Like many gaming events of this year, Gamescom 2021 was an online affair. The opening night’s livestream featured an appearance from Horizon Forbidden West, the highly anticipated PlayStation exclusive developed by Guerrilla Games. Having finally received a release date of 18 February 2022, gamers will finally be able to pre-order the sequel to Horizon Zero Dawn from the 2nd of September 2021. In the following list, I discuss 7 hopes and dreams for things that would be awesome to see in Horizon Forbidden West.
7. Better NPCs
One of the more standout aspects of Horizon Zero Dawn is how alive the world feels. As Aloy takes a stroll through one of the many forests, you can see hogs grunting as they scavenge, and you can hear birds chirps. When it rains, Aloy will stop and notice the raindrops on her skin.
However, there is one glaring aspect that breaks immersion and makes the world suddenly feel dead – the NPCs. They are woefully unreactive, and you can bump into them and jump on their heads without getting them to complain much.
NPCs in combat are not much smarter and will often charge towards you even while you are filling them up with arrows. Instead of ducking for cover, they will walk around in the open, leaving themselves vulnerable for a nasty headshot.
In Horizon Forbidden West, NPCs should behave in a more believable manner. In different settlements, NPCs should react to the environment, react if you bump into them, and they should definitely have something to say if you are jumping on their head. NPCs in combat should use smarter strategies, forcing Aloy to strategize a bit more when dealing with them.
6. Better Cutscenes
Horizon Zero Dawn is one of the best looking PS4 games. Whether you are exploring the snowy regions of the Cut or uncovering many of the hidden cauldrons, your jaw is sure to drop at all the beautiful scenery.
With a recent patch, Horizon Zero Dawn now runs at 60 frames per second at 4K checkerboard resolution on PS5. The game finally feels and runs like a next-gen title, raising its already stunning visual fidelity.
However, where the game does falter is with its cutscenes. It is one of the few modern games where gameplay looks better than the pre-rendered cutscenes. During cutscenes, the lip-syncing is off, the character models appear stiff, and facial expressions are unconvincing.
With Horizon Forbidden West, hopefully cutscenes are vastly improved. The gameplay trailer released already shows great leaps forward. Hopefully, we can expect cutscenes on the level of other Sony exclusives such as Ghost of Tsushima and The Last of Us Part II.
5. Better Melee System
One of the centerpieces of Horizon Zero Dawn’s gameplay is the combat. Roaming the post-apocalyptic world are large, metal dinosaurs known as machines. They are comprised of different components, and they are armed with a host of weapons including cannons and lasers.
Fortunately, Aloy has a few tricks of her own. She has a trusty bow she uses to knock components off machines and take them down. She also has a slingshot she can use to hurl elemental ammo at her foes which can freeze, electrocute or burn her foes.
Her slingshot and her bow are great for ranged battles, but when Aloy is up close and personal with her enemies, her melee attacks prove to be quite shallow. Armed with only a staff, all she can do is swing it around and hope it hits something.
Horizon Forbidden West should feature a more robust melee system. Firstly, blocking should be an option. This would make battles with human enemies more engaging. Secondly, there should be more melee moves available to Aloy. With a few more moves, Aloy will be unstoppable.
4. More Interactive Settlements
Throughout her adventures, Aloy comes across several settlements. This includes the Banuk Encampment of the fierce Banuk tribe, Mother’s Cradle which houses the Nora tribe, and the beautiful Meridian settlement which has elevators.
In these settlements, Aloy can find merchants to trade with, and she can also locate campfires to save at. They are convenient places to rest, and if you are lucky, you can sometimes eavesdrop on the elders sharing a few tales with the children of the tribe. While the settlements are lovely places, they can feel a little dead at times due to the lack of activities. After you fill up your satchel and save, there is not much to do except admire the architecture and greet a few of the locals.
The upcoming sequel should take a few lessons from Red Dead Redemption 2. Developed by Rockstar Games, Red Dead Redemption 2 is a Western game where you play as Arthur Morgan, an outlaw who is part of the Van der Linde gang. Because the gang is constantly on the run, they spend their time in hidden camps. These camps are cozy places where Arthur can drink coffee and eat food to replenish his stats, do chores to help out the gang, and chat with his friends.
Horizon Forbidden West should also make settlements into places that are fun to spend time in, and have plenty of activities that feel worthwhile to engage in. Perhaps there should be activities to complete that boost Aloy’s reputation with the tribe, and she should be able to track her relationships with key members of each settlement. The possibilities are endless.
3. Good Use of DualSense Controller
One of the more standout features of the PS5 is the DualSense. It comes with a number of neat tricks that increase how immersive gaming feels and adds a tactile dimension to the experience.
The DualSense controller has adaptive triggers that are able to offer resistance when they are depressed. Already, a few games have begun to utilize this in interesting ways. Control, developed by Remedy, used the triggers to make the different modes of the service gun feel distinct. Wreckfest, a derby demolition game, used the triggers instead to mimic the pedals of a car.
The PS5’s new controller also features advanced haptic feedback that is able to simulate a host of sensations and textures. Astro’s Playroom, a game that comes free with all PS5 consoles, demonstrates just how amazing the haptics of the DualSense are. Raindrops can be felt, while sand, grass and metal all feel different when you walk across them.
Horizon Forbidden West should make use of all these features in effective and immersive ways. It is a no-brainer, but adaptive triggers used with Aloy’s bow will feel amazing. Feeling the haptics of DualSense as Aloy traverses the different environments will also be a treat. It will add an additional layer of immersion and draw you further into Aloy’s adventure.
2. More Complex Hunting System
The world of Horizon Zero Dawn is a harsh one. Survival is achieved through scavenging resources and making sure you are the hunter before you get hunted.
The task of gathering resources is pretty fun when you are going up against machines. They are varied enemies with a wide range of moves, complex behaviors, and a host of defenses and attacks. Even if you do not get all the loot you want, just taking down some of the bigger machines is so fun that it is worth the experience.
The animals, on the other hand, are a much more boring affair. Simply load up some arrows, aim, fire, and you have got your meat. It is boring, and the hardest part of it is just locating whatever species of animal you are looking for.
The hunting system could be improved in Horizon Forbidden West by forcing Aloy to track her prey first and learn what kind of weapons to use first. Only when the right weapons are used, should killing an animal yield you the bounty you desire. Furthermore, animals should be able to hear and smell your approach, and they should attempt to flee from you. This would force you to make use of better strategies when hunting. Overall, the hunting system needs a big revamp if it is to not be the same, stale mechanic it was in the first game.
1. Mountable Flying Machines
One of the niftiest features of Horizon Zero Dawn is the ability to override machines. Doing so allows you to mount key machines, letting you ride them like you would a cow or a horse. This is heaps of fun, of course, but anyone with imagination is going to ask a pressing question – what about the flying machines?
Being able to take to the skies on your favorite winged machine and explore the map from up high would add a new dimension to gameplay. Thanks to the PS5, this may finally be possible.
We already know that Aloy will have a little more verticality thanks to her ability to glide. As a gameplay trailer revealed, a holographic glider will be one of the tools at her disposal, allowing her to sail down smoothly from heights.
An interview Guerrilla Games has done gives hopes that mountable flying machines may be a possibility in Horizon Forbidden West. Game director Mathijs de Jonge, when asked about the possibility of flying mounts in the sequel, acknowledged that “this feature is very, very high on the wishlists of many gamers”. However, he refused to either confirm or deny whether mountable flying machines will make an appearance.
With a successful track record behind them, there is no doubt that Guerrilla Games are in the process of crafting yet another spectacular game. With the additions above, it is sure to be a masterpiece.
Not that the developers care, but oh! How I wish they would fix Aloy’s face. She looks like she’s pushing her 30’s in age the way they are rendering her now. Is it because they want “romantic tension,” between her and what’s his name, her companion from Zero Dawn? Is it because the original artists are no longer available and the new ones aren’t as good? Who knows. The fact remains she looks badly drawn, which makes it harder to immerse yourself in the story…