Horizon Forbidden West is the long-awaited sequel to Horizon Zero Dawn, and it looks phenomenal. Debuted at the PS5 Future of Gaming event on June 12, it proved developer Guerrilla is making the most of the PS5 specs to create an impeccably detailed world, and hinted at the new locations Aloy will get to explore.
Horizon Forbidden West release date
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.
Horizon Zero Dawn was released on 28 February 2017, three years and change after the PlayStation 4, but it's unlikely we'll see the same gap for the sequel. As one of PlayStation's flagship exclusives, we can't imagine it will lag too far behind the PS5's Holiday 2020 launch.
Horizon Forbidden West is a PS5 exclusive
At least for now, if you want to play Horizon Forbidden West when it's released, you'll need a PS5. Though it's worth noting that its predecessor, Horizon Zero Dawn, is getting a PC release this year.
"Yes, I can confirm that Horizon Zero Dawn is coming to PC this summer", PlayStation Worldwide Studio head Herman Hulst wrote on the PlayStation Blog. "There will be more information coming from Guerrilla, from the new studio directors [Michiel van der Leeuw, JB van Beek, and Angie Smets] pretty soon."
But that's a long wait for PC players, and 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," Hulst continued. "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.
Horizon Forbidden West gameplay
We may only have one Horizon Forbidden West trailer to go on, but there's a lot we can unpack. Firstly, we can see that Aloy still has her Focus - her little Bluetooth earpiece - to help her scan the world around her. We also see her riding a Charger, so she's either managed to make a new spear to let her override them, or learned some new techniques to achieve the same end.
There was a heavy focus on underwater exploration in the trailer too, which means one thing... robot sharks. Other new machines include Shellsnappers, Sunwings, and Tremortusks, respectively based on tortoises, pterodactyls, and mammoths.
Horizon Forbidden West soundtrack
The theme song from the #HorizonForbiddenWest announce trailer is called "Promise of the West" and–in collaboration with @SonySoundtracks–is now available on major streaming platforms!▶🎶 https://t.co/EJ2a4xjbuQ#HorizonForbiddenWest #BeyondTheHorizon pic.twitter.com/Ntq8sU70vdJuly 10, 2020
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.