1976 Mazola Margarine "We Call It Maize" Commercial

The conceit of Horizon: Zero Dawn is a simple one. You are hunting robot dinosaurs in a post-apocalyptic world and you’re using a bow and arrow or a spear to do it.

I mean, seriously. Do you need more than that? How could you possibly need more than that?

Well, if you do, here’s a bit more of a breakdown. Okay. It’s the year something way in the future. There was a war of some kind and the planet has (mostly) healed itself from the wasteland phase and is now lush and green again (and it’s set in Colorado Springs! You can visit the Air Force Academy and see the chapel!). You are Aloy (pronounced “Ay-Loy”), a young woman who was outcast at birth from her tribe. Your gentle wise father-figure type (who is also outcast from the tribe for some reason) is Rost. You pretty much fast-forward from Rost naming you at the beginning, to a precocious young child who finds a Star-Trekky-kinda earpiece with a heads-up display and soon after finding the earpiece, you fast-forward again to being a young woman robot dinosaur hunter getting a handful more lessons on robot dinosaur hunting from your father-figure in preparation for: The Coming Of Age Ritual.

The Coming Of Age Ritual, of course, is where the game really, really starts to pick up.

Anyway, there are all kinds of quests, it’s kinda sandboxy insofar as there are all kinds of side-quests and it’s kinda RPG-y insofar as you pick which skills you want to get good at first (before getting good at all of them, of course) and you pick which upgrades you want for your weapons and your armor and you can upgrade your pouches so you can hold 30 arrows instead of just 20.

You meet the Big Bad, you hunt ever bigger and badder robot dinosaurs, and you even have decision points where you can pick between doing the headstrong thing, the smart thing, or the nice thing. The gameplay takes a little getting used to if you’ve recently been playing something like, oh, Batman: Arkham Knight because you’ll be pressing the wrong buttons to duck and the wrong buttons to run and that’ll mess you up when you’re hunting robot dinosaurs but, hey. What can you do?

There are also a handful of things that will have you say something to the effect of “well, *THAT* is a little on the nose…” but they’re over quickly and you can get back to hunting robot dinosaurs.

Which, really, is all you need.

So… what are you playing?

(Picture is HG Wells playing a war game from Illustrated London News (25 January 1913))

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Jaybird is Birdmojo on Xbox Live and Jaybirdmojo on Playstation's network. He's been playing consoles since the Atari 2600 and it was Zork that taught him how to touch-type. If you've got a song for Wednesday, a commercial for Saturday, a recommendation for Tuesday, an essay for Monday, or, heck, just a handful a questions, fire off an email to

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9 thoughts on “Saturday!

  1. Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition.

    Steam is great. I just got a new computer, and I figured I’d probably have to re-buy some of the games I’d downloaded before, along with picking up some new ones. But everything I’ve ever bought is available to me. One of the games, BG:EE, I couldn’t get to work on my old pc. I’d pretty much forgotten about it. So it turns out instead of paying for games I’d already played, I got a game that I’d never played.

    As for the game itself, it’s old, but it’s keeping me interested (and frustrated, which is what you expect during the first go-through). My D&D knowledge never advanced past 1st edition, and the game is based on the 2nd, so it’s been interesting learning about the changes. The game is Diablo without the button-mashing, which is sort of a relief.


  2. So…. I really wanted to love Horizon: Zero Dawn. After Skyrim, Fallout 4, and Witcher 3 (the best RPG ever), I was ready for something beautiful and strange. The graphics are amazing, combat is pretty good, crafting is not TOO painful….

    But around 25% of the way through, it lost me. I compared notes with a friend of mine who had made it to the end, and I came to the conclusion that there were three fatal flaws:
    (1) The objectives were uncompelling (and some don’t emerge until later in the game). Why am I doing this?
    (2) No relationships! No companions (with or without “complications”), no villains, no interpersonal stuff.
    (3) No humor! No jokes, nothing to make you giggle or laugh…

    So now I’m dividing my time between a replay of Fallout 4 and learning a new platform, the Nintendo Switch, with the latest Zelda. (And I will get Skyrim for the Switch, because sometimes you just need to battle dragons at 35,000 feet en route to EWR….)


    • I am at the point where I just found my first tower/raven’s nest/thing that lets you see the entire corner of the map where you are along with all sorts of subquests and whatnot and I’m still entranced.

      Given that I’m merely at that part, I still have the relationship with Rost and the Matriarchs to ride on the coattails of.

      And the graphics? Dude. The graphics. The sunrise was pink. I was standing in the shadow of a mountain and looked across the valley at the hills over on the other side and the sunrise was pink.


        • I got the GOTY edition right before I left for the Middle East and haven’t played it since.

          I understand that I will eventually become a Gwent addict and, well, I’ve been playing a lot of computer games recently so I’m switching over to the PS4 for a while.

          I mean, playing computer games just turns into “let me see what people are arguing about on the twitters” and that’s not healthy.


          • HZD was so interesting to me because while there was nothing new in the game it was a perfect example of how you could recycle elements from other games and through smart design create something that was simply fun to play. This makes it really easy to recommend it to others.

            Other examples of fantastic game design to me at least are Doom2016, Bloodborne and of course Witcher3 which deserves all the accolades it received.


    • I loved HZD and really just could not get into The Witcher 3. I found that HZD had just about the right density of side objectives, while TW3 just drowned me in them. Since I tend to be a bit of an obsessive completionist about picking up everything that pops up on my minimap, TW3 rapidly turned into a joyless slog.

      It’s too bad in a lot of ways. The graphics were gorgeous, the story seemed like it might be intriguing, and I thought TW2 was very good.

      I think HZD would have been better of with TW3’s crafting system (given its post-apocalyptic, wilderness survival focus), and TW3 probably could have done with something much simpler. Also, I played HZD after the new Zelda, and the climbing mechanics in HZD just seemed completely obsolete.


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