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Horizon Zero Dawn The Frozen Wilds (DLC) Review: Story, size and all you need to know

Wrap up warm for our full coverage of Horizon Zero Dawn’s first DLC, The Frozen Wilds, which expands the game’s massive playing environment and serves up extra dino foes, skills, weapons and outfits.

Horizon Zero Dawn is one of the more thrilling PS4 exclusive games to emerge in 2017. Boasting a gorgeous open world to explore, a mysterious plot that encouraged progression and some truly breath-snatching cinematic moments, HZD certainly sits alongside the likes of Uncharted as a prime reason to own Sony’s console.

It’s certainly not a short game either, boasting a massive environment packed with plenty of side missions and reasons to explore. However, The Frozen Wilds DLC expands the map even further and adds a separate story that can be taken on when you’re strong enough, giving fans plenty of reason to pick up their bow for another round.

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Do I need the original Horizon Zero Dawn to play The Frozen Wilds?

Yes, you’ll need to own a copy of the game in order to blast your way through The Frozen Wilds. This isn’t a standalone DLC.

Where does The Frozen Wilds take place and how do I get started?

The Frozen Wilds takes place in a new area north of the original map, which can be accessed after players complete the Seeker at the Gates mission. However, there are some pretty tough encounters within the DLC, so the developers themselves have recommended that you only tackle this side-story once you’re level 30 or above.

What is the story of The Frozen Wilds?

This first round of DLC involves a whole new separate sub-story, which can be experienced without completing the original game.

Aloy finds herself venturing far north, into the frosty wastelands and mountains that a tribe called the Banuk call home. This tribe hasn’t been heard from in some time, so Aloy takes it upon herself to navigate The Cut via an old trade route that slices through the rugged, icy landscape and find out what happened to them.

As it turns out, the Banuk are still alive, although not particularly well. They’re being menaced by a new breed of dino which the tribal leaders claim are being controlled by a daemonic entity, to make them more aggressive than ever. Which means, of course, that Aloy needs to set out into the snowstorms to investigate.

The Frozen Wilds’ story isn’t anything particularly groundbreaking, and plays second fiddle to the interesting environment that you’ll find yourself exploring. That, along with some of the other new additions, is what makes this DLC worth playing through.

How big is The Frozen Wilds DLC?

Although a frosty mountain range might not sound particularly inviting, we really enjoyed battling our way through this unforgiving landscape. The developers have done a great job of bringing the environment to life, from the way Aloy reacts to the biting cold and winds to the crunching of the snow underfoot. We had to fight the urge to throw on our biggest winter jackets when playing.

As you might imagine, the new land is a good size too. There’s plenty of space to explore, and as with the original title, you’ll want to grab yourself a robot steed to carry you across the frozen tundra. Navigating the land on foot takes quite some time and can be a bit of a chore

Thankfully The Frozen Wilds’ playing area isn’t all barren, rocky wasteland either. You’ll find plenty of bandit camps, caves and other interesting hot spots, not to mention some hidden areas to discover.

There are also plenty of side missions to take on, in addition to the new storyline. Overall, depending on how much time you take to enjoy the scenery, harvest goodies and generally explore, you’ll be playing for between ten and twenty hours before finishing the main story.

What other new stuff do you get in The Frozen Wilds?

To survive in this hostile environment, Aloy understandably needs some new outfits to protect her from the elements. After all, some sense of realism would be lost if she could happily skip about in the snow wearing nothing more than a thin shirt. And while most of these costumes are big and bulky, some of them look suitably badass.

You’ll also be able to snaffle some new Banuk bows, which are alternative versions of some of the original bows from the base game.

You also get a new skills tree, which concentrates on harvesting abilities. The option to snaffle goodies while mounted is worthy of praise, as it saves plenty of time and hassle when charging around. However, anyone after any revolutionary new abilities will be...left cold.

One of the best additions however is the handful of new mechanical foes that you’ll need to take down while exploring. Good news for anyone who’s played Horizon Zero Dawn a lot, as these robots encourage you to change up your usual tactics for best results. The bear-like Frostclaws in particular are utterly terrifying, when you first spot their hulking silhouette coming at you through a blinding blizzard.

As this is a whole new region, your money is no good here. Even if you’ve amassed a small fortune in the standard game, you’ll need to start over in The Frozen Wilds with its foreign currency. Certainly a good idea, as it encourages you to complete more missions to trade with the locals.

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