Horizon Forbidden West Should be an Early Bright Spark in 2022

Horizon Forbidden West has the potential to significantly improve upon its already-excellent predecessor.

Posted By | On 02nd, Feb. 2022

Horizon Forbidden West Should be an Early Bright Spark in 2022

No one could have expected that Horizon Zero Dawn would turn out as good as it did. There was certainly anticipation around the game owing to its unique setting and fascinating premise, and the fact that it was a AAA Sony first party PS4 exclusive regularly placed it in headlines as well. But it was completely unlike anything Guerrilla had ever made, and it was coming at a time when the studio hadn’t ever really made anything that was universally praised, with the exception of Killzone 2.

Many were taken aback by how easily and confidently Horizon Zero Dawn surpassed expectations, even with a few issues, and perhaps its developers themselves, too, were surprised by the rapturous reception the game was met with, both critically and commercially. With the upcoming Horizon Forbidden West though, the situation is entirely different.

Where Horizon Zero Dawn was a new IP with significantly lower expectations to meet, its sequel is following-up on one of the best PS4 games to date, and a game that’s loved by millions. Guerrilla’s own reputation, meanwhile, is gargantuan compared to what it was before Zero Dawn came out. Even with such immense expectations to live up to though, everything we’ve seen of Horizon Forbidden West so far inspires confidence that the game is going to deliver in all the right ways- or most, at least.

The most superficial (and most instantly apparent) reason is, of course, just how ridiculously gorgeous the game looks. Guerrilla has always been known for pushing whatever hardware it’s developing for to the absolute limit. It was something the studio really emphasized with Horizon Zero Dawn in particular, and it looks like its sequel is very much going to live up to those high standards. There are some caveats, of course- given the fact that Forbidden West is a cross-gen game that also has to look and run well on the thoroughly outdated PS4 hardware, there’s just no way it’s going to be a visual benchmark for the PS5 the way Zero Dawn was for the PS4.

Though looking at it in action in all the footage we’ve seen so far, it’s hard to think of many games that come close to looking as good, much less better. There’s always concern with cross-gen games about whether the game’s old-gen version will have solid frame rates and good fidelity, so here’s hoping Horizon Forbidden West doesn’t disappoint on this front. The brief clips of PS4 Pro gameplay we recently saw were encouraging, but hopefully Sony will show more in the coming days.

horizon forbidden west

But of course, there are other, far more substantial reasons to be excited about Guerrilla’s upcoming action RPG as well. Chief among them is the fact that Horizon Forbidden West is promising to do what every sequel should ideally do- build on the parts of the first game that were good, and improve on the parts that were lacking. And where improvements are concerned, Forbidden West seems to have a laundry list of them.

Movement and traversal were often criticized in Horizon Zero Dawn, thanks to Aloy’s stiff movements and how guided and unengaging the climbing and platforming mechanics were. Forbidden West is promising what’s essentially a revamp of traversal in the game. The Pullcaster functions as a hookshot, the Shieldwing works as a glider, and Aloy can now freely climb surfaces rather than having to move along a strictly defined path. All of this put together can potentially bring about massive improvements for movement in Horizon Forbidden West- which, of course, would ideally have a ripple effect on things such as combat, exploration, and world design as well.

There’s plenty of other areas where Guerrilla says the sequel is making improvements, too. According to the developers, Horizon Forbidden West is making improvements to stealth, melee combat, animations and cutscenes, and more. With side quests, the game is supposedly not going to have any filler content and will seek to tie things into the larger story, while quests will supposedly also offer out better rewards.

horizon forbidden west

Meanwhile, one area that’s being overhauled entirely is the progression. Horizon Zero Dawn was technically an action RPG, but as an RPG, it felt pretty light at times. Its sequel, however, seems to be going all-in on that aspect. An overhauled and expanded skill tree, a larger emphasis on upgrading and customizing weapons and gear, and further refinements to the crafting, trapping, and hunting mechanics of the first game collectively promised a much more varied experience that offers far more choice in progression, as an RPG should.

And of course, it would be foolish to not bring up the machines. Those were the stars of the show in Horizon Zero Dawn, and it’s not controversial in the slightest to say that they are once again going to be the highlight of the sequel. Guerrilla has revealed a handful of new machines already, and some of them look amazing- like the mammoth-like Tremortusk, or the massive serpentine Slitherfang, or the velocirpator-inspired Clawstrider, or the huge snapping turtle-like Shellsnapper. Exceedingly imaginative and creative designs for machines made for excellent combat encounters in the first game, and we’re feeling confident that the same will be the case in Forbidden West as well.

Just as important as all of that, if not more so, is the story. Horizon Zero Dawn’s stellar narrative was its best and biggest surprise- the one aspect of the entire experience that’s emblematic of how thoroughly the game surpassed all expectations. The bar is high for Forbidden West now, and the story it tells is going to have to follow one of the best stories we’ve experienced in a game in recent years. Whether or not it will be able to do that remains to be seen- but we’re certainly excited about the prospect.

Horizon Forbidden West_03

One thing that becomes clear is that there’s a multitude of reasons to be keeping both eyes firmly fixed on Horizon Forbidden West and what it will deliver when it launches in just a few days’ time. All the signs right now suggest that Guerrilla is going to deliver an amazing sequel just as confidently as it introduced an excellent new IP to the world five years ago- thankfully, we don’t have to wait too long to find out for ourselves.

Note: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, GamingBolt as an organization.


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