As if all of the new details on Horizon Forbidden West weren’t enough, Guerrilla Games has also discussed mechanics like free climbing. During the State of Play showcase, Aloy used the Focus ability quickly to locate spots that could be used for climbing. However, in practice, she’s capable of climbing almost any surface. Game director Mathijs de Jonge revealed to IGN that, “In terms of the traversal and the human combat, this was a point from Horizon Zero Dawn, where we wanted to improve the mechanics. And this [State of Play] is a showcase for that, to show you can now free climb anywhere in the world.
“We hand annotated lots of the rocks, the cliffs, the mountain sides. But at some point, we changed that to an automatic system that just detects if there is a latch somewhere in the geometry. So now the entire world, everything is automatically annotated. That means you can climb anywhere.” Of course, it will be limited in settlements. “There is more hand-placed, controlled exploration going on there. But outside of the settlements, in the open world, you can climb anywhere.”
He also said that the quick Focus highlighting spots to climb doesn’t necessarily mean those are the only ones. “I think some people think that you have to [use the Focus] to be able to climb, but that’s not true. This is just for light, for low light conditions, to be able to highlight them so you can actually see them better. But the player could climb anyway without having to ping.”
Speaking about the world design, Horizon Forbidden West has a bigger world than its predecessor and while the true scale wasn’t revealed, there’s more of an emphasis on packing it full of content. “The map is a little bit bigger, but in general, we’ve really looked at increasing the density, and adding more content, making sure there’s a lot more to do for the player across the map, and then making that content also engaging by telling little micro-stories.”
New underwater exploration is also a key part of the game’s appeal. Narrative director Benjamin McCaw said, “Exploration is really the theme. And it’s not enough for us to just show underwater. We wanted to make sure that it’s every bit as beautiful as what you see in the natural world above it. But it wasn’t just enough that you could swim around underwater. We wanted to do some things that are really surprising and interesting. And I think that’s where some of the story stuff comes in, and we just absolutely can’t wait for players to see what they’re going to experience.”
Horizon Forbidden West is set to release in holiday 2021. It will be coming to PS5 and PS4 with a lot of playtesting and development on the latter being done. Stay tuned for more details soon especially as Guerrilla Games decides on a release date.