Horizon Forbidden West is the latest AAA game to realize players aren't idiots who immediately need puzzles explained to them

Horizon Forbidden West Burning Shores Aloy
(Image credit: Guerrilla Games)

Horizon Forbidden West: Burning Shores players were quick to notice that Aloy is much less talkative during the DLC's puzzle sections, and they were equally quick to celebrate because constant puzzle spoilers were really annoying in the main game.

This is partly a consequence of there being fewer puzzles in Burning Shores, although this change isn't called out in the DLC patch notes. But it does appear that, like fellow PlayStation Studios hit God of War: Ragnarok before it, Horizon Forbidden West has deliberately given players more time to, you know, solve puzzles on their own. 

Reddit user Petran1420 says it best: "Honestly, there were a few times it took me like 45 seconds or so to figure out how to progress in a platforming area or building with electrical issues, and only after I finished did I realize, 'Hey, Aloy didn't immediately tell me what to do, that was pretty nice.'" 

"I noticed this too," adds Animator_K7. "I got stuck with one of the steps in the Gildun quest. But that's ok, I figured it out eventually. I appreciated the change."

Indeed, how nice it is to not have a game ask a question in the form of a puzzle, only to cut you off the very second you begin to answer that question. How refreshing to have your intelligence and agency as a player respected, and to have the opportunity to engage with puzzles in a meaningful and satisfying way. Bitter, me? 

horizon burning shores dlc

(Image credit: Sony)

Look, I fundamentally like puzzle hints. If I've been staring at a cave wall for 15 minutes without making any progress, I've got no problem if a character shares an indirect suggestion. Life is too short, you know? This kind of assistance can smooth over a potentially frustrating bump in the road, and it can be a huge accessibility boon for players who may struggle with puzzles for one reason or another (timing, visibility, etc). I think puzzle hints are at their best when they're treated like a setting – something you can adjust or simply enable as needed. A comment from Redditor Pheoenix_Wolf helpfully demonstrates this:

"For me, I didn't really like the change. Take into consideration that I am going blind and have trouble seeing things if they are high up in the air or in a dark corner. Those hints that might have been annoying to you were the reason I got to play the game independently without help from my sibling." 

That being said, every cell in my body rejects the worryingly prominent notion – especially among broad-strokes action-adventure games – that puzzles should just be explained from the outset. God of War: Ragnarok and Horizon Forbidden West are not the first offenders here, but they may be the worst and most prominent AAA offenders from the past year. I swear, sometimes the characters in these games spoil environmental puzzles before you can feasibly identify all the pieces. I like puzzles, video game, and I want to enjoy your puzzles. Please let me. 

It turns out Ragnarok's egregious puzzle spoilers were a total oversight that wasn't flagged until after launch

Austin Wood

Austin freelanced for the likes of PC Gamer, Eurogamer, IGN, Sports Illustrated, and more while finishing his journalism degree, and he's been with GamesRadar+ since 2019. They've yet to realize that his position as a senior writer is just a cover up for his career-spanning Destiny column, and he's kept the ruse going with a focus on news and the occasional feature, all while playing as many roguelikes as possible.