Horizon Forbidden West

Horizon Forbidden West E3 2021
Credit: Guerrilla Games

I initially wanted to write this VGU Reacts because of Horizon Forbidden West. The 13-minute gameplay demo we received this week got me so excited for this game! I am a huge fan of Horizon Zero Dawn, and after watching this reveal, well, it just may be a PS5 system-seller for me! There was a lot to see in this demo, so I’ll just jump right in and explain all the cool new features on display.

We begin with Aloy, as she embarks on a search for Erend, a fan-favorite from the first game. I was expecting him to die in this demo and really rile up the crowd, but no dice. Instead, we are introduced to a brand-new robot enemy type, Clawstriders, which have been tamed by an enemy faction who have learned how to ride them. In a matter of minutes, every aspect of Horizon gameplay is on display. What is most surprising is how fresh and new this game looks while still feeling like an old friend.

The graphics have been enhanced drastically, with an abundance of flora all over the jungle landscape, making the world feel brimming with life. There are birds and fish, and LOOK OUT ALOY IT’S A CLAWSTRIDER! Bam! They’re on top of her in seconds, and Aloy has to find a way out of this mess. How about going up? So, she uses her Focus scanner to see handholds in the area and climbs a tall tree while the robots pursue her uphill. The AI feels just as smart as the player, and that is both terrifying and fascinating.

Horizon Forbidden West E3 2021
Credit: Guerrilla Games

Aloy uses a grappling hook and a new glider (a la Breath of the Wild) to escape, ultimately landing in the water. The ocean is vast and serene, but it’s also filled with danger like giant submerged robots who you mustn’t provoke. Underwater stealth is not my forte, but when it looks this gorgeous, I’ll give it a shot! The gameplay just looks so addictive, from traversing the open world to fighting enemies, which is also a system that has been greatly overhauled.

Combat is now more fluid, with various attack types feeling necessary instead of a last resort. The placement of arrows also matters, with enemies staggering when hit in different areas. On top of all this, Aloy’s spear can now be charged with Valor Surges, which can be used to break the enemy’s armor on top of many other abilities. The demo ends with Aloy taking down a giant robotic elephant, called a Tremortusk, with a handful of new weaponry – all of which can be upgraded at workbenches in the game. A glue bomb makes the robot all sticky, while a long-range spear can be hurled at enemies riding the beast. The fight is just a beautiful mess, complete with destructible environments and Aloy using the machine’s weapons against itself.

Horizon Forbidden West is not only setting up a brand-new story within its mysterious dystopian world, but it’s also establishing a brand-new era of open-world gaming. Once this game hits the market, we will have truly entered the next generation of video games, and I intend to be a part of it on day one. While there is still no release date for Forbidden West, I’ve got my fingers crossed we see it this year. Meanwhile, my toes remain crossed we see this final game in 2021, as well…

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