Guerrilla Games have lifted the lid on Horizon Forbidden West, showing off a meaty chunk of new gameplay footage for the open world action RPG. As the sequel to one of the PS4’s most beloved games, it goes without saying that there’s a lot of excitement surrounding the game, and in the recent State of Play, we were treated to several new details on the game. Here, we’re going to talk about the biggest talking points from the showing.
Bits and pieces of the game’s story have been known for some time, but Guerrilla have now provided new details Horizon Forbidden West is going to take place six months after the events of Zero Dawn, and this time, the big threat that Aloy is facing the Blight, which is causing life in the world to slowly decay. As she figures out what the blight is, what’s causing it, and how to stop it, she will travel to new, uncharted territories and lock horns with new threats, including violent tribes and formidable machines. It looks like much of the game is going to be set in the post-apocalyptic San Franciso, but we did a lot of moving around in Zero Dawn, so it’s quite likely that that’s going to be the case with Forbidden West as well.
Speaking of new tribes- one tribe that is going to be featured in the game is the Tenakth tribe, and it seems not all of them are going to be friendly faces. A rebel faction of the tribe that Aloy refers to as “raiders” were shown prominently in the gameplay deep dive. Well-equipped with weapons and armour, they seem to be vicious fighters, but the biggest threat they pose, of course, is that they can control machines. How that plays into the story remains to be seen, but it should be interesting to learn more.
We don’t know much about how many characters from Zero Dawn will be returning in Forbidden West (other than Aloy, of course), but one that’s definitely coming back is Erend. For those that don’t remember, Erend was a major character in Zero Dawn and a member of the Oseram tribe. In the snippet of gameplay that was recently shown off, Erend was sent to San Francisco by Aloy to recover an important artefact that will tell her the location of… well, something. That last bit is unclear, but either way, Erend clearly has a role to play in the story.
One area of gameplay in Horizon Forbidden West that is seeing major improvements over its predecessor is traversal, and one of the ways the game is doing that is by improving the climbing. Zero Dawn did have a little bit of rudimentary climbing, but it looks to be a lot more fleshed out in Forbidden West. Aloy can now use her Focus to scope out parts of the environment that she can use to freely climb up. It looks like a cross between Uncharted climbing and Breath of the Wild climbing, and we’re curious to learn more about how heavily it will be emphasized.
Meanwhile, the Pullcaster is looking like another major new tool that’s going to improve traversal significantly. Simply put, it’s a grapple hook. Aloy can shoot it at specific parts of walls and objects in the environment to pull herself toward them, allowing her to leap across chasms, reach greater heights, and even chain several moves together to cross larger distances. It looks fast and kinectic, and from the looks of it, it’s going to have interesting applications in both traversal and combat.
Everybody saw this coming. Ever since Breath of the Wild, we’ve been seeing variations of hang gliding in more and more open world games, and now Horizon has joined the party as well. In Forbidden West, Aloy has a holographic glider known as the Shieldwing that functions exactly the way you’d think, allowing her to glide from heights to cross vast distances, or even get the drop on enemies from above to take them by surprise. That said, comboing it with the Pullcaster is probably going to be one of the more exciting elements of the game. In one of the best bits of the recent State of Play, we saw Aloy using the Pullcaster and the Shieldwing one after the other in quick succession for a chain of jumps, grapples, and gliding, and if the game encourages more of that in combat and traversal, things are definitely going to be very interesting.
Horizon Forbidden West’s reveal trailer last year already teased underwater traversal and exploration, and we got to see a little more of that in the recent gameplay deep dive. Aloy now has a Diving Mask, which allows her to stay submerged in the depths of water bodies as long as she likes. There’ll be amphibious machines to take on or avoid, fast currents of water to navigate, and more. Exactly how extensive the underwater exploration will be and how large these areas are going to be remains to be seen.
The weak melee combat was one of Horizon Zero Dawn’s biggest weaknesses, but it seems Forbidden West is going to address that issue. While Guerrilla Games haven’t provided a ton of details on this, we did get to see melee combat in action in the gameplay reveal, and it definitely looks much more dynamic and impactful. The spear is looking much more useful, and it seems like combos are going to play a bigger part in the melee combat as well. Meanwhile, Valor Surges are a new mechanic that add a set of unique special abilities to the spear with various effects, such as knocking back nearby enemies with an explosive strike into the ground.
NEW TOOLS AND WEAPONS
Of course, Horizon Forbidden West is also going to introduce several new tools and weapons for combat purposes, some of which Guerrilla Games showcased during the State of Play. The most notable new one that was shown were the adhesive bombs. Exactly as their name suggests, adhesive bombs can be thrown at enemies to cover them in glue, making it harder for them to move. There’s also smoke bombs (which can be used to flee from combat and re-enter stealth), a launcher than can throw spikes (that explode on impact), new special arrows that can strip off pieces of armour to expose weak spots, and more. All of these weapons can also be upgraded on workbenches scattered throughout the world, and Guerrilla have said they’ll be sharing more details on how these upgrades will work at a later date.
Of course, the mechanical monstrosities that roam the post-apocalyptic world and serve as your primary enemies in combat are the biggest draws in Horizon, and there’s going to be plenty of new ones in Forbidden West. Some new ones were recently shown off, such as the Clawstriders (which are essentially velociraptors) and the Burrowers (which are underwater creatures that pose a much greater threat than their appearance lets on). We’ve seen the mammoth-like Tremortusk before, but got to see it in action in the State of Play. It looks like a truly formidable monster, and not least because it can charge through and destroy parts of the environment as it attempts to trample you to death. Meanwhile, we also got a few more glimpses of other new machines, like the flying Sunwings and the alligator-like Snapmaws.