Horizon Zero Dawn is the best new role-playing game of 2017

Gunicorns of the gaming industry: Few master the right mix of character and story to hold a player’s attention. Those that do, like The Witcher and Red Dead Redemption, hook you for years.

Enter Horizon Zero Dawn, a worthy successor to those vaunted classics.

Aloy, the (undeniably sexy) bow-and-arrow-wielding protagonist of this infinitely complex open-world action RPG, is part Terminator’s Sarah Connor, part Game of Thrones’ Ygritte, roaming a future landscape ruled by dinosaurlike machines. She traps prey for supplies and battles armored robots trying to drive humans to extinction.

It’s dramatic departure for the genre. Far from a typical open-world game that pits players against legions of men or more traditional sci-fi/fantasy monsters, Horizon, stands out for the bizarre creatures that populate it.

The game is also singular in the extraordinary freedom it gives players to navigate—from stealth approaches to all-out assaults—as they protect their tribe from annihilation. Need arrows? Create a “job” and hire someone to make them. Have to travel quickly? Hack a nonlethal robot dino and reprogram it. These innovations, the first of their kind for RPGs, keep the adrenaline pumping.

And since Horizon is compatible with PlayStation 4 Pro, its graphics, in 4K resolution, are so stunning it’s hard no to just stop and stare at your verdant surroundings.

Even when you’ve completed all of Aloy’s missions, she’ll still hold you in her thrall.

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