Three ways Horizon Forbidden West improves over Horizon Zero Dawn

Three ways Horizon Forbidden West improves over Horizon Zero Dawn

Horizon Forbidden West releases on February 18, 2022.

The game will be available exclusively on the PS4 and PS5.

Horizon Forbidden West is a sequel to 2017’s Horizon Zero Dawn.

Calling Horizon Forbidden West one of the most anticipated games of 2022 would be an understatement. The game is a sequel to one of Sony’s most successful PlayStation exclusives – Horizon Zero Dawn. While Zero Dawn sold over 10 million copies and was considered a fantastic game for its unique mechanical enemies, engaging story, and strong protagonist, it wasn't as successful as an open-world game released alongside it for the Nintendo Switch. A little game called Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild took the world by storm and redefined what an open-world game should be. Inevitably, many comparisons were drawn between the two games, but it is safe to say, each brought its unique blend to the table for gamers to enjoy. 

That said, Horizon Zero Dawn wasn’t without its flaws. For one, crafting and other gameplay elements like resource management felt slightly underdeveloped. As revealed during ‘Horizon Zero Dawn: A Game Design Postmortem’ at GDC, the game didn’t come into its own till the final year of development. The most interesting takeaway from the talk was what the developers learned from their tumultuous journey and how it will shape the upcoming Horizon game.

Distraction vs. Stealth

At the GDC talk, ​​Eric Boltjes from Guerrilla Games highlighted that throwing rocks to distract enemies was a relatively useless ability in Horizon Zero Dawn. The game’s opening spends a lot of time teaching you a skill you’ll barely use. This is because the encounter spaces were larger than expected, making it easier for players to just sneak by the machines than distract them. The Horizon Forbidden West Gameplay reveal at the PlayStation State of Play shows that strategically navigating the environment has become a core part of tackling enemies and manoeuvring the environment.

Humans should be fun to tackle too

​​Boltjes also highlighted that with all the focus on making the combat with machines more tactical, the encounters with humans felt flat because “humans didn’t have as many tactical options.”

“In hindsight, we should have gone deeper into making a single human as tactical or as deep as the robot,” he remarked. 

Once again, the gameplay reveal for Forbidden West teases more exciting human combat. Like the machines, human enemies will have specific weaknesses and abilities that need to be exploited, adding a deeper level of immersion to the game. 

Upgrades and resource management

While Horizon Zero Dawn had an abundance of resources that players could collect and use, it faced the problem of plenty. “Unique resources from robots, plus wildlife, plus humans, plus fauna” made inventory management difficult, according to Boltjes. It also made it difficult for players to understand what resource is suitable for what purpose. Some mechanics also went unnoticed by most players. For example, how many of you have used or created a “Trader Job?” 

With all that Guerrilla Games has learnt from the previous game and from what we’ve seen of Forbidden West so far, it looks like Sony has a hit on the horizon. They say imitation is the best form of flattery, and nothing says that better than the free climbing and glider in Forbidden West clearly inspired from Breath of the Wild! 

As revealed in the Game Informer exclusive coverage, not only will the game offer a large number of new mechanical foes to encounter, but the game will also introduce an improved HUD, give users better side quest rewards and a less cluttered hub. Not to mention the fact that the game will take advantage of the DualSenses haptic feedback and adaptive triggers to enhance players' gameplay experience. 

Horizon Forbidden West releases for the PS4 and PS5 (review) on February 18, 2022.

Sameer Mitha

Sameer Mitha

Sameer Mitha lives for gaming and technology is his muse. When he isn’t busy playing with gadgets or video games he delves into the world of fantasy novels. View Full Profile
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