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Horizon Forbidden West Game preview

Game preview 25 January 2022, 17:40

author: Darius Matusiak

A wannabe fighter pilot, racing driver, and a spec-op; an adventurer and a space marine – hence, a gamer. I’ve been playing games since Wing Commander, and writing since Destiny.

Horizon Forbidden West Looks Amazing!

February 2022 could be a month of hits. One of them will be Horizon Forbidden West – a post-apocalyptic open world and an exclusive game for PlayStation. Will PS5 get a truly next-gen title?

Read the review Horizon Forbidden West Review: How the West Was Fun

This text was based on the PS5 version.

Microsoft has recently launched an offensive, announcing the takeover of Activision Blizzard, which naturally prompted PS owners to ask questions about the future of some well-known IPs on their platform. In this situation, the most powerful weapon of the Japanese becomes even more important – that's of course the highly refined titles exclusive to PlayStation 5. Because if they can't compete in quantity, Sony can still show teeth when it comes to quality. The first opportunity to test this year's exclusive will come February 18, in the form of Horizon Forbidden West – the sequel to the extremely warmly received adventures of red hair Aloy in the post-apocalyptic world.

Our colleagues from the friendly editorial team of GamePro.de recently had the opportunity to play a 3.5-hour demo and shared their impressions with us. It seems that a really solid production is coming, which has all the core features of the sequel: it's prettier, it's better, and it's bigger. Forbidden West mends the shortcomings of the previous part and adds interesting new mechanics in an even larger and more interesting open world that you can enjoy exploring.

What was in the demo?

Over 3-hour session with the game included two long story missions from the beginning of the game – before going to California, in the mountainous, familiar locations from part one. There was also a new challenge mode – Arena Challange.

New adventure, new fighting style

In Horizon Forbidden West, Aloy is more mature and more seasoned in fighting the mechanical beasts, and she will have to go on a long journey west to find a cure, or another way to stop a mysterious plague that threatens to destroy all life on earth. Veterans of the first part should feel at home from the very beginning, although they will also find some new Aloy's skills. One of the first challenges will be to fight a mechanical boar that attacks not only with its metal sabers, but also with a cloud of poisonous acid.

Our heroine now has access to poisoned arrows and spears that enhance her ranged capability. The creators made sure that each of these new weapons provides some effects after hitting the enemy. The poison arrow causes a kind of chain reaction in the boar's acid tank, and the blast of deadly fumes can damage enemies close to the victim, creating an area of effect. The spear, in turn, pierces the armor and explodes in the body of the mech, tearing the metal apart. The effects of such attacks are extremely spectacular and provide lots of fun. But it doesn't end with just two new weapons. There are also land mines, smoke bombs blinding the enemy, or a metal disk that Aloy can throw in a true, Captain-America fashion.

Many skills go hand in hand with the new weapons. Each one can be assigned up to three special upgrades, a bit like in Assassin's Creed: Odyssey. For example, a bow will be able to fire three arrows at the same time, or rain enemies with a cascade of arrows, quickly emptying the quiver. The frequency of such attacks, however, will be limited by the stamina bar. Then, the developers have also strongly modified the melee combat. In the skill tree, you will be able to unlock a really impressive number of upgrades that allow you to perform more powerful attacks, combos, smash opponents' shields, and more.

Much more emphasis was also placed on fighting people who can be as big a threat as the machines:

In general, we tried to make the human combat more interesting, more akin to fighting the machines. The human enemies now also have armor you can shoot off, expose body parts which are more vulnerable. And the enemy classes have more armor, they are better protected. Some classes have elemental canisters on the back that you can shoot, similarly to the machines. There are heavier types that focus more on melee, but there are enemies that focus on ranged and can shoot arrows quickly at you.

Mathijs de Jonge – Game Director, Guerilla Games, interview for GamePro.de

Explore with gadgets

The list of novelties doesn't end with combat mechanics. The new area on the west coast of the USA, where Aloy is headed, also brings more convenient and effective exploration, thanks to new ways of moving around. Exploration changes with new gadgets available to us. The oxygen mask will enable you to breathe underwater and dive without restrictions. A standard rappel hook will not only ensure quick access to higher platforms, but also allow you to pull obstacles back, unlocking new passages. This has to do with partial destruction of the environment in some places. Aloy will also be able to use her shield for gliding and soft landings from heights, similar to how Link used his paraglider in Breath of the Wild.

Another of the mechanics that underwent thorough rework was climbing. Instead of the trite yellow edges that yell "grab this ledge," Horizon Forbidden West has a special, procedural system of crack in the rocks that allows you to climb almost anywhere. And that means that climbing is no longer limited to intended places, is much more natural and smoother, providing more freedom and an even better feeling of the open world.

Food is a new element in the game. There is a village with a cook, who has recipes. If you get ingredients for them, you can get the food and take it with you on the journey anywhere in the Forbidden West. You can eat the food and it will temporarily buff to your stats, like extra health or extra stamina. You can’t cook by yourself. It must be the cook who does it for you.

Mathijs de Jonge – Game Director, Guerilla Games, interview for GamePro.de

The combination of all these skills makes exploration extremely fun and dynamic. What's more, new skills and gadgets are useful not only during exploration. They can also be used during combat, providing an edge over heavy, metal beasts. Aloy can, for example, launch into the air with the grappling hook, activate bullet time and shoot enemies from above, to land smoothly on the shield and finish enemies off on the ground. It's a smooth dance of death that combines different movements and can be amazingly fun.

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