A little late to the party, but I finally got around to playing Horizon Zero Dawn: The Frozen Wilds. For this review, I plan to keep it as "surface level" as possible and only go into detail where it is necessary. Additionally, I played it on the base PS4. I feel that this is an important distinction to make nowadays since the performance of one version may not be indicative of performance when running on the higher end PS4 Pro. With that said, let's get into it.
First, the add-on still sports the same gorgeous visual prowess of the original game. Guerrilla Games are seriously a gem of a studio when it comes to getting the most out of hardware. Knowing they accomplish what they do and the fact that the OS footprint hasn't been shrunken is a testament to their skill as developers. Frankly, it only makes me more curious about what Naughty Dog will throw down. I digress though: The Frozen Wilds is just ripe for photo mode, especially against the night sky, trekking the fields. For some, the visuals will not be so impressive due an understandable lack of foliage to make some scenes really pop, but anyone who walks away from this disappointed, well, I don't know what to say. The effects, attention to detail (even down to Aloy hobbling in areas with high snow), facial animations, character designs, world structure, and just raw visual aesthetic are among the best seen on console.
Next, the quest variety is not unlike The Witcher III (or the base game, for that matter) where you may find yourself doing things similarly, but it never really gets old. It keeps your attention and it's just a fun time. There's nothing that really "surprises" you, but there are some missions where you think to yourself, "they're seriously making me do this?" If you've played The Frozen Wilds, you know that the game throws some difficult odds at you (though they are surmountable, provided you have both the weapons, health, and perseverance). Some quests take plenty of patience but it's nothing short of rewarding to see things through to the end. If you enjoyed Horizon, you will not be disappointed in what you're doing in The Frozen Wilds. The increased level cap and skills for purchase also gives the game some new life and really gives you more reason to explore, destroy, and just have a great time with it all. And as a side note, I love how the DLC just sort of fits into the game so seamlessly. Many times with many games, we have to access DLC from the title screen as a "separate game" or items just end up in your inventory and you have to figure out how to use it a la SoulsBorne games. The fact that it's accessible without the need for loading screens (provided you do not fast travel) is just a nice transition that I really appreciate.
Now for some issues, and they are few in number. First, I was a little disappointed that we didn't get enough newer enemies. I'll hold my tongue on that as a bad thing though. If that means we get a sequel to Horizon with even more enemy variety, I am all about that. Granted, the newer enemies that they throw at you are their own nightmare when they are in quantity (I would rather fight two Thunderjaws than three Frostclaws, to be honest), but as long as you approach the DLC with plenty of extra crafting materials, patience, and great strategy, the experience is fulfilling. I do, however, wish we had more variety in new enemies. Most of the time, we're left fighting the daemonic versions of established machines, which are more or less corrupted machines on steroids that can heal when within proximity of certain objects.
My second and final issue is with some slow down in hectic areas. It isn't as bad as I'm making it sound and probably only drops to around 22-25fps, but you do feel it and, in the middle of a crazy battle, it might be the difference between success and death. Honestly though, I feel a bit jaded for saying this since the game is just a masterpiece from gameplay to performance, but I think it's because of these lofty expectations that I should mention this. It's not going to destroy your experience, but it's a little surprising. In the base game, I think the only time I experienced a drop was during the game's final mission. As I mentioned before though, I played the game and it's expansion on the base hardware. Accordingly, I cannot comment on the boost in processing power the Pro affords, but it may very well resolve what I'm talking about. Bottom line about that: 95% solid performance, 5% some drops, 0% game breaking.
To conclude, Horizon Zero Dawn: The Frozen Wilds does not disappoint. The gameplay is as fun as ever, the side quests are interesting, and your ability to adapt to your opponents is really tested here. I've been playing the game on Very Hard and some of these enemies have gotten me to use those weapons I bought but never found much use for (for me, that's the ropecaster). What's more, photo mode gets a new life of its own with the breathtaking scenic photo ops afforded by The Frozen Wilds' vast scapes and auroras in the sky. If you want more Horizon but don't want to wait for PS5, you cannot go wrong with this expansion.