Less than nine months since the original game's release, the expansion for Horizon: Zero Dawn, The Frozen Wilds, has arrived. That is a distinction that needs to be made, as The Frozen Wilds is a real expansion, not a mere piece of "DLC", as it adds a new game area, new story, new weapons, armour, enemies, and content, all of which will occupy you for between 10 and 15 hours. The price (£15.99) is more than adequate for everything that's included, although be warned that you need the base game to play as it's not standalone.
The Frozen Wilds isn't necessarily a continuation of the story, since it takes place before the actual ending of the game. As you know if you finished the game, once you see the end credits, you're taken back to before the last mission so you can finish up everything, and that includes The Frozen Wilds. Events herein take place before the story ends, but it requires you to be at least level 30, and be a long way into the story campaign.
Players will be exploring a new region, far in the north, inhabited by the Banuk. During the original game you have the opportunity to interact with some of them, but only now can you really get to know the tribe and visit its harsh and cold homeland. Almost the whole new area is covered with snow, icy lakes, and snowstorms, save for some interior sections. In this region you can follow a new story, participate in several secondary activities and missions, and try to grab a few new collectibles that are unique to this region.
There is also a new skill tree, which mainly covers actions dedicated to riding and the mount. You can enhance your robotic mount's strength, endurance, and also unlock a series of actions to perform while mounted, such as looting objects or jumping at enemies.
The story is focused on a new type of machine that has begun to plague the Banuk, created by an entity referred to as "Daemon". The player will then help the Banuk to control the situation, while also finding more answers and details regarding the Zero Dawn initiative, the Faro organisation, and other projects related to all of this. Obviously, we can't go into details, but it was nice to have some extra context about the world of Horizon: Zero Dawn.
The quests themselves are decent, and they make good use of the gameplay systems that Guerrilla Games has created, though they aren't particularly original or very different from what you might have already done in the base game. There is the odd surprise or twist here and there, but nothing revolutionary. Guerrilla played it safe, and we feel they could have been a bit riskier, but if you're happy with more "Horizony" stuff to do, you'll find plenty of that here.
With the expansion also comes new machines, which are particularly challenging. They aren't the most difficult machines in the game, but even the most well-equipped and experienced players will have to break a sweat to defeat these powerful enemies. The new weapons and armour you might be acquiring can be precious aids in these battles, but in essence, you will have to approach these enemies just like every other: you study their characteristics, try to figure out how you can disable or limit them, and then execute an attack plan.
All in all, The Frozen Wilds adds a lot to do, more than enough to justify the price. In part we would like Guerrilla Games to have risked a little more with the formula, and it would also have been nice to see a real continuation of the story, but we suppose that would be too difficult to achieve with a simple expansion. We won't go as far as to say it's mandatory or a must-have expansion, but we certainly recommend it to anyone who enjoyed Horizon: Zero Dawn and would like to add more hours and context to that experience.