It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these, eh?
Lately, I’ve been just consumed with Horizon: Zero Dawn, a post-apocalyptic third person open world game where the Earth has been reclaimed by nature and human’s have been pushed back into a more tribal state. Animalistic machines also roam the land and as Aloy, it’s up to you to not only find out why they’re becoming more and more hostile, but unravel a conspiracy surrounding who you are.
After progressing the story past a particular point, I reached a place called Daytower. The small castle-like structure served as the border gate from the Nora lands (basically the starter zone) to the wilder and more open section of the map. In this area, the game really escalates by throwing a lot of new and dangerous machines into the mix including the Thunderjaw, a large T-Rex looking enemy seen in a lot of the gameplay trailers.
Immediately after crossing through, I hear a small battle going on in the distance between a group of NPC hunters and a massive bird-like machine. Feeling a sense of duty to those hunters, I rushed to their aid to lend a hand. Before I knew it, the aggressive machine bird had wiped them out and then turned its attention to me. Using a device called a focus, I was able to scan the bird to find it’s weaknesses, strengths, and see things like its name and level. At this point, my Aloy was level 21 and unfortunately, I found myself fighting a level 27 enemy known as the Stormbird. This was going to be a fight for the ages.
This fight felt ripped right out of a game like Dark Souls, where your character was going up against a much larger and more powerful foe. Dodge rolling and staying mobile were my best friends in this instance as a couple of good shots would have showed me a game over screen.
What’s great about Horizon: Zero Dawn is that combat lets you express yourself, meaning there’s more than one way to win a fight. In this case, I decided that picking off various components would make this fight a little easier. All machines in this game have component that can be broken off, some of them limiting what combat options the enemy then has access to. In this case, the Stormbird is an electric based, highly mobile flying creature, capable of slamming the ground with tremendous force, or quick hitting with deadly sharp talons or it’s tail.
In this case, grounding the bird would help me out significantly, so I aimed for the large thrusters on its wings. After removing them, the bird could no longer perform it’s signature dive attack, though I had not realized that the giant yellow component on it’s chest was the cause of its lightning gun.
As an aside, the ropecaster, a weapon I didn’t have at the time, is a wonderful piece of tech as you can actually use it to tie the bird down for a few moments.
Through some creative retreats and artful dodging, I managed to whittle the life bar down even more, at which point the bird went into desperation mode. With it’s power and health failing, it gave up trying to fly and instead focused on wiping me out on the ground. During this phase, you have to stay on the move as much as possible because it’s lunge attacks will rip you to shreds in an instant and its tail sweep covers a lot of ground.
After a lengthier than expected battle, I managed to overcome the much more powerful bird, though my efforts didn’t save any of the soldiers battling with it initially. Unfortunately for those guys, the Stormbird made quick work of them, then moved its attention my way. Though it was a struggle, this battle was so satisfying to overcome and a lot of fun. I think I finally understand what all you Dark Souls/Bloodborne fans are always on about.
Now it’s time to net me a Thunderjaw!