Game Tech: Engaging gameplay of The Frozen Wilds won’t leave you out in the cold

It’s always darkest before the dawn. Unless you adjust the brightness on your TV, then you’ll be grand. 

For Aloy, the heroine of Horizon Zero Dawn, shedding light on the world is her sole purpose.

Horizon Zero Dawn lived up to its name back in March, brightening our TVs with one of the most beautifully realised worlds gaming has produced in a long time.

Aloy’s quest to reveal the truth about her post-apocalyptic Earth was a brilliant combination of HBO-level writing and Kojima-level combat design. Whatever about the crack of dawn, we definitely cracked a smile.

Now Horizon Zero Dawn has returned with an expansion, The Frozen Wilds. The lush, green landscapes of the main game are here exchanged for a snowy, forbidding landscape called The Cut.

You won’t find many changes to the core gameplay while exploring The Cut, but you will find more of the excellent writing and atmosphere that made Horizon Zero Dawn a game of the year contender.

Think of The Frozen Wilds like a Christmas special for your favourite TV show. Its main purpose is to deliver everything you already love, but wrapped up in snow and pretty lights. So Aloy gets a few fresh enemies to fight, including a fantastic robot bear.

She gets some different resources to collect that are exclusive to The Cut’s chilly landscape. She also gets an extra skill tree to unlock, called The Traveller, which offers a few new tricks like an expanded inventory and
improved gathering abilities.

Horizon Zero Dawn was, ahem, somewhat eclipsed by Breath of the Wild earlier in the year. Zelda’s masterpiece was released just three days later and blew everyone away with a combination of superb game design and relentless nostalgia. But the truth is that Horizon Zero Dawn is equally good.

It may not have Zelda’s old-school wonder — very little can beat that — but Horizon Zero Dawn excels at story, beauty and atmosphere. The Frozen Wilds is a great excuse to jump in, and see the light for yourself.

LIGHTING UP

Meanwhile, Irish eyes lit up this week when the latest Overwatch hero was revealed. Her name is Moira O’Deorain, which probably tells you everything you need to know. The evil geneticist is the first Irish hero for Overwatch, one of the world’s most popular video games.

The character design was modelled after David Bowie and has some amazing legendary skins that pay tribute to the rock icon. Meanwhile, she is voiced by Irish actress Genevieve O’Reilly, whose most prominent role to date came playing Mon Mothma in the new Star Wars films.

Moira has already gone live on the game’s test servers and players are having a blast trying out her new skills, which primarily revolve around support functions. For those who don’t play online games, that basically means Moira is a healer who works to keep her team-mates alive in the fray.

Don’t be fooled though — Moira isn’t exactly the benevolent type. While she might technically be a support character, “mad scientist” seems like the better description, with her attack abilities almost on a par with her healing.

To top it all off, Moria has been confirmed to speak “as Gaeilge” in some of her lines. Between this and the samurai star of Nioh, who was a Dubliner, us Irish have done pretty well with cool heroes this year.

BRIGHT IDEA

Finally, we started with something frozen, so we’ll finish with something vanilla. It’s not ice-cream, but it’s a sweet surprise for millions of gamers.

Blizzard have announced the long-anticipated re-release of vanilla World of Warcraft. This means the original version of the game, the one released before all the updates and patches and expansions that have since made the game very different, will be officially playable again in the near future.

World of Warcraft Classic is in development for the PC and it will make thousands, if not millions of players very happy.

Currently, players who prefer to play the original version of the game do so on unofficial servers that aren’t supported by developers Blizzard.

Now, after years of requests, the company has relented and will support a vanilla version of the game themselves. It’s likely to make them millions from a 13-year-old game — what a bright idea.


More in this Section

John Wilson touring with music made with Rory Gallagher in Taste

Class outing for Oonagh Kearney drama set in Cork

Scene and Heard: What's happening in the world of arts

Why are there not more female conductors?


Lifestyle

John Wilson touring with music made with Rory Gallagher in Taste

The F word: Why are some women reluctant to call themselves feminists?

Ask Audrey: 'Come here, do posh girls fake orgasms?'

Music Man: Why singer Phil Coulter is still touring in his 70s

More From The Irish Examiner