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Horizon Forbidden West – Everything we know so far

Aloy returns in the upcoming Horizon Forbidden West, which will be exclusive to the PlayStation 5 when it releases. Today I am going to round up everything we know so far, and we know a lot more than we did due to the recent state of play showcase by Sony.

In Horizon Forbidden West the story of Aloy continues. She’s a young hunter from the Nora tribe sent on a quest to the Forbidden West to find the source of a mysterious plague that’s killing all it touches. As Aloy makes her way across the lands she encounters larger machines, hostile enemies who can now control the machine they ride, and deadly traps. The environments in Forbidden West have been expanded too to include deserts, mountains, valleys, tropical beaches, and ruin cities.

The main story beats of the sequel are focused on the Red Blight that is poisoning the land. Slowly but surely all life on Earth is being exterminated by this plague. It’s up to Aloy to head into the Forbidden West, which includes ruins of modern-day San Francisco and find the cure. A new tribe has appeared and they seem to have control of the machines.

Aloy has some new tools to play within this new adventure which are going to help her cross the lands and fight against the machines. The Focus Scanner helps highlight climbing areas, which are otherwise hidden to us. The Pull Caster, aka the Grappling Hook, helps Aloy traverse the environment. The Shield Wing, looks and operates in a similar way to Link’s glider in Breath of the Wild and the Diving Mask allows Aloy to swim underwater for long periods of time.

Swimming in the game looks like it’s going to take center stage. Although this isn’t a new feature by any stretch, in Horizon Forbidden West it looks like Guerilla has put a lot of time and effort into the mode to make it feel seamless as part of the game. This isn’t having a ‘water level’ or something similar to that which can often feel tacked on, this is much closer integrated into the game. There is water bound machine that hunts Aloy in the water and also current strength to consider.

As well as the new items to help Aloy navigate the environment, there are also new weapons too. Guerilla Games showed off an impressive battle during the State of Play recently, with Aloy battling a Tusk thing. Aloy has a new spear, which when used at close range can be used to chain multiple combos. You can also apply buffs, which are known as surges to help take down powerful enemies. Aloy has a number of special arrows now which can strip back armor or help expose weak spots. Aloy can also pick up weapons that enemies drop, which was shown off in an impressive sequence against the tusk. Combat in Horizon has always been precise and thrilling, and it looks like it’s going to be taken to the next level in Horizon Forbidden West.

The game looks very impressive, and the gameplay we’ve seen so far clearly is on the PS5. It’s a little unclear how this is going to run on a PS4 at the moment, and we’ll have to wait and see for the footage. In the past, this would have been less of an issue, but since Cyberpunk 2077, it feels like more of an issue. However, Horizon Zero Dawn looked great on PS4, so there’s no reason to think the sequel won’t look as great.

“To maybe put a few minds at ease, releasing one first-party AAA title to PC doesn’t necessarily mean that every game now will come to PC,” Herman Hulst, Head of PlayStation Worldwide Studios, said at the time. “In my mind, Horizon Zero Dawn was just a great fit in this particular instance. We don’t have plans for day and date [PC releases], and we remain 100% committed to dedicated hardware.”

“With the PS5’s SSD, there will be virtually no loading screens,” game director Mathijs de Jonge said in a recent dev diary, echoing sentiments from system architect Mark Cerny as well as several other PS5 developers. “In an open-world game like Horizon Forbidden West, if you open up the map and fast travel from one end to the other, or restart from a checkpoint, it will be super fast. When you boot up the game, you’re right there in the action.”

Horizon Zero Dawn was a massive success for the PS4 and went down as one of the games of the generation when it released in 2017. Since the reveal trailer was shown during the PS5 showcase, fans have been waiting for the moment to get their hands on the sequel. Everything we have seen so far is very impressive, although we don’t yet have a release date. I was slightly surprised we didn’t get a date at the end of the State Of Play, but given we’re still in the middle of the global pandemic I am not really surprised. This isn’t a delay, but many were hoping we’d be further along, and perhaps we’d have a 2021 release date by now.