GAME GUIDES OCCUPY a unique space in the present-day videogame universe. As with the guidebook industry as a whole (including everything from travel guides and maps to cookbooks, legal guides, and repair manuals), the option to simply consult an online forum is nearly always present. The result is a greater pressure on printed guides to offer beauty and substance, and to exist as complementary projects that stand on their own.
Though Future Press has been publishing game guides for the past 15 years, their recent titles move beyond being simply guidebooks and become worthwhile reads in their own right. The Hamburg-based publisher takes pride in the fact that each new book is its sole project, with all staff dedicated to the production of a single book from inception to completion. Their approach includes working closely with the game’s developers and artists with the intention of providing a full range of game and concept art, delving into game mechanics, and generally presenting the fullest possible picture of the game world in question.
The majority of recent Future Press titles have covered third-person combat games including From Software’s notorious Bloodborne and Dark Souls, Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, Vanquish, and Bayonetta. In this context, Horizon Zero Dawn is a perfect candidate for the deluxe guidebook treatment: a huge open world, third-person combat with a consistently challenging progression/curve, and an overwhelming number of collectibles that affect both gameplay and story.
With a relationship with Horizon developer Guerrilla Games already in place from their earlier Killzone guides, the Future Press team appears to have drawn upon all possible resources to flesh out their current book’s content. Early chapters start with setup, controls, and combat basics, while later ones cover quests and gear, including a full-fledged bestiary listing all possible foes both mechanical and organic. This structure allows players/readers to start with the fundamentals and build from there, and also has the further advantage of rolling out potential spoilers in a controlled way (the introduction even gives recommended chapters for those at various stages of gameplay).
Production-wise, Horizon Zero Dawn is about as robust and attractive as game guides come. Clocking in at 655 pages, the hardbound book includes a huge selection of screenshots, annotated maps, charts, figures, quest guides (with cross-referenced creature locations), and a substantial appendix featuring interviews with the Guerrilla team alongside a generous assortment of concept art.
Horizon Zero Dawn: Collector’s Edition Guide
Future Press, £27.99 / €32.99 / $39.99