Sony and Guerrilla Games finally announced Horizon Forbidden West, the highly anticipated sequel to 2017’s Horizon Zero Dawn. Players will once again be jumping into the shoes of Aloy as she grapples with gigantic mechanical beasts and tries to uncover the secrets of her mysterious world. But with only one trailer under its belt, there’s still a lot we don’t know about the upcoming title for both PS4 and PS5.
We’ve pieced together clues found in the trailer, hints from the previous game, plus the recent State of Play event focused purely on the game, and even speculation from around the web to give you all the information we currently have about Horizon Forbidden West.
Horizon Forbidden West is set to launch on February 18, 2022.
Horizon Forbidden West was announced as a cross-generational game, meaning that it will be available on both the PS4 and PS5. The exclusivity is no surprise considering the developers are completely owned by Sony, but some are hesitant about the game being made for the current and previous generation of hardware. Naturally, we can expect some differences between these versions, but the extent of which remains to be seen. The original Horizon Zero Dawn also came to PC, though many years later. It is possible that the same could be true for this sequel, but if so we wouldn’t expect to even hear about plans to port the game over for several years.
Here’s an in-depth breakdown of the announcement trailer.
Unfortunately, the trailer doesn’t reveal much about the story of Forbidden West. Aloy’s voice can be heard stating that it has been “1,000 years since the Old Ones fell,” but since the entire timeline of the Horizon series is a bit murky, it’s hard to pinpoint exactly when this new title is taking place. Aloy doesn’t look much older than she did in the first installment, so we’ll go out on a limb and say Forbidden West takes place shortly after Zero Dawn.
There also seems to be some strange red plant that’s causing the death of nearby wildlife. Aloy examines the deadly new flora near the body of a dying fox in the trailer. Numerous other animals are infected with this plague, hinting that it could play a big part in the upcoming title.
An official statement on the PlayStation Blog says that this new chapter will continue “Aloy’s story as she moves west to a far-future America to brave a majestic, but dangerous frontier where she’ll face awe-inspiring machines and mysterious new threats.” It’s not much help when determining the story, but it does hint at the game’s new location.
That cryptic blog post isn’t the only thing that hints at a new location — the game’s name practically gives it away. Horizon Forbidden West will likely take place near modern-day San Francisco. A beautiful coastline is featured during the opening moments of the trailer, and we even get a glimpse of what appears to be the ruins of the Golden Gate Bridge. There’s also the usual variety of mountains and plains that have become mandatory in open-world games — it seems that much has changed with San Francisco and its surroundings over the years.
The September issue of PlayStation Official Magazine – U.K. revealed some more specific locations. The game will take place between Utah and the Pacific Ocean, and both San Francisco and the Yosemite Valley are going to be playable locations. The Golden Gate Bridge will indeed make an appearance, even though it’s mostly been submerged.
Game director Mathijs De Jonge said, “With the additional power of the PS5, we can make the world even more detailed, more vibrant, more immersive.”
We anticipate that Horizon Forbidden West will follow the same basic gameplay structure found in the first game, only expanded upon in a few ways we already have seen thanks to the State of Play event. The game is still an open-world, third-person action title with an emphasis on bow-based combat against giant robotic foes. In addition to the main quest, we can also look forward to many more side quests and activities around the world to spice up the experience and add variety, plus unlock new weapons, currency, and loot.
Horizon Forbidden West is heading into uncharted territory with underwater gameplay. One interesting segment displays Aloy sneaking through an aquatic forest before stumbling upon a couple of mechanical alligators, possibly Snapmaws from the original. Considering these beasts were a pain to fight when they were out of water, we can’t imagine how terrifying they’ll be in their natural habitat.
It should come as no surprise, but Aloy will be up against a whole new cast of enemies in this western location. The brief trailer showed a monstrous mechanical turtle, a strange mammoth-like creature, and a bunch of others soaring off in the distance.
There were a few familiar faces as well, such as the aforementioned Snapmaw, but we also laid eyes on a Charger and Scrappers.
Then, there was Sylens. We won’t say much, as we don’t want to spoil the fun for those who haven’t finished the original, but it looks like they’ll be making another appearance — and we’d bet they have a very significant role to play.
Aloy is still rocking the Focus she picked up from the first game, meaning players will likely have access to many of the same abilities they had in Zero Dawn. Expect to see its use expanded in some form — after all, there’s bound to be incredible technology in the ruins of Silicon Valley.
Other than the Focus, Aloy is still sporting a bow and arrow and can still mount Chargers for quick traversal, but she has a few new exciting tools for movement. As if the game didn’t need another comparison point to Breath of the Wild, Aloy also now has a glider to safely descend from high elevations. The most exciting traversal mechanic, at least to us, is the grappling ability where Aloy throws out a rope to a point and is pulled toward it. That’s just the tip of the iceberg for new ways to get around, though.
After seeing the Pullcaster, or grapple, and Shieldwing, the name of the glider, we also have now seen how the two can be used in tandem for Aloy to propel herself into the air and deploy the glider back and forth, somewhat similar to Just Cause 2. Mounting machines will be a returning traversal mechanic, but expanded to include even more types to ride.
While not fully climbable like Breath of the Wild, far more of the environment will be climbable than before. Instead of essentially linear sections Aloy could grab onto, there’s much more freedom in what and where you can climb.
A new combat mechanic Aloy will be able to use is called Valor Surges. These are special attacks that require you to charge up by attacking enemies. There will apparently be 12 types of Valor Surge that can be charged up to three levels, each of which will function differently and be useful for different purposes. Upgrading weapons and armor will also now be possible via a workbench, which also can be used to get new perks and slots for mods.
We also got a glimpse at a few other tools, like a smoke bomb, to help in combat. Many arrow types will still be crafted and used for different purposes, plus the mechanic of breaking weapons off of enemies makes a return.
With no word on any type of multiplayer component being added yet, we have little reason to think it will be added in Horizon Forbidden West. The first game was a strictly solo experience, as are most of Sony’s first-party, big-budget games. That isn’t to say it isn’t possible, and if it were we could only imagine some sort of cooperative experience of fitting the gameplay style, but it doesn’t seem likely. Then again, who suspected that Ghost of Tsushima would not only get a co-op multiplayer mode, but have it actually be a really polished and fun experience? That just proves we won’t know for sure until the game is out and any DLC is laid out.
It’s still too early to know anything for sure, but just based on the first game, there is a decent chance that we’ll get some DLC expansion in Horizon Forbidden West. The first game’s DLC, The Frozen Wilds, added a new region to the map, along with its own questline, side activities, new enemies, and more. If this game were to get DLC later on, this is the most probable direction it would go.
Pre-orders are live via PlayStation and all major retailers.