Horizon Forbidden West, the highly-anticipated sequel to 2017 PlayStation hit Horizon Zero Dawn is set to be one of the first big releases of 2022, kicking off a massive year for video games. With a bigger world, greater exploration and plenty of fresh faces, the sequel will send players on a wild journey back into the post-apocalypse as protagonist Aloy searches for the truth of her world.
Here’s everything we know about the game so far.
Horizon Forbidden West: Release Date
Horizon Forbidden West is set to launch for PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5 on 18 February 2022.
Will Horizon Forbidden West release on PC?
Horizon Forbidden West does not currently have a release date on PC.
While PlayStation Studios is continuing to release its back catalog games on PC, including the first Horizon game, these titles have enjoyed a two or three-year PlayStation-only exclusivity window.
Currently, Horizon Forbidden West will only release on PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5 — although this may change down the line.
Horizon Forbidden West: Story
Horizon Forbidden West will continue Aloy’s long journey for answers that started in Horizon Zero Dawn. Here, she’ll be exploring wild new lands and attempting to survive as a strange plague ravages her world.
Along the way, she’ll meet new tribes and more deadly machines, but also journey through more beautiful terrains. While Zero Dawn focussed on jungle forests, Forbidden West will send Aloy through sandy beaches, diverse oceans, snowy mountain territories and even vast, unforgiving deserts.
She’ll have to fight through them all as the machines advance and attempt to claim power.
Here’s the official description, per PlayStation:
“The land is dying. Vicious storms and an unstoppable blight ravage the scattered remnants of humanity, while fearsome new machines prowl their borders. Life on Earth is hurtling towards another extinction, and no one knows why.”
“It’s up to Aloy to uncover the secrets behind these threats and restore order and balance to the world. Along the way, she must reunite with old friends, forge alliances with warring new factions and unravel the legacy of the ancient past – all the while trying to stay one step ahead of a seemingly undefeatable new enemy.”
There’ll be plenty of new monsters in Forbidden West
As with most sequels, Forbidden West will seek to ‘one up’ its predecessor with a range of new monsters to overcome. In addition to returning terrors like the Snapmaws and Chargers which populated the world of Zero Dawn, Aloy will also have to contend with new machines based on turtles, velociraptors and pterodactyls in this sequel.
Clawstriders are new velociraptor beasts with sharp claws and acute senses. They’ll prey on Aloy in open spaces, and require her to use stealth to escape.
Then, there’s the pterodactyl Sunwings that’ll swoop from the sky, warthog beasts called Bristlebacks, and even larger, mammoth-like creatures called Tremortusks.
Each has unique exploits, and you’ll need to learn them all to help Aloy through one of her toughest adventures yet.
In addition to new land creatures, there’ll also be many more water-based machines, which can reportedly ‘chase’ Aloy over great distances.
NPCs will have ‘attitude’ and ‘culture’
As Aloy travels through the world of Forbidden West, she’ll encounter a number of NPCs from unique tribes and cultures. Each will offer special interactions based on a new AI system which will determine their ‘attitude.’
Read: Horizon Forbidden West characters will have unique ‘attitudes’
Some tribes will be hostile to Aloy due to her Nora heritage, while others will welcome her with open arms.
Everything from dialogue interactions to walking cycles will be determined by the game’s new system, injecting every character in the game’s open world with a sense of personality.
Horizon Forbidden West: Gameplay
Horizon Forbidden West, like Zero Dawn before it, is a third-person action RPG which combines stealth and heavy-hitting combat in a wide, open world. That said, there are some changes this go around.
While Aloy can still use the regular tools of her arsenal (a giant bow, trick ropes and electricity grenades) in her quest to conquer the machines, she’s also getting new tools for exploration and combat this go around.
The most intriguing of these is the Pullcaster, which functions as a high-speed grappling hook. This should help Aloy traverse great distances, and also help players see more of the game’s stunning lands. Early trailers have already shown off gorgeous vistas.
Also new this time is the Diving Mask, a special piece of equipment that’ll let you explore deeper into the game’s waters and discover secrets beneath the ocean. The only caveat here is the ocean is now filled with deadlier creatures than on land, so you’ll need to plan your dives perfectly.
In addition to all this, you’ll also have access to a Breath of the Wild-style glider, called the Shieldwing, which will help you descend great cliffs as gracefully as possible.
These additions, coupled with tweaks to Aloy’s focus abilities (which are stronger in Forbidden West) should make exploration and combat a real treat, and build on the excellent, fluid mechanics found in the original game.
Do you need to play Horizon Zero Dawn before Forbidden West?
Horizon Forbidden West continues the story laid out in Horizon Zero Dawn, so it’s strongly recommended you play the original game first. That said, if you want to skip it entirely you’ll just need to do a spot of light reading on the first game’s plot.
[SPOILERS FOR HORIZON ZERO DAWN BELOW]
It was in Zero Dawn that audiences were first introduced to protagonist Aloy, and where they learned the history of the Horizon world. As the game explains, the mysterious machines that wander its post-apocalyptic world were created when peacekeeping robots malfunctioned 1,000 years before Aloy was born.
The robots self-replicated and spread across Earth as their programming went haywire, and they eventually poisoned the land and drove humans to the brink of extinction. With few humans left on Earth, nature thrived once again — at the expense of Earth becoming near-inhospitable.
But hope for the humans eventually arrived in the form of Aloy.
In Zero Dawn, it was revealed that Aloy is actually a clone of Dr Sobeck, a scientist who formulated a plan to finally destroy the robots and restore peace to the Earth. As Aloy discovered, it was her destiny to uncover the mystery of the machines, and initiate an AI protocol that would help life on Earth blossom once again.
Horizon Forbidden West continues this journey for peace as Aloy sets out to chart a new frontier and battles against a mysterious plague.
Having said all that, Zero Dawn is a fantastic game, and well worth experiencing for yourself.
We’ll find out more about Horizon Forbidden West when it launches for PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5 on 18 February 2022.