E3 2015 Game of the Show Horizon: Zero Dawn PlayStation 4 PS4

There hasn't been this much buzz surrounding Guerrilla Games for a while. The first-party firm last truly dropped jaws with its infamous Killzone 2 demo at E3 2005, a clip that turned out to be staged. A decade later, the Dutch developer has learned a lesson or two – it always shows gameplay where possible for a start. Horizon: Zero Dawn, the long-in-development action role-playing release that's been rumoured for many years now, continued that trend at E3 2015 – as managing director Hermen Hulst anchored an outstanding presentation during Sony's big PlayStation press conference earlier this week.

You play as a young tribeswoman named Aloy – potentially a reference to the Eloi in H. G. Wells' classic The Time Machine. Civilization as we know it has long since wilted due to the onset of a grave darkness, and the world has been reclaimed by nature and machines. The latter are a mysterious race who have succeeded mankind at the top of the food chain, and it's down to you and your kin to not only hunt these aggressive beasts, but also to learn of the secrets that led to humanity's demise – all while discovering your own destiny in a harsh yet sumptuous post-apocalyptic world. A pretty spectacular premise, no?

Of course, this is a studio that's never exactly slacked off in the world building department – those that took the time to invest in it will have found similar density in Killzone's lore. The difference this time is that by switching genres, the developer finally has an opportunity to flex its narrative muscles. We still don't know how close this will be to a CD Projekt RED or BioWare game, but the fact that the firm's been snatching up employees from both organisations suggests that we should probably expect dialogue trees, quests, and side-missions galore. For now, the organisation's emphasising the action part.

Guerrilla's always shown promise, but now it has an opportunity to marry its unrivalled art with an experience that's genuinely unique

And it looks sensational. Armed with a bow augmented with many different types of arrows, the meat and potatoes gameplay appears to best resemble Monster Hunter mixed with Uncharted, as electrical ammunition is used to startle snarling cyber-beasts, while rope darts can be employed to restrain them. The creator's promising enormous variety in both the artificial intelligence of the animals and your combative options; a skill tree will enable you to sharpen your abilities, while a crafting system will allow you to construct new kinds of gear and artillery as you progress.

With an inviting open world and a dynamic weather system, it's no surprise that Guerrilla Games is describing this as its most ambitious project to date. And yet, aside from a slightly too talkative protagonist, it appears to have struck solid gold. The company's always shown signs of real promise, but now it has an opportunity to marry its unrivalled art with an experience that's genuinely unique. The studio still has plenty to prove, of course – but for now, Horizon: Zero Dawn's dazzling debut is more than deserving of our Game of the Show award.


Do you agree that Horizon: Zero Dawn was the star of this year's E3, or are you not as taken with the title as everyone else? Fire an arrow into the comments section below.