A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Horizon Zero Dawn: Complete Edition is an enhanced Windows PC port of Horizon Zero Dawn, an acclaimed sci-fi action game originally released exclusively for PlayStation 4. Players assume the role of Aloy, a tough and intelligent young woman with a strong sense of duty and morality who's trying to find answers about herself and the world she inhabits in a distant post-apocalypse future. She primarily fights giant robot animals using arrows, spears, explosives, traps, and other weapons, but also hunts wild boar and occasionally finds herself up against aggressive human enemies that bleed red blood when hit. The combat is glorified and spectacular, but the focus is on strategy rather than graphic violence. Players can expect to encounter occasional references to drugs and porn in text and audio artifacts, and infrequent language in dialogue, including the word "s--t."
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What's it about?
HORIZON ZERO DAWN: COMPLETE EDITION brings Horizon Zero Dawn, a sci-fi action role-playing game originally released in 2017 exclusively on PlayStation 4, to Windows PC players. The game is set in the distant future after an unknown calamity has brought an end to human civilization, and players take on the role of a mysterious young woman who explores the ruined world searching for answers about her origin and what happened to the people of the past. As she moves through the open wilderness between the tribal communities that have sprung up, she encounters enormous and powerful robot animals that can be aggressive and dangerous. She learns to use a variety of weapons, including arrows, spears, traps, and explosives, to strategically take down these relics from a technologically superior past, all the while on the lookout for any clues that might explain the world as it was before, how it came to an end, and who she is. The PC edition includes all of the original game's post-launch content, including The Frozen Wilds downloadable content (DLC), which adds a new map and chapter to Aloy's tale. It also allows players to opt to play with a mouse and keyboard rather than a traditional gamepad, and it provides the ability to alter the game's graphics to boost frame rate and increase field of vision on wide displays.
Is it any good?
This was a remarkable game on the PlayStation 4, and it's just as good on Windows PCs. Horizon Zero Dawn: Complete Edition wisely chooses not to mess with anything that made the console version so unforgettable. The compelling story -- filled with memorable characters and brilliant plot twists that fans of speculative fiction are sure to love -- remains intact and unchanged, and the fascinating, enormous open world we get to explore as Aloy is brimming with mysteries to discover. The combat is as strategic and rewarding as it was on PlayStation 4, forcing players to learn how to use a satisfying array of weapons and traps to take down challenging robotic foes, and PC players who don't like gamepads are bound to appreciate the improved accuracy offered by a keyboard and mouse setup. Having the excellent and expansive The Frozen Wilds DLC -- a narratively rewarding chapter that takes place at the same time as other events in the main game -- thrown in at no extra charge is just gravy.
As expected, PC players also benefit from graphical and performance boosts -- assuming that the game is being played on a moderately well-equipped rig. A decent gaming PC will allow players to increase the frame rate for a smoother experience, and players with extra-wide displays can expand the camera frame to create a wider field of vision and achieve a more cinematic look and feel. Horizon Zero Dawn: Complete Edition probably isn't enough of an upgrade to justify purchasing it a second time, but anyone yet to experience this enormous, brilliantly written adventure with one of the strongest and most memorable female leads in recent memory would do well to seek it out now that it's available on a new platform.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the impact of violence in media. Is the impact of the violence in Horizon Zero Dawn: Complete Edition affected by the fact that the game pits humans against intelligent robots? Did you ever feel pity for the machines you fought?
What are some of Aloy's strongest and most important traits? Does any part of her depiction stoop to female stereotypes?
- Platforms: Windows
- Price: $59.99
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: Sony Computer Entertainment
- Release date: August 7, 2020
- Genre: Role-Playing
- Topics: Great Girl Role Models, Robots, Science and Nature
- ESRB rating: T for Blood, Drug Reference, Language, Mild Sexual Themes, Violence
- Award: Common Sense Selection
- Last updated: September 21, 2020
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.