Horizon Zero Dawn was an incredibly well-received new IP from Guerrilla Games when it was released in 2017, so fans are naturally hyped for its sequel. Although there was no mention of a release date during the Horizon Forbidden West State of Play event, the game has been previously slated for a 2021 release. In a PlayStation Blog post published right after the event, narrative designer Ben McCaw revealed that “development is on track”, and that the team would provide an update “very soon”. So, there is still hope that it could be released this year.
What was revealed showed us beautiful environments, new areas, an intense sci-fi soundtrack, and interesting gameplay additions.
More Environments and more ways to traverse them
Aloy has traveled west of Colorado “to investigate a mysterious and deadly blight”. The showcase gave fans a look at San Fransisco 1000 years in the future, in all its overgrown, sandy glory. As well as boasting beautiful tropical-looking land environments, it highlighted the new-and-improved underwater exploration. Aloy can now take elongated trips underwater thanks to her new Diving Mask. It looks like underwater traversal is going to play a much bigger part in Forbidden West than it did in the original. However, the gameplay turns out when we get our hands on the title; the underwater sections sure do look stunning.
We also got a small taste of how Guerrilla have tweaked land exploration. Aloy can now deploy a Shieldwing that speeds up vertical traversal. It is also good at protecting her from fall damage and surprising enemies from above.
Shiny new tech
Additionally, players will be able to take advantage of the Pullcaster, a hook shot-like tool that can get you out of a sticky situation quickly. It also looks like a faster way to travel through Horizon in general. Using the new ping ability, the Pullcaster can be used on yellow-tinted parts of the environment. Pinging is included in the improvements to the Focus system, which also allows you to override more machines, using them as a mount, or to help in combat.
Slicker combat and new enemies
Speaking of combat, it looks like Aloy will have a lot of new options available. The new smoke bomb will allow her to act more defensively when needed, and there have been significant changes to her spear. A new set of combos are available, as well as powerful upgrades that can deal devastating damage for a short time.
Bow ammunition types can still be tweaked to suit different combat needs and look just as satisfying as Zero Dawn‘s ranged combat. These new features, coupled with the abilities of the Pullcaster and Shieldwing, makes for slick, rapid-looking combat. The futuristic music accompanying these fights only adds to the feverish feel.
With these new techniques and some old favourites, the sequel is adding more machine and human enemies. The new Tenakth tribe has also found a way to override machines. This could lead to interesting machineback combat, although there was no footage of this at the event. With a new western area comes a “big new selection of deadly machines”. Clawstriders and Tremortusks are new to the land habitat, with Sunwings gliding intimidatingly overhead. While Snapmaws and Burrowers stalk the water. Even more enemy types have been added, but we will have to wait until the game releases to see them.
What did you think of the Horizon Forbidden West State of Play event? Were you hoping for a more definitive release date? Let me know in the comments below.