Horizon Multiplayer May Work and Here’s Why

When Guerilla Games announced through a job posting that Horizon was getting a standalone multiplayer installment, I first assumed fans would not be too happy. Maybe it’s the general negativity of the internet or a deep fandom for PlayStation single-player that will be forever stained by the unnecessary transition to multiplayer offerings. However, if you really look at the world of Horizon, it seems ideally suited to an open-world multiplayer adventure.

We do not know much about the multiplayer game except that it will have a distinct set of characters and stylized visuals. Additionally, we saw leaked 10 minutes of early alpha footage. The video has since been removed from Reddit, where it originally leaked, but we clearly remember the showcase of different classes, combat, and the cartoony art style. Of course, as soon as people saw the style, complaints flooded through the Reddit comments, saying it was too cartoony and elementary. It looks too much like Fortnite! Let me complain about these complaints, then I’ll describe the potential for the Horizon game, followed by a generally positive spin on Sony’s multiplayer endeavor.

The art style is actually one of the most intriguing things about the multiplayer game. Horizon is a standard Triple-A game with standard graphics, so I’m happy Guerilla decided to change the style and experiment with something original. It’s often that untraditional approaches to graphics actually look the best. I’d much rather see a completely fresh take on the Horizon world instead of a copy and paste of the same game I’ve already spent hundreds of hours in.

Furthermore, the Fortnite comparison as a negative doesn’t make any sense. I hate to be that person, but Fortnite, from a gameplay and visual level, is rock solid. Even if Horizon multiplayer is designed for a younger audience, that doesn’t mean the gameplay will be inferior. Guerrilla Games has proven, through the strategic, cinematic combat of the base game, that they are experts in combat. Adding a novel art style will not decrease the quality of combat/gameplay.

With that out of the way, the world of Horizon is already set up well for multiplayer. The world-building is rich with several distinguished tribes that each have their own set of customs and beliefs. Choosing a class based on tribe would clearly differentiate the playstyle and weaponry of each player. You could play as the Tenakth desert clan and have tribal weaponry like slingshots and bows. Or, you could opt to play as someone from the Sky Clan and have access to flying machines. You could even choose the Quen and embrace Horizon’s more sci-fi angle. Essentially, the tribes are already set up for class-based co-op.

Along the same lines, character design and fashion have always been Horizon’s strong suit. Aloy’s outfits in particular, the mix of tribal and sci-fi design, were astonishing. With multiplayer, you could customize your own character with highly fashionable attire from the Horizon world. Beyond customization, the gameplay loop of Horizon would translate well into a co-op monster-hunting game.

In Horizon, you study mechanical dinosaurs to find their weak spots, craft arrows and find weapons to use against specific opponents. For instance, you might see a red, explosive cylinder jutting out of a robot’s back. This can be ignited with a fire arrow, or you could place a tripwire on the ground to stop an agile robot in its tracks. Now, imagine working all this out with a team of friends, assigning someone to be the trapper and someone else to be the archer. The sense of teamwork and collaboration as you watch a mighty beast fall would be exhilarating.

Even if the game does not end up being a monster hunter clone, the open-world objectives of the base game would also translate well into the online space. I foresee two friends working together to climb a Tallneck, or solve a mystery for a Carja soldier. If Guerilla could pepper some storytelling into these open-world activities, then we’d have a fully-fledged world that can be explored by a party, or multiple parties of players. Lastly, the leak showed gameplay at a base camp, which is another system that would fit perfectly into the tribal apocalyptic-like setting of Horizon. I can see a group of friends scavenging to build up base camps with both defenses and fun cosmetic decorations. As you can see, the foundation is here for several proven multiplayer mechanics. The impressive Horizon world that intertwines past and future will only improve these multiplayer staples.

So, even though PlayStation is known for its single-player adventures that doesn’t mean they can’t be transformed into multiplayer experiences. I am a big fan of single-player-only games, and I would be disappointed if Sony was leaving them behind, transitioning into an online-only exclusive machine. However, the company would not disrupt its bread and butter that way. Instead, it is simply taking the worlds created for an individual player and turning them into standalone multiplayer projects. I’m all for diversifying the first-party offerings as long as the single-player core is still there. I predict that Guerilla will still make a single-player-centric game in the future, but, until then, we have this multiplayer project to snack on and that’s OK with me.

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