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Horizon Zero Dawn – Complete Edition (inc Frozen Wilds)

Horizon Zero Dawn - Complete Edition
(See online!)

Without a doubt, Horizon Zero Dawn is still one of the best games I've ever played. Fantastic visuals, great gameplay, incredible story… this is the complete package if anything ever was.

I had some trouble getting a working copy of the Frozen Wilds expansion and eventually did so by getting this "complete edition" which includes the base game and the Frozen Wilds expansion in one. Once I finally was able to play, I started from a new game and enjoyed it just as much times as the first two playthroughs. There were a few new skills, a few new characters, and of course the entire new area with new machines, new contacts, new stories, new collectibles and new challenges.

Story-wise, it perfectly meshes with the existing narrative in a way that makes it seem like a part of the original game – exactly what you'd want for an expansion. It gives some new weapons and armor that seem overpowered by comparison to the base equipment (and even the best options in the main game), but that's ok because the level requirement for Frozen Wilds makes it a good idea to only tackle when you're most of the way through the main story or at least well equipped and experienced. Despite that I still had some trouble with the machines there so fair warning: they're beastly.

The only downside I could point to was the ridiculous arm and neck waggling the characters did in talking scenes. It was like watching someone who mistakenly thought they were supposed to animate power rangers (who can only express emotion through constant flagellation of their bodies). It was out of place compared to the rest of the game, but really is a piss-poor animation style and is out of place anywhere.

I suppose most people wouldn't care as much as I did and I admit it was a very minor annoyance in an otherwise flawless game so I still recommend it. If you like great story-based single-player epics, this is as good as they come.

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Horizon Zero Dawn

Horizon Zero Dawn - PlayStation 4: Sony Interactive Entertainment America LLC: Video Games
(See online!)

I first became interested in this game when I heard of the concept: bows and spears versus big robot dinosaurs. There's clearly much more to it than that, but I never regretted it playing it. Besides beautiful graphics, and exceptional gameplay, it has one of the best stories I've ever seen. Finding out what happened and how gave me tingles. This is a rare treasure to be sure and I highly recommend giving it a try if you have even a little interest in the descriptions or reviews you've read (click the pic to go to Amazon and learn more if you wish).

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Sony will let you Play the EU version of a game, but won’t tell you it’s incompatible until it’s too late

Horizon Zero Dawn - Easily one of the greatest games I've ever played.
(See online!)

I first became interested in this game when I heard of the concept: bows and spears versus big robot dinosaurs. There's clearly much more to it than that, but I never regretted it playing it. Besides beautiful graphics, and exceptional gameplay, it has one of the best stories I've ever seen. Finding out what happened and how gave me tingles. This is a rare treasure to be sure and I highly recommend giving it a try if you have even a little interest in the descriptions or reviews you've read (click the pic to go to Amazon and learn more if you wish).

That said…

I received the game as a gift a few years back. Since then, there has been DLC released that adds game content and it has been long enough that I thought it might be fun to play again. So, during a week's vacation I took this last Christmas-time, that's what I did. I bought the DLC, though it was strangely difficult to do and downloading it was a pain, but off I went and fired up the game. It was just as great as I remembered.

Look for the TEEN rating sticker. If it says PEGI with a colored number instead like this one, it's a European disc
(Image used under: Fair Use doctrine)

I had a good time, but as I neared the end, I wondered why the DLC content hadn't activated yet. I looked around, read some guides and did some testing: hours of time to eventually learn the problem: I had a European version of the game.

Well crap.

So, I understand why companies want to region lock games and it isn't always about greed and making more money. It can be about exclusive content, meeting legal standards and so on. Whatever. The point is that all of that should be invisible to the customer and if they're not going to be compatible with other types of content (DLC, exclusives, extras, etc.), a little warning would be nice.

Whoever bought it for me as a gift clearly didn't know the difference and why would they? I didn't know the difference either until I did deep digging online. The game installed and played fine without any warnings or tips or indications of any kind that it was the wrong region. Even when I tried to install the DLC content, it didn't explain the issue, it just failed with a generic error.

You'll take store credit and be grateful for it! You're lucky we're even giving you that! (basically what Sony told me)

With no indication of a real problem vs a random glitch, I went online to buy it, but still Sony didn't warn me the version of the game and DLC weren't compatible and happily charged me for content I couldn't use. Then, when I called to customer service for a refund, they made it sound like they were doing me a huge favor by giving me – not a refund, but an in-store credit.

What should Sony have done?

Customers aren't experts on game systems, programming, laws, or any of the other factors that drives how the Playstation system, store, and network operate (nor should they be). All they are responsible to do is buy games and play games and it's in Sony's best interest to keep it that simple.

They could have sent up warnings at three points in the process (install, in-game DLC purchase, online DLC purchase). They could have just directed me to the EU store for the DLC. They could have sold me the EU DLC directly. They even could have blocked the install and play of the EU version of the game.

Here's the US version of Overwatch. Notice the "T" rating in the corner instead of the number that the EU uses.
(See online!)

Any and all of these would have been preferred to making people jump through hoops. Not only did I have to waste my time and money, if I ever want to play the expanded content for one of my favorite games, I'll have to re-buy the whole thing (because the save games are apparently also incompatible which means I'll have to start over too!). And for what? Preventing all of this would have only required a trivial bit of computer code like this:

if (region = EU) then:
    popup_warning_message();
    OR
    redirect_to_EU_store();

That they couldn't be bothered is surprising below the standard I would expect from a company who's been doing this for this long. Regardless, be careful and don't make the same mistake that I did.

You shouldn't have to know or care about this, but until Sony puts in the effort to make this work seamlessly, be careful. If you get a Playstation game, make sure it has a US-looking rating (which uses letters while the EU uses numbers.)
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