Guerrilla Games’ Journey To Creating ‘Horizon Zero Dawn’

Impending third-person open-world role-player Horizon Zero Dawn looks absolutely groundbreaking. Guerrilla Games (the studio behind the Killzone series) is taking a bold risk stepping into open-world territory. At times, Horizon looks like an animated movie rather than a game, and it is nothing short of exhilarating. The public’s response has been overwhelmingly positive, and fans have even cosplayed as the protagonist Aloy before the game has even released. With the amount of dedication seen from the developers and fans alike, Horizon Zero Dawn may just be a worthy exclusive to add to the collection — and here’s why.

The Start Of Something New

Guerrilla Games has been working on Horizon Zero Dawn since 2011, following the release of Killzone 3. It was clear from the beginning that Horizon Zero Dawn was going to be an ambitious project, and after multiple trials, ideas started to solidify and take shape. Different notions were discussed and tested until the team finally settled on the riskiest and most exciting.


Since then, the game has been worked on in the background, up until the release of Killzone: Shadow Fall in 2013, when the project was pushed into full-time development. As the work progressed, all of the elements — the enemies, characters, environments, wildlife, the overall scale of the game — came together as one amazing world. At this stage of development, the game is nothing short of gorgeous, and with each new trailer Guerrilla release, you can see more and more of the creativity and imagination that has been committed to the game.

Creating A Masterpiece

The journey to realize their vision for the grand-scale environment of Horizon Zero Dawn has been a creative struggle for the developers. The team even hired outside talent that included staff from CD Projekt Red (the studio behind the Witcher series) and Bethesda (the studio behind the Fallout and Elder Scrolls series), just to make sure they had the right people to help tackle the challenge of creating a stellar open-world game.


Both these latter two studios are known for creating top-of-the-line open-world games, and several of those titles are a few of the industry’s greatest. By simply looking at the steps Guerrilla is taking to ensure success, you can see how its level of dedication to the project knows no bounds. The studio is unafraid to take on this bold challenge and make a huge game that is rich with story and filled to the brim with detail and engagement.

The team demonstrates a big picture, little picture approach to their work, putting all the little details and effort into the project before stopping for a moment to look at the game and its grand scale. This shows how passionate the developers are, and how critical it is for them to get the game right. Watching an intensive development cycle like this simply amazes me with the level of determination that goes into a massive project like Horizon.

The Required Elements

The most important elements that make an open-world game successful are:

  • True Freedom: Having maximum access to the game world can provide lots of exploration opportunities, while adding to the illusion that the game space is endless.
  • Believability: There must be engaging events, even when the player is not directly involved, that give the impression the world is alive, with or without your character.
  • Engaging Storyline: The story is the fuel for the player to connect with the character, and should reach the player on a personal level. This will help guide you through this gigantic world and reach the characters goals.
  • Intriguing Side Quests: Smaller adventures are good palate cleansers in open-world games. They allow us to take a break from the original storyline, to contribute to the game world, and provide deeper explanations to better understand the main story. They can even reveal more of the lore to add depth to non-playable characters.


According to the gameplay trailers and interviews with Guerrilla Games, Horizon Zero Dawn is proving to check all the elements off my list. There is a ton of engagement when we see the main character Aloy interact with the futuristic and primal world. There is never a dull moment in gameplay, and this is what truly excites me. From the stealth movement to hunting and pinning down animal-like machines in a bid to collect resources, to fighting giant mechanized beasts with destructible plates and pieces, Horizon already looks fully fleshed and realized.

Future Predictions

So far Horizon Zero Dawn has seen a lot of positive feedback from the fans and it is amazing to see their resounding support behind the game. Many fans have posted beautiful art pieces for the game and photographs of cosplayers dressed up as Aloy. This level of excitement and positivity demonstrates that gamers cannot wait to get their hands on Guerrilla Games’ latest offering.


Horizon Zero Dawn is more than just a game for the fans. It is a love letter from the developers. Guerrilla Games has a true desire to deliver a high-end product for us gamers, and is sure to live up to expectations. Having this kind of positive attitude toward a new project is exciting, and as a gamer I truly appreciate when developers take risks to bring something refreshing and new to the table.

Horizon looks promising, and I predict it will be an instant masterpiece. Factors like gameplay mechanics or lack of variety in missions can turn a great-looking open-world game into a mediocre experience. If Horizon Zero Dawn can provide a deep and meaningful story with topnotch gameplay (which it already seems to have done), I truly believe it can break records for being one of the best exclusive video games in 2017.

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