Fans have been eagerly awaiting the launch of Horizon Forbidden West for years, and now it’s finally here. The sequel offers a slew of new features, exciting locations, and an expanded story, some of which are detailed in our rundown of everything we know about the game. While these are all great things, there is still a lot left for new players and even veteran fans to wrap their heads around, especially in the first few hours. But you don’t have to enter the Forbidden West unprepared. Here are ten essential tips and tricks for players to keep in mind as they embark on a new journey with Aloy.
Don’t worry about Zero Dawn’s story
The Horizon games are story-heavy, and while we recommend experiencing the first game to get the full impact of the story, you don’t need to play Zero Dawn to understand Forbidden West. Guerrilla gives players a comprehensive summary of essential information from the first game before setting foot on your adventure. However, it definitely contains spoilers for Aloy’s first journey, so if you want to enjoy game one without spoilers, don’t start with the sequel. Forbidden West is also very good at using dialogue to refresh players about returning characters and their relationships with Aloy.
Use your focus, a lot
Thankfully, Guerrilla has tweaked the once grinding sound of your Focus, the device that lets you explore the world around you, for there are even more reasons to use it in Forbidden West. You can emit a pulse to scan the environment for a quick lay-of-the-land, but your futuristic second sight will really come in handy to highlight areas associated with new features. In the beginning, it can be difficult to determine when and where to use new tools, so if you get stuck, turn to your Focus for help. You may also notice that the scanner highlights a few rocky surfaces in yellow, indicating you can climb on them thanks to the new free-climb mechanics. The Focus also comes in handy when battling with machines. While searching for high-tech details about your mechanized enemies isn’t exclusive to Forbidden West, the system for this game has been reworked, making it easier to spot machine weaknesses in combat.
You can find the instruction notes later
Since Forbidden West tries to catch up with you on the backstory while keeping you up to date on the game’s mechanics, there’s a lot of information to take in during opening hours. While the helpful hints can sometimes disappear quickly, or new data can supplant recently learned information, don’t worry about trying to keep everything in your brain from memory alone. Everything in the tutorial, from performing basic moves to how to upgrade your armor works, is stored in your notebook’s menu tab. It might be a good idea to skim over it every once in a while, just in case you can remember a small but helpful detail.
Cut down on supplies at your own risk
Gathering resources in the environment is crucial, and the new auto-stash feature lets you grab more supplies than you can carry right now. Additional resources are sent to storage chests found in large settlements or shelters. So grab everything you can get. Just like in the first game, almost everything from healing to upgrade depends on finding certain ingredients or machine parts. It’s really hard to get through a fight when you’re in the middle of a fight with no weapon crafting equipment. In addition to everything from the first game, Forbidden West introduces even more resources and ways to use them. Collecting top quality ingredients and bringing them to the world’s top chefs will give you a hearty meal and valuable stat boosts. Supplying dye components to specialty merchants allows you to customize your look.
Guerrilla tries to make the side content more meaningful and bountiful this time around, so take a moment before you pass by that NPC that greets you in the market. Sometimes unexpected and easily ignored characters can be the key to important things. For example, there’s a powerful new weapon that you can pick up fairly early in the game if you stop to chat with the right tinkerers, but the game doesn’t announce it right away. You’ll also find people around the world giving you information about locations to explore, new activities, and story-focused side missions. Don’t miss the new strategy game in the Forbidden West universe, Machine Strike, or the battle pits challenge just because you didn’t get to chat with the game’s inhabitants.
Choose wisely in the updated skill tree
Now split into six separate categories, the skill tree is all about accommodating different playstyles. If you like quietly pulling in and killing from cover, go hard in the Infiltrator section. On the other hand, melee-oriented players have to put points into their Warrior skills. However, with the introduction of Valor Surges, there’s a little more strategy for spending your hard-earned experience than just improving the skills you enjoy. You will automatically gain access to these powerful moves, but only after unlocking three skills. So you’ll want to look carefully through the six categories, noting what the Valor Surges do in each section, before charting your path forward. In addition, certain skills are linked to activities in the world. For example, you must unlock the first two combos in the Warrior skill tree to progress through the ranks of the fighting pits.
So you finally have time to haggle with the traders, and those metal shards are burning a hole in your pocket. But don’t pick up all those tempting wares at once! Metal Shards act as both a form of currency for purchasing items and equipment for upgrading resources. Early in the game it’s hard to collect enough shards and other necessary machine parts to buy and improve everything, so be selective. That shiny new bow that has similar properties to your starting weapon may not seem like such a good deal if you can’t afford multiple weapons or traps later on. And keep in mind that for the most part, every trader you come across will have different items than the last. So always check your inventory and prioritize getting the widest range of weapon types and different damage options you can get early on.
Don’t be afraid of fast travel
Once the world opens up and you can travel around the map on your own, Forbidden West will let you fast travel for free from any campfire. All you have to do is visit a location or campfire, and you can travel there in the future. So if you see a campfire on your trip, it’s worth heading that way. You don’t have to light the fire to be part of your traversal network; just get close enough to get the message that you’ve discovered it. However, quick travel packages are still useful. You can use these consumables anywhere to travel to a fire or settlement, which is useful if you haven’t seen a fire in a while. Keep a few of these packs on hand; You will have no regrets. However, if you just want to take the time to meander through the beautiful countryside, we can’t blame you.
Tame a mountain early
As useful as fast travel is in the sequel, you still need to find places before you can teleport there. To make this process a little faster, you need to jump on a mountain as quickly as possible. Fortunately, the game takes you past machines that you can ignore early on, giving you access to your very own robot steed. You also get the ability to summon your mount as soon as you tame one, so it’s safe to wander away and recall the mechanized creature whenever you need it. But you probably won’t stay with the same steed for long as the game has more mount options than ever before. Go to the Machine Catalog in your menu and you will see that there is a hoof print marker next to each drivable machine, so you can easily know which robots to look for in the future.
Get serious with side content
The first game was all about the golden path, but the sequel encourages you to step off the yellow brick road regularly. There’s a lot to do, with many activities offering boosts or interesting ways to break out of the main gameplay. These include objectives that shape the world, such as a sideline that allows Aloy to place an ancient statue on its current, ruined site. It’s not essential to the story, but watching the destruction highlights the stakes of Aloy’s adventure. If you’re looking for puzzles to solve, searching for relics in ancient ruins will take that itch away, and picking up a machine-hunting contract will lead you to useful parts. Forbidden West takes advantage of the relationships established in Zero Dawn and also builds story-rich side missions that focus on friends from the past.
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