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5 things we learned about Horizon Forbidden West gameplay from State of Play

Horizon Forbidden West
(Image credit: SIE)

Aloy is looking out on a wondrous new horizon in Horizon Forbidden West. In the Sony State of Play presentation, we were given our first look at Horizon Forbidden West PS5 gameplay as she steps into the ruins of San Francisco and fights for survival against the most dangerous mechanical threats the West Coast has to offer. It was a stunning reveal, showcasing developer Guerrilla Games' enduring capacity to push technical and artist boundaries. 

If you're looking for a release date, you won't find one, as Horizon Forbidden West wasn't dated for PS5 or PS4. However, we were able to get a better sense of the dangerous new frontier, the high stakes of the adventure (set six months beyond the conclusion to Horizon Zero Dawn), and some of the new tools Aloy has brought along for the ride as she faces off against deadly new machines and the brutal rebel faction of the Tenakth tribe. Here are the five biggest Horizon Zero Dawn gameplay details you may have missed from the State of Play video. 


1. Wider World

Horizon Forbidden West

(Image credit: Guerrilla Games)

Guerrilla Games is expanding the exploration opportunities in Horizon Forbidden West. While we have only seen a small slice of the open world, which Guerrilla promises will be massive, we were able to see the depth the studio is bringing to the PS5 sequel. The landscape and architecture of San Francisco is world's apart from the Colorado setting of Horizon Zero Dawn, and Aloy has a number of new tools to help her traverse this new space. An upgrade to the Focus ability is undoubtedly the most impactful, giving Aloy the ability to spot free-climbing areas all throughout the environment – a massive change to traversal, given that she was previously limited to climbing specific markers on the map in Horizon Zero Dawn. Free-climbing can also be used in tandem with the Pullcaster, a grappling hook that makes quick work of big distances, and the Shieldwing, a glider that gives Aloy more tactical command of vertical spaces.  

2. More opportunity

Horizon Forbidden West

(Image credit: Guerrilla Games)

One of the most impressive moments of the Horizon Forbidden West presentation came as Aloy put her new traversal tools and abilities to good use, ascending the ruins of an old church to escape a pack of aggressive Clawstriders. Eventually, she's forced to make a leap of faith, diving from atop a pillar and into the waters below, a seamless transition, and stunning contrast of environments – a world warped by nature above the surface, and one made more beautiful by it below. Aloy now comes equipped with a Diving Mask, allowing her to breathe underwater indefinitely to tactically reposition, explore the depths of San Francisco, and check out the Snapmaw and Burrower machines in their natural habitat. It's truly stunning and opens up the imagination to the possibilities of Horizon Forbidden West's world. 

3. Tactical combat

Horizon Forbidden West

(Image credit: Sony)

Back on dry land, Aloy will face some tremendous threats. From human enemies like the Raiders, who have now acquired the ability to override machines, to the mechanical dinosaurs themselves, including new threats like the behemoth Tremortusks and airborne Sunwings. To deal with these problems, Aloy has made a number of upgrades to her equipment in the six months between Zero Dawn and Forbidden West; the bow, spear, and slingshot return but with more utility and viability. Watch closely and you'll see the spear wielded more evocatively than before as Aloy demonstrates new combos, stackable attacks, and a powerful new Surge attack which can quickly dispatch tougher enemies. There's a wide variety of arrows in her quiver too, with specials helping to strip away armor, expose weak points, obscure vision, and blow holes in defenses with arrows that detonate upon impact. 

4. More control

Horizon Forbidden West

(Image credit: SIE)

It wasn't shown in the presentation, but Guerrilla did mention that weapons can be upgraded at a workbench. This is where we'll likely see the studio pushing for more player agency through Horizon Forbidden West, giving us the space to establish stronger playstyles and freedom to experiment. You can get hints of this in the demo, with Aloy firing adhesive grenades to gunk up the cogs and gears of approaching machines or dishing out powerful stealth takedowns by sticking to the shadow. And if all else fails, the improved override ability will let Aloy take control of larger and more aggressive machines than in the original game – to be used as both mounts or ways to imbue combat with more tactical variation and viability. 

5. Stunning detail

Horizon Forbidden West

(Image credit: SIE)

Horizon Forbidden West looks truly incredible. Perhaps it's redundant to point out when it comes to anything bearing the Guerrilla Games stamp of approval, but it's easy to be taken a little aback by the presentation. It's bright and evocative, the HDR bloom brings a lucid quality to every pop of primary coloring. It's when you look beyond the vivid visuals that you start to get a real sense of how impressive Horizon Forbidden West could be for PS5. The lines in the sand that are drawn as laserbeams snake toward Aloy, the fluidity in animation as she bounds around the lumbering strikes of the Tremortusk, and the way her hair moves so naturally underwater – it's all wildly impressive. But that's what Horizon Forbidden West is after this first showing: wildly impressive, an open world experience that will set the benchmark for fidelity on PS5 as we begin to look beyond the launch window. 


E3 2021 is right around the corner and we're expecting plenty of announcements from the biggest game makers in the world. For more information on the all-digital event, check out our E3 2021 schedule.

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