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Horizon Forbidden West release date, PS5 exclusivity, new gameplay trailer, and everything we know so far

Guerrilla Games' Horizon Forbidden West, and a new gameplay trailer has shown us just why it's top of our list of upcoming PS5 games for 2021. Hero Aloy has learned a lot since we last saw her in Horizon Zero Dawn, and it looks like she's going to need all those skills and gear because she's up against some new and epic enemies. 

If the landscape looks a little different in the sequel, that's because Aloy is now exploring a sunnier new territory, which includes the remains of San Francisco. Her new toys match the environment, a Pullcaster for climbing, a Shieldwing that works like a Mary Poppins umbrella to make leaping from great heights a viable option, and a diving mask. You can see them all in action above. 

"The game also features a big new selection of deadly machines," promises Ben McCaw, narrative director at Guerrilla Games.

"Sunwings in the sky, Clawstriders and Tremortusks on land, Snapmaws and the smaller (yet not to be underestimated) Burrowers in the water. That’s only the beginning, as many more will be revealed throughout the massive open world of Horizon Forbidden West. You’ll have to be smart and creative to take them all down."

Horizon Forbidden West will be released later this year on PS5 and PS4, but for now, here's everything we know. 

Horizon Forbidden West release date

Horizon Forbidden West

(Image credit: Sony)

The Horizon Forbidden West release date is scheduled for 2021, and that's all we know for now. Guerilla revealed the broad release window in a follow-up dev diary, but we don't have a day or even a month to plan for just yet. A recent advert suggested that Horizon Forbidden West is still targeting a “late 2021” release date, so expect to be reunited with Aloy towards the end of the year. 

Interestingly, Sony and Guerrilla have now confirmed that Horizon Forbidden West will arrive on PS4 and PS5 when it eventually launches in 2021. 

Horizon Forbidden West is a PS5 exclusive (and also coming to PS4)

(Image credit: Sony)

At least for now, if you want to play Horizon Forbidden West when it's released, you'll need a PS5 - or a PS4. Though it's worth noting that its predecessor, Horizon Zero Dawn, is now out on PC, but there are no guarantees Horizon Forbidden West will follow the same path. 

"To maybe put a few minds at ease, releasing one first-party AAA title to PC doesn’t necessarily mean that every game now will come to PC," Herman Hulst, Head of PlayStation Worldwide Studios, said at the time. "In my mind, Horizon Zero Dawn was just a great fit in this particular instance. We don’t have plans for day and date [PC releases], and we remain 100% committed to dedicated hardware."

"With the PS5's SSD, there will be virtually no loading screens," game director Mathijs de Jonge said in a recent dev diary, echoing sentiments from system architect Mark Cerny as well as several other PS5 developers. "In an open-world game like Horizon Forbidden West, if you open up the map and fast travel from one end to the other, or restart from a checkpoint, it will be super fast. When you boot up the game, you're right there in the action." 

Horizon Forbidden West story

In a post on the PlayStation Blog, Guerrilla shared a teasingly vague synopsis for Horizon Forbidden West.

"Horizon Forbidden West continues 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."

But the trailer tells us a little more. The landmarks clearly show a post-apocalyptic San Francisco, with a Golden Gate Bridge that's been overtaken by greenery, and the Palace of Fine Arts ruined and underwater. We can also see that Sylens still has a role to play, and Aloy will meet other tribes as she explores this new world. 

In a separate video, game director Mathijs de Jonge confirmed that the Forbidden West itself stretches from Utah to the Pacific coast, making for an in-game map that's "a bit bigger" than the ranges of Horizon Zero Dawn. 

Aloy heads to the Forbidden West to uncover the cause of a strange crimson blight which is killing off plants, animals, and tribes, not to mention turning the local weather into a non-stop superstorm. She'll meet new tribes - including a hostile tribe capable of overriding machines - and face "dozens" of new machines as she searches for a way to cure the blight.   

The latest video, at the top of this page, shows us the Tenakth tribe, who use the local wildlife like weapons, and some new creatures to battle. 

"Aloy will have new tools to help her on her way, explains Ben McCaw, narrative director at Guerrilla Games on the PlayStation Blog. 

"The Pullcaster speeds up climbing, getting her quickly out of trouble; the Shieldwing allows her to safely descend from great heights (or surprise enemies from above); and with the Diving Mask, a whole new underwater world is open for exploration. Not to mention big upgrades to her Focus, which now shows areas that allow free-climbing and gives her the ability to override more machines for mounts or combat."

Horizon Forbidden West gameplay

(Image credit: Guerrilla Games)

Aloy still has her trusty spear and bow - with various arrow types - to take on her new foes, but she also has some other new toys to play with. 

"Aloy will have new tools to help her on her way, explains Ben McCaw, narrative director at Guerrilla Games on the PlayStation Blog. 

"The Pullcaster speeds up climbing, getting her quickly out of trouble; the Shieldwing allows her to safely descend from great heights (or surprise enemies from above); and with the Diving Mask, a whole new underwater world is open for exploration. Not to mention big upgrades to her Focus, which now shows areas that allow free-climbing and gives her the ability to override more machines for mounts or combat."

McCaw also highlighted that the huge selection of weapons and gear will give players  "tactics and choice" when it comes to dealing with the challenges of this new world. 

Horizon Forbidden West soundtrack

See more

Guerilla and Sony have released the first track from Horizon Forbidden West soundtrack on various streaming services - the one featured in the first trailer for the game. Prominent Dutch video game composer Joris de Man wrote the score, titled Promise of the West, and it's a dynamic mix of sounds that swells into a thumping, epic conclusion.

Still want more? Here are the other upcoming PS5 games to start getting excited about. 

I'm the benevolent Queen of the US, or - as they insist I call it - US Managing Editor. I write news, features and reviews, and look after a crack team of writers who all insist on calling trousers "pants" and don't think the phrase fanny pack is problematic.