Over the weekend, news broke of a reported Horizon Zero Dawn remaster as well as a multiplayer take on the franchise. That news has since been confirmed by multiple sources, and according to Gematsu Sony leaks feature several announced and unannounced projects.
Giving more credit to those reports is Kshitij Zero Dawn TV show. Sony’s high-profile multimedia partnership has already received more than one re-release; Tom Holland’s Uncharted film coincides closely with Legacy of Thieves, while The Last of Us Part 1 nears major drops for its upcoming HBO series. With Alloy heading to the small screen and working on at least one other Horizon title in Guerrilla Call of the Mountains, it looks like Sony is returning to a successful remaster playbook.
This time, however, there is comparatively little value in that remaster. Eyebrows were raised as to whether or not we really need The Last of Us Part 1, especially given the appearance of The Last of Us Remastered. But Naughty Dog did a good job of explaining the extra work—particularly around motion capture—that went into Joel and Ellie’s PS5. Part 1 was described as the “definitive” version of The Last of Us, an opportunity to bring the 2013 game in line with the 2020 sequel in terms of its performance and visual quality. Remarkably young, Uncharted 4 needed little help, but made good use of the opportunity to piece together Drake’s most recent adventures. Like Marvel’s Spider-Man, both games are also using the remaster treatment to make the move to PC.
But there is nothing like this in Horizon Zero Dawn. Probably the flagship for Sony’s recent push for the PC, it’s been available on Steam for over two years. Its Complete Edition, which came with its Frozen Wilds DLC, has been out for about five years. The game holds up visually far more successfully than anything like The Last of Us. I played it on the base PS4, during the pandemic, and while it doesn’t look as bright and shiny as Horizon Forbidden West on the PS5, Zero Dawn was nearing the peak of what Sony’s last-gen consoles had to offer. The world of guerrillas is beautiful and diverse; Its enemies are complex, varied, intelligent; The performances are heartfelt and narratively well told. Beyond a little technical coat of paint and somewhat shorter loading times, I really can’t see how a remaster would provide a meaningful improvement over the original at this point in the new console cycle.
Were this a new-gen upgrade like the one we saw around the PS5’s launch, I wouldn’t blink. Where the developers charged for those, $10 felt like a fair price for the improvements you see between generations. However, a complete remaster will set you back $40 for Spider-Man, $50 for Uncharted or God of War PC, or $70 for The Last of Us. A Horizon Zero Dawn remaster likely won’t reach the top of that price scale, given the amount of additional work done later, but it will still be a significant additional investment.
For some it will be fine. If you’re coming to Horizon for the first time, this will be an upgraded version of the game, which is likely to cost less than the original at launch. For Alloy’s biggest fans, this is an opportunity to jump back. But recreating a four-year-old game that still looks and plays great on both current- and last-gen consoles is an odd move, especially if the reaction to the news on social media is anything to go by.
There are only 3 certainties in life. Death, Taxes and Sony is reimagining a game that came out a few years ago3 October 2022
Sony’s current approach to extending the life of its (admittedly impressive) PS4 catalog is receiving an increasingly cynical response, especially as some titles and franchises, from Sly Cooper to Bloodborne, have been vying for the attention of their fans. Despite fighting for Assuming that the Horizon Zero Dawn remaster is real, Sony will have to think very carefully about what it wants to bring next.
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