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Horizon Zero Dawn board game fully funded, blows through its first batch of stretch goals

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Steamforged may have underestimated Aloy’s rabid fan base

A render of the Watcher miniature to be included with Horizon Zero Dawn — The Board Game.
Steamforged Games, Guerilla and Sony Interactive Entertainment.

The crowdfunding campaign for Horizon Zero Dawn — The Board Game was successfully funded in less than two hours on Kickstarter. Now, barely 1 day into its 21-day campaign, the team at Steamforged Games has already blown through it first batch of stretch goals. It seems like the group may have underestimated the game’s rabid fan base.

Steamforged Games is a veteran of Kickstarter. It has five successful campaigns under its belt already, including a $5.4 million effort for Dark Souls: The Board Game, a $1.04 million campaign to create Resident Evil 2: The Board Game and a $1.18 million project creating miniatures of the team on the Critical Role actual play series. Part of the company’s secret sauce is co-founder Mat Hart, who is himself a 15-year video game industry veteran. He’s used his connections, and his love of tabletop gaming, to bring Steamforged out of relative obscurity to become one of the leaders in the hobby games industry.

Horizon Zero Dawn — The Board Game looks like an excellent next step.

Like Dark Souls, Steamforged’s take on Horizon Zero Dawn is a cooperative experience. Players each have a tribe that they belong to: the Nora, Banuk, Carja or Oseram. But each one also has a class that encourages them to fight differently. Some will favor traps, others stealth and still others will excel at full-frontal assaults.

The gameplay focuses on the role of the Hunter’s Lodge, a secretive group from the video game. Players will work together to bring down deadly robotic organisms, while competing to earn the most glory with the killing blow. Only through glory can they increase their standing with the Lodge.

Where Dark Souls presented a random map each time, and then forced players to beat their heads against it again and again, Horizon Zero Dawn will take a more strategic approach. After using deck-building mechanics and in-game merchants to equip their characters, players will be able to choose their own path through the wilderness to find their prey. While an easier path might provide less resistance, it will also provide less material to turn in for upgrades at the end of the journey.

The campaign also includes a lengthy video that includes sample gameplay.

“Combat is deeply tactical, offering players meaningful choices at every turn,” the campaign page explains. “Hunters can sneak through tall grass and remain hidden until the time to strike is right, but every second which passes means the machines are one step further along their patrol routes. Wait too long, and your prey will leave the playing area and you’ll fail the encounter — attack too soon, and you’ll make enough noise to attract the attention of every enemy in earshot.”

There are only two ways to pledge support for this particular campaign: either a £95 early-bird package that expires Friday, or the £100 package that will be available until Sept. 28. Both come with three full expansions, including new enemies to fight. Steamforged said that it decided on that model to make things simpler for fans of the video game who might not be familiar with tabletop Kickstarters. Nonetheless, the company also pitched five more expansions to the game, totalling an additional £170, that fans can pre-order during the funding drive.

Dark Souls: The Board Game - collection of miniatures
The miniatures that came with Dark Souls: The Board Game weren’t perfect. Some had droopy weapons, and one had to be manhandled onto its base and glued down. But Steamforged says it has improved its manufacturing pipeline.
Charlie Hall/Polygon

While the stick in this situation is the relatively high price point for the game, the carrot is a laundry list of stretch goals including massive new enemies and additional allies to help you in your journey. Unfortunately, as of the time of this writing, the campaign has already run through all of its stretch goals. It’s unclear if more will be announced in the next three weeks.

Right now, there’s a flurry of activity, as fans try to save £5 by grabbing the early-bird package that expires in a few hours. That momentum has put the campaign well over $680,000 at the time of this writing.

Correction: An earlier version of this article indicated that Steamforged had elected for a 30-day campaign. This Kickstarter campaign started yesterday and will run for 21 days. Additionally, the team tells us they have more stretch goals to announce. Expect additional updates on their Kickstarter page.