This is Lone Wolf: Horizon, a brand new open world third-person shooter that recently hit Steam Early Access. This indie action game is in the spirit of games like Halo and Destiny, giving us a large alien planet to explore and plenty of bad guys to kill. I know you have a lot of questions about Lone Wolf: Horizon, so let's crib this.
Hey ... haven't you previewed this already?
Good catch. Lone Wolf: Horizon is actually an updated version of a game I covered last year called Lost World Zero. This was a science fiction action game developed by Mark Golden, a teenager doing his best to juggle schoolwork, car payments and a budding relationship. I found the game at what seemed to be the lowest point, a nightmarish scenario where Windows 10 accidentally gobbled up all of the important files. With the realities of life crushing down on the teenager, Mark was starting resent the work he put into Lost World Zero.
I'm not going to lie, part of me expected that to be the end of the story. With so many things going on, I figured that Mark would move on to a new project, something where he could incorporate all of the lessons he learned from Lost World Zero. But that's not what he did. Mark was not about to admit defeat. The result of this determination is Lone Wolf: Horizon, a significantly better action game that addresses almost every complaint I had with the previous version.
It's really that good?
Okay, look, I'm not going to overpromise anything. Let me just say that Lone Wolf: Horizon is a playable third-person shooter with actual goals and objectives, just one of the many things lacking in Lost World Zero. The change is apparent right from the first second. Instead of exploring the alien world, the game quickly pushes you into a number of large-scale firefights. There are computer-controlled characters rushing around with a purpose, constantly getting into shooting battles and saving your butt. The game is chaotic from the jump, giving it a much-needed boost in urgency and tension.
We're asked to roam around this large open world shooting at the other side, earning experience and money that can be traded in to boost your tactics and win the skirmish. Although it's poorly explained in the game, we're finally given a roadmap to winning and returning back to Earth. But even if you completely avoid all that, there are firefights constantly popping up throughout the alien planet. Lone Wolf: Horizon finally executes on the ideas found in Lost World Zero.
It still looks a little rough.
Yeah, it's definitely rough. And it's not just the visuals that could use some sprucing up, but also a lot of the fundamentals you expect from third-person shooters. The most glaring problem involves taking damage. Instead of giving us a visual cue that lets us know we're getting shot, this game slows the hero down and makes the animation look laggy. This is made even worse when you can't tell where the enemies are coming from. Once I started taking damage, I knew there wasn't much I could do to stay alive. Might as well just give up.
I also wish the game was better at letting you know when you leveled up or earned money. A lot of games will show XP floating out of each downed enemy, but not this game. I didn't even realize I was earning XP and money until I stumbled upon the screen by accident. Even then, it's not always as clear as it needs to be, especially when it comes to doing simple things, like changing weapons. There's still a lot of work that needs to be done for this to be anywhere close to the games its mimicking, but this is a huge improvement over what I played last year.
On one hand, I'm impressed by how much Mark was able to turn things around. Lost World Zero was practically unplayable, whereas this brand new version feels like an actual game. I was amazed by how quickly I got into the action, and I would lying if I said I didn't have fun gunning down some of the armored enemies. I still think $10 is a bit steep for what you get, but at least this game is making a solid argument for itself. One year later and Lone Wolf: Horizon is finally on the right track.