‘The Frozen Wilds’ Proves ‘Horizon Zero Dawn’ is a Franchise in the Making

Doug Trein
Games PlayStation
Games PlayStation

Horizon Zero Dawn, the action-roleplaying game by Guerilla Games, made quite a splash earlier this year with its captivating post-apocalyptic world and strong female lead, the Nora hunter Aloy. The Frozen Wilds, the first DLC for the game, pulls players back into the majesty of Horizon Zero Dawn’s meticulously crafted world.

The Frozen Wilds storyline is seamlessly integrated into the storyline of the main game. After you finish the main quest, Aloy will overhear a rumor while making her way through one of the game’s many towns. The DLC adds a brand new area known as “The Cut” that treads upon the lands of the Banuk, one of the game’s four primary tribes. As Aloy ventures to the entrance, she’ll fight a fierce battle with one of the DLC’s new machines, the Scorcher. This ravager class machine will dice you to bits if you try to tackle it before level 30.

By emerging victorious, Aloy will eventually make her way to her first settlement in The Cut. Where Banuk shamans perform a ceremony to honor the deaths of their finest warriors. There, Aloy will become entangled with the Daemonic machines plaguing the Banuk tribe and set off to find answers.

The biggest strength of The Frozen Wilds is the focus on the Banuk tribe and their culture. Of the four main tribes in Horizon Zero Dawn, the members of the Banuk were the most mysterious. The tribe has a profound spiritual connection with the machines – and believe that harmony exists by living side-by-side with them in nature. To the Nora, Oseram, and Carja tribes, their attempts to fuse with the machines was viewed as dangerous. The Banuk tended to avoid civilization and stick to their own lands. By venturing into The Cut, Aloy is thrust into the role of an outsider all over again.

The Cut is a breathtaking arctic landscape that adds to the expansive environments of Horizon Zero Dawn. Among the snow and ice, unique geographical features such as hot springs, fumaroles, and geysers dot across the terrain. The Cut’s major landmark is The Mountain, a large plateau of rock and ice. When Aloy arrives to the area, the Mountain is enveloped in smoke and red lightning and has become a source of unusual activity. The primary quests of The Frozen Wilds focus on Aloy uncovering the mysteries of the Mountain and the source behind aggressive machines.

Along with a new major questline, the shamans and warriors of the Banuk tribe will give Aloy some new weapon types: The Stormslinger, Ice Rail, and Forgefire. These three weapons correspond to the three primary element types and they all pack a serious punch. After obtaining each of these weapons, Aloy can undertake an additional sidequest that improves the power of each of them – and in some cases adding a new additional firing type to them. All three weapons are a blast to use, and if paired correctly to machine weaknesses, will absolutely decimate whatever you might come across. The scaling power of these weapons as Aloy overcomes greater challenges fits well within the narrative of The Frozen Wilds.

The Frozen Wilds’ questlines touch on the eccentricities of Banuk culture, and what the tribe value, respect, and yearn for. The interactions between Aloy and the members of the Banuk have an emotional weight. The Banuk are hesitant of outsiders but through her actions Aloy proves that she can be trusted and relied upon. Aloy’s knowledge of the scientific origin of the machines, and the mystic connection the Banuk have with machines provides an interesting narrative parallel.

The Frozen Wilds gives Aloy a few more skills across her skill trees, but most of them are simple quality of life improvements and nothing that completely evolves the combat system. A few of the more useful skills include the ability to heal a damaged machine mount, or the ability to loot items while Aloy is on a mount. Horizon Zero Dawn’s melee combat still feels a little too loose, but the precision and weight behind each ranged weapon picks up that slack.

The DLC includes a new Hunting Ground filled with challenges, a new Bandit Camp, and another Tallneck to scale. Overall, expect The Frozen Wilds to provide another 15-20 hours of adventure. But most importantly, it’s solidifies the depth and scale that this series is capable of. Guerrilla Games has created an intriguing world, littered with lore and unanswered questions. Whether they continue to follow the journey of Aloy, or expand to further lands, the world of Horizon Zero Dawn is only just beginning.

Be sure to visit our Horizon Zero Dawn Wiki for information on questlines, characters, and more!

Doug Trein
Doug Trein is a staff contributor at Fandom and focuses primarily on video games and animated television shows. His game genre favorites include strategy and turn-based role-playing games, first-person shooters, 2D fighting games, and action/adventure titles.
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