Sneak through the tall grass with Aloy and fire off a well-placed shot at a guard, Thunderjaw, or Sawtooth. That's our definition of fun. We can't count how many hours we spent roaming through the holy land alongside our favourite red-headed heroine. But one thing is clear: it wasn't nearly enough. So we have been absolutely on edge since we heard the announcement of The Frozen Wilds DLC at this year's E3. Now we're finally beginning a small new adventure with Aloy, discovering the rough, cold north. The DLC is so small – it is the first and only of its kind – and yet also not small at all. Aside from a solid game length of about 15 hours, The Frozen Wilds is also impressive for its clever innovations.
On the fire-spitting mountain
Continually driven on by her search for the answers to unknown mysteries, Aloy sets off for the icy, snow-covered north. That is where a mysterious mountain lies, whose mystery she is intent on solving. This harsh landscape offers up many challenges and dangers. It is a landscape which, despite the difficult habitat, is nevertheless a beautiful sight to behold. Snow-covered peaks on the horizon, frozen-over lakes, and colourful sulphur springs are just a few highlights of Horizon Zero Dawn: The Frozen Wilds, of which we just can't seem to get enough. Fortunately there is photo mode, which has even been revised a little. It's no wonder that the landscape is so fascinating – it is quite obviously inspired by Yellowstone National Park.
Colourful sulphur – the Banuk
The Banuk live in a region the game has named Ban-Ur. The nomadic tribe was already introduced a little in the main game. Now we finally get to immerse ourselves deeper into the fascinating culture of the Banuk. In particular, the brightness of their clothing provides a welcome splash of colour in this icy region. This range of colours is achieved by bathing in the sulphur springs – just one example of how the Banuk have learned to take full advantage of the harsh environment in which they live. Life in the far north has inevitably turned them into brave fighters as well as skilled hunters. The eccentric shaman also plays an important role in the tribe. With their spiritual connection to the machines, they are an exciting species in their own right.
Shifting flame-throwers and other dangers
There are numerous dangers in Ban-Ur, as the machines have adapted well to the environment. For example, the Scorcher can set sections of snow on fire. Its attacks are one of the new challenges we must face alongside Aloy. In addition to fire mines, it also breathes fire which can set us alight. As if that weren't enough, it also sprints continuously around at breakneck speed towards us. However, there are even more obstacles to encounter on our way to the mountain: In the DLC, there are newly introduced towers which make it difficult for us to properly battle the machines. The towers send out a signal, making the machines both stronger and more aggressive, as well as repairing any damage we have inflicted.
An entirely successful expansion
Overall, The Frozen Wilds is a well-rounded DLC to Horizon Zero Dawn, which kept us busier than many fully fledged game titles. New territories, characters, and machine creatures await us, all of which integrate seamlessly with the main game. The innovations in gameplay also add to the game's fun factor: With an increased level limit of 60, new outfits and weapons, as well as a whole new skill base, we and Aloy can learn helpful new abilities, for example the ability to pick up items off the back of our mounts. Chronologically, the plot runs in parallel to the main story: This ensures that the expansion is perfect even for all those players who haven't completed the main game. So everyone has good reason to get back into Horizon Zero Dawn.