For Guerrilla Games, this generation has been a huge leap for them in terms of creativity and growth. Fo a time, it looked like Guerrilla was going to be doomed to the same existence that Bungie had with Microsoft. Outside of making Shellshock: Nam ‘67 for Windows, PS2, and Xbox, Guerrilla has been the maker of 5 Killzone games for Sony and the Playstation brand. This includes the numbered entries of Killzone 1-3(1 on PS2 and 2-3 on PS3), Killzone:Liberation for the PSP, and Killzone Shadow Fall for the PS4. For those thinking I missed one, I didn’t. Killzone: Mercenary for the Playstation Vita was developed by their sister studio at Guerrilla Cambridge formerly known as SCE Studio Cambridge. Cambridge was closed in 2017, a couple of months after the release of RiGS: Mechanized Combat League for the PSVR.
Under former studio head Hermen Hulst, Guerrilla escaped the fate that Bungie had with Halo. Killzone had been a fairly successful series for both Playstation and Guerrilla. I think it was this success that allowed Hermen and his team to build an entirely new game for the PS4. It was a huge leap of faith that paid off extremely well for the folks at Guerrilla. Hermen’s knack for success allowed him to be promoted from studio head at Guerrilla to head of Worldwide Studios at Playstation.
For the launch of the PS4 in 2013, Guerrilla crafted a fantastic sequel to Killzone 3. With Shadow Fall we were introduced to what the new in-house Decima engine could do. Graphically, the game holds up incredible well when compared to other games that came out about the same time. As with other Killzone games, Guerrilla had tight gun mechanics, and intriguing story, and collectibles to find. One of the best parts was the introduction of the OWL. Think of it as a personal drone. This mechanic added a new strategic element to the game that its predecessors did not have. Given their skill with delivering great AAA first person shooters (FPSs), it wasn’t surprising they crafted a great game that was met with 7 out of 10s or higher by major publications (except Polygon who gave it a 5/10) and a Metacritic rating of 73/100. This is definitely a game that any fan of FPS should check out since it can be picked up for a fairly inexpensive price at local game stores. Killzone Shadow Fall is a game that I do go back to from time to time, and each time I dive back into the world, I find myself in awe of how stunning the game visuals still are. Even the NPCs (non-playable characters) look great for the time. As most publications, I would give the game an 8 out of 10 with the pluses being graphics, gun mechanics, and story. As for the multiplayer, it was not completely on par with the likes of Call of Duty for me and was a mode that seemed to die off. Like most of the games at the beginning of launch, it does lack a photo mode as well.
When it came time for Guerrilla to make their next game they went in the complete opposite direction of a first person shooter. They created an open world story that is rooted in real world locations, as well as one that is rooted in what our future as a society could become. They created a main character in Aloy that is a strong, caring, and resourceful woman that unfortunately has the fate of the Nora thrust upon her. For long time fans of Killzone, we knew it would be a great game and that the weapon mechanics would be extremely tight, which they are. What is surprising is the amount of flexibility you have with taking down the machines. Its almost like they put a little Hawkeye or Green Lantern into her. The story itself is a journey of growth that takes her through varying territory, weather and time of day. For those that recognized some of the echos, the game take place around the Colorado area. There are 3 nods to the United States Air Force Academy in the game, my favorite being the echo that shows the USAFA Chapel which is a beauty to see in person. The game also does a great job of keeping the enemies scaled to you unless you go off the beaten path to explore, and then in which case you could run into machines that are way too strong for your current build. Rounding things out was fantastic voice acting by veteran voice actress Ashly Burch as Aloy, Lance Reddick as Sylens, and JB Blanc as Rost. Overall Horizon Zero Dawn is a 10 out of 10 and so is the Frozen Wilds DLC that was released for it. Guerrilla hit all the areas of what makes a game great in my eyes.
As the PS5 is quickly approaching, most people assume that Guerrilla is working on a Horizon sequel for the console. Hermen Hulst who has now moved on to be head of Worldwide Studio for Playstation has positioned Guerrilla for incredible success moving forward. The studio is now under the leadership of Angie Smets, Jan-Bart van Beek, and Michiel van Der Leeuw. On top of working towards the future of gaming with PS5, the studio also helped Hideo Kojima with Death Stranding. His new game is powered by the Decima engine. A lot of studios these days want to keep their in-house tech to themselves. In the case of Guerrilla, not only do they have a passion for, and care about making great games, they also want to help others do the same. In this day and age, it is great to see people caring about the greater good.