The reviews are starting to pour in and for Horizon: Zero Dawn, it did not disappoint. A lot of people who pre-ordered the game will likely all be breathing massive sighs of relief that their purchase will not have been a mistake.
When I saw the initial reveal of the game at E3, I was amazed by what I saw and I wanted to see more of it! But when the release date was official and pre-orders opened, I still held back. This is a game that I thought in my head had Game of the Year potential and I wasn’t going to pre-order it?! Am I crazy?! Well, yeah I am a little crazy, but this isn’t a reason as to why. I honestly sat there and thought to myself “How many times has a game looked so good and then ended up being terrible, or a broken mess?” and that was enough for me to say no.
I have a single golden rule for pre-ordering games, folks. It’s not complicated and it’s easy to follow.
Only pre-order games that are from an already established series that you have already played and enjoyed.
That is the easiest and most effective way to not get burned on release day. When you pre-order a game you’ve never played a game in the series before or a completely brand new game, you’re essentially gambling with your money. Sure, are you doing it as well when you’re pre-ordering the next Call of Duty when you’ve been playing since the first game? Yes, but at the very least you’ve played games in the series and enjoyed them, you know what you’re getting into and you know at the very least that you have enjoyed it before. With a new game, how do you know you’ll like it? Just because it’s a genre you like, a developer you like, anything of the sort, this is a brand new experience for you. You might not like the design, the story, the characters, the gameplay, there’s so many things you could have happen to make you not enjoy the game you paid full-price for.
Another reason you should hold back is the price point. There are a lot of games that if you wait only a month, it will drop 10-15 bucks, maybe even more when someone puts it at a discounted price. I’ve seen games go from $79.99 to $24.99 in less than two months before, if you’re patient enough it’s more than possible to find a good deal on a game that you definitely want to play. The bright side as well is that by the time it goes on sale, you’ll know for sure whether the game is in your wheelhouse or not, as reviews, let’s plays, Twitch streams and much more will have come out for the game and you’ll know what you’re walking into, especially with a brand new IP such as Horizon.
I can understand worries that people have about things like lesser-known games having less copies on store shelves, being spoiled parts of the story, things like that. My honest opinion is that if you really, REALLY want to play the game, just wait a few days so the reviews come in and you get an idea of where the game’s at. Then buy it on Friday when it’s the weekend and you can really enjoy the game. But if it’s something you can wait for, then give it the couple of months for a store or website to discount it heavily and take advantage of that.
I only have three pre-orders, all three fall into my golden rule:
- Mass Effect: Andromeda – I’ve played every game in the series, loved them all at a 8/10+ level
- Persona 5 – The previous two games in the series are the last amazing memories I have with JRPGs, both games 9/10+ with me
- Kingdom Hearts III – A long-running series whose main games have always been tremendous experiences with me
It’s not that I don’t want to play games like Horizon, but when it comes to games I’ve never played before, games that I’ve never seen before, I can’t fully trust them, there’s been too many games that have proven me right in that situation. Think of The Order: 1884, sweet Jesus think about No Man’s Sky!!! We’ve seen it proven time and time again where games have come out, had plenty of hype behind them and ended up being awful games.
Putting money down on a game you have not played is such a ridiculous gamble, so if you’re going to take that chance, set some rules for yourself so that you can avoid cases of games you spent full-price for and at best would rate it a 6/10 after finishing the game, if you even manage to do that.
Just be aware, folks. Not every game will live up to the hype like Horizon reportedly has.