Switch and Horizon Zero Dawn

Couple of new things I've been playing

Nintendo Switch
The big N's new console the portable and home console that totally isn't a 3ds replacement and won't lead to that thing getting no more games.

It's an interesting little unit think tablet with docking station and you are not far wrong there. It's a little six inch tablet or maybe more like 8 inch once the joycons (little wireless controllers) are attached fairly chunky unit maybe a cm thick. You can use it just as is with the joycons slotted on the side or have them free or slotted into a sort of holder thing. The controllers slide into slots on the side and lock into place with a satisfying click then to remove they have a small release button the mechanism is sturdy it feels well engineered while attached the controllers charge themselves from the main unit. The screen is a 720p lcd with touch screen so far they've said no games will use the touch screen as that would make them unable to run in docked mode. When docked it ups the resolution to 1080p and drives things a bit harder. It has a kickstand so you can either use it in hand or prop it up and use the controllers wirelessly. It charges and docks via a single usb3 C connector on the bottom which presumably is running something like thunderbolt across it to do the HDMI out and power in. The dock is just a little U shaped plastic thing it slots into that has connections for power USB and hdmi it seats easily and if somethings running and the tv is on switches seamlessly to TV mode or back to portable if it's pulled out mid game.

Inside it's powered by the newest Nvidia Tegra chipset and is probably running some highly customised version of android. It's mostly hidden but everynow and again you see an icon or a font that is very familiar. The USB3C charging port means it can charge from a lot of normal usb adaptors but for full power it needs one of the newer usbc chargers that go to 15v.

Normally both joycons function together each providing an analogue stick four face buttons a bumper and a trigger (the now standardised controller layout) but in certain games they can work as two separate controllers by slotting on a top plate that gives each one two new buttons and holding them sideways. No games currently exist that support this mode but it was in all the promotional material for the system. There is also some sort of IR sensor on the bottom of one of the controllers not sure what that does.

Nintendo offer the pro controller basically a standard xbox 360 like controller that you can use when the thing is docked.

The launch line up for switch is pretty poor there's Zelda Breath of the wild (the latest zelda open world 3rd person action game), 1-2-Switch (some sort of joke party game that looks like it should have been given away free and they have the gall to CHARGE 60 DOLLARS FOR!!!!!!), Skylanders, Just Dance 2017.

Then there are a few download titles mostly stuff that's been out elsewhere for a while Shovel Knight , I Am Setsuna (Iam satsuma),Fast RMX, Human Resource Machine, Little inferno, Bomberman R, and Snipperclips.

The only game I got was Zelda I've played it a little it looks good and is quite fun to play.

The docking and portable aspect of the machine is interesting with previous machines you want to play it elsewhere you might be able to stream the newer generation but that can be unreliable the fact you can just grab the unit and take it with you continuing anything in progress is pretty good.

Battery life is a bit of a question it supposedly varies by game type with the more demanding games like zelda having a quoted unplugged run time of about 3 hours.

As with any new console time will tell if it's going to be good or not after the slow death of the WiiU which never really gained traction there are some big questions on whether nintendo will provide the level of support needed to make this new machine a success and while they say it's not a 3ds replacement it's playing into the same market so with surely cannibalize some of that market share. For now it is a pretty well put together system and with promise we shall see if it delivers on that.

Horizon Zero Dawn
A new open world post apocalyptic game featuring robot dinosaurs. This is a fantastically beautiful game even on my non pro ps4 it looks amazing really gorgeous environments bold colours really top notch lighting effects and the modeling on the various robot animals is incredible massive amounts of detail and well animated. Gameplay is fairly varied with the normal story missions and side quests as well as hunting challenges and some collection quests. A lot of the missions features some stuff borrowed from games like witcher 3 where to complete missions you either track people through the wasteland using your focus senses or analyse clues in the same manner it works fairly well it makes those missions feel more involving.

A lot of the game involves hunting the robot animals and you have a variety of weapons at your disposal starting with a normal bow and a melee spear you expand to different types of bows supporting more and more elaborate arrow types to various sort of traps you can set, slings with various different ammo types, and then later a sort of repeating fire crossbow and the very useful ropecaster which allows you to tie down the animals to allow you easier targeting or crowd control.

The animals have three sizes small medium and large. Small are the easiest to take down you can one shot kill most of them with the hidden melee strike and indeed a hit on a critical area will take them out one shot. Medium are more of a challenge here you can't just one hit kill them so some planning and tactics are in order every animal has a series of subsystems (usually more as they get bigger) these are often susceptible to certain damage kinds some even explode if hit with the right elemental arrow (ie fuel tanks hit with fire then explode). These subsystems often can be disabled or shot off the animal and then either cause higher damage stun them or prevent them from using them some are even weapons you can make use of yourself. On the large animals you have to be well prepared the thunderjaw or the stormhawk or rockcrusher are massive machines that take a lot of effort to take down. Here it's essential to take out some of their offensive systems early and then use the right sort of attacks to do extra damage setting them on fire shocking them or freezing them as appropriate. I find the ropecaster is essential there if I can tie them down I can then remove their weapons and use them against them strip them of their protective armor shoot for their vulnerable bits. Using the right attacks can turn a hard fight into an easy one.

You are somewhat fragile in this game so staying mobile striking from cover and planning your attacks on larger enemies is essential. It does feel very rewarding when you attack the larger beasts and use your arsenal of weapons and traps to bring them down and fighting the large monsters really are epic battles these are huge towering monsters that can kill you in a single blow if you are not careful.

You eventually get another ability to override the robots turning them to your side this allows you to use some as mounts (which can be used to attack others or you can shoot from their back) or just to sow chaos as they attack each other allowing you to snipe and wear down the survivors.

There are also human enemies these range from grunts to leaders and heavy troops who carry heavy weaponry like machine guns if you kill them you can then take them for limited time use.

There are then usual platforming and traversal elements some places require you to climb a series of walls it marks things you can climb with a yellow or white colour to make it obvious. You can't climb just anything you can jump and if things are low enough get up them but only specific edges allow you to grip them and pull yourself up this feels a bit limiting in places but it does mean if you have to get up somewhere to collect something or get to an objective you can guarantee there will be an obvious marked path or climbing route somewhere.

I've been having a lot of fun with this game as I said it's a visual treat looking really good with it's bold colours and incredible environments the character models are also great with lots of detail and good facial animation realistic looking skin tones and scatter effects. The story is interesting I'm not sure I've scratched the surface of it mostly I've been doing the many side quests getting all the weapons and just hunting the beasts combat is fun and varied with a nice degree of challenge. There are some collection quests but mostly you can grab things as you pass doing a little hunting or enroute to another objective it hasn't yet felt like the chore that some of these collection level quests are in other games. The side missions are well put together combinations of the hunting and using the augmented reality like focus for tracking as well as the odd traversal puzzle. There are also bandit camps to free either by stealth or full on attack, and the hunters challenge are pretty fun scattered throughout the world you get set timed challenges to do some certain task (kill 2 of these type of machine with this type of weapon) then depending how fast you manage it there is a gold silver bronze style reward this unlocks a the hunter guild some special weapons and a series of additional side quests. There is some light crafting mostly making ammo and traps and some customisation by adding mods to boost damage or certain elemental attacks on the weapons.

As a package it's a really great game a well put together world with an interesting story and lots of fun to be had I heartily recommend it


I am tempted by the Switch as a replacement/addition to the Wii. If they bring out the LEGO City game then I'm sold. Felix just wants to play Minecraft the whole time and Steam Link works fine for sofa play (poor Byrn is forced to play when he pops round). Either way, I applaud Nintendo for re-entering the market after the lacklustre WiiU and doing so with flair and innovation.

Horizon Zero Dawn looks ace. Sadly a PS4 release, so I won't be purchasing but it does look ace and your review backs that up!

brainwipe's picture

Well it only took 3 years but Horizon Zero Dawn is now also on PC

Includes the DLC frozen wilds as well as the main game and I've been enjoying smashing up robot dinosaurs again this time with better resolution and hdr

There have been a few reported issues on the port and when I first fired it up I saw a few problems geometry on hair and stuff going off to infinity but that was fixed with the latest nvidia driver. They have a patch that might fix the things other people have been seeing I've not had any further issues with it but mileage may vary.

Evilmatt's picture