Horizon Forbidden West review: a PS5 showcase obsessed with ‘more’

I still remember the moment when Horizon Zero Dawn opened up Nora territory, and I took my first steps into the vast wilderness. I sagged as I roamed the red rock plateaus, admiring the terrain’s fidelity to the natural world. All filled with cyborg enemies, which I fought with only bows, arrows, and spears. I’ve played every quest, finished every Hunt; I took the Shield Weaver armor, and collected most of the metal flowers; I played through Frozen Wild expansion. Three years later, I took a trip through Utah and Colorado, to see this part of America for myself.

Forbidden Horizon in the West made a promise about than on all levels. It’s a buffet you can enjoy forever, filled with quests, characters, camps, environments and collectibles – and battles against new death machines. The game’s extensive range of move engines and combat options enrich the time you spend in this beautiful, almost photo-realistic wilderness. But Western Forbidden also stumble upon this “more is better” ethos. Both mechanically and autobiographically, it must endure the weight of sequel ambitions, try too hard to be great, and sometimes lose sight of its powerful storytelling and world-building heart. That said, Aloy is still a character I love, and her world is one that I’d love to spend time in – and one that I plan to explore indefinitely. .

Aloy glides across a misty stretch of forest with her Shieldwing in Horizon Forbidden West

Image: Sony’s Guerrilla Game / Interactive Entertainment via Polygon

Forbidden Horizon in the West, especially on the PlayStation 5, is breathtaking; it’s one of the most impressively realized wild games I’ve ever played. On PS5, you can often walk from the interior into the big world without loading the screen. This gives the player incredible freedom to journey westward, exploring a stunning landscape bursting with huge mountain ranges, vast lakes and crumbling ruins. swallowing membrane. Joshua trees and bush-dotted flat land create an immediate sense of place – and Western Forbidden even allows players to explore the decaying ruins of actual American cities.

These landmarks punctuate Western Forbiddenstories about the climate crisis and the excesses of the ruling class. Although the game ultimately ends with a battle against the ferocious AI Hades, humanity’s victory does not fix the lethal machines that were part of the terrain generation project to save the Earth. The off-kilter system has created unstable weather patterns, degraded arable land and polluted waterways – and Guerrilla Games’ overdeveloped image of the West Coast is a reasonable predictor of climate degradation in our real world.

Aloy swimming towards the player, with cave and kelp behind, in Horizon Forbidden West

Image: Sony’s Guerrilla Game / Interactive Entertainment via Polygon

Aloy’s extensive movement tools, while flawed, greatly aid the player in exploring this world. The developers had clear signs from Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, adding a glider to Aloy’s kit and more props for her to climb. In Western Forbidden, Aloy can scale mountains, peaks of which offer great rewards: stunning views, an altitude advantage against enemies, and the chance to glide through ravines and rolling grasslands same. Swimming is also oddly fun, as you’ve unlocked a tool that allows for infinite breathing underwater. I spent hours watching the swimming machine and discovering the abundance of marine life clinging to the ruined buildings. With Western Forbiddenbetter fast-travel system – can freely move between explored campfires, while going from any where Campfires cost as little as a quick travel package – all of this makes for an enriching discovery experience, whether you’re traveling fast or running from place to place, enjoying the richness of the world around you.

But despite the inventiveness of Aloy’s new migration tools, their uneven execution detracts from some of the fun. Hand hold points are usually unmarked – by default, you pulse your Focus to show them – and not all surfaces are climbable, which can be frustrating. It is especially difficult when navigating enclosed spaces and when the margin of error is small; collapse means repeating the entire foundation sequence. The initial challenges of swimming are often disorienting, with signs that are difficult to see with the eye. The grappling hook has a lot of potential, but it’s primarily used to dislodge vent caps and often requires the player to time the jump perfectly. In a game obsessed with the joy of exploration, it hurts even more to adhere to single-track solutions of environmental puzzles.

Aloy faces a large King Cobra machine, from within an arena, in Horizon Forbidden West

Image: Sony’s Guerrilla Game / Interactive Entertainment

Once freed from the confines of caves and laboratories, Western Forbidden thrive – especially when Aloy flexes his skills as a hunter. The new machines are terrifying and deadly, and one to fight or override: There are boars and giant rattlesnakes, as well as terrifying mammoths and Triceratops– beautiful robot. As in Zero Dawn, their removal requires scanning for weaknesses and removing critical components. In keeping with its extensive navigation tools, Western Forbidden Also introduces new weapons and traps. Gathering an arsenal of sharp bows and arrows gave me more freedom to develop a sniping strategy around tearing apart boxes, then taking out monsters with acid, flame, or frost. The game also largely eliminates memorized battles between humans and their enemies Zero Dawn. A rebel faction has learned to override the machines, and fighting humans in the rear of the Chargers requires a complete rethink of stealth strategies.

However, the game doesn’t do a good job of teaching takedown tactics. Zero Dawn instructs players to use Thunderjaw’s disc launcher to combat it, while Western Forbidden prompts players to shoot elemental arrows and try traps without presenting a more cohesive battle strategy to larger, more fearsome enemies. This could make such machines, like the mammoths mentioned above, find it difficult to skyrocket.

Western ForbiddenMy struggle to teach the finer points of combat may just be because there are great number of fighting way. Players who aren’t too keen on stealth now have more options – extended melee combos, for example, make spears much more viable. There are six perks trees, with loads of unlockable skills (fortunately, some of Aloy’s best skills from Zero Dawnsame as Silent Strike, default is Western Forbidden). But it can all feel like a cataclysm. These skill trees are very detailed and even include a new special attack called Valor Surge. This is in keeping with the growing abundance of additional options, from bows and arrows to armor, cooked meals to the game’s new crafting boards.

Aloy with his bow drawn, aiming at a Tenakth warrior riding Charger, in Horizon Forbidden West

Image: Sony’s Guerrilla Game / Interactive Entertainment

This is all to say Western Forbidden gives players a lot to play with – and it’s easy to lose sight of the bigger picture, even as the story continues to raise the bar on Earth’s predicament. However, that is not what I focus on. Western Forbidden told me that Aloy has limited time to save the planet from starvation. But I was too busy hunting for wild machines, and wasted an hour shooting about 20 lizards for their “wild meat” to upgrade my vibrator. I took the time to change an overworked chef’s favorite grill and send a flower to a “forbidden” lover. I did pit pit melee challenges, ran errands, fought through cauldrons, and picked insurgent outposts. I became deeply involved in the concerns of my fellow human beings and had companions that changed my perception of this beautiful world. My attachment to these comrades has led me to other settlements, rife with specific concerns such as labor disputes and simple personal views, along with the threat of machines. hook is always present.

Western Forbidden achieve success as Aloy engages with settlements and tribal communities, and invests in her companion characters. These weren’t the story missions I had to play during Aloy’s journey – but they were the ones I chose anyway. Companions aren’t very helpful in a fight, but that doesn’t make me love them one bit. They are very important in a game where you as a hero must assist world. These relationships convey a world worth saving, far more than the main plot actually does.

Intrigue to access the Utaru archway, made from braided plant material, in Horizon Forbidden West

Image: Sony’s Guerrilla Game / Interactive Entertainment

At the same time, Western Forbidden continuing the series depicting post-racial society, while at the same time borrowing aesthetics from different cultures – Zero Dawn receive fair criticism for appropriating indigenous cultures in its tribal designs, as well as for using the term “Braves”. (In Zero Dawn, you know that the Apollo AI function, which contains records of human history, has been destroyed. This ostensibly allows the world to start fresh, without today’s racism.) While the racial diversity of the Horizon games is like progress on the AAA game scene in general. rather, it contradicts the way race, ethnicity and culture are borrowed here without being discussed, or even acknowledged. I could have missed the audio log or the log entry explaining these issues, but that reinforces the idea that they’re not the core of the story.

In the end, here’s Aloy’s story: She continues to be a stubborn protagonist, and I say it admiringly. In Western Forbidden, she knows nothing – but she also learns valuable lessons about accepting help and about acknowledging the pain that comes from growing up as an outcast. She goes polishing for the people she cares about. Western Forbidden based on the contrast between her beliefs and those of Dr. Elisabet Sobeck, the creator of the Zero Dawn project that moved the entire series, and the character Aloy was cloned from. As Sobeck takes the destruction of humanity as a presumption, and works to restore the Earth, Aloy fights for the survival of people alive today. Even as the story has twists and additional characters that alter the range of threats she’s up against, her unwavering resolve remains. To play her – in such a beautiful and crowded world – is a journey I won’t be leaving anytime soon.

Forbidden Horizon in the West will be released on February 18th on PlayStation 5 and PlayStation 4. The game has been evaluated on PS5 using a download code provided by Sony Interactive Entertainment. Vox Media has an affiliate partnership. These do not affect editorial content, although Vox Media may earn commissions for products purchased through affiliate links. You can find Additional information on Polygon’s ethics policy can be found here.

https://www.polygon.com/reviews/22929940/horizon-forbidden-west-review-ps5-ps4 Horizon Forbidden West review: a PS5 showcase obsessed with ‘more’

Aila Slisco

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