Horizon Forbidden West, Guerrilla Games’ upcoming sequel to 2017’s Horizon Zero Dawn, just went gold and launches next month. And while it’s an unusually busy time for game releases, this sequel title tops the lists that many fans look forward to. Horizon Forbidden West appeared on our magazine cover in December, meaning we learned a ton of details about the game. So there’s a lot to pack into this hearty roundup of everything you need to know before embarking on Aloy’s next journey. Let’s dive in.
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Some games don’t require you to play the previous title before jumping into the follow-up. And while the developer states that you can enjoy Horizon Forbidden West without playing Zero Dawn, we don’t recommend it. The sequel kicks off a few months after its predecessor, and if you haven’t played it yet, we highly recommend that you do. If you try to avoid details about the plot of the original game, be warned: there are little spoilers below for Aloy’s first adventure.
Once an outcast of her people, Aloy brought together several neighboring tribes to defend against a common threat in Zero Dawn. The Inhuman Enemy, an ancient AI program capable of unimaginable destruction, began to take control of once-friendly machines, turning them hostile. The ending of the game gave us many answers about the world and the origins of its animal-like robots, but also left us with questions. For example, what started the threat program in the first place?
In the upcoming title, Aloy navigates uncharted territory, both physically as she explores new landscapes on her trek west, and psychologically as she copes with the side effects of her newfound fame. Aloy travels to the titular Forbidden West to find out what causes a famine-causing red plague and destructive weather patterns. Fortunately, she doesn’t do it alone.
Old friends and new enemies
Last year we got our first glimpse of Horizon Forbidden West gameplay during a special state of play. Here the developers revealed: honoring, a lively and loyal Oseram warrior who befriended Aloy in Zero Dawn, teams up with her again. Hoping this time to give players more time with the world’s characters, Guerrilla lets players interact with many of the first game’s recognizable faces, including the head of the Oseram settlement. Petra and Talanahleader of the Carja Hunters Lodge.
More recently, we glimpsed Aloy’s fellow Nora tribesman, Varli driving machines and infiltrating ancient structures with the red-haired protagonist. Plainsong is home to the melodious Utaru tribe Like thiswho, it seems, also likes to help save her people from the red plague.
Not everyone in the recent trailer is friendly, though. Again, the morally ambiguous Sylens causes trouble by helping Forbidden West’s new opponent: Regalla† She leads a group of “rebels” and wants to settle some cash now that she has the power to control machines. This rebellious group is just one faction of the Tenakth tribe, whose other members such as Kotallowe will meet in the Clan Lands.
Perhaps the most intriguing recent character tease is: Tilda† Tilda’s striking, futuristic appearance, which seems only for a moment and without dialogue, sets her apart. And, judging by the comments from actor Carrie-Anne Moss who portrays the character, she may not be a reliable ally.
Returning to Horizon Forbidden West are the machines that resemble everything from deer to Tyrannosaurus Rex. Of course, this new entry features a series of new mechanical creatures that Aloy has to contend with, which are: Gaming Tech Gear completed in December. These include the oversized armadillos called rollerbacksslim burrowershog-like brush backscalled mechanical monkeys clamber jawssky high TremortuskenVelociraptor-inspired clawstriderhuge turtle-like shell snappersunderwater fighter Tiderripperand the machine version of a Pterodactyl, solar wings†
Guerrilla Games has also made special arrangements for one of its most feared newcomers, the slitherfang, which spits venom and shoots lightning from its tail. Why did they have to be snakes?
Enter new ground
For the sequel, the developers want to focus more on settlements, giving players more reason to explore them. That includes hanging out at the local watering hole and maybe playing a few rounds Machine strike, the in-game board game from Forbidden West. Players can also look forward to testing their mettle in the Arena, where you try to defeat waves of enemy machines. As part of our cover story on the game, Gaming Tech Gear have exclusive photos of the discouraging onea barren gorge under the control of Carja, and we also saw a bustling city called Oseram chain scraperbut I’m sure there are many more locations as Aloy heads west.
Perhaps the most recognizable landmark we’ve seen so far in the sequel is San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge. And we saw plenty more of the city’s landmarks in last year’s gameplay reveal, including a water-soaked Lombard Street, a crumbling Transamerica Pyramid, and even several dilapidated ziplines. You can climb all of these with the new one free climbing feature. It was also here that we saw Aloy diving in an explorable Underwater- environment for the first time, which we hope to see more of during the game.
Closely aligned with the United States west of Utah, the geography of the Forbidden West has almost every climate imaginable. By snowy peaks and rough deserts nasty sandy beaches and lush wilderness†
To navigate both the hostile terrain and the machines, Aloy has added a few new items to her tool belt. A breathing apparatus let her swim underwater with ease. A futuristic looking glider allows Aloy to hover between structures or above combat. And a mechanized one grappling hook makes scaling heights a breeze. Narrative director Ben McCaw explains these gadgets in more detail in a Sony blog†
“The Pullcaster speeds up climbing, getting her out of trouble quickly; the Shieldwing allows her to descend safely from great heights (or surprise enemies from above); and with the diving mask, a whole new underwater world is open for exploration. Not to mention the major upgrades to her Focus, which now shows areas where free-climbing is possible and gives her the ability to ignore more machines for mounts or combat.”
Combine a range of new deadly weapons, like grenades that stick to enemies and spike throwers, with new wardrobe options, and Aloy is ready to take out any enemies the Forbidden West can throw at her.
New tricks up her sleeve
Your primary melee weapon in Zero Dawn, the spear, was remarkably less effective in combat than any other weapon. To combat this problem, as discussed in an interview with Gaming Tech Gear editor Kim Wallace, totally reworked the game’s skill tree to support different playing styles. Valor Surge skills, which can be unlocked in the skill tree, are another exciting addition. Players can activate these super-powered moves after filling on-screen bars by playing ‘tactical’. This includes landing perfect headshots and knocking components off machines. You can also find new combos for hand-to-hand combat in the redesigned system.
Not limited to just fighting, Aloy learns extra crafting ways workbenches† Now able to track parts needed for crafting new gear, the elaborate settlement-based crafting process gives players a reason to visit major city centers on their journey.
Originally expected to release in 2021, Horizon Forbidden West will launch on February 18 on PlayStation 5 and PlayStation 4.