Following up on the reveal of Horizon Forbidden West’s various play-styles and skills, Game Informer has gone over eight major improvements that the sequel has to offer. This includes improved cinematics with full motion-capture, better facial animation and a “top-tier cast” with narrative director Benjamin McCaw stating that, “That level of quality goes across the entire game, including some of our minor scenes.” So you’ll see Aloy and other characters having more natural conversations and conveying more with their body language.
More “lived in” settlements are also key, which was seen in the recent trailer focused on the various tribes. McCaw noted that, “We’ve upgraded our civilians and settlements since the last game with an improved crowd system, better animations, and much better audio. So everything should feel a little bit more authentic and lifelike.”
Gameplay-wise, expect the heads-up display (HUD) to feel less cluttered. In fact, it starts out in Minimalist mode which, as per game director Mathijs de Jonge, displays “as little HUD information on the screen as possible. But in this mode, you can also just swipe up on the touchpad, and that will immediately bring up all the important information, such as objectives, or maybe your health, or your inventory.”
Guerrilla Games is also providing more rewarding side quests (along with making them more interesting). “There’s a lot more variety in that sense – a more sense of accomplishment that you actually get something cool in return for doing these quests,” says de Jonge. “That was another part where we felt like we had some room for improvement. So you get a cool weapon or you get a cool outfit, something that’s really useful for your next quest or activity.”
Another nice quality of life improvement is being able to set jobs for different upgrades a la Monster Hunter. Simply go to the crafting menu and create a quest that will navigate you to the Machine that has the part in question. The crafting system is thus less reliant on Metal Shards and more on specific parts. “In this game, we tried to bring the machines and the encounters with the machines more into play, so a lot of the upgrades also cost specific machine resources. You have to go out and hunt specific machines.”
Those who enjoyed the characters from the first game will also find themselves spending more time with Aloy’s companions. This extends to characters associated with the main quest and certain characters from side quests (who won’t “just go away after one quest” says McCaw).
Horizon Forbidden West is out February 18th for PS4 and PS5. Stay tuned for more details in the coming weeks.