Horizon Forbidden West review: Aloy returns to save the world from a new threat

Horizon Forbidden West is the sequel to one of the best Playstation 4 titles. Guerrilla has once again shown that it knows how to tell a story and surprises us with new mechanics and a much more ambitious universe on Playstation 4 and Playstation 5

A new journey through a world in ruins

Aloy is back after a first part in which (without going into too many spoilers) she managed to rid the world of a terrible threat. Along the way she made many friends and also gained some enemies. But at the end of the first installment we see a cinematic that already anticipated that Horizon Forbidden West was going to be a reality and that the plot was not completely closed

Horizon Forbidden West is a direct sequel to Horizon Zero Dawn and it is highly recommended to have played the first title to enjoy all the references that are constantly made to characters that Aloy met in the past. However, if you want to play this adventure being new to the saga it will also be possible thanks to an introductory cinematic that we will see at the beginning of the video game and that will summarize the most important events that took place during the plot of Horizon Zero Dawn. Playing the first part will enhance the overall experience and today you can get the complete edition (base game + DLC The Frozen Wilds) for between 10 and 20 euros (depending on whether you find it on sale or not) thanks to its membership in the Playstation Hits collection.

In this second installment Aloy's goal will be once again to save humanity from an imminent threat. And as usual in our favorite redhead protagonist, she will want to do it all alone. But at a certain point in the adventure she will understand that it will be impossible for her to fulfill her mission if she doesn't look for allies (or rather if she doesn't trust them). And now Aloy will no longer be an outcast despised by the rest of the world's inhabitants, but her success in the first part of the saga will turn her into "The Redeemer of Meridian". But she is not the only one who has seen her position strengthened. With each passing day, new adverse conditions appear concerning the weather and the state of the Planet, and these facts make Aloy suspect that something is not right

Our protagonist decides to head for the Forbidden West to put an end to this plague and save humanity from an imminent disaster. Along the way she will have to face new tribes unknown until now and will rely on familiar faces such as Erend, Varl and Sylens.

We do not want to advance too much about the story because we believe that it is better to discover it without knowing too much, but we can tell you that we found it much more epic and that it improves in all aspects to the first installment. We have seen ourselves opening our mouths at times in front of some events of the main missions and we consider that there has been an excellent work in the construction of the story. And not only in the main plot, but also in the secondary ones (which have a high quality and at times seem part of the main events of the story)

Second parts... were never good?

Horizon Forbidden West is a clear example that second parts can be very good. Guerrilla Games' second installment surpasses the first title in all aspects. It maintains a similar structure to what we saw in Horizon Zero Dawn but proposes new mechanics and types of missions that will appeal to fans of adventure and action and other genres

For those new to the Horizon saga, Forbidden West puts us in the shoes of Aloy, a machine hunter and explorer whose mission is to save humanity from a terrible threat that is advancing every second. Todo so, she will rely on offensive tools that she herself improves and that she will acquire throughout her adventure through the region

Aloy has different types of weapons (both short and long distance) and is mainly characterized by the use of the spear (for melee combat) and the use of the bow (for medium and long distance combat). Horizon Forbidden West presents an open world that we can go discovering and in which we can perform all kinds of missions. Some of the missions that we can find throughout the adventure are the following:

  • Main missions: designed to advance the story. They deal with Aloy's journey to the Forbidden West and the resolution of the main conflict.
  • Secondary missions: optional, we can complete the main story without participating in this content. They are perfect to improve our level and equipment and in this second installment the quality of their plots is incredible and at times we will think we are playing one of the main missions
  • Errands: these are missions commonly known in the world of video games as "errand" missions. They consist of going from point A to point B to collect some materials that the character who has assigned us the mission needs
  • Rebel camps and posts: the objective will be to go to one of the camps or posts of the rebel factions of the Forbidden West and locate the leader of that zone or to clean the whole camp of enemies to be able to take possession of that territory.
  • Fight Pit: a new type of missions introduced in this sequel. Aloy will have the possibility to take part in melee combat against the leaders of each territory's Fight Pit. Your objective will be to defeat the leader of that area in order to complete one of the game's side quests. It reminded us to some extent of the one-on-one combat in Cyberpunk 2077 and is a breath of fresh air for the saga and a way to expand its variety and type of missions
  • Mechanical Assault: it could not be considered a mission in itself but we are going to introduce it in this section. It is a mini-game that seems to be taken from a JRPG like Final Fantasy (which usually introduces card mini-games or even sports that could be an independent game like Blitzbol in Final Fantasy X) as it will be available in the different areas that we visit and we can face several opponents and get new pieces for our combat set. Mechanical Assault is a sort of strategy/tactical role-playing game in which we will manage miniatures of machines carved in wood along a board composed of grids with different types of terrain. Each piece will have its own abilities and we can play with the recommended set or create our own. The goal of each game will be to get more victory points than our opponent and to achieve this we will have to knock down their pieces by attacking and being smart when it comes to developing the perfect strategy. It could be a game in itself and we have loved the introduction of this more role-playing touch that goes with the tone of the game in general and that we will see later in its new and improved skill tree (which also reminds us of Final Fantasy X).
  • Cauldrons: dungeons with an excellent level design that offer a difficult challenge to overcome with a variety of very wide playable situations (surpassing those seen in Horizon Zero Dawn). If we successfully overcome a cauldron we can learn to sabotage machines and use them in the future as mounts for our travels between different areas of the map.

Explore your way: the limits are set by yourself and your skills

Moving through the world of Horizon Forbidden West will be a totally free decision and we can walk through it, on a mount or even in a kind of hang glider that has been introduced in this second part and that reminds us of the paraglider of Zelda Breath of the Wild. Unless we find ourselves with a blockade of new skills or mechanics or a point that requires us to perform a main mission to move forward, we can move at will through a world that can become frightening for its immensity. We will be uncovering the fog that covers the map at the beginning of the adventure (as happens in Elden Ring) as we go through the map. And just as it happens in Breath of the Wild with the towers or in Elden Ring with the maps that we find throughout the world, in Horizon Forbidden West we find some old and endearing acquaintances that will allow us to clear a large portion of the map without having to go through it in its entirety. We are talking about the cuellilargos, a type of machine that we can climb if we find the right way to do it and that we can hack to reach its top to give us information about the area where we are, revealing missions and locations of bonfires to discover and a whole series of details hidden by the fog

As inHorizon Zero Dawn the bonfires are still the manual save point and in this installment will also serve as free fast travel (something that was not available in the first installment). We can travel from an activated bonfire to another bonfire that we have already activated anywhere on the world map. In Horizon Zero Dawn we could only use fast travel either with an object (which is also available in Horizon Forbidden West) or by getting a specific skill that is not easy to obtain

The main novelty of Horizon Forbidden West lies in its new mechanics and in the improvement of the existing ones. Aloy is now able to use new abilities such as the hook (which will allow him to grab onto ledges) and the hang glider (with which we can glide from high ground to avoid having to cover so much distance on foot and allow us to reach areas that otherwise we could not). These are not new mechanics in the world of video games and we have already seen them in many current titles, but they do represent a twist on the Horizon formula and allow us to expand and improve its level design

As we advance in the adventure we will acquire skills that will unlock new paths and we will also find another new mechanic that innovates in this open world adventure: diving. There are moments in our journey in which the diving sections are particularly inspired, especially those that propose a race against the clock (metaphorically speaking) while groups of enemies and machines chase us. Overall, the diving sections are not too relevant and we are left with a bittersweet feeling thinking that more sections of this type could have been included.

Aloy: a warrior who constantly evolves

The Aloy of Horizon Zero Dawn is not the same as the Aloy of Forbidden West and this is noticeable both in the evolution of the character (at the personality level) and in the new management system and improvement of skills. Aloy will level up as she completes missions and defeats enemies and rival machines. Every time we level up we will obtain skill points that we will be able to invest in the new and expanded skill tree

In this new skill tree of Aloy we will be able to unlock improvements for our protagonist ranging from combinations of melee attacks to a progressive recovery of health during combat or increased improvements in the use of certain objects. The great novelty of Horizon Forbidden West is that we will have at our disposal six different skill trees depending on the branch or skill we want to improve our favorite redhead:

  • Warrior: to improve our melee combat skills.
  • Trapper: we will unlock skills related to the creation of traps to surprise machines and rivals.
  • Hunter: skill tree aimed at improving our use of the bow and ranged weapons in general.
  • Infiltrator: if stealth is your favorite option during combat, we recommend investing skill points in this evolutionary path.
  • Machinist: if you want Aloy to specialize in hacking machines for later mounting and using them in combat.

The skill trees have reminded us of those in the role-playing video game Final Fantasy X and give this sequel a more role-playing touch that will delight fans of the genre and will please the followers of the saga (for the possibilities it offers in the development of the style and profile of Aloy herself)

Horizon Forbidden West offers just what we expected and even more

Guerrilla Games ' sequel has managed to take the best of the first installment and keep it while introducing fundamental improvements that make Forbidden West a must-have title. On the one hand, fast travel has been solved and now we can travel from campfire to campfire (that we have already visited) at no cost, which improves the quality of life of players and allows us to decide whether to travel quickly, on foot or on a mount. On the other hand, inventory management has been greatly improved and it is noticeable that they have put themselves in the place of the fans and their needs. Now we no longer have to be constantly discarding objects every time we run out of space in the bag, but all the objects we get along our journey will be stored in the caches (a chest) that we can find in the allied areas that we have already visited

If the first installment gave little importance to the characters and their relationships with each other now we can see that much care has been put in this section and the secondary missions of some characters are memorable. Every conversation counts and motion capture technology has been used for all the dialogues of the adventure, which makes Horizon Forbidden West a cinematic adventure that will have us glued to the screen in each sequence (something that did not happen in the first part with such intensity). While it is true that we can decide to go to the point and talk just enough with each character, it is also true that the dialogues are very interesting and we will want to get lost in every word they have to say. The story has literally left us with our mouths open and has some script twists of a very high quality that manage to surprise us at every step we take

Combat and the number and variety of machines and final enemies have improved and increased. The machines are now more varied and we will meet new types of species in Horizon Forbidden West. The combats are still as spectacular and even raise the bar a little from the first title as we will have a greater variety of weapons and traps to use

But the most obvious improvement of this sequel in terms of combat is undoubtedly the melee. With the introduction of combat arenas and the unlocking of combos in the warrior skills branch we will be able to do real crazy things in any confrontation. If in Horizon Zero Dawn we had a predilection for the use of the bow against the spear, now it is just the opposite. Melee combat is spectacular and the formula has been improved, now feeling much more fluid and easier to handle. If we combine the spear with the bow and some of the new weapons introduced we will witness very epic battles against large machines, which will test all our skills and management of their weaknesses

With the introduction of weapon skills and value techniques we will now have more resources and the management of each battle will have a strategic variant. The value techniques will allow us to enhance our skills for a certain time and we will be able to unlock them in the six skill trees. The improvement of weapons is now easier and we will have the possibility of expanding their attributes in a workbench where we can also craft traps and objects if we have the necessary materials for it. In short, everything that worked in the first installment is maintained and its "weakest" points have been improved.

It is important to note that in this new installment has worked hard in the open world and have been introduced certain mechanics of backtracking more typical of metroidvania that will make us return to certain areas that were previously blocked because we did not have a tool or skill that we needed to overcome them successfully. And finally it should be noted that increasing the number and type of missions or tasks to perform has not been an unnecessary filler but quite the opposite: they are a breath of fresh air for a formula that needed a change to adapt to a new generation of players looking for new and varied experiences.

Exploration feels much more organic and each new mission can appear when you least expect it. We won't always see a marker while we're playing and we can simply stumble upon a cave while we're completing a main mission and find ourselves "postponing" our task to see what's going on inside that place. Or we will simply be walking through its infinite landscapes and we will see how some characters are being attacked by machines and we will be able to help them. If we do so, we will open the possibility of experiencing new missions or establishing future alliances. Horizon Forbidden West has a very lively and constantly evolving world that, although it does not force us to do anything we do not want, it does encourage us to take part in all its activities (and in our particular case it has succeeded with flying colors).

Completing Horizon Forbidden West can take us between 40 and 80 depending on how complete we want to be. Guerrilla's new video game is postulated as one of the candidates for best game of the year 2022 and makes it clear that it has not been satisfied with replicating a formula that already worked, but goes a step further.

Aloy shakes the hand of the new generation

Horizon Forbidden West was a video game initially intended to be launched exclusively on Playstation 5 and that shows in the final result of the new generation version. Its artistic section is overwhelming and the design of each of the characters, enemies and machines is simply amazing. We can see every freckle on Aloy's face and see how each expression of each character perfectly reflects what they are telling us. Traveling through the world of the video game is not easy, as we found ourselves stopping and turning the camera to contemplate every detail of each area (we have burned the photo mode). The lighting and art of this sequel is to be admired and leaves us with high expectations for the future of this new generation of consoles.

The Playstation 5 version incorporates (as usual in all console titles) two graphics modes

  • Resolution Mode: best graphic configuration with an image rate of 30 frames per second.
  • Performance Mode: 60 frames per second and a lower graphic configuration.

Personally we always opt for the performance mode in this section, although it is true that the game moves well in both modes and it will depend on the value that each person gives to the graphics against the performance of (for example) the fighting or platforming sections

On Playstation 5 we can enjoy the usual very fast loading times (one of the great advantages of the new generation of consoles) and the use of adaptive triggers and haptic feedback Dualsense. We will notice the resistance of the triggers in the use of the arc and the haptic feedback will make us feel how Aloy smoothly runs through the tall grass of certain areas. It does not make as intensive use of the controller as Astros Playroom but it does know how to take advantage of the exclusive functionalities of the controller and has left us with a good feeling

A dreamy musical and sonorous accompaniment

Horizon Forbidden West knows how to thrill its fans and in this sequel it achieves it with its soundtrack and an excellent Spanish dubbing. In its sound section it keeps those tribal melodies and includes some compositions with more electronic details that feel very well with its wild and at the same time technological world to some extent

The dubbing is still at an excellent level and Playstation Spain continues to bet on the great voices of our best voice actors. The voice actress Michelle Jenner repeats as Aloy and continues to transmit that warrior and nonconformist attitude of the protagonist. While it is true that at certain moments of the adventure the protagonist never shuts up and often gives us clues about what we have to do next, leaving little room for free thought and improvisation (but this has nothing to do with the actress who plays her)

As happens in other Playstation Studios titles such as Death Stranding or Uncharted Collection the Legacy of Thieves, this title knows how to introduce the perfect theme at the perfect moment to increase the tension or emotional moment that is required in each situation of the plot. We recommend using our Scylla Ivory headphones, compatible with the 3D audio technology of the Playstation 5 console, which will allow you to enjoy a sound experience at the height of the open world of role and action proposed by Guerrilla and Playstation.

Final Conclusions

Horizon Forbidden West is one of the best sequels we could have asked for from the new generation of consoles. It takes everything that worked in the first installment and improves all the flaws by proposing alternatives and new playable and mechanical sections. It proposes an open world that is not within the reach of any company and keeps us glued to our gaming monitor until we see the final credits. Aloy returns stronger than ever and invites us to help her on her journey to the Forbidden West. You can get Horizon Forbidden West right now from the Playstation Store in Spain

The best

  • An open world full of possibilities and that evolves in an organic way
  • The new types of missions: we love Mechanical Assault and the Fight Pit
  • The story grips from start to finish: more plot twists than in the first installment
  • Combat has evolved and so has Aloy: battles and people with more depth
  • A sound and artistic section that you will fall in love with

The Worst

  • Aloy does not shut up even under water: at times it is an unnecessary guide
  • It could have made more use of Dualsense

We have made this analysis thanks to a download code for Playstation 5 provided by Playstation Spain

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