The PlayStation 5 continues to be out for nearly a year and half now (for those of you who have been sufficiently fortunate to get their hands on one), and the initial summer 2022 reveal event seems like it happened just yesterday. Many titles were shown off in that reveal showcase, including Returnal and Demon’s Souls, but Sony closed the show with Horizon Forbidden West, the follow-up to former Killzone developer Guerilla Games’ 2022 new IP. Forbidden West was positioned as one of the PS5’s first killer apps, a can’t miss title from a first-party PlayStation studio. It wouldn’t you need to be the sequel to one of the very most beloved PS4 games, but it’d be also an idea of what’s to come using the next generation of PlayStation.
While there’s also a PS4 form of the game accompanying the PS5 release and we’ve already seen a good number of next-gen showcases by this point, Horizon Forbidden West has continued to impress in all of its pre-release showings. Now that the sport is making its distance to players’ hands, the issue can finally be answered: Is Horizon Forbidden West a real next-gen experience like it was marketed to become?
As the name implies, Horizon Forbidden West sends Aloy to the western region of the items was once america looking for a solution to have an unstoppable blight that has been ravaging the scattered tribes from the land. Although Aloy saved the day once within the events of Horizon Zero Dawn, the post-apocalypse presently has yet another apocalypse looming. The Forbidden West is a dangerous and unfamiliar place crawling with new machines to battle, new locales to explore, and new tribes to come across. It’s a surprisingly varied place, also it makes a fantastic setting with this sequel.
Just like the first game, Horizon Forbidden West’s story has two major threads. There’s the present-day plot revolving around Aloy, the tribes from the Forbidden West, and Aloy’s colorful cast of supporting characters, and then there’s the ancient plot centered around that old Ones, humanity before the collapse that resulted in the current state of the world. Horizon Zero Dawn’s central mystery concerning the Old Ones and also the origin from the machines was a huge highlight, and the sequel has huge shoes to fill when it comes to crafting an engaging narrative. Unfortunately, the majority of the novelty of discovering how Horizon’s world works has worn out, but the sequel continues to have its fair share of tips for discover.
While you’ll still become familiar with a lot of new things concerning the ” old world ” in Horizon Forbidden West, Aloy’s personal journey takes center stage this time around. Now that players already know the fundamentals about Zero Dawn, the machines, and also the Original copies, the game takes for a longer period to flesh the main cast of characters and the tribes of the Forbidden West, delving deeper into their customs, traditions, and daily lives. Forbidden West really seems like the next chapter inside a singular story as opposed to a fully standalone sequel. You can probably still enjoy it with out played Zero Dawn, but you’ll be missing out on a whole lot of context the game expects you to definitely understand moving in.
The change to a far more personal story appears like a strange decision initially, especially with the game’s somewhat slow start, but when you receive settled in with the main cast and start working through some of the side quest chains, starts to seem sensible. Similar to the first game, Aloy is an incredibly strong protagonist. She’s grown a great deal since Zero Dawn, and it shows. Her exploits have made her a lot more assertive and assured, but she still has depth. She’s already saved the world once, but because every victory results in another seemingly impossible challenge, she still struggles with self-doubt.
Also, due to her origins being an outcast, Aloy still struggles to work with others, and her world-saving journey requires her to have a few friends by her side. Thankfully, Forbidden West’s supporting cast is a lot more fleshed out than Zero Dawn’s and watching Aloy open up for them and grow more comfortable using a team may be the emotional core from the story. Even the side quests feel a lot more meaningful now. They’re filled with cutscenes and provide out a lot more worthwhile rewards, so it’s hard to skip them whenever you encounter them.
Of course, the combat has always been the shining star for Horizon, and it’s better than ever before in Forbidden West. The core tenants are the same: shoot flaws together with your bow, set traps and tripwires around the arena, and use other tools to give yourself an advantage. The majority of the weapons in the first game return, so you can use your old loadout if you wish to stick to that which you know. Forbidden West’s new weapons are the most useful from the bunch though. The Spike Thrower lets Aloy chuck spears at her enemies, and the powerful burst-fire Boltblaster is ideal for destroying parts.
Forbidden West also features a much more expansive skill tree that really lets you prioritize the parts of combat you like the most. You will find multiple trees that you can dump skills into, and you can disregard the ones that you simply don’t like. If you want to improve Aloy’s melee capabilities but don’t worry about traps or stealth whatsoever, then you can do that. Skill trees also unlock new weapon approaches for each weapon type, that are special alternate firing modes that require stamina to make use of. These vary from nocking multiple arrows simultaneously or instantly placing a tripwire without having to manually line it up. These give a new layer of depth to an already deep combat system, plus they permit you to focus on the techniques that you enjoy.
The game’s enemy designs also play most in making combat so enjoyable. The Forbidden West hosts multiple new machines, and each from the newcomers is really a blast to fight. The big ones shown off in trailers such as the snake-like Slitherfang are threatening boss enemies, but even the smaller enemies like the monkey-like Clamberjaws are fun to take down. Each machine requires a different strategy to fight, as well as small ones still pose a threat.
The game’s new upgrade system helps to ensure that you’ll see a wide range of machines as well. Each piece of equipment, including both armor and weapons, can now be upgraded many times. You’ll still want to replace your early-game gear with rarer stuff later down the road, but you could possibly get more life out of your equipment and unlock much more of its perks by upgrading it. When you need a component to have an upgrade, you may create a search for this and also the game will mark its exact place on your map. With this system, you can essentially go on hunting trips specifically for the machines that you'll require, ignoring the actual list of side quests to go on your very own little side quests.
The upgrade system exemplifies best wishes areas of Horizon Forbidden West. It places as little resistance as you possibly can between your what exactly you need, eliminating the busy work and merely allowing you to escape in to the world and fight the cool robots. The different options are hours just going down the list of upgrade materials, preparing hunts and seeking out new weapons. First on the list is really a Snapmaw, then maybe you can fast travel there and fight a Thunderjaw, and so forth, even while earning skill suggests unlock new abilities to test in combat against the next machine. It’s a mesmerizing loop.
The game’s actual side submissions are great, too, and there’s a lot of it. Everything is organized into sections inside your quest log, so that you can pick precisely what for you to do. There are your standard side activities like Rebel Camps and Hunting Grounds, but there's also addicting new activities like the Machine Strike minigame or old-world ruins which contain treasures. Even the things that existed in the first game like Cauldrons and Tallnecks have been improved upon. Each one of these feels unique, and the twists that you simply encounter with each one have them from feeling like cookie-cutter content.
Getting around the world can also be easier in Forbidden West. Aloy has a new grappling hook called the Pullcaster, however it can only be used to move objects around in order to zip to a particular ledges. There’s additionally a new glider, but don’t be prepared to end up with far with it. It’s really simply to break your fall. The climbing system has additionally been vastly improved. You can’t freely climb anything, but you’re no more limited to scripted sequences with bright yellow paint. Now you can scan cliffsides together with your focus and find out highlighted handholds, which is helpful given how much verticality there's in this game. Oh, and don’t forget flying mounts, which are just as cool as they sound.
The Forbidden West is also much more varied than you would think. There are multiple radically different biomes hanging around, and every of them feels massive. The snowy mountains feel impossibly tall thanks to the aforementioned verticality, forests feel super dense, and even underwater sections are enjoyable to understand more about. Every inch of this game is gorgeous, and also the scale is equally impressive.
That’s on PlayStation 5 though, and there's a PS4 version of Horizon Forbidden West launching on day one too. The PS5 version does have a ton of next-gen enhancements though, and it’s obviously worth getting that version if you have the choice. Loading times are blazing fast, the DualSense features make combat feel happy, and the game is gorgeous in 4K. The game also uses the cutscene character lighting system during gameplay on PS5, which sounds like a small feature, but it constitutes a noticeable difference. Finally, PS5 players can choose to play at 6o FPS, that is arguably the largest improvement.
Despite all that though, the sport still looks and runs fine on PlayStation 4. Horizon Forbidden West was touted like a next-gen showpiece when it was initially revealed for PlayStation 5, but now that it’s here, it reveals an infinitely more comforting truth: cross-generation games are fine and will be fine for quite a long time this generation. Horizon Forbidden West seems like a next-gen experience. It constantly wowed me with its visuals, its scope, its presentation, and everything in between. It doesn’t feel held back whatsoever.
That doesn’t discount the PS4 version, either. Both are enjoyable methods to experience the game. Although the PS5 version is noticeably better, the times of the last-gen game looking and running much worse when compared with its next-gen counterpart (taking a look at you MGSV and Shadow of Mordor) are long behind us.
Despite how enjoyable Horizon Forbidden West comes from beginning to end, the entire game still feels a little too familiar. It does make substantial improvements to the formula that the first game established, however it all feels expected. Forbidden West really doesn’t push any boundaries, particularly when compared to the remainder of Sony’s first-party lineup. It’s just more Horizon, that is both an exciting and slightly disappointing prospect.
Still, Horizon Forbidden West is an excellent game that is really hard to place down. Even though it has a lot of stuff that we’ve seen before, cleaning bandit camps and finding collectibles is still a great time, especially in a world as beautiful and unique because this. It might not break much new ground, however the remainder of 2022’s games curently have some serious competition to reside up to. Horizon Forbidden West is a bigger, better game than the original in nearly every way. With a lot of engaging side content, a wide array of beautiful biomes to explore, and multiple threatening new machines to defend myself against, there’s a lot to do and see in the Forbidden West.