Horizon Forbidden West is the sequel to Guerrilla Games‘ 2017 hit Horizon: Zero Dawn. Available on PlayStation 4 and 5 consoles, the game continues Aloy’s story while exploring a new region of the United States; the deadly Forbidden West. The game builds upon its predecessor by adding new gameplay mechanics and enhancing old ones, but is Horizon Forbidden West worth it? Find out with our handy review right here.
Horizon Forbidden West is set six months after the events of Horizon: Zero Dawn, with Aloy focusing on finding a working backup of GAIA to restore Earth’s degrading biosphere. When her search catapults her into the dangerous Forbidden West region, Aloy and her friends must face massive storms, a mysterious plague, and warring tribes.
Throughout her journey, Aloy will explore the Forbidden West’s various ecosystems, uncover ruined cities and monuments of the Old World, meet new tribes from the Forbidden West and beyond, and make new allies. She’ll also create new enemies and meet frightening and deadly new machines, which will require all of the help from her friends and the slew of new weapons and tools obtained throughout the game.
Horizon Forbidden West is one of the gorgeous games available, for both consoles. The game’s character models are incredibly detailed, with character animations vastly improved during cutscenes from the original game. What’s more, the world of the Forbidden West is highly detailed with plenty of sprawling vistas to enjoy, varying biomes with unique weather, and densely-packed settlements with each NPC taking on a role within towns and villages to provide more activity and life.
When it launched, the game came with two graphics modes for PlayStation 5 consoles; Favour Resolution for improved visuals at 30 frames-per-second or Favour Performance for improved framerate at 60 frames-per-second. For PlayStation 4 consoles, the base console runs the game at 1080p, while the Pro console runs it at 1800p.
In July 2022, Guerrilla Games released a patch for the game adding new modes for PlayStation 5 consoles; a High Refresh Rate (HFR) mode that boosts the game’s framerate on compatible televisions, a Variable Refresh Rate (VRR) that allows for enabling dynamic resolution scaling on compatible televisions, and a Balanced mode that targets 40 frames-per-second while offering better visuals. All of the game’s graphics modes can be switched at any time, allowing you to work out which is best for you and your playthrough.
The gameplay remains incredibly similar to the game’s predecessor, Horizon: Zero Dawn. The sequel is set in an open world of the Forbidden West, a region filled with several biomes; grasslands, deserts, snow-capped mountains, tropical jungles, and vibrant islands. The game’s mechanics remain the same; Aloy uses a slew of tools at her disposal to take down machines and human enemies.
You’ll use numerous bows, ropecasters, tripcasters, spike throwers, boltblasters, slings, shredder gauntlets, and more. Each of the weapons can deal various types of damage, including Fire, Tear, Frost, Shock, and Impact from the first game, and new types like plasma, explosive, adhesive, purgewater, and acid. Unlike the first game where ammo types are restricted to certain types of weapons, Horizon Forbidden West will see ammo types applied to all forms of weapons, with many ammo types unavailable until later in the game. This will force you into using several bows with identical ammo types, such as two bows with acid damage.
Horizon Forbidden West includes numerous types of armour, each with varying stats – the game’s transmog system allows you to wear your favourite armour while applying the stats of another set. All armour and weapons can be upgraded by defeating machines and gathering their parts, and you can also apply modifiers to weapons and armour to further boost their stats.
The game features a total of 14 main missions, as well as numerous side quests and errands to complete. You’ll earn XP for completing missions and defeating human and machine enemies, and levelling up will reward you with Skill Points, which you can use to purchase skills from any of the game’s six skill trees that specialise in different playstyles; Warrior that focuses on melee combat, Trapper that specialises in bombs and traps, Hunter that focuses on ranged combat, Survivor that specialises in health, Infiltrator that focuses on stealth, and Machine Master that specialises in machine-based gameplay with mounts.
Like with the first game, there’s a slew of side activities to complete, from the original game come cauldrons that when completed unlock machine overrides, vista points that allow you to learn about the in-game’s world history, and hunting grounds with timed challenges. Forbidden West also introduces board game Machine Strike, Melee Pits for melee-based challenges, and Gauntlet Races for mountable machine races. On top of the above, there are also several types of collectables for you to find throughout the world.
Horizon Forbidden West includes improvements to melee combat and the way Aloy’s focus works, whether that’s highlighting climbable terrain and objects or tagging vulnerable machine parts. Alongside that, the game also introduces underwater mechanics, allowing you to explore underwater locations rampant with machines, collectables, and secrets.
It also takes inspiration from the Mass Effect series, with Aloy recruiting old and new allies to help her on her mission, and building a base that fills with allies and changes throughout the game. You can chat with allies between missions for context and additional lore.
Horizon Forbidden West Machines: What Are They Like?
A majority of the machines from Horizon: Zero Dawn return in Forbidden West, and the machines from the Frozen Wilds DLC also make a return to the sequel. It also includes several new machines, including speedy monkeys that are found in groups, gigantic but slow tortoises, and plenty of other big and small machines. Like with the first game, you’ll need to scan machines to discover their weaknesses and harvestable parts, and completing the game’s cauldrons will unlock machine overrides, although several are corrupted and will need machine resources to fully unlock.
Length: How Long Is Horizon Forbidden West?
Horizon Forbidden West is longer than its predecessor. When we played the game, it took us around 60 hours to complete all main and companion missions, all hunting grounds and melee pits, some collectables, and obtain the platinum trophy. If you’re looking to complete just the main story, it’ll take you around 30 hours, although it’s a good idea to try and complete some side missions during your playthrough to earn skills points and keep your damage and health levelled.
Summary: Is It Worth It?
Yes, we believe that Horizon Forbidden West is worth it. The game is a huge improvement over Horizon: Zero Dawn; the Forbidden West is a vastly improved open world with detailed biomes for you to explore. Much of the gameplay mechanics from the original game have been refined, including melee combat that now features chainable combos, a wider variety of machines, layered quests and missions, additional collectables, and animations.
Forbidden West also manages to differentiate itself with new gameplay mechanics, including underwater diving and new challenges and side content that add more depth to the game. The story falls short of its predecessor, as one of the driving points for the first game was the mystery surrounding the old world and the Faro plague. However, the sequel poses its own set of questions, and manages to tackle themes of humanity, love, and loyalty throughout the game’s story, and it ends on a much more open note than its predecessor to set up the final title of the Horizon trilogy.
Unfortunately, Horizon Forbidden West does have its faults, although they’re few and far between. The game’s upgrade mechanic is convoluted, forcing you to hunt for machine parts that can be hard to acquire due to the game’s new system of requiring you to knock machine parts off to salvage them (Although this can be customised in the game’s settings). What’s more, the overabundance of weapons, some of which come with duplicate ammo slots, can easily overwhelm you, particularly when compared to the streamlined experience from Zero Dawn.
Despite the above, Horizon Forbidden West is a great PlayStation exclusive and a great improvement from the first game. Although Forbidden West has made some of the game’s mechanics too convoluted, the game offers an entertaining experience that comes with heart and plenty of twists and turns for you to enjoy. It also manages to tie the two games closer than we’d have thought and sets up what looks to be an explosive final title.
Horizon Forbidden West is available now for PlayStation 4 and 5 consoles.