Guerilla Games‘ Horizon Forbidden West raises the bar for fidelity, expansiveness, and detail in Open World Games. We at VeryAliGaming have explored the post-apocalyptic yet beautiful world of Forbidden West and have much to say.
Forbidden West aims to perfect the systems established in Horizon Zero Dawn and introduce a few new ones. This article will review Forbidden West’s Visuals/Performance, Story, Gameplay, and Music/Audio. Moreover, spoilers will be kept to a minimum; however, specific machines may be discussed.
It’s rare in today’s day and age to start from scratch and create a living, breathing, interactable world. That said, Forbidden West’s expert world-building is nothing short of spectacular. In this detailed world, players will have to conquer several autonomous machines, help out settlements and dive deeper into the mystery of the Forbidden West.
Below we’ll review how the combat system has evolved and how players might traverse the Forbidden West. Moreover, we’ll touch on whether or not the various things to do in Forbidden West’s world are worthwhile or just filler content.
Horizon Forbidden West refreshes the combat system while keeping it fluid and continuous like its predecessor. We had a blast throughout the game with no significant signs of repetitive combat or scenarios, even though the core loop was the same.
Forbidden West’s combat system isn’t genre-defining but is incredibly fun to experiment with. Forbidden West introduces new and exciting passive and aggressive machines to go against, such as the massive Tremortusks. Players will also have to combat rebels occupying outposts in various regions.
Towards the middle half of the game, players will get access to several new weapons and equipment. We had the most fun with the freshly introduced Boltblasters though using Elemental Arrows had its pros too.
That said, we felt the combat getting more complex as players were slowly given access to newer weapons and equipment. It can get daunting to strategize and figure out how to handle a fight with so many choices most effectively. Moreover, learning and remembering each moveset may be demanding as more enemies are presented.
Our favorite part about Horizon Forbidden West was exploring the expansive landscape and biomes. Players will be able to find unique settlements, both hostile and friendly, with access to special items and equipment.
Additionally, players can navigate the overgrown landscape via mounts such as the Charger or the Clawstrider. Without diving too much into spoiler territory, we were pleasantly surprised at the mounts available toward the late game.
Players can also access more contemporary equipment besides mounts, such as the Grappler or Glider. These new additions make for creative traversal through the environment, frequently granting the player more than one entry point.
Perhaps our favorite of all traversal options is the ability to swim underwater and explore the vast ocean. Forbidden West perfectly details the underwater sections in broken-down buildings, sea shores, and lakes. Additionally, players may encounter machines suited for sunken living, such as the deadly Snapmaw.
A common theme across Forbidden West is the mass addition of new content across all game areas. Guerilla Games promised to hammer down on things to do and see in the Forbidden West and came through. That said, whether or not the content added is filler or adds to the core gameplay loop is debatable.
We believe most of the content added, whether in sidequests or taking down outposts, machines, and weapons, is worthwhile. Players are inclined to explore the wilderness and interact with points of interest not just because it’s fun but because it may add to their arsenal.
That said, not every area of the Forbidden West is crafted with the same amount of love. For example, we encountered areas with lots to see but little to do regarding sidequests or outposts. However, this is a common theme in video games with extensive map size and isn’t an issue because it’s rare.
Visuals And Performance
Horizon Forbidden West sets a new standard for graphical fidelity, detailed environments, and character models. We were seriously impressed with Forbidden West’s visuals and were wowed every step of the way.
Forbidden West runs amazingly on PlayStation 5 with two graphical modes; however, it also manages to keep its ground on PlayStation 4. Below we’ll go in-depth on what makes the Visuals stand out and how it runs on all systems.
On its own, Horizon Forbidden West is a masterpiece of visual fidelity. However, the result is even more impressive when compared to its predecessor. While Horizon Zero Dawn looked great for its time, there were complaints about character models and fidgety animations. Fortunately, both of those quirks have not only been fixed but significantly improved in Forbidden West.
Guerilla Games also spent a lot of time focusing on the intricate details of the world itself. Consequently, the finer parts of regions and biomes are expanded upon, such as the addition of small crabs around sea shores. This level of detail also extends to characters, resulting in some of the most natural-looking facial animations we’ve ever seen.
Finally, we like to touch on AI systems and how the various elements of the world react to each other. For example, machines will respond not only to the player but also to other humans and machines. It certainly feels like each machine has a mind of its own, even in small or large herds.
On PlayStation 5, Horizon Forbidden West has two graphical modes favoring Fidelity or Performance.
- Fidelity Mode caps the framerate to 30fps and resolution to a maximum of 2160p.
- Performance Mode extends the framerate to 60fps and a maximum resolution of 1800p.
PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 4 Pro cap the framerate to 30fps with a resolution to a maximum of 1800p. Remember that the base PlayStation 4 will only reach a maximum of 1080p resolution.
Framerate is relatively stable on all platforms, although expect minor stuttering in the base PlayStation 4 model. For those on PlayStation 5, we strongly recommend playing on Performance mode, as Forbidden West still looks fantastic with the added framerate.
Horizon Forbidden West takes place relatively quickly after the events of Horizon Zero Dawn. While the narrative in Forbidden West isn’t complex and severely thematic, it gets the job done and will intrigue players. Just don’t go in expecting something similar to The Last Of Us.
It is recommended to watch a Summary of Zero Dawn before starting a playthrough. This way, players catch up on the characters and the world.
Forbidden West expands the world and answers questions previously left alone. Several questions, such as the state of the rest of the world, how to control machines, and the whereabouts of Sylens, are answered here.
Forbidden West comes through in the deliverance of the side quests. While not all side quests will be expertly crafted, most are uniquely designed and add to the main story. We love the lore of Horizon, and side quests are a portal into learning more about the machines, tribes, and state of the world.
Forbidden West’s main storyline has its moments and shines through at times however isn’t genre-defining. Several story beats won’t wow players as they’ve likely seen it all before in other forms of media.
We aren’t huge fans of Forbidden West’s plot’s direction toward the late game. Nearing the end, several plot points feel rushed and incomplete. Similarly, the ending results in more questions being asked than answered. Forbidden West’s story neither feels like a complete beginning nor ending and is stuck in the middle.
Music And Audio
Forbidden West’s main audio themes are exhilarating and futuristic and hype the player up. Similarly, the pieces that play during combat and exploration are fitting and synchronous with the world.
Simply put, there isn’t any anomaly in the musical scores selected for Forbidden West. Players will be more than satisfied with the themes playing in the background, no matter their actions. Our favorite theme out of the bunch was Guardian Of The Deep for its punchy stimulating beat.
We have no complaints regarding the audio design for the world and characters of Forbidden West. The world feels alive with the leaves rustling and machines thumping and roaring in the distance. Voice acting is also excellent; however, there won’t be that many recognizable voices apart from Lance Reddick.
Players might get annoyed at the monotonous character dialogue and tone during specific side quests. However, there will be no audio complaints about the main storyline or most of the side content too.
Horizon Forbidden West is the best-looking game on PlayStation 5 so far, with beautiful environments, fluid animations, and superb attention to detail. Players will have much fun with the combat and exploration systems throughout the 30-hour runtime. We wish the plot was more mature and had more natural pacing.
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