Hunting A Daemon In Horizon Zero Dawn’s The Frozen Wilds Expansion

The further north you go, the colder it gets – just ask a Londoner who’s moved to Scotland – and it’s just as true in the world of Horizon Zero Dawn, Guerrilla Games’ hit new game that wowed many a PlayStation 4 owner earlier this year. Launching next week on 7th November, The Frozen Wilds will let you head even further still, venturing into a new part of the world known as The Cut. There’s new mysteries for Aloy to uncover, new machines to battle with, and an opportunity for Guerrilla to take their game to new heights.

At its heart is the new story, as Aloy follows rumours of a Daemon that’s able to control and influence the machines, taking her to these frozen wastes and into contact with the Banuk tribe. All of this is set alongside the events of the main game, with The Cut opening up for you to visit and explore a little bit from relatively early on in the story, but with the difficulty and challenge that you’ll face keeping you away until later in your adventure.


The snowy wastes look fantastic and the wilderness is filled with new wildlife from squirrels and badgers to owls and mountain goats. The large snow drifts in places make Aloy’s movement look more laboured as she wades through them, deforming the snow around her feet. The way that the wind kicks up particles of snow looks great and it’s bound to see players dipping into the game’s fantastic photo mode time and again, and one cute little addition is getting Aloy to make angels in the snow.

As picturesque as the environments might be, they hold yet more terrible dangers to the humans trying to live in these harsh conditions. The Daemon has kicked the robotic beasts into a frenzy, making them even more dangerous through control tower machines that have sprouted all over The Cut. Robots within their aura will be stronger, they’ll automatically be repaired, and if you venture too close while on a captured mount, that mount will be disabled. It’s all part of increasing the challenge and making this area most appropriate for players in the mid to late game.

There’s also new machines that will be fearsome in their own right, such as the Scorcher that brings a ton of new fire and explosive-based attacks, while having a familiar predatory look to the Sawtooth. As it leaps to attack Aloy, the Scorcher will leave a huge trail of flame in its wake, while the weapon mounted on its back lets it send waves of bouncing mines her way.

Naturally, you can try to employ the exact same tactics as before, perhaps drinking a fire potion to dilute the damage taken, tethering the beast the to floor and trying to knock of pieces of armour and the mine launcher, which can be picked up and give the Scorcher a taste of its own medicine. That’s not all though, as new weapons like the Storm Slinger electric weapon can be leant upon, and Aloy’s abilities in general have been expanded.

Alongside the three existing skill trees is the new Traveller category that look set to streamline certain parts of the game. You can unlock the Mounted Pickup skill, which is pretty self explanatory, the ability to scrap items yourself and turn them into Shards, instead of having to visit a vendor each time, increase the chances of finding rare gear, and so on. It can culminate in the ability to perform a Dismount Strike, with Aloy leaping from the back of her mount to deal a lot of damage to an enemy.

The Banuk are a nomadic tribe that roams the region, but they’ve been whipped up into a kind of fervour by their shamans, told tales of the Daemon and sending their very best warriors forth to do battle with the metallic beasts. It’s as these warriors have been wiped out that Aloy comes to their camp, first learning of their culture and how they commemorate their dead in ritualistic fashion. A foreign culture to Aloy, she’s given context by another outsider to the Banuk, the Oseram trader Burgrend.

Talking to him is a fine opportunity to see that Guerrilla have tried to make their conversations look more dynamic and engaging. As one of my main complaints of the main game, it’s great to see them address this going forward, perhaps aided by the narrower scope of this expansion – that said, it’s still aiming to be at least 15 hours, with tons of new side quests alongside the main narrative threads. It’s a shame, but entirely understandable that this added polish and refinement is only applicable for the new expansion.

One thing to try and get people to engage more with the side quests are improved rewards, so that you can earn new weapons, gear upgrades and new outfits from completing quests as opposed to simply buying them. Additionally, where certain activities return from the original game, they’ve been given a new twist wherever possible. Encountering a Tallneck in this region doesn’t see Aloy simply trying to climb up to its top, but tasks her with trying to salvage the derelict of a fallen machine that’s being torn apart by machines reclaiming its carcass. You’ll have to defeat or avoid those robots to reach the Tallneck’s head, but once you get there, you’ll need to have found parts to get it working again before you can trigger its region revealing pulse.

Not that you should need an excuse to do so, but The Frozen Wilds will give a lot of people a great reason to return to one of the best exclusives of the year. It’s great to see that Guerrilla haven’t been content to simply add more content and a new region to play in, but also considered how they can improve the game that was there before. Obviously, the real point is that if you enjoyed Horizon Zero Dawn, then this will give you another dose of one of the best open world action adventure games of the year.

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  1. Day 1 for me.

    Do you get to keep your existing weapons/armour/character level etc? Or is this section completely separate?

    • It’s all integrated. You can head to The Cut and back to the main map freely, you’re taking these new abilities with you, the new gear and weapons, and everything like that. It’s an expansion as opposed to a standalone thing.

      • Ok, cheers. I might have to remove my Shield Weaver armour then when I explore the new areas… Either that or toggle the difficulty.

        Saying that, last time I ventured into the game after not playing for a while, I was like a complete amateur. I couldn’t remember what weapon was what, then rushed into every encounter and ended up getting my ass kicked, even with the Shield Weaver armour. i better get some practice in.

      • Just grapple everything to the ground and have your bull robot buddy angrily kick it to death!

        And there’s a bunch of new armour to unlock, so you might find something totally styling that takes your fancy.

  2. Great to see they have adressed some of the things that needed to be changed. There are still a couple of things left to fix still but this is a start.

    However, I feel compelled not to buy until it gets a massive price reduction as the US are getting a 25% discount as opposed to the EU 10%; that’s simply not ok.

  3. I’ve just picked up Prey but H:ZD has been shuffling ever-closer to the top of my list of games to get and it’s definitely next up. The expansion looks decent too.

    • Get it mate! It really is superb. I’ve never preordered DLC before, can’t qair for this.

  4. I really enjoyed the game. Even on easy difficulty the game was a challenge at certain points.
    Couldn’t recommend this game more it’s superb.
    Those who haven’t got it , get it you won’t be disappointed.
    Am I right saying they are releasing the complete edition (or whatever its called around the same time?

  5. I’m still hugely excited but I’ve just rewatched the trailer and been reminded of how much of a pain in the rage the Rockbreaker is. Practice time!

    • I think the first time I met one I was stuck in some kind of arena, I just ran round in circles panicking whilst putting loads of trip rope things out which eventually worked. Every other time I just hung back and took cover in rocks pelting them with arrows. Pretty long winded, but I took 2 on at once without a scratch.
      One of the good things about this game is, if you can’t win a fight, you can nearly always leg it and survive to try again later.

      • I feel like I cheated to destroy the four I came across, using rocks or elevation to stay away from the bugger, I don’t think I could take one on out in the open. And yeah that is the beauty of the game, running away is always an option! Except you do have to go back and fight eventually, because you don’t want the hardcore ginger getting a bad reputation :)

      • Glad it wasn’t just me who used that technique then – I know what you mean with the feeling like cheating dilemma, but destroying it how we did is probably how I’d do it in reality rather than run around in front of it whilst rolling in circles. I’d be knackered after 10 seconds.

        In fact, if I played it like I would in reality, after the first time I saw a Sawtooth I’d probably be cowering under a rock, chewing on flowers and drinking rain water for the rest of my life.

  6. Already pre-ordered. Way too excited but shall be patient. Snow angels = icing on the Horizon cake. :D

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