The much-anticipated sequel to Horizon: Zero Dawn was released back in February. I picked it up, and have been playing it since. Is it as good as its predecessor? Does it live up to the very high expectations I have of it? Is it, simply put, any good? Here goes:
Game: Horizon: Forbidden West
Publisher: Guerrilla Games
Platform: Playstation 4, Playstation 5
Genre: Action RPG
The ending of Horizon: Zero Dawn made it very clear that the studio didn’t feel like they were done with Aloy or earth in future that they imagined. In my review, I rated it 10/10, and counted it as one of my favorite games ever. With that in mind, my expectations of the new game were very high, to put it mildly.
Where its predecessor took some time to introduce the fact that the story takes place in the eastern continental United States, Horizon: Forbidden West is very clear about this. How clear? Las Vegas was explicitly mentioned within the first twenty or so hours of gameplay in my playthrough.
As you finish Zero Dawn, you are more or less over-powered for all but the most powerful enemies. This is dealt with relatively easily, with the armor simply being broken, and the lance – the multitool-like melee weapon – was sabotaged so that it disintegrated. Gone, too, are most of the override capabilities that Aloy once had.
The peace implied by conquering HADES is not to be. The lands are wracked by a blight that does damage to everything around it, and has detrimental effects on everyone’s health. In addition, hunger runs rampant, and it is clear that something is badly wrong with the world.
The start sees Aloy exploring beyond the western borders of the Zero Dawn map. Her goal is clear; she needs to save GAIA – the AI that controlled the cauldrons that performed the terraforming to earth – and she’s on the lookout for a backup. After a quick tutorial, which features a new tool which makes climbing a LOT easier, she returns to Meridian for some exposition dumping.
Next, she travels to the western borders of the Carja lands, where she finds a barred gate to the nominal Forbidden West – a land where the brutal Tenakth have made a tenuous peace with the Carja. There’s also talk of another nation – the Utaru – as well as a number of new and exciting machines. A splinter group of the Tenakth have powerful technology – including a tool which can be used to glide down from heights.
As we should expect from the ending of Zero Dawn, Sylens is back. He is as untrustworthy as ever, and there is no knowing what his intentions, motivations, or end goals are. In addition, a new enemy – Far Zenith – with vastly superior technology show themselves, and it looks like a race against time, not only to prevent HEPHAESTUS – the rogue subordinate function – from killing life on earth as we know it, but also to get control over the terraforming functions before Far Zenith does.
While I have, as of this being written, not even come close to completing the game (so far I’ve only completed one cauldron and overridden two tallnecks), I can already tell you that I love what they have done with the game. Aloy is still Aloy, and a number of old characters join us in the Forbidden West.
TL;DR: Horizon: Forbidden West appears to be an EXCELLENT sequel to one of my favorite games ever, and I love what they’ve done with it. True to the setting, you get to explore more of the world, and continue Aloy’s story a bit further. 9/10 – a score which might be revised once I finish the story.