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Leaving the best till last: the problem with video game swag - Reader’s Feature
Horizon Zero Dawn – by the time you can get it you don’t need it

A reader is frustrated by the fact that Horizon Zero Dawn’s best armour can only be obtained right before the end of the game.


I am not an artist, not even close, but I know what I like and it strikes me that Horizon Zero Dawn is a very pretty game. It has a range of different environments, weather effects, and facial animations that are bordering on the uncanny valley. I feel like I’ve liked it for years, and indeed I did. I liked it under its previous name Assassin’s Creed. Facetious Assassin’s Creed comparison made, let’s look at one particular mission in Horizon Zero Dawn that I take a bit of umbrage with: the Ancient Armoury mission.

Before I start complaining let me first preface all this by saying that overall, I love Horizon Zero Dawn. I love hunting and killing robo-dinosaurs I think the core gameplay loop is fun, the fighting with traps and bow is deep and engaging, and I like Aloy Auditore (Sorry, last reference I swear) but what I’m saying is I like this game. (I also like Assassins Creed too.)

Early in the game you are turfed out of your comfy valley of the crazy aunties and sent into the wider world to determine the origin of an unprovoked attack on your peaceful settlement. You are selected because, like Rambo, some of the village elders consider you expendable. One of the wiser elders considers you to be the chosen one like Luke Skywalker, and like Liam Neeson with your mastery of the mysterious focus you have a particular set of skills that make you perfect for the job. So the ladies did some superlative picking.

Once out of the valley, like me you’ll probably see an interesting marker pop up on your map and you’ll head towards it like a fly to sticky paper. In a sinkhole at the end of a water-filled cistern you will see an advanced civilisation lab with a suit of achingly cool armour behind a sheet of spear and arrow proof glass. This encounter brings up the notification for the Ancient Armory side quest. It was set at level 25, which at that time was way above my current level.

The minute I saw that armour I knew that even if it was total guff I wanted it just for the collectability factor alone. So, I wandered about in that dank blue-lit cave trying to determine how to open the door. However, it quickly became apparent that I couldn’t. At least not without some power cells that I didn’t have and had no clue about where to find them. After a long while of fumbling searching, like Elmer Fudd after a rabbit, I slunk over to my good friend Google where I discovered in 0.054 seconds the location of these power cells.

It’s at this point that I usually have a little wonder about the person who first had to find this for the online walkthrough. I feel a pang of pity for them and their life of endless grinding frustration, of finding obscure video game secrets. But I digress. I quickly realised that I’d walked past two of the coveted power cells so I went to get them. The first was in a cavern I fell into as a kid (not the real me) easy-peasy, the second was in an area that had been locked off from me due to me being super class and being sent on a super important mission. The upshot of which was not being allowed back until I’d finished said mission.

After screaming into a pillow for about five straight minutes I got back on the horse/Internet and figured out that the locked-out location would be reopened later in the game and that even at that point I’d still be hunting for power cells. My curiosity had been piqued about this armour, which had assumed mythic levels in my head, so I did a bit of research and found out that this armour seemed capable of everything short of world peace itself, which did nothing to dampen my ardour. I now needed to know when I could access this wonder. After a further bit of arduous research 0.054 seconds later I discovered I wouldn’t have the optimal amount of accursed power cells until…


After screaming into my pillow for another five straight minutes, and walking waist deep into a lake, I broodingly reflected on the pointlessness of both this set of armour and this mission in particular. At this point I should make it clear that I still have not obtained this armour and the mission sits alone in my side missions tab. I know exactly how to finish it but it sits there mocking me. And I also know that due to the way I like to play games – by hoovering up the side quests, errands and other activities – that when I eventually receive my wonder armour I’ll get one or two missions out of it tops and it would have spent the entire game taunting me from its glass prison. I’ll wonder, why couldn’t we have gotten this so much earlier? I’ll also wonder, why did they make it so you would get this mission so early, so it would be there through the vast bulk of the game?

I suppose my sage take away from this would be for the games designers of the world to please not do this. Don’t lock something brilliant behind a glass wall only to tell me I’ll only have it for the last 0.5% of the game, some of us (me) will find it to be a type of unbearable mental torture as they try to immerse themselves in the post-apocalyptic machine hell rural idyll of the far future. Mind you Guerrilla Games, the other 99.9999999% of the game is super awesome. So in terms of game design you probably have the upper hand over an obsessive compulsive with no impulse control, so I bow to your superior coding skills.

By reader Dieflemmy (gamertag/PSN ID/NN ID)

The reader’s feature does not necessary represent the views of GameCentral or Metro.

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