The long-awaited sequel to Horizon Zero Dawn is here. Horizon Forbidden West throws us back into the robot-filled post-apocalyptic world that we loved in the original. And once again they have absolutely smashed it. Horizon Forbidden West delivers a rich narrative in a world that is both beautiful and deadly.
A Bright but Brutal World
Where better to begin than with the open world. This is easily one of the best open worlds that I have jumped into. And there are many parts that play into this, with the visuals being by far the greatest component.
I have played so far on a PlayStation 5, and the visuals have been absolutely breath-taking. Every little detail is taken to the top level. Every blade of grass, falling particles and so much more add a level of detail that cannot be ignored. In the scale of the whole map, it only gets better. All of the locations and terrains you will explore are simply excellent. Packed with vibrant colours, rich details and amazing scenery to take in. Though the visuals play a massive part in the epic world, it is the robotic creatures that truly make it complete.
A World That Feels Alive
Every location you visit is packed with them, and most are bound to cause a lot of trouble. A lot of the time you will be facing a lot of the standard mobs, like chargers and burrowers. The game certainly makes up for it in its big fights. These are definitely some of the best moments in the game, facing new giant creatures like termortusks and slitherfangs was a true challenge but also super exciting in the process.
But not all will shred you apart. There are a few new creatures here like sunwings and clawstriders that make the world a lot easier to traverse. This was definitely needed. The addition of flying with sunwings makes getting around a lot easier, and allows you to get some great sights at the same time. Though riding a robot was an addition also included in the first game, seeing this system being improved even further and new options being added in Forbidden West is just great.
Though the creatures are a huge part of making the world feel alive, they do not do it alone. Spread throughout the world you will discover a variety of activities and locations for you to plunders. With a great focus on ruins. Exploring these forgotten locations and revealing the secrets within are an absolute thrill. Providing an opportunity not only to get new gear, but also to face robots you haven’t seen before.
Exploration is a massive part of this game. Climbing tallnecks to uncover various activities and secrets. Exploring ruins and earning gear. But there is one complaint that I do have here and it is that the climbing feels very limited. Whenever you are climbing, you have to follow the path exactly. You can’t freely climb. And this feels very restrictive.
Similar but Strong
When it comes to gameplay, Horizon Forbidden West sticks very closely to what was made in Zero Dawn. With a combat system and gameplay loop that sticks to its roots. Maybe I am being a bit harsh, but you shouldn’t expect anything massively different. But I do appreciate many of the improvements that have been made.
I’ve already discussed the robots and how much I love them. So, I want to take a moment to appreciate the weapons that have been included here. In terms of variety, it is a decent improvement over the first. In the original you had your bow and slingshot for taking out robots. But in the sequel, there are a number of new weapons and ammunition types. For example, there is one that fires a liquid that slows and interrupt enemies. Another that fires a bolt that buries its way into enemies and explodes. And I found these to be quite useful in various situations.
What I feel has vastly improved are the skill trees. With over 160 skills now to choose from, as you level up you will feel more and more like a badass. There are six skill trees in Horizon Forbidden West, Warrior, Trapper, Hunter, Survivor, Infiltrator and Machine Master. All of which deliver a series of skills and buffs that prove very helpful when making your way through this world.
Does the Story Live Up to Expectation?
I am going to quickly going to go other what I thought of the story. No spoilers of course. With the story, overall, I did find it quite enjoyable and very interesting. But my biggest complaint is that it starts quite slow. It spends quite a bit of time covering a lot of the events of the first game and it does drag on for a little bit. But once past this, the story was an absolute joy.
The characters you encounter are mostly all very interesting, and I feel the development was very satisfying. Helping to keep the plot moving at a good pace. The narrative was straight forward and delivered some cool moments that I will definitely remember. It isn’t a masterpiece, but it does the job consistently well.
Last point I have for the story is the side quests. There are quite a lot here and from what I have played so far, they have mostly been quite good. It doesn’t feel like you are doing the exact same thing every time, and the characters again are quite interesting. You may get objectives like hunting down a certain robot or helping other NPCs.
How Well Does Horizon Forbidden West Perform?
Onto performance. And more specifically into any bugs or glitches as I have already given my praises for the game visually. In terms of glitches, I did not encounter anything game breaking from launch. Playing on PS5 I played at 60fps, and I did not experience many frame drops or crashes. But it may not be the same for PS4. Performance was consistent and very good considering the size of the game.
There is one exception here though. In one mission in particular called "Death's Door" the amount of frame drops that I encountered were to a point of unbearable. Where the only way to fix these frame drops was to quit the game. This could be just on my half, I am unsure. But there is a warning in case. Other than this performance has been excellent throughout.
Now onto the verdict. Horizon Forbidden West delivers a truly outstanding next-gen experience that sticks to its roots. With an open world and brutal robots that cannot be ignored. I have had an absolute blast with this game so far. Though you will find a lot of similarities between this game and its originals, the improvements that have been made are very noticeable and effective.
Overall, I am going to give Horizon Forbidden West an 8.5/10. The game has a consistent performance and entertaining gameplay loop that many people will enjoy for hours without stop. A game that is definitely worth a try.