Horizon Zero Dawn, one of the PS4’s biggest successes, from Guerrilla Games, bought an exciting new concept to the open-world genre, with sentient animalistic machines within a stripped back version of humanity. The original game was beautiful in its landscapes and overall design, but it did lack a certain something to make it really shine.
From the first reveal trailer we were treated with this time last year, I had a feeling Horizon Zero Dawn: Forbidden West was going to bring something new to the table. As soon as I saw the Golden Gate Bridge, I said to myself, “this is it”. This is what the first game was missing for me.
The first game is set in our world, far in the future, where machines have become the dominant species, and the old world is left in ruins. My biggest issue was that none of these ruins are recognisable. There were no recognisable landmarks that reminded you that this is meant to be our world. Yes, there were remnants of skyscrapers and sports stadiums, but they weren’t immediately recognisable, it felt very much like the ruins of a generic city- it lacked that certain element of satisfaction when you see something so iconic in ruins. It’s a classic trope of post-apocalyptic story-telling that Horizon Zero Dawn didn’t quite hit the mark on.
But I was so pleased to see the bridge, it look awesome and it really adds to the worldbuilding wonderfully. On top of this, the first trailer showed Aloy diving underwater, which is a huge draw for me, it opens up so much more of this world and looks pretty as hell. This initial trailer was so tantalising, so I was very eager to see more of what Forbidden West has in store.
Yesterday evenings State of Play was entirely focused on Horizon Zero Dawn: Forbidden West. Admittedly it wasn’t a long showcase, but it was enough to get people hyped for the new game. To begin with, we were shown 14 minutes of gameplay which included cut-scenes, stealth encounters and a boss battle.
My immediate thoughts were how great it looked, the environments are stunning as ever, and Aloy looks awesome, in what looks like a new jungle-type of outfit. In this section, we see familiar mechanics but some welcome new additions.
Instead of the obnoxious yellow-painted ledges from the first game, you can now highlight traversal points with the focus, allowing the environments to look a lot cleaner, without the confusion of how and where you can climb. Another notable addition is the glider, which I personally am extremely pleased about because it is by far and away one of the best things about Breath of the Wild, I am a huge advocate for open-world games giving you more exciting ways to traverse long stretches without having to fast travel, or merely sticking you on a horse.
Speaking of horses, the machines have had a bit of an upgrade, with more imaginative designs, including raptors, with mechanical feathers and all, elephants, crocodiles, and more. I am so excited to see what other designs the game has in store in that respect, especially in the underwater segments.
As well as the gameplay, the showcase gave us a ‘deep-dive’ into what was just shown and although it wasn’t as detailed as I may have liked, it was interesting to get a bit of narrative background. Much like the plot of Moana, the land is suffering from a mysterious red weed that is devastating crops, and naturally, Aloy is stepping in to figure out what is going on in an effort to save humanity.
Overall, last nights State of Play was short but sweet, building up the hype for what promises to be an epic game that can really showcase the PS5’s capabilities. However, the one downside is that we weren’t given a release date, but hopefully it will be worth the wait.