One of the biggest games revealed at the June 2020 PS5 showcase was Horizon Forbidden West. Developed by Guerrilla Games, this PlayStation title is bringing the custom Decima engine and everything it's capable of to next-generation hardware.
Aloy returns as a protagonist, heading into the former western U.S. There are new threats, new machines, and new lush lands to explore. It's currently set to release on February 18, 2022. Here's everything we know about Horizon Forbidden West on PS5 so far.
What is Horizon Forbidden West?
Horizon Forbidden West is a sequel to Guerrilla Games' Horizon Zero Dawn, released in 2017. It's an action role-playing game that takes place in the 31st century, in a world where humanity now exists in tribes and gigantic mechanical lifeforms roam the earth. Players play as Aloy, a young woman cast out of the Nora tribe who works to uncover the mysteries of the machines, what happened to the previous humans, and the current threat set to destroy the world.
Horizon Forbidden West follows the events of Horizon Zero Dawn as Aloy travels west and seeks to discover who sent a signal that activated HADES, an AI attempting to destroy all life. Given how the first game was a major critical and commercial success, it's very possible that Horizon Forbidden West will end up being one of the best PS5 games.
Ahead of the game's launch, Aloy is available in a crossover event with Genshin Impact, a popular free-to-play game.
Can I check out some Horizon Forbidden West trailers?
You can see the Horizon Forbidden West reveal trailer from The Future of Gaming PS5 event below:
Horizon Forbidden West Story, gameplay, and features
Horizon Zero Dawn was an action RPG, and Horizon Forbidden West will be as well. The story takes place in what was formerly the Western U.S., with the ruins of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco clearly visible in the trailer. Aloy is seeking to understand a mysterious corruption damaging the environment. At the same time, Sylens is in possession of HADES (from the previous game), seeking to understand the signal that first reactivated the AI. As in Horizon Zero Dawn, Aloy will be performed by Ashly Burch.
While the gameplay in this sequel will likely be similar to its predecessor, the scope of the game is almost certainly larger. In the June State of Play, we see Aloy undertaking a mission to save Erend from the "rebel threat" while traveling along a beach and diving underwater. Rebels seem to be the main antagonists of this game; what makes them so dangerous is that they're able to get machines to attack for them. But Aloy's equipped with some new and returning gear to take them down.
- Focus: A device that sits on her ear and can scan environments to help her identify threats or climbing areas.
- Pull Caster: Hook shots to compatible areas to pull Aloy through the air, allowing her to get out of trouble in a hurry or reach new climbing pathways.
- Shieldwing: Works like a glider, allowing Aloy to descend slowly and safely from a high point.
- Diving mask: Lets players stay submerged underwater "as long as you like." From what we've seen in videos, it seems underwater exploration will be a large focus in-game, and Aloy will be able to make use of underwater currents to get around faster.
- Spear: Aloy's spear helps override machines and can be charged up to create a high-damage effect or knock enemies backward.
- Slingshot: There are various projectiles that provide different effects. For instance, Adhesive Grenades can temporarily stall machines.
- Bows and arrows: Different arrows have different effects. For example, some explode on contact to strip machines of outer layers and expose weak spots, while others lay traps.
- Launcher: An automated weapon the fires spikes that explode on impact.
- Smoke bombs: Temporarily blinds enemies when thrown in range.
- Machines: As in the first game, Aloy can override various machines and use them to get around.
We've also seen some new machines:
- Shellsnappers: A turtle-like creature resting in a swamp.
- Tremortusks: Mammoth-esque machines being used as beasts of war by an unknown tribe.
- Sunwings: Pterosaurs-styled machines searching the skies.
- Clawstriders: A machine seen in the artwork that looks like a velociraptor.
We're keeping track of every machine in the game in an ever-updated bestiary, our list of all machines in Horizon Forbidden West.
We know about a couple of outfits Aloy has access to, per Guerilla Games' official Twitter: the Nora Huntress and Utaru Harvester outfits.
The soundtrack is being done at least partially by Joris de Man, with Julie Elven providing vocals. In addition, the song from the reveal trailer, Promise of the West, has been released on digital storefronts.
Horizon Forbidden West will take advantage of the new PS5 DualSense controller, using haptic feedback and adaptive triggers to enhance how different weapons feel. Guerrilla Games director Mathijs de Jonge has shared more information on the game in a video you can watch below.
Guerrilla Games, the development studio working on the game, are a part of Sony Worldwide Studios and the creators of the in-house Decima engine.
Guerrilla Games also talks in-depth about how the hardware of the PS5 allows for a more detailed character model for Aloy. This includes more detailed textures, small details like peach fuzz, and more accurate material work. Some of these improvements can be seen in Guerrilla Games' official cosplay guides for Aloy:
Will Horizon Forbidden West have multiplayer?
According to a rumor from VGC, Horizon Zero Dawn was the start of a trilogy. VGC also claims that the second title (now revealed to be Horizon Forbidden West) would have co-op gameplay of some kind. Nothing has been officially confirmed as of yet, though.
Guerrilla Games is hiring developers that have experience with massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs), adding more fuel to the fire that something multiplayer-related could be happening.
Is Horizon Forbidden West coming to PS4?
Despite previously saying that Horizon Forbidden West would not be available on PS4, Sony confirmed after a September 2020 PS5 games showcase that it will, in fact, come to PS4 as well as PS5. There will be numerous differences between the two versions of the game, with the PS5 version including far more visual features, including a completely different water rendering system.
Anyone who buys the game on PS4 will be able to get a free upgrade to the PS5 version at no additional cost. This is the last game from Sony Worldwide Studios that will provide a free upgrade. Future cross-generation games such as God of War Ragnarok will require a $10 fee for the PS4-to-PS5 upgrade.
Is Horizon Forbidden West coming to PC?
As of right now, Horizon Forbidden West has only been announced for PS5. With that said, the complete edition of the first game, Horizon Zero Dawn, came to PC in August 2020. Other PS4 games are also being ported to PC, including Days Gone, which launched on PC back in Spring 2021. As such, we wouldn't rule out the possibility that Horizon Forbidden West arrives on PC sometime after its release on PS4 and PS5. With that in mind, it's almost certainly not going to arrive alongside the console versions.
What we'd like to see in Horizon Forbidden West
There are a few different improvements in Horizon Forbidden West that haven't been confirmed but would be interesting to see unfold. For starters, we're hoping that maybe flying machines can be overridden and rode on, allowing Aloy to travel through the skies.
With the introduction of underwater exploration, we're also hoping to see some form of underwater combat. While it would be limited compared to the usual player arsenal, allowing Aloy to fight aquatic machines would provide some welcome variety and a change of pace from usual combat encounters.
We're also hoping to see deeper role-playing mechanics. While it's not reasonable to expect something on the caliber of much more dedicated RPGs, some additional options for customizing Aloy and her response to situations would be nice.
What's Horizon Forbidden West' release date?
Horizon Forbidden West is currently scheduled to launch on Feb. 18, 2022 and is available to preorder. This comes as a delay, as prior to this, Guerrilla provided a dedicated update, confirming that the team is aiming to release Horizon Forbidden West in 2021. In fact, the company stated that it thought it was "on track to release this holiday season," but things weren't certain yet.
This delay was due to lingering effects of the pandemic on development, with the team wanting to take more time after entering the "final" stage of development.
Hermen Hulst, head of Sony Worldwide Studios, has been blunt with how both Horizon Forbidden West and the next God of War were impacted during the pandemic due to limited access to performance capture technology.
"But when you're doing performance capture for a lot of cinematics, with multiple actors — that's not so simple to solve. So you've got a choice. You could do it later in the schedule, which could cause you problems. Or you could risk the final quality by doing it in a different way. But I can tell you; we're not going to risk the quality. We want to ship extremely high-quality games, finished games, and we have to do that obviously without pushing our teams to the breaking point," Hulst said.
Both the original Horizon Zero Dawn and its expansion, The Frozen Wilds, were released in 2017, so Guerrilla has had three or four years of development time. As such, despite many games being delayed due to the worldwide pandemic, there was at the time no reason to believe the team at Guerrilla couldn't make the targeted release date of sometime in 2021.
With Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart having released back on June 11, if Horizon Forbidden West was to have still made 2021, it would've almost certainly been further out as a Q4 release. The game was reportedly delayed to Q1 2022, with PlayStation and Guerrilla Games confirming this news during Opening Night Live at Gamescom 2021, announcing a release date of Feb. 18, 2022.
We may earn a commission for purchases using our links. Learn more.