New Game Plus on Ultra Hard—those are the settings I chose to play Horizon Zero Dawn and its new DLC The Frozen Wilds. I haven’t played the game for over a year now and found myself needing to relearn some of the game’s mechanics. Most of it was easy to remember but the worst thing that I forgot was being able to notch multiple arrows. That’s what I get for not reviewing Aloy’s skills.
Ultra Hard, the game’s highest difficult, was not much of a challenge when I started out. That changed when I got to the DLC area. The increased health of the daemonic machines presented two problems: they were tougher to kill, which also meant that they cost more to kill. Fights with the new enemies—scorchers, frostclaws and fireclaws—are consistently difficult. They are also a drain on resources. I found myself restocking on blaze and chillwater after finishing a mission or two.
The new weapons feel underwhelming. I just don’t find the incentive to use them when the base game weapons (and their DLC versions) have better range and resource consumption. Maybe they were meant to be used on lower difficulties wherein engaging in close range combat didn’t almost automatically result in death. Or maybe they were designed to be resource dumps, to be used when there’s an excess supply of sparker or chillwater.
The Frozen Wilds is a challenging addition to the game, and while the new weapons leave something to be desired, the upgraded versions of the originals more than make up for them. The DLC machines are tough and intimidating, making taking them down feel very rewarding. The story isn’t anything to write home about. It expands one of the factions but does little to drive the main narrative forward. That’s a minor point though. Everything else is great.