Despite its significant placement at the PlayStation 5 showcase almost a year ago, Horizon Forbidden West has lain dormant for quite some time. In its aforementioned reveal trailer, the confident and selfless heroine, Aloy, watches a beautiful world in decay. The lush green grass turns red and withers while red lightning strikes the horizon. Aloy is unflinching by such adversity but confident in a relentless and virtuous pursuit – to save the world.
Although the first trailer lacked gameplay details, fans were left incredibly excited. After a long absence, Guerrilla Games is back with a more comprehensive look at the game. The most recent State of Play presentation showcased 14 minutes of gameplay, finally shining a light on Sony’s biggest 2021 exclusive. Without further ado, the upcoming details highlight the biggest gameplay and story moments from the presentation.
10. The Tenakth Rebels
As teased from the previous trailer, a vicious tribe weaponized the machines and adopted their weaponry. Though we don’t know much, the colorful, tech-infused enemies are officially labeled rebels of the Tenakth tribe. Their corruption tactics prove to be a bothersome obstacle for Aloy since they signify a merging of man and machine.
These rebels ride large machines and reign arrows from above. When separated from their corrupted friends, the rebels prove to be worthy adversaries. One of them yields a large, fiery hammer and adorns multiple layers of armor. Taking the adversary down requires careful arrow shots and tactical maneuvers much like fighting a Ravager or Fireclaw from Horizon Zero Dawn.
9. The Blight
More details of the red infestation emerged, but its overall inclusion and origin are still a mystery. The developers called the mysterious plague The Blight, which may be its official title or a simple description. As some may know, a real blight turns plant leaves from a bright green to a fragile brown. Horizon Forbidden West takes this to the extreme as the blight deteriorates living beings and smothers the sky.
The enemies of Forbidden West, detailed above, have an intrinsic connection with the blight, revealing their importance to the overarching story. As Aloy uncovers more about The Tenakth rebels, the blight puzzle will slowly come together. It’s not much to go on, but Forbidden West’s story is starting to become clear.
8. Specified Machines
As for the machines roaming about Forbidden West’s world, we got our first glimpse at some new and deadly monstrosities. The most affluent were the Tremortusk, a ferocious elephant automaton. This behemoth shoots purple lasers from its eyes and emits an electrical surge. Just like the machines before, weak spots are vulnerable to specific arrow types. In the Tremortusk’s case, its underbelly is weakened by explosive arrows.
Other machines were showcased such as the Clawstrider and a Dromaeosauridae machine with chainsaws in its mouth. These two-legged menaces also emit a sonic vibration, stopping Aloy in her tracks. Lastly, the Burrowers look to be more docile creatures, but they were only shown briefly.
7. New Weapons
The demo showed off an abundance of new weapons. The first of which was a smoke bomb that helped Aloy escape a terrifying Clawstrider. Next, we see her use a spear launcher that stabs into objects before exploding. This weapon was useful in taking out the Tenakth encamped on top of the Tremortusk.
For the most part, the weapons, such as explosive arrows, are returning favorites, but there was one device that caught our attention. The adhesive bomb stopped a charging Tremortusk in its tracks by entangling around its legs like glue. All of these weapons can be upgraded at a workbench, though this feature was not expounded on.
6. Upgraded Melee
The melee functionality from Horizon Zero Dawn was extremely limited due to its one swing animation. Forbidden West fleshed out the melee by adding combos to the close quarters combat, causing it to look much more stylish than before. For example, Aloy employed upward swings and 360 spins to take out enemies, which seamlessly flowed into bow combat.
On top of this combo system, Aloy can employ valor surges to add powerful bursts of energy to the spear. One such valor surge emits a surge of electricity when Aloy slams the spear into the ground. A brief cinematic played before the attack causing us to wonder if valor surges always initiate such a cut-scene – hopefully not for combat fluidity sake.
5. New Traversal Mechanics
Oftentimes it’s difficult to find the right climbing path or accurately gauge the distance of a jump. Hopefully, the new ability to highlight climb-able objects will alleviate some of these frustrations. This new addition seems basic compared to the Pullcaster and the Shieldwing, which should both amplify Aloy’s maneuverability.
The Pullcaster works like a grapple gun, but it doesn’t latch onto any surface like the grappling hook in Assassin’s Creed Syndicate. The Pullcaster works with specific ledges and has a short-range to ensure realistic usage. The Shieldwing is a glorified paraglider, but with a holographic twist. Both of these may be traditional game mechanics, but their inclusion fits perfectly with the established gameplay of Horizon Zero Dawn.
4. Underwater levels
Traditionally, underwater levels are met with a sigh of disgust. In Horizon Forbidden West’s case, the underwater segments don’t look too infuriating, but rather serene and painless. The depths are filled with large arrays of fish and a variety of colorful flora. The tranquility of dolphins kicking through the underwater expanse serves as a perfect contrast to the mechanical chaos of the surface.
Of course, when underwater Aloy has to avoid amphibious machines and navigate fluctuating water currents. Though rather basic, this seems like a steady evolution from Horizon Zero Dawn where water only served as a hiding spot.
3. A Greater Choice of Mounts
Previously, Aloy could ride robots to greatly increase travel times, but the mounts were limited to a couple of similar machine types. Though she was riding a robot, it felt like riding a horse in any other game. In Horizon Forbidden West, we see Aloy riding a Clawstriker, which moves like a Tyrannosaurus.
The developers promised a variety of other mounts, leaving us to daydream about the gameplay possibilities. We’d love to ride a flying machine such as the Sunwings or control the powerful Tremortusk. Whatever Guerilla Games has in store, it’s sure to improve upon the limited selection of Horizon Zero Dawn.
2. The Setting
We see Aloy traversing the ruins of San Francisco as a disfigured Golden Gate Bridge looms in the distance. In addition to that, San Francisco has several other landmarks that could be striking in an apocalyptic setting. Besides the iconic location and landmarks, San Francisco grants players a more tropical feel to the world, a far cry from the mountainous regions of the original.
It’s not too far-fetched to say Aloy’s journey will go beyond San Francisco since we’ve seen screenshots of snowy environments. Additionally, the demo ends with Aloy looking at a map, indicating a larger world to explore. Specifically, two markers point towards Mexico and the Bermuda Triangle as potential settings.
1. Low Frame Rate
The specs of Forbidden West are not specified, but the frame rate dropped to 30 several times during the demo. This was most evident when Aloy rolled away from attacks, lessening the fluidity of combat. While there may be performance and quality mode options, 30 frames per second is still unacceptable for some players.
To the game’s credit, the graphics were vibrant and the textures were detailed, specifically Aloy’s free-flowing hair. Sometimes developers opt for greater graphics at the expense of frame rate. Guerilla Games might be taking this route with Forbidden West, but we won’t know until launch…whenever that is.