After the success of Horizon Zero Dawn and Horizon Forbidden West, the next title in the series delves into VR gaming. Developed by Guerrilla Games and Firesprite Studios, Horizon Call of the Mountain is a PlayStation VR2 title, launching on February 22nd with the next-gen head-mounted display. However, despite its VR trappings, this is still a big-budget action-adventure title, built from the ground up to leverage Sony’s headset.
Such is its scope that former Horizon Forbidden West senior world designer Chris James says it will “change what triple-A means for VR.” Let’s look at 15 things you should know before you play Horizon Call of the Mountain.
Aloy isn’t the hero this time around. Instead, the story revolves around Ryas, a former Shadow Carja turned master hunter (whose appearance is also not well known). While Ryas is very capable in many things, from hunting machines and fighting to climbing, he’s done some bad things (like partaking in the banishment of Prince Itamen). As such, he’s described as “driven and skilled” who, despite losing faith in himself, is determined to redeem himself and save his people from this new mystery surrounding the Machines.
The setting is the Sundom, the Carja tribe’s territory, though the official PlayStation description indicates that players venture to Nora homelands, as well. With the promise of ascending the “towering peaks” of the Sundom, players may explore locations like The Daunt, Sun-Steps and even Meridian. Either way, you’ll zipline across ravines while looking out over waterfalls, venture to long-abandoned buildings, and travel by boat through dense jungles with realistic foliage.
New and Returning Characters
While the supporting cast hasn’t been fully detailed – even the characters seen in the initial reveal trailer are unknown – Ryas will encounter new characters and “familiar faces” throughout his journey. One of these is Aloy, though how their paths cross – and whether they’ll work together to take down this mysterious new threat – remains to be seen.
Horizon Call of the Mountain features many of the same combat elements as its predecessors. The twist is that it’s in first-person, so you’ll be drawing arrows, dodging attacks and exploring through Ryas’s eyes (so his appearance remains relatively unknown). Despite how chaotic it sounds, the initial gameplay looks pretty smooth, especially for a VR title.
The bow is a mainstay of the Horizon universe and returns here. Once again, you’ll use different arrow types, including the powerful explosive arrow. The Blastsling is also included, but that’s pretty much all we know. The Shadow Carja have used Firestrikers, short-range cannons that fire incendiary rounds, and grenades, so it should be interesting to see if Ryas relies on the same at some point.
What would a Horizon game be without the Machines? There are plenty of familiar enemies here, from the flame-spewing Bellowback and electric Shell-Walker to the Watcher and Tallneck. Even the mighty Stormbird was seen in the latest trailer and features prominently in the marketing. Final boss, perhaps? It wouldn’t be impossible.
Climbing up dangerously tall structures is a staple of the Horizon franchise, and Call of the Mountain is no exception. Ryas doesn’t seem to have a Pullcaster like Aloy, instead relying on two ice axes to scale surfaces. This means real-time climbing and hand movement, making the platforming more perilous.
One interesting part about Call of the Mountain is its “multiple paths.” According to the official description from PlayStation, you’ll need to take different paths and “look all around you to uncover the secrets of the mountains.” While it doesn’t sound like a full-fledged open world, this does mean that the VR title isn’t on rails or extremely linear. What those secrets are, and how they impact the game remains to be seen.
Unsurprisingly, there are also quests. Not much is known about this, save for the fact that they are present. While it’s a given that the main story will have quests, with no word yet on whether there are required levels, the side quests could be what incentivizes exploring off the beaten path. They could be simple, like “Hunt down X machine”, “Climb up this mountain,” or overriding a Tallneck. It may be unreasonable to expect something on the level of Forbidden West, but you never know.
Crafting is also confirmed, and it’s again obvious based on the different arrow and ammo types. The real question is whether players can craft armor and weapons. Ryas has his Shadow Carja gear intact, but whether you’ll upgrade it or any weapons is unknown. It could be that new weapons are discovered while progressing through the game or as rewards for quests, but if Guerrilla and Firesprite are intent on sticking to the series’ tenets, there could be a whole loot system to dive into.
Supports Sitting, Standing and Room-scale VR
Horizon Call of the Mountain supports three VR setups – sitting, standing and room-scale. Sitting and standing require about three feet of space in all directions and are ideal for titles that require little movement. Roomscale is best with play spaces that are 6.5 feet and require larger degrees of movement. Having all three supported is great, but you’ll still need a decent amount of free space around you to enjoy the game.
4K HDR Support
Leveraging the PlayStation VR2’s new 4K display, Call of the Mountain features 2000×2040 resolution per eye in the headset, providing the sharpest of visuals. Even better is the support for HDR, which should ensure more vivid colors, lighting, and shadows while exploring the world. Based on the trailers and screenshots alone, this is looking to be the most visually resplendent of all the launch titles for PS VR2.
Headset Feedback and Tempest 3D Audiotech Support
One of the nice features of VR is that certain feedback is through the headset itself. You may feel vibrations at certain moments in-game, which increases the immersion. We could also see this being used in combat, where vibrations from a specific direction clue you into an impending attack. Tempest 3D AudioTech support also ensures the most realistic sound that responds accordingly to your movement and position. This will also come in handy when trying to pinpoint the sounds and positions of enemies.
Finger Touch Detection
Finger touch detection is also neat since it allows interaction with objects using your actual hands. It makes handling objects more intuitive, besides keeping track of your hand position. Sure, it’s not a new feature, but it does increase the overall immersion. Of course, there’s a grip button on the PlayStation VR2’s Sense controller, so it’s easier to grab in-game objects.
Haptic Feedback and Adaptive Trigger Support
Horizon Call of the Mountain also leverages two features that Horizon Zero Dawn and Forbidden West fans will be familiar with: Haptic feedback and adaptive triggers. The former replicates the feel of crafting and handling weapons. However, it also provides different kinds of feedback when navigating different terrain. In conjunction with finger touch detection, this allows one to feel their environments (and maybe even the destroyed bodies of Machines). The adaptive triggers provide force when using weapons like the bow – you’ll actually feel the tension when drawing back a bowstring.