Game review: Horizon Forbidden West (PS5)

Guerrilla Games hit the jackpot when the developer released Horizon Zero Dawn for the PS4 in 2017. The developer’s previous Killzone series was well received, but Horizon Zero Dawn earned the studio numerous GOTY awards.

Horizon Zero Dawn was a perfect game, which is why FutureFive NZ gave it a rare score of 10/10. The game played very well, but the story was the most intriguing thing about it.

But can Guerrilla Games strike it twice with the release of Horizon Forbidden West this year on PS5 and PS4?

Well, if we’re talking about graphics, I’m happy to report that Horizon Forbidden West looks stunning on a PS5 console. You can play the game through two different graphics modes. One is ‘resolution’, where you get full 4K operation at just 30fps. The second option is “performance”, where you can play at 4K resolution, but the game runs smoother at 60fps.

The environments are beautiful, just as beautiful as in the original game. You get the usual biomes such as jungle and desert areas. New to this game, however, is the clear underwater segments and coastal beach areas. If you want to play an authentic next-gen PS5 experience, you need to buy this game ASAP.

As for the game itself, Horizon Forbidden West is set just six months after the original. After Aloy saves Meridian from certain destruction, she must now try to save the entire Earth from a stubborn plague. To do this, she must restore the AI ​​named GAIA to repair the Earth and its resources.

Aloy is not alone in this game as she has a base of operations and a group of friends to help her. That being said, most missions require her to be on her own, although her friends help her with some quests.

The story doesn’t have the same mystery and intrigue as the first game, although you’ll want to play through the 30-hour campaign to find out what happens. There are even hints that a sequel could be released in the future as the fight isn’t completely over.

Gameplay-wise, Horizon Forbidden West plays similar to Horizon Zero Dawn, as Aloy’s primary weapons are a bow and arrow and her spear. You can use the spear to perform melee attacks, while the bow and arrow are useful if you want to exploit the weaknesses of robotic animal enemies.

Many robots have elemental weaknesses, so you can craft ammo like fire, acid, ice, and more arrows to give you an edge in battle. There are also traps you can place on the ground to lure enemies into danger.

Many of the same robots make a return in this game, such as the T-rex-like Thunderjaw, as well as several others from the original. However, new enemies have been added to the mix, such as a mammoth, velociraptors, and even baboons, to name a few.

Even though the controls are mostly the same, Guerrilla Games has increased the difficulty of the game to give all players a tougher challenge. In the first game, I was able to kill enemies easily using the spear, but now you really have to strategize what weapons to use to defeat some robots.

Luckily, the game offers tons of resources that Aloy can discover to help her craft the necessary weapons and ammo she needs to kill robots. The game also features human enemies, although they are relatively easier to kill since they don’t have tough armor like robots.

Combat is not the only thing this game offers as a ton of gameplay is dedicated to exploration. Aloy has new gadgets that allow her to explore the environment more freely. One device is a pullcaster that allows Aloy to grab the hook in higher areas. She can also use it to clean up debris to gain access to vents and other small areas.

My new favorite gadget in the game is the Parachute Shield. If you see yourself climbing a very steep mountain, Aloy can now easily fall to the bottom using the parachute. I remember it was boring going down mountains in the first game without the parachute!

Exploration becomes less tedious and takes less time once you are able to obtain mounts. The first mount Aloy can replace is a bull, and she can use it to move around the countryside like a horse. Towards the end of the game, she can replace a Sunwing, allowing her to easily fly around the map. The latter is above all one of the best novelties of this sequel!

As for the quests, there are around 17 main missions, and it should take most people around 30 hours. If you are playing on a harder difficulty and want to do more side quests, the game can take upwards of 40 hours.

However, I cannot estimate how long it will take you to reach 100% of the game. I finished the main story in 30 hours, and I only finished 35% of the game! The game is quite long if you want to tackle ALL the side missions as they have added a lot more content in this sequel.

While I liked most aspects of Horizon Forbidden West, I don’t think it’s as focused or concise as the original game. There were times when exploration was long and tedious as long distances had to be traveled. I also didn’t enjoy the new underwater sections because it left me with bad memories of the water temple from Ocarina of Time!

Another thing that might upset some people is that this sequel has much longer dialogue scenes. It almost felt like playing a Metal Gear Solid game watching all the conversations going on. Fortunately, some dialogue scenes are optional, although it’s a lot more telling than the first game.

All in all, Horizon Forbidden West is a worthy sequel that fans of the original game should check out. It has one of the nicest graphics on the PS5 and the gameplay is generally enjoyable. It’s not as perfect as the first game, but it’s still great fun to play.

Verdict: 9.5/10

A code was offered to us by PlayStation NZ for review.