And they nailed it on their first try, too.
Guerrilla Games has had one of the greatest comeback stories ever- from producing the rather unremarkable (and, let’s be honest, aggressively mediocre) Killzone series, to going to developing an open world action RPG in Horizon: Zero Dawn, and receiving rave acclaim along the way. It’s been a hell of a ride.
So how was the mindset shift in going from designing linear FPSs to an open world RPG? As it turns out, it was very exciting- and the process was borne out of Guerrilla’s desire to explore what they could do with wider playing areas than a multiplayer shooter – a crowded genre from a commercial perspective, and limiting from a creative one – to begin with.
“We were excited about things that aren’t as contained,” Jan-Bart van Beek of Guerrilla, who had a huge part to play in the game’s conception, said to GamesIndustry. “When you’re making a first-person shooter, the whole magic trick is controlling every single heartbeat of the player. They’re very well scripted, very well crafted but the moment that it’s done, the rollercoaster ride is over. They’re really expensive to make – you have a 150-man team making a six to eight-hour experience, and that’s where all the effort goes.
“From a design perspective, we were more interested in these sort of systemic games where you set things free to interact with each other and there’s more emergent gameplay, where the player can do things you didn’t expect as a designer. That’s much more exciting than crafting these very narrow experiences. So we’ve really gone from designing rollercoaster rides to designing theme parks, and that’s what excited us.”
It seems like they ended up nailing it- and I am glad to see them get it so right on their first try. It will be truly exciting to see where Guerrilla go with their now proven design chops in the future. Horizon: Zero Dawn is out now on PS4.