Sony first announced Horizon Forbidden West during June 2020’s PlayStation Access showcase.
It was one of the biggest promises from the brand, a PlayStation exclusive with game-of-the-year potential.
The reveal trailer wasn’t very telling. We saw the main character, Aloy, on new frontiers. At least we learned she’s investigating a new danger that threatens nature.
We also saw a similar setting as Horizon Zero Dawn. It’s a post-apocalyptic Earth where nature has risen above the ruins of society. The dominant machine raze is back, once again, to roam as the supreme power.
Sony remained quiet about the game for months. Guerilla Games was working in silence until they launched a longer gameplay trailer in May 2021.
It left us wondering…what do we know about Horizon Forbidden West, and when is it coming out?
Horizon: Forbidden West Release Date
According to Guerrilla Games’ webpage, the game is coming out in 2021. There’s no extra info, so we’ll have to check elsewhere.
Many rumors and voices are pointing out towards a 2022 release, though. For example, Bloomberg’s video-game reporter Jason Schreier is pointing towards an early-2022 release.
For now, though, Sony hasn’t confirmed or denied a 2022 Horizon Forbidden West launch. More importantly, advertising material points towards a late 2021 premiere.
There’s a keyword here: the studio “aims” to launch the game in 2021. We can’t take that as a confirmation. It’s more of a goal, a hope, a mission.
Either way, the action-adventure game is coming out for PS4, PS4 Pro, and PS5. Notably, there’s going to be an enhanced PS4 Pro version.
Forbidden West Improves Gameplay Mechanics
Horizon Forbidden West represents a coveted time for gamers. It’s finally when gameplay and cinematics look the same. It’s an impressive feature that allows the developers to mix scripted actions with your gameplay seamlessly, or so it seems.
The game still retains its core mechanics. Aloy uses stealth, her bow, gadgets, and a high-powered staff to combat foes and explore the world.
Nevertheless, the gameplay trailer showcased new additions that improve the overall gameplay experience.
Notably, there’s a stronger focus on player choices, playstyles, and mechanics. The new options, features, and movement skills grant players choices to make on how to approach each combat. You’ll need to think fast, improvise and strategize to defeat your enemies.
Nonetheless, the developers say the trailer is mixing gameplay and in-game cinematics. The final product might change.
What I saw on the trailer was Aloy is fighting against riders. She decides to run away in the middle of a fight, though, and it happens through a quick cinematic.
It made us think the game will mix these moments during your playtime. Core missions on the game could have a script that prompts Aloy to run, talk, or do something specific.
Seeing how the first battle against bandits went, I reaffirmed my ideas. For example, if the enemy tackles Aloy down, it happens as a scripted scene. Aloy charging her staff also happened as a short cinematic that flows in-between combat playtime.
These additions make the action feel more fluid and less like yet another hack & slash example.
Developers have also mentioned new skills for Aloy. Moreover, Forbidden West has a greater emphasis on player choice, character progress, and special abilities.
For example, the gameplay trailer showcased the ability to charge the spear to knock down enemies. There’re also new weapons you can access through the inventory wheel. For instance, a slingshot can shoot bombs with different effects.
We also saw a smoke bomb on the trailer. Another new feature allows Aloy to pick up weapons machines leave behind as you battle.
Aloy can improve every weapon she finds, but we haven’t seen how the crafting system works.
Overall, though, you’ll need to be smart and creative to deal with the alliance of machines and bandits. You’ll be fighting them in many scenarios across the open world.
More importantly, you have to scan and study the machines to discover their weaknesses. It’s an approach we’ve seen on The Witcher 3.
New Movement Skills
Movement is also very quick. Aloy can glide and use a grappling hook to scale, jump, and dodge enemies.
There’s also a new tool, the Focus Scanner, that reveals spots where Aloy can climb in the open world. Another new element is the Shield Wing, which allows Aloy to glide after she jumps. She can also use it to descend safely or surprise enemies from above.
Underwater exploration got a Diving Masque to breathe underwater as well. We expect to see a greater emphasis on underwater exploration.
Lastly, Aloy can overwrite machines to use them in combat and exploration. In other words, you can use them as mounts, just like in Zero Dawn.
General Mechanics Changes
Other changes include an interface overhaul. All of the information is now on the lower right of the screen. Zero Dawn has information on all sides of the screen.
You also get quick access to an inventory wheel to swap weapons and gadgets.
I should also comment on the music and graphics. It seems Forbidden West represents a significant upgrade over its predecessor in both areas.
Horizon Forbidden West Story-arc
Horizon Forbidden West is an open-world action-adventure RPG. You play as Allow, a Nora Tribe hunter aiming to solve the mystery of the machines. It’s part of what you need to do to stop the Red Blight.
The Red Blight is a new lore element. It presents itself as red tendrils popping out of the earth. Wherever these tendrils grow, life fades away.
The weather has also spiraled out of control. Supercell storms fill the skies with death and fear.
During the reveal trailer, we saw the Blight grow in various scenes. Now, it looks like it holds the secrets to the machine’s power. Discovering the origins of the red-eye beasts is key to humanity’s survival.
Thus, the main campaign is about uncovering the secret behind Earth’s collapse. As life on Earth is facing a new extinction, Aloy is soon to discover an ancient secret.
Old and new friends will join you along the way. Some of the tribes are peaceful, others are allies, and others are hostile. The strongest tribes use machines as weapons of war.
Much like before, Horizon Forbidden West is an open-world RPG title.
During your journey, you’ll encounter ally tribes, bandit tribes, and machines. However, we don’t know much about the map, albeit the gameplay trailer happens in the San Francisco ruins.
The developers have said the map is extensive. It covers from “Utah to the Pacific Ocean” on the west.
With the power of the PlayStation 5, Horizon’s world has more detail and immersion than ever. Moreover, there are no loading screens because of the console’s SSDs. That means you enter the action immediately; not even fast travel takes time.