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Horizon: Zero Dawn turned out to be one of the most surprising successes of recent years. The open-world action-RPG developed by Guerilla Games wowed the players and critics with its open-world setting, gameplay mechanics, and interesting plot. All three of those gained the game universal acclaim, followed by accolades and recognitions from the industry press.
Despite their level of detail and epic scale, H: ZD’s features are nothing new in the gaming world. Plenty of titles managed to push the player’s imagination and skills to the limit with robust open worlds and engaging gameplay. Let’s take a look at the best games like Horizon Zero Dawn.
In terms of storytelling, Far Cry: Primal, a prehistoric spinoff to Ubisoft’s open-world first-person shooter series, shares a lot with H: ZD. The player assumes the role of Takkar, a warrior of the Wenja tribe, who finds himself on a quest for vengeance against two enemy tribes, who laid waste to his village and kin.
The gameplay mechanics follows the standard beats of a Far Cry title: the player explores the open-world environment, gathering useful items and collectibles and fighting against enemies, human and beast alike. However, Primal’s setting forces the player to use prehistoric weapons. Facing a hungry sabertooth tiger or an enraged mammoth will feel far more precarious when, instead of a fully-loaded rifle, the player has to use only a bow and arrow. Far Cry: Primal was met with a positive reception. Critics praised the game for its unlikely setting and gameplay mechanics, especially a chance to tame prehistoric animals
Far Cry Primal
A key feature of Horizon: Zero Dawn is killing Machines – mechanical creatures that provide the player with precious loot. Some of them are quite small, similar to real-world’s tigers or cheetahs. Others tower high above the player and are more reminiscent of dinosaurs. Taking them down will be a real challenge. Just like facing gigantic beasts in Monster Hunter: World.
Monster Hunter: World gives the player the simple task of hunting and killing/capturing monsters living in the vast world beyond the game’s central hub of Astera. Upon returning from a successful quest, the player can upgrade their skills, buy and craft new weapons and items, etc. Facing the monsters and figuring out their weak points is the core of the gameplay, though, and thanks to the multiplayer mode, you can take them don together with friends online. Monster Hunter: World was reviewed positively by the critics who praised the game for its scope and gameplay mechanics, among others.
Monster Hunter World
Throughout her travels, Aloy will encounter Machines that she can hack to serve her. Doing so turns a vicious monster into a loyal partner that can be used as a mount or support in combat. Hacking and unusual means of locomotion are something that Aloy has in common with the protagonist of the next entry on our list – Batman.
Batman: Arkham Knight, the third installment of Rocksteady’s Arkham trilogy, gives the player unparalleled freedom of exploring Gotham City. The player can glide through the air using the Dark Knight’s cape, reach the tallest buildings with a grappling hook, and for the first time, sit behind the driving wheel of the Batmobile. Other gameplay mechanics include a “freeflow” combat system, puzzles that can be solved using Batman’s various gadgets, and plenty of story missions and sidequests to bind the time for long evenings. Arkham Knight was met with highly positive critical reviews.
Batman: Arkham Knight
There are two things that Nathan Drake and Aloy have in common: love for open spaces and a knack for finding treasure. In H: ZD, the player can spend hours exploring the vast environment, looking for loot hidden in its nooks and crannies. The same goes for the fourth installment of the Uncharted series, one last huzzah for Nate’s life as a treasure hunter.
Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
When we meet Aloy in Horizon: Zero Dawn, she’s but a speck of dust in the big, big world. Inexperienced and overpowered by the elements she’s about to face, the protagonist will have to learn on the go in order to avoid ending up as a dinner for one of the monstrous Machines. In the 2013’s reboot of the Tomb Raider series, we see aspiring archaeologists Lara Croft put in a similar spot.
The reboot of a cult classic series draws much inspiration from contemporary action games, mainly Naughty’ Dogs Uncharted series. Instead of focusing on exploration and puzzle-solving, the game throws the player into the thick of the action, taking down hordes of mercenaries and undead samurai using a variety of weapons. Similarly to H: ZD, the player can upgrade Lady Croft, teaching her new survival and combat skills, and helping her find resources need to create better weapons. The reboot was met with a positive reception, with critics noting the new direction the developers decided to take the series in as a positive.
Tomb Raider (2013 reboot)
Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain and Horizon: Zero Dawn share an open-world setting where the player can interact with NPCs, carry out missions, and generally roam it free of care. But while H: ZD was made with a limitless environment in mind, the newest adventure of Big Boss is the first in the series to introduce it.
While larger, semi-open areas aren’t a novelty in the Metal Gear series (one that comes to mind is the Sokrovenno forest in MGS 3), The Phantom Pain gives the player a truly open environment. The Afghan desert surrounding the player’s base of operations can be explored on foot, horseback, and using various vehicles. So let your hair loose and gallop across the dunes while completing missions Metal Gear-style. The Phantom Pain received critical acclaim and was praised for its open-world setting and gameplay mechanics.
METAL GEAR SOLID V: The Phantom Pain
Throughout the gameplay of Horizon: Zero Dawn, the player might encounter the remnants of the past civilizations that inhabited Earth before a cataclysmic event wiped them from the face of the planet. Towering constructions overtaken by foliage are specked here and there in the game’s vast world. Those who want to experience a similar after-the-end environment should also give Fallout 4 a shot.
The fourth installment of a cult-classic series is set 200 years after the nuclear war destroyed the world as we know it. The player controls a survivor who hibernated in one of the nuclear shelters. When he thaws and leaves the shelter, he sees the world changed by the nuclear fallout: animals turned into dangerous mutants and pockets of survivors fighting for whatever resources they can find. It’s a world very similar to the one Aloy lives in, where the dangers lurk around every corner, and trust is a scarce commodity. Fallout 4 was met with a positive critical reception.
Much like Horizon: Zero Dawn, Skyrim invites the player to an expansive, fantastical world, filled with many dangers and even more loot to find. While exploring Tamriel’s northern reaches, the player will experience an engrossing tale of the Dragon-born, a warrior destined to save the world from a terrifying dragon.
The gameplay mechanics, one of the most praised elements of the game, allow the player to explore the vast expanses of Skyrim, to carry out story missions, sidequests given by NPCs, etc. The player can customize the protagonist by choosing from several races and character classes to create their perfect warrior. Leveling up and expanding the character’s skillset will be crucial, as the obstacles thrown at the player in Skyrim will only grow more difficult. Skyrim was met with universal acclaim, winning several industry awards and becoming a game with one of the most active modder bases.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
The latest installment of BioWare’s Mass Effect series shares several similarities to the subject of this article. Like Horizon: Zero Dawn, Andromeda opens a vast world to the player. Only the setting is a little bit different – instead of roaming the Earthly plains, the player explores the unknown worlds of outer space.
Another feature shared by both games are dialogue options – a classic mechanic of RPG games. The player can choose different responses in conversations with the NPCs. These responses will determine their attitude towards the player’s character. In the case of Andromeda, the player can even build intimate relationships with certain characters. Find out which member of the crew responds the best to your flirting and with whom you should keep it strictly professional. Mass Effect: Andromeda was met with a solid critical reception.
Mass Effect Andromeda
The most recent installment of the Assassin’s Creed series shapes up to be the most complex one to date. The player will be put in charge of a group of Vikings who make their new home on the shores of Britain. As their leader, Eivor, the player will have to make sure they thrive in this new land and defend them from those who threaten your kin with violence and death.
AC Valhalla is, in a way, an amalgam of the mechanics present in all the previous games on our list, which makes it quite possibly the game that is the closest to the spirit of Horizon: Zero Dawn. The player can explore the vast areas of coastal Britain on foot, horse, or sailing the Viking longboat. Throughout the game, the player will gain experience points necessary to level up their skills and find items that will help them in combat. All these mechanics make Valhalla one of the best games similar to H: ZD. Assassin’s Creed Valhalla received a positive initial impression.
Assassin's Creed: Valhalla
From the game’s intro to its credits, the epic scope of Horizon: Zero Dawn makes a huge impression on the player. The vast expanses of the wilderness and majestic creatures roaming it, a ludicrous amount of collectibles, including gear and other items, and finally an epic, engrossing story of revenge and healing – all these make H: ZD worthy of all the recognition and accolades it has received.
We hope that the games on our list will help you recapture at least some of Horizon’s amazingness. They offer new open worlds to explore, stories to experience, and collectibles to find, making them the perfect respite from taking down yet another Tallneck.