting the Daemonic Frequency turning the machines hyper-aggressive), there are technically only 3 new machines. As disappointing as that may be, they are some of the coolest machines.

First, we have the Scorcher; A large Coyote-like machine with the ability to burn you. And I don’t mean it can call your Mum fat in an impressive way, I mean it has flame-thrower abilities. It can also explode in a ball of flames which it likes to do a lot, burning everything in the surrounding area. Lastly, it uses a mine-launcher on its head to cause additional explosive grief, but you can knock said launcher off with some tear ammo and use it against the point-eared beast.

Horizon Zero Dawn Scorcher
Scorchers are blisteringly fast.

Next, there’s the Frostclaw; a lumbering polar bear-like machine which can shoot freezing liquid nitrogen from its chest, choosing to do so by bear-hugging you, literally to death. That is, when it’s not leaping at you at incredible speed, swinging frozen claws of ice on the end of huge hulking arms at you. These are certainly some of the toughest machines in the game, but just wait until you meet the Frostclaw’s Brother Bear…

Horizon Zero Dawn Frostclaw Bear Hug
Bear Hug!

The Fireclaw is almost twice the size of a Frostclaw, with a body more suited to comparison with a Grizzly Bear. This enormous unit of a machine has some very powerful moves in its arsenal, from venting lava through the ground at your feet to launching balls of flaming Blaze at you, it’s nothing to be laughed at.

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This Fireclaw makes the Ravager look like a puppy!

Let me tell you, I had a field day with the latter two machines, every time I fought them I couldn’t help but whip out photo mode and try to capture some shots of these monsters in action.

My Horizon Zero Dawn Platinum Trophy Experience

Purely for the reason that I knew I’d be writing a review and guides for this DLC once I was done with the base game, I didn’t start the DLC content until I had already platted the main game. So, naturally, I was already over level 50 and had some of the Frozen Wilds skills, which meant many of the trophies were basically already done.

Magnetic Side-Content

Once I was done with the initial introduction to the Cut and the Banuk tribe there, as well as the plight they are facing due to the daemonic machines, the very first thing I did was to go and reveal the map by completing the side-quest surrounding the collapsed Tallneck laying in wait just north of the “Song’s Edge” Banuk encampment.

My original plan was to start with the main DLC quests and then work out all the side-content stuff later – which is still what I’d recommend doing as a lot of it requires completing the main story – but I was eager to get the collectables, side-quests and all that kind of stuff out of the way and written up in my Trophy and Collectable Guides so that I could then just sit back and enjoy the DLC campaign for what it is, fully immerse myself.

Horizon Zero Dawn Light Salt Pigment
My first DLC Collectable.

I managed to gather every collectable except two, which I determined would be locked behind the DLC Side Quest “The Shaman’s Path” so I went ahead and completed that, grabbing the last two collectable items along the way. From that point on I focused solely on Side Content which was not part of the 4 main DLC Side Quests. Let me stress again that I do not recommend this, everything would just be much easier if you save the side-content for the end, but I had made my bed, as they say…

I had all collectables, completed the Bandit Camp, disabled all the Control Towers, and completed all available side quests but had to leave a few things such as the Hunting Grounds and a handful of side quests until after the story to gain access.

Main Campaign

Finally getting on with the campaign, I picked up where I left off after The Shaman’s Path side quest and fully immersed myself in the intense storytelling and tough combat against the new machines.

The main DLC campaign had some really intense and emotional moments and took me through some exciting environments, from a treacherous mountain pass to a machine cauldron embedded in a volcano. The new machines were introduced slowly over time, with the Fireclaw getting a big introduction in the form of one of the game’s toughest boss fights.

Horizon Zero Dawn Volcano Cauldron
Volcanic Cauldron

All in all I was gripped and glad to have taken the time to tackle it in bulk before returning to all the extra side-content.

Side Quest cleanup and Hunting Grounds

With the campaign done, I had about 5 side-quests left to do, the Hunting Grounds, and some misc trophies.

The first thing I wanted to do were some side quests for a character called “Varga”. She would be able to offer me upgrades for the new DLC weapons if I could hunt the machine parts she was requesting, and I wanted those upgraded for the Hunting Grounds.

Horizon Zero Dawn Varga
Meeting Varga in the south to finish my upgrades.

Which is obviously where I went next, as I had been excited to take them on. The Hunting Grounds here were more wave-based, with you moving from arena to arena taking out several machines at once while racing against the clock in an effort to take home First Place.

It was certainly a refreshing change of pace after completing all the other Hunting Grounds, but it was over and done with too quickly as I was almost fully levelled and had some very powerful gear. Even the additional “Ikrie’s Challenge” trial was done on my first attempt as I walked away accomplished but somewhat disappointed to be done so quickly.

I mopped up the last few straggler side quests and then reviewed my trophy list. I just had to earn the trophies for 5 dismount strikes, 10 Frostclaw kills and 6 Fireclaw kills (because the trophy glitched out on me and I needed to kill and additional 2). Since there’s only one Frostclaw site and equally only one Fireclaw site, I used fast travel to alternate between them until both trophies were acquired and set off to get the Dismount Strikes.

Horizon Zero Dawn Photo Mode Dismount Strike
Getting in some cool Dismount Strike Screenshotography.

I just used the nearby Charger Sites and the Call Mount + skill to achieve this, as the trophy requires me to actually kill machines with the dismount strike so I wanted to farm the trophy on weak machines.

As this is DLC there was no platinum pop, but I imagined one and that seemed to be enough!

Time Breakdown

Gathering Collectables

Main Side Quests

Tallnecks, Cauldrons, Hunting Grounds u0026 Bandit Camps

Additional Side-Quests

Horizon Zero Dawn – The Frozen Wilds Trophy Guide

Fancy tackling the trophies in the Frozen Wilds DLC for yourself? Well, you don’t have to look very far because I have a Horizon Frozen Wilds DLC Trophy Guide right here. Just as with the base game, there are Collectable and Key Location guides included too!

Speaking of the base game, you can also check out my Horizon Zero Dawn Review and Horizon Zero Dawn Trophy Guide!

That concludes my Horizon Zero Dawn: The Frozen Wilds Review. If you enjoyed reading this review, please do let us know, it means the world to us when we hear feedback and we love engaging with people over the game we just platted. It’s basically the only thing motivating us at the moment!

You can follow us on Twitter @GetPlat and Instagram @platget where we’ll be sharing updates, upcoming reviews and general gripes about the games we’re working on so feel free to follow us or use it as another channel for feedback!

Verdict

Plat

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Of course, just as with the base game, you should grab every trophy you can from this DLC as it serves only to add to the already fantastic experience of Horizon Zero Dawn.

Pros

  • Exciting new machines
  • Mind-blowing snow effects
  • Gripping new story campaign

Cons

  • I would have liked more than 3 new machines (technically two as frostclaw and fireclaw aren't all that different)
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Platinum Trophy

Just like the base game, the Frozen Wilds DLC is a thrilling and plentiful journey through a unique and awe-inspiring world which shouldn't be taken for granted. The experience, of course, gets a Platinum rating from me too!

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About the Author

More fond of single-player experiences and story-driven games than anything else, TheDblTap has a keen eye for secrets and collectables, a skill which serves him well as a Trophy Hunter. However, with little patience and poor timing, he can struggle where MrZhangetsu would succeed.

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