To be clear, I am enjoying the game quite a lot. I've gotten further since I wrote that post and I'm liking the main story quite a bit. But I still think those nitpicks still stand. I just got out of a mission with a ton of the little data and audio logs again. The story was actually really compelling but I just felt I was bombarded with too many of them to actually feel interested to read or listen to them all.I agree with those nitpicks, but, in my opinon, the story is very well done. Yes, it's all about discovery but, personally, I was entertained throughout.
I would also not compare this to the Witcher. Horizon is a very focused game, it's world is just big enough, it's enemy variety just sufficient, it's quest just numerous to give a solid 50-60 hour experience. The world in Horizon is a vehicle for quests and story, by itself it's not particularly interesting to explore. GG focused on what it wanted to do best: dino combat, focused story and sacrificed "RPG" elements, such as extensive loot system, world exploration surprises.
To me, it was a huge plus, because I finished the Witcher with a hundred question marks left and it was daunting to think that I didn't see it all. And most of those question marks are yet another bandit camp or a bear, how exciting...
Human combat sucks though, such shame. This is the only thing that took me out of the experience, especially the brutes who just take you hitting them with a stick without bulging. End game spoiler:That last mission boss fight against the Shadow Carja leader with a huge HP pool was riddiculous and annoying. How come my upgraded spear knocks over dinos in one hit, but only takes 3% off the dude's hp and he is still standing?
As for world and quest design, I think the comparison to the Witcher still stands. They even try to take a similar quest structure to it with the separation between side quests and errands, and more miscellaneous things like trials. The question marks were the least compelling part of the Witcher 3 but it didn't matter because there was an insane amount of high quality side quests that simply dwarfs every other game in the genre. Horizon's sidequest design doesn't quite present the same amount RPG reactivity and choice and consequence that comes most dialogue heavy games. I would love to see actual choices rather than each conversation being an exposition dump. It'd be cool if quests were full of branching and bespoke paths, where content can be missed.
Everything leans on the action. It feels like an open world action game in the guise of very lite RPG systems, and that has been the big adjustment for me in terms of expections. My only wish is that one big pillar of that action (human combat) was a lot better.