Guerilla Games’ first Horizon game, Zero Dawn, was something of a technical and gameplay marvel upon its release. Guerilla’s Decima engine brought their post-apocalyptic, decayed techno future to life in great detail, with surprising performance on the launch PlayStation 4, and a feast for the eyes on PlayStation 4 Pro, with features like 1080p downsampling, checkerboard 4K rendering, and HDR. But as pretty as the game looked, a game is only as good as its gameplay, and Zero Dawn has it in spades.
The roughly 30-hour campaign takes you on an unforgettable adventure, with fantastic set pieces, extreme combat, and some of the most interesting enemies I’ve ever come across with the many animal-inspired machines that roam the vast lands. Now, all of that robot hunting, material collecting action is returning in the sequel, Horizon: Forbidden West. This next entry in Aloy’s saga was originally in development as a PlayStation 5 exclusive before also including the PlayStation 4, but it is expected to still take advantage of the many improvements and technical advantages the PlayStation 5 has over its younger sibling. With the release date of February 18th right around the corner, we won’t have to wait much longer to discover the wonder hidden in the Forbidden West.
Horizon: Forbidden West, being built with the PlayStation 5 in mind, will take advantage of just about every aspect of Sony’s new hardware. The improved Decima Engine will provide improved lighting, textures, facial animations, and environment detail thanks to the increased processing power, much faster loading with the PS5’s solid-state drive, and enhanced immersion thanks to the DualSense’s haptic feedback triggers. Additionally, Forbidden West will allow players to select between the standard presentation and an optional “performance mode”, which will reduce the game’s resolution (from presumably 4K) with the benefit of the game running at a rock-solid 60 frames per second. The usefulness of this will differ from player to player, but I’ll probably stick with the intended 4K presentation with all of the bells and whistles. Otherwise, what’s the point of playing it on PS5?
In this sequel, Aloy goes on a quest to discover the source and a cure for the Red Blight, a deadly plague that infects everything it touches, threatening the lives of Aloy and her friends as well as the planet at large. On this quest, you will encounter a war-hardened tribe that has found a way to tame the machines for use in battle, brand new adversaries in the form of machines that will hunt you down with greater ferocity than before, and incredible new environs both on land and under the sea with new underwater gameplay. With all of these new threats, Aloy has increased her skillset, gaining new weapons, abilities, and equipment to take on the Forbidden West and all of its danger. Upgrade these new weapons at workbenches scattered throughout the map, and craft new armor that now provides specific skills depending on what you wear.
As the first first-party PlayStation game of 2022, Horizon: Forbidden West has a lot riding on its success. It will surely set the tone for what Sony has in store for the rest of the year, as well as what is possible with the power of PlayStation 5 going forward. Let’s hope the extra dev time was put to good use, I’d hate for Aloy’s new adventure to be forgotten shortly after release in such a busy month.
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