Horizon Zero Dawn vs Nier Automata vs Zelda BotW: Which RPG Should You Buy?

Within the next month three major RPG's will debut to the gaming market. All three are vying for your attention, and are the result of years of labor from some of the world's best development studios.

These games are Horizon Zero Dawn, Nier: Automata, and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, and you might be wondering which is best for you. Although that's a complicated question to answer, these games do differ drastically in how they represent the genre, ensuring that there's something for everyone.

Below we will go over the most notable qualities of each game, and point out how you can best decide which game has been built with your style in mind.


Horizon Zero Dawn

Platforms: PS4

Release Date: February 28th, 2017

Selling Points:

  • An Emotional Story Horizon Zero Dawn has a surprisingly compelling story, featuring hunter and survivor Aloy, a strong-willed woman with incredible determination. In a war against menacing Machines, she journeys forward into a treacherous landscape that is unlike anything we've seen before. As long as you put in the effort to follow what's happening, you will be rewarded with what is sure to be recognized as one of the year's best narratives.
  • Graphical Superiority – Created by Guerrilla Games, you could argue that Horizon Zero Dawn is the best looking game on PS4, and even comparable to the best that PC has to offer. For an RPG this is an impactful factor that makes immersion easier as it brings the world to life in a more tangible way.
  • Questing To Your Heart's Content – In addition to the main story, there are dozens of quests to partake in. These feature sub-stories that provide insight into what the world and its five tribes are about as you learn more of the world's interesting inhabitants. These are optional, but at times the best part of the game. And if nothing else they guarantee that there is a wealth of content to explore if you're up for it.

Who Should Buy This Game: Despite its distinct sci-fisetting, Horizon Zero Dawn is the most traditional RPG of these three games. Its story will draw you in from beginning to end, keeping your eyes glued to the screen thanks to its beautiful visual design and interesting quests. Neither Nier: Automata or Breath of the Wild can compete in these key areas. This is a great pickup for anyone who enjoys classic RPG styling with the benefits of an inspired modern AAA game.

Nier: Automata

Platforms: PS4, PC

Release Date: March 7th, 2017

Selling Points:

  • Augmentation – As you progress through the game you will earn what are called Chips. These allow you to alter your character in dramatic ways, going as far as changing the HUD and how you play. You will be encouraged to swap these in and out regularly, allowing you to enjoy the game from a variety of gameplay perspectives.
  • Stylish Combat – A quick look at a gameplay trailer reveals that Nier: Automata has an incredibly exciting battle system. Featuring a variety of weapons, there is a lot to master here, and for many the time commitment required to be good at this game will be well worth it. Seeing the game in action is a treat in and of itself, let alone when you're in control.
  • Boss Battles – In order to take advantage of its fun combat system, Nier: Automata introduces a large number of boss encounters. These are climactic points of the game, that test your skill level and raise the heart rate. You will learn to look forward to the next boss encounter, if only to remember what the thrill of adrenaline is like.

Who Should Buy This Game: Gamers who take a liking to titles such as Dark Souls and Nioh will find that Nier: Automata scratches a similar itch. Many of its best systems are related to gameplay and customization, resulting in an RPG that is tremendously fun to play. It's also a challenging game that isn't easy to master, but becomes a rewarding time sink for anyone who takes an interest in it.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Platforms: Switch

Release Date: March 3rd, 2017

Selling Points:

  • On The Go – Thanks to the design of the Nintendo Switch, you can play the latest Zelda no matter where you are. While you're at school, waiting for an Uber, or just laying on the couch, this epic game can be enjoyed in any setting with no compromises. It's worth noting that the Switch's Sleep Mode makes it very easy to transition between playing and taking a break.
  • Problem Solving – In traditional Zelda fashion, Breath of the Wild is a game with hundreds of puzzles to complete. While during the early hours these don't require much thought, the majority of the game features impressive puzzles that will boggle your mind and reward you with an incredible sense of accomplishment. Over time it becomes clear that this is one of the games greatest assets, as it helps deliver gameplay diversity in a meaningful way.
  • Surviving the Wilderness – Unlike any Zelda game before it, Breath of the Wild is a game with a tremendous emphasis on survival. You will need to gather weapons and they will wear down during use. You will need to cook food to strengthen your stats and provide fortitude against the elements. You will also need to master the art of climbing if you plan to get from point A to point B. The end result is something that makes you feel like a survivor, only this time you're playing as the legendary Link.

Who Should Buy This Game: For anyone planning to purchase a Nintendo Switch, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is a no-brainer. It's by far the most attractive title in its launch lineup, and serves as a fantastic option for playing when not at home. In comparison to its competition, Breath of the Wild is a game that makes survival a key feature, making you feel as though you're out in the wilderness on your own tasked with staying alive as you complete its library of puzzles.

The Bottom Line

It's clear that these three games are very different from one another, excelling in different areas.

Maybe you're more of a gameplay focused gamer. While the other two games are strong contenders, Nier: Automata is without a doubt the most exciting game to play. It makes you want to engage with its villains, and inspires you to become a great player.

Then there's The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. It continues in the successful footsteps of its predecessors with neat new ideas, the most vital of which is its survival mechanics. If you are into gathering, crafting, and fending for yourself, Link's latest adventure is something to remember.

But if you're like me and dive into an RPG specifically to become lost in a wonderful world with a well-crafted story, Horizon Zero Dawn takes the cake. It's beautiful to look at and even better to listen to. By the end of it all it feels like you've witnessed a fantastic tale that will last through the centuries.

So, which game do you think is best for you? Let us know what you think in the comments below.