We've explored the wild west in video games before, but never quite like this. Guerrilla Games' follow-up to Horizon Zero Dawn, its hit PS4 exclusive of 2017, is set to lead Aloy away from the verdant forests and craggy badlands of post-apocalyptic Colorado, on an epic journey that spans Nevada, Utah, and the Golden State itself, California.
That means you can expect a bigger, more diverse, and – yes – even prettier open world to explore in Horizon Forbidden West, one that will utilise the next-gen features of the PS5 while also being playable on its predecessor – ensuring that every Horizon fan will get to experience this much anticipated sequel when it launches later this year.
Zero to hero
Game Horizon Forbidden West
Developer Guerrilla Games
Platforms PS5, PS4
Forbidden West's announcement at PlayStation's PS5 showcase last year will have come as no surprise to those familiar with Guerrilla's first new IP since the original Killzone. Horizon Zero Dawn's breathtaking world, compelling characters, and unique action-RPG combat has already established Aloy as a PlayStation icon for the next-generation, while also proving the Dutch studio's talent beyond the realms of the first-person shooter. In short, a sequel was all but inevitable.
"We're so excited to spend more time in this world, expanding its lore and continuing Aloy's journey," a Guerrilla spokesperson told GamesRadar, after we went looking for new information. "There are so many gameplay and storytelling possibilities in this universe and we can't wait to explore them further in Horizon Forbidden West."
Guerrilla is remaining cryptic about the nature of those storytelling possibilities for now, but we do know that Aloy is on a journey to save her civilization once again, after discovering a mysterious plague that appears to be corrupting both the natural world and the mechanised dinosaurs that roam, swim, and fly across it. Lance Reddick's enigmatic Sylens is back, likely to play a more antagonistic role this time around, while we can also expect an expanded bestiary of zoomorphic machines to tame and conquer. If you thought taking down the Thunderjaw was a challenge, wait till you set your sights upon the elephantine Tremortusk, or the swamp-dwelling Shellsnapper. Guerrilla teases that each new foe will offer their own unique test on Aloy's abilities as a hunter.
"Part of what made the machine combat in Horizon Zero Dawn so satisfying was the puzzle-solving element in each encounter. What is this machine's attack pattern? What are its weaknesses? Which strategies are most successful? There was the harsh reality of stumbling upon machines that you weren't quite ready to take on. Our reveal trailer showed players they can look forward to things they've never seen before, but we'd like to leave it at that for now and preserve as much of that satisfaction for players to discover for themselves."
Combat isn't the only area of Horizon Forbidden West where Guerrilla is expanding and enriching the foundation it set with Zero Dawn. As seen in the reveal trailer, Aloy now possesses an underwater breathing apparatus, which allows her to descend into Earth's lakes and oceans, uncovering new treasures, revelations, and threats beneath.
The Nora Brave will wield a greater command of her environment in general, it seems, as we spot her riding more machines, summiting greater heights, and spelunking ever deeper amongst the ruins and bunkers of a lost society. Could we perhaps eventually unlock the ability to take to the skies atop one of the pterodactyl-like Sunwings? It would certainly make for a great way of getting around.
Guerrilla stops short of revealing anything more about its next iteration of future Earth, but promises "a dangerous, mysterious place, filled with new challenges and discoveries". Can we blame the studio for being so cryptic? Half the joy of Horizon Zero Dawn was in discovering its best kept secrets, after all. Aloy is just as curious as we are when it comes to unlocking the mysteries of her homeland, too not long now before we can embark on the odyssey together.
Big in 2021 is GamesRadar's month-long celebration of the new year. Every day, we will be exploring the most anticipated games on the near horizon with brand new previews and exclusive developer interviews.