6 Games Like Horizon: Zero Dawn [Recommendations]

Open world games have been a favorite of many gamers since they arrived on the market. Fans found them to be a welcome deviation from the linear, level by level encounters which had been so pervasive in games before them. As the years have passed, the complexity and attention to detail in open world games has come to rival that of their linear, more cinematic counterparts. Horizon: Zero Dawn is a perfect of example of the best of both worlds in gaming.

Horizon: Zero Dawn starts players off in a harsh and unforgiving world. Set long after the collapse of an advanced civilization, players explore the world as the newly anointed Seeker Aloy. She has been tasked by her tribe with uncovering the secrets of the world and ensuring their survival. Aloy must brave the dangers of nature, as well as the technologic devastation of violent mechanized beasts that roam the planet. Throughout the game, players are asked to make choices that affect the story and actions of Aloy as she explores the world. They encounter dozens of robot enemies to battle with, weapons to collect and new moves to master. All this happens in real time, in an open world, set to some of the most beautiful scenery witnessed this console generation.

Horizon: Zero Dawn is both a technical marvel and a thrilling game to boot. Here are 6 other examples of games that deliver similar experiences to players that may be looking for more.

Similar Games to Horizon: Zero Dawn

1. Enslaved: Odyssey to the West

  • System/Platform: Xbox 360, PS3, PC
  • Publisher: BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment
  • Developer: Ninja Theory
  • Release Date: Oct. 5th, 2010 (NA)

Enslaved takes place hundreds of years in a future where machines have decimated most life on earth. The survivors live in fear under the aggression of machine monsters that attack human beings on sight. Protagonist Monkey awaits his fate aboard a processing ship headed towards a death machine facility. There he encounters the mysterious Trip, who uses her knowledge of technology to free him in an attempt to save herself. Trip now has a mechanical band over Monkey’s head, and uses it to threaten him to obey her commands or die. The two then set off to bring Trip back to her home, with an army of killer machines between them.

Thematically, Enslaved draws inspiration not only from more recent science fiction stories, but ancient Chinese mythology as well. The game’s name, as well as the main character’s, are references to Journey to the West, the tale of Son Goku, the Monkey King. At the surface level, Horizon and Enslaved both share similarities in that both main characters are trying to survive the aftermath of a robot apocalypse. Gameplay-wise, Aloy and Monkey both have to pick their battles when dealing with much larger and stronger foes. Stealth can make all the difference, and when that fails, where Aloy uses a spear, Monkey uses a large staff, as well as his fists. Monkey also relies on his companion Trip in a similar way, as Aloy uses her own technical savvy.

At the time, Enslaved was also rather impressive graphically. Made by Ninja Theory, who used advanced motion capture effectively in the PS3 exclusive Heavenly Sword, the studio used the same techniques to bring Enslaved’s characters to life. Andy Serkis, who has portrayed characters such as Gollum and Kong in Peter Jackson’s films, also lent his talent to the game’s main character, Monkey. His co-star Trip also bears a slight resemblance to Aloy with her freckles and red hair. Aside from that, if you enjoyed the man vs machine aspect of Horizon, Enslaved is worth a try.

Enslaved - PS3 / X360 - Launch Trailer


2. Zeruda no Densetsu: Buresu obu za Wairudo (The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild)

  • System/Platform: Switch, Wii U
  • Publisher: Nintendo
  • Developer: Nintendo EPD
  • Release Date: Mar. 3rd, 2017

The 19th title in the Legend of Zelda series, Breath of the Wild returns classic hero Link to the world of Hyrule. Awoken after a hundred of years of sleep, he is set on a quest to fight a foe known as Calamity Ganon. Ganon, who had been sealed away a century ago himself, is about to break free. It is Link’s mission to recover his own memories and defeat Ganon before he fully awakens and destroys Hyrule once more.

As a series, Zelda has changed and evolved a great deal since its release on the original NES in 1986. With the 5th entry Ocarina of Time, the Zelda franchise moved into the 3D open world space and has continued ever since. Over the years, other games have taken similar steps to borrow elements and mechanics introduced by the franchise, and Horizon: Zero Dawn is no different. The way Aloy uses a bow, calls upon a mount, and engages in combat is all reminiscent of past Zelda titles. Breath of the Wild even introduces a new element that both games share, crafting and collecting materials. Inventory management is a key responsibility in both games, and neglecting it is a huge detriment to a playthrough.

Moreover, production value has skyrocketed in Breath of the Wild. Cutscenes are fully voiced, and drama is emphasized to deliver a much more engaging story than previous Zelda titles. While, graphically, the games are worlds apart, these scenes do a good job at leveling the playing field, and fans of either game would enjoy trying the other.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild - 2017 Trailer


3. Rise of the Tomb Raider

  • System/Platform: PS4, XBO, 360, PC
  • Publisher: Square Enix
  • Developer: Crystal Dynamics
  • Release Date: Nov. 10th, 2015

The follow-up to the 2013 reboot, Rise of the Tomb Raider sees the return of Lara Croft as she sets off on her very first tomb raiding expedition. Lara’s search for the lost city of Kitezh takes her deep into the unforgiving Siberian wilderness. She, however, is not alone in her ambitions. A corrupt organization known as Trinity is hot on her trail, attempting to unlock Kitezh secrets for their own dark plans.

The games in the Tomb Raider franchise have featured puzzle solving, platforming and a hefty arsenal of weapons. While all these elements are found in the two newer games, combat is more survival-oriented. As Lara is younger and more unsure of herself, she isn’t quite the unstoppable action hero we’ve come to know over the years. That said, it makes for some exciting and frantic combat situations. Like Aloy, Lara often uses a grappling hook and bow to get out of dicey situations. The environments are much larger in Rise than previous games, allowing for more freedom and exploration as well. For fans who want to see another female character who is more than capable of taking care of herself, Rise of the Tomb Raider is an excellent choice.

Rise of the Tomb Raider - Launch Trailer


Any Games Like Horizon: Zero Dawn ?

4. Wanda to Kyozou (Shadow of the Colossus)

  • System/Platform: PS2, PS3, PS4 (PS Now subscription req.)
  • Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
  • Developer: Team Ico
  • Release Date: Oct. 18th, 2005 (NA)

From the creator of the acclaimed puzzle platformer Ico, Shadow of the Colossus is a title that evokes every bit of meaning from its name. Players are introduced to Wander, a man who has brought his beloved to a forbidden shrine in the hopes of her resurrection. An ominous voice tells him that he must destroy sixteen stone idols that line the shrine, and in exchange, she may be brought back to life. To do this, Wander and his steed Agro set out to destroy the sixteen enormous colossi which correspond to each stone idol.

There are very few games quite like Shadow of the Colossus. Aside from bits of dialogue, the game is very light on narrative. Although it is sparse and desolate, the game has a vast open world map. The real challenge and enjoyment is found in the boss fights, which make up almost the entirety of the game. In Shadow of the Colossus, the bosses and dungeons are one and the same. Most of the colossi the player faces are hundreds of times larger than Wander. You must first get on top of them, survive their wrath in doing so, and then figure out how to kill them. Doing this requires using your sword, your bow, and your horse. Some of the later encounters in Horizon: Zero Dawn are very similar to Shadow, especially if you opt to use a mount to make life easier. Much like Aloy in Horizon, you will be using every tool at your disposal to take down much larger enemies. This makes Shadow of the Colossus a fun challenge that no gamer should miss.

ICO & Shadow of the Colossus Collection - Launch Trailer


5. Far Cry: Primal

  • System/Platform: PS4, XBO, PC
  • Publisher: Ubisoft
  • Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
  • Release Date: Feb. 23rd, 2016

Far Cry Primal is the fifth entry in the Far Cry series, which began in 2004. Set in 10,000 BC, the game stars Takkar, a tribesman of the Wenja clan, one of the few rival factions in Oros. He is on a mission to secure the future of his clan and establish dominance over his rivals. To do this, the player must explore the world, complete missions and most importantly, survive.

The Far Cry franchise has boasted impressive open worlds in the past. Primal is no different, and also contains a diverse amount of wildlife in its world. Where Horizon: Zero Dawn shows us a tribal and primitive culture at the mercy of machines, Far Cry: Primal has a similar setup, but with a more historically accurate inspired flavor. The weapons and their methods of use between Aloy and Takkar are very similar. You will construct and upgrade your weapons, tame beasts, ride mounts, and wage war with rival factions, all while uncovering secrets throughout an open world. The beautiful graphics also add to the immersion, making it feel like a lengthy sightseeing trip. Far Cry: Primal should definitely be on the agenda if you liked the primitive survival aspects in Horizon: Zero Dawn.

Far Cry Primal Trailer - 101


6. Final Fantasy XV

  • System/Platform: PS4, XBO
  • Publisher: Square Enix
  • Developer: Square Enix
  • Release Date: Nov. 29th, 2016

A game that was over a decade in the making, Final Fantasy XV finally released, welcoming gamers to another new world awaiting salvation. Prince Noctis has recently lost his home, the kingdom of Lucis, to Niflheim, a neighboring warring state. Alongside his allies and bodyguards, he begins a lengthy quest to reclaim his throne and save his people.

While previous Final Fantasy series have featured hub world type exploration, an actual open world of XV’s scale is new territory for the franchise. Allowing the player to traverse by car to various locations throughout the world, players were finally given the choice to let the plot develop at their own pace. Much like Horizon: Zero Dawn, Final Fantasy XV offers players a choice of side quests to complete with various rewards and story developments tied to them. The environments are teeming with monsters and enemy soldiers, making you rethink every encounter. Old fans of the series can enjoy the new ground that the franchise has broken, which has brought it to closer footing with games like Horizon: Zero Dawn.

FINAL FANTASY XV - Reclaim Your Throne Trailer | PS4


Final Thoughts

If the game industry has proven anything, it is that gamers love freedom. Open world titles like Horizon: Zero Dawn give players the ability to mark their own path and discover ways to play that may be totally unique unto them alone. The more games with experiences like that, the happier we’ll all be. What are your favorite open world games? Are there other games that provide a similar experience? Let us know in the comments section!

by Hercule SSJ