Horizon Forbidden West is the next major PlayStation first-party title. Releasing on February 18, 2022, Forbidden West continues the story of Aloy into vast new environments and encounters.
Travel through the Forbidden West
In the latest developer blog from Guerrilla Games, Community Lead Bo De Vries provides more insight into the options players will have for traversing the gorgeous landscape. First, if you missed the prior gameplay trailer, here it is along with some of the details in design from David McMullen, Lead Systems Designer at Guerrilla.
In the gameplay trailer, you’ll have seen Aloy using a variety of new tools in the Forbidden West. “Building upon the foundation of Horizon Zero Dawn, we have added a number of new ways to move through the world,” says David McMullen, Lead Systems Designer at Guerrilla. “Aloy can climb freely on and across huge sections of rocky terrain; even more machine types can be used as mounts; grapple points can be found throughout the environment which allows agile vertical traversal; swimming underwater has opened up a whole new aspect of exploration; and gliding with the Shieldwing provides the ultimate view of the beautiful world of Horizon Forbidden West – not to mention a quick way down from great heights!”
“Our traversal design decisions were always in service of increasing dynamic interactivity with the world around you. This could be to empower the player to manipulate and destroy their environment with a tool like the Pullcaster; or grapple-launching into a glide with the Shieldwing to set yourself up for a strike from above. What excites us most is how our mechanics, new and old, synergistically interact with each other to provide varied and dynamic approaches to any scenario.’
‘This wide array of new options also posed challenges to how we think about level design. We need to allow for players to outsmart us, using new moves or tools to bypass some of our challenges in clever and unpredictable ways. Traversal puzzles won’t always have a binary solution; we encourage players to experiment and have fun with the new tools. We will offer a variety of challenges, regardless of playstyle or skill or previous experience in Horizon Zero Dawn.”
Our Horizon community loves discovering new areas and climbing up high vantage points; to this day they share lots of images, videos, and memories of their adventures in-game! This level of immersive exploration was naturally something the team at Guerrilla took to heart during development of the sequel, David mentions.
“The free climbing system in Horizon Forbidden West is a huge feature we are extremely excited about, as it has allowed us to make large sections of the terrain climbable (where it makes sense visually and narratively) in a way not previously possible in Horizon Zero Dawn. Rocky surfaces in these areas are freely climbable without the use of tribal handholds!’
‘Another addition was the high vault traversal mechanic, which essentially allows Aloy to hoist herself on top of any object of jumpable height with room to pull up. Combined with the ability to free climb and adding grapples to our environment, the potential for exploration is greatly increased.”
“The Pullcaster is a mechanical wrist-mounted device with two separate functions,” David explains. “The first function is a grapple mechanic, allowing the player to swiftly and easily ascend the environment and providing a dynamic traversal/escape option to the player toolkit. When grappling, the player can activate the launch — throwing them into the air, where they can grab a higher ledge, fire their bow, glide, strike-from-above or even grapple to a further point.’
‘The second function of the Pullcaster is a winch, meaning the player can dynamically manipulate, move and destroy the objects in the environments. Think about pulling a hidden loot chest from a ledge, or tearing open a vent to create a new climb path.”
“The Shieldwing was always a team favorite, it provides not only the most exhilarating way to return from an epic climb but also the most picturesque! This tool is invaluable with having so much more verticality, where backtracking down the same trail holds less of an appeal as on the way up.’
New Weapons and Tools
And it’s not just Aloy who’s evolved since Horizon Zero Dawn. The Forbidden West is a majestic yet dangerous frontier with many mysterious threats that Aloy might encounter. This creates an additional goal for Dennis and the teams to make sure she has the right weapons and tools available to handle these battles.
“We wanted to bring melee and ranged combat closer together,” says Dennis. “Aloy is not a character who deals with brute force, so we were looking for ways to have the player go back and forth between melee and range, where she could use her precise bow skills to work towards a big payoff moment. A new example of a skill that does this is the Resonator Blast, where you charge up the spear with melee hits and when fully powered up, the energy can be placed on enemies (humans and machines alike) and followed up with a projectile – resulting in a big damaging explosion!’
‘Then there is the Valor Surge feature; there are 12 in total, with each of them representing and strengthening a specific approach to the game. You unlock and upgrade them through the skill tree with skill points. There are three levels of each Valor Surge: the higher the level, the longer the charge up, but the more powerful the attack.’
“This level is shown on the purple bar you could see during the gameplay trailer: you’ll receive more Valor – or charge up that bar – through skillful actions such as hitting weak spots on enemies or removing components. In the video you could see Aloy perform the Radial Blast on the burly Tenakth warrior. ’
Horizon Forbidden West is one of our most anticipated games of 2022 so expect plenty more coverage in the coming months. For now, let us know what you think about all of the new details shared by PlayStation today!