Board Game Review: Horizon Zero Dawn

For fans of video games and board games, like ourselves here at TGR, when the two world come together the results can be brilliant. Games such as Fallout, This War of Mine and Civilization have had really successful moves into the board game world, and after a hugely successful Kickstarter campaign we’ve now got the tabletop version of the excellent Horizon Zero Dawn. It’s a great PlayStation game, but let’s see if that translates to an equally top-notch board game.

The game is a largely co-op affair, and while there is an option for some competitive play, it’s quite apparent that it’s the co-op option that should be receiving all of your affections. The overall objective is to head out over a series of five hunts to see how much glory you can grab along the way. Players control their hunter by selecting a couple of actions to carry out on their turn, and allow you to move around the board, bring an enemy within striking distance, attack an enemy or bring some of your discarded cards back into your hand. Each of these is badged up as something you might carry out in the Playstation version, be that sneaking around (which moves you a short distance, but silently) or sprinting (which moves you further but alerts enemies), as well as luring enemies, ranged or melee attacks, and crafting. It’s nice to have such a close-knit link between the two different version of the game, and means those of you who have sunk hours upon hours into Aloy’s adventures on the Playstation will feel instantly at home with the mechanics of this.

There’s a lot in the box…

The structure here revolves around a series of hunts, where players head out to try and destroy robots before heading back to safety, buying gear from the merchants and levelling up your character. As with the video game, there’s a skill tree for each character to work through, and given you won’t be maxing out every option on a single play-through of the game, you’ve got plenty of reasons to try this out again and experiment with new play styles and character levelling. It’s a neat feature that, yet again, bridges the gap between video game and board game and gives you a chance to enjoy a unique set of playthroughs. Combine all these things together and it’s quite clear that this definitely isn’t a one-shot game. You’ll come back to this to try out various techniques, different styles of play, and different approaches. You can be careful and plan things out, or you can just go crazy and attack as much as possible. Depending on the robot you’re up against you’ll find different levels of success with each path, but when combined with a range of different perks and weapons you’ll never have the same fight twice.

It’s really easy to learn too, so even if you see this but worry about getting used to the complex intricacies of modern board games, yo udon’t need to worry. Instructions are clear and easy to follow, the mechanics of how to play are pretty straightforward, and the chances are you’ll be lining up your next hunt without a second thought before too long. It’s a very well thought out game.

The minis are really cool too.

So if you’re in the market for something to tide you over until the next Horizon game is released, or want an excellent crossover game that brings in some of the great features of Zero Dawn into a tabletop game, this is going to be right up your alley. It’s easy to learn, gives a great representation of the HZD world and looks great as well. Very much recommended!

This game was provided by Asmodee for review purposes – this does not have any impact on the honesty of our review.

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