Guerilla has made it very clear that Horizon Zero Dawn is here to stay. After launching to rave reviews in March, the game previewed new story DLC at E3. And they’ve been keeping the updates coming. The first significant one really just added a camera mode. But the latest one, Update 1.30, includes much more, adding to the game’s overall replay value. Maybe.
The first addition of note is the inclusion of an Ultra Hard difficulty (as if the game wasn’t already hard enough, but okay). Though players may wish to be absolutely certain. Once that difficulty is set, it can’t be changed. Woe to those who are unprepared for it. Accompanying the new difficulty is the addition of a New Game+ mode. This, of course, allows players to start the game over while keeping their progression and inventory. There are new versions of weapons and armor, which are more expensive, but come with additional modification slots. And, in the vein of aesthetic changes, there’s now an ability to customize Aloy a bit more. Face paint options have been added (locked behind certain difficulties), as well as the ability to change the color of her Focus.
In all, the update is fairly minor in the grand scheme of things. The additional features are welcomed, especially considering that the update is completely free. Though one has to wonder if it would really change the replay value that much. One of the primary factors of replay value is the ability to do things differently on different play throughs. This is a factor most often seen in RPGs, like Pokemon, and Horizon Zero Dawn‘s gear system can be exploited to achieve something like this. But the new difficulty would help in that regard. Then are unlockables. Adding new unlockable features and/or trophies also adds to the replay value. As mentioned, there are aesthetic customization options locked behind higher difficulties. But some players may wish for something more functional. As for trophies, only two have been added, and both are for completion of New Game+. Should there be more?
It’s all speculation and opining, of course. Still, the real wait is on the upcoming Horizon Zero Dawn: The Frozen Wilds DLC. For such a solidly written game (albeit one with its share of plot holes), there was a surprising lack of story after a certain point. The promise of additional story elements makes the wait for the DLC all the more anxious. And that’s to say nothing of the inevitable sequel, or at least future story DLC that may continue the main narrative.
Hopefully Guerilla will continue to support the game like this. It’s clear they intend to keep it in people’s minds so they’re still playing it when more substantial updates happen. And that isn’t at all a bad thing. For now players can enjoy returning to Aloy’s adventure as they await more to come.