Horizon Zero Dawn is a must-play game before Horizon Forbidden West launches

Horizon Zero Dawn Combat Thunderjaw
Horizon Zero Dawn Combat Thunderjaw (Image credit: Sony)

It's easy to say everyone should play a sequel's predecessor before the sequel releases, but that's not always the case. There are times where you honestly just don't need to play the first or second game in a series before you pick up the latest release. While you might be able to hop into Horizon Forbidden West without playing Zero Dawn, I really don't think you should. And now that it's going to be free on April 19 through PlayStation's Play At Home initiative, you have no excuse not to pick it up.

Horizon Zero Dawn still looks immaculate on PS4 and PS5.

Released in 2017, Horizon Zero Dawn still looks immaculate on PS4 and PS5 today. It follows the story of a young woman named Aloy in the 31st century, long after a great cataclysm destroyed civilization. What remained of society regressed into tribes that rarely used technology. Still, remnants of the "Old Ones," Earth's previous advanced society, scatter the land in the form of giant mechanical beasts. When these machines start to become deranged, Aloy begins the uncover the mystery behind what happened.

Forbidden West will continue Aloy's journey as she's sent to uncharted territory to find the source of a mysterious plague that is damaging the land. While this is going on, Sylens, who first appears in Zero Dawn, attempts to understand why the AI HADES was reactivated. This is one of the central plot points in Zero Dawn and looks to be just as important in Forbidden West.

Horizon Zero Dawn was an instant hit for Sony and developer Guerilla Games, its first new IP since Killzone. Following its second anniversary in 2019, PlayStation announced it had sold well over 10 million copies. Studio managing director Hermen Hulst would go on to become the head of PlayStation Worldwide Studios, taking over for Shuhei Yoshida. That speaks a lot about the game's success.

Aloy fires her bow at a Shellback

Source: Sony (Image credit: Source: Sony)

As important as a game's narrative may be, studios also want sequels to be accessible in order to reach the widest audience possible. Guerilla Games will likely try to make Forbidden West as palatable to newcomers as it can, but in the case of this series specifically — and as with many of PlayStation's first-party franchises — you're really missing out if you don't play Horizon Zero Dawn.

And not only should you play it to gear up for Horizon Forbidden West, but you should also just play it because it's one of the best PS4 games ever made. It stands up there with the likes of The Last of Us and God of War, and some would even argue that it's better than both.

Horizon Forbidden West is set to come out this year, but I wouldn't be surprised if it ends up becoming a victim of the myriad of game delays we've already seen. The games industry took a huge hit from the pandemic, and some places are still trying to acclimate to their work-at-home scenarios.

Jennifer Locke
Games Editor - PlayStation, Android, VR

Jennifer Locke has been playing video games nearly her entire life. You can find her posting pictures of her dog and obsessing over PlayStation and Xbox, Star Wars, and other geeky things.