| Last updated
Words: Liam Wiseman
Well, unfortunately, even the Watchers can't see this release date just yet.
Horizon Forbidden West still doesn't have a confirmed release date. As one of the first games announced alongside the PlayStation 5, we'd have hoped to know a little bit more about the release of the next chapter in Aloy's adventures by now. But Sony and Guerrilla Games have kept tight lipped about placing a date on the open-world action RPG, the sequel to 2017's well-received Horizon Zero Dawn.
Guerrilla even acknowledged, during their State of Play focused exclusively on Horizon Forbidden West earlier this year, that the studio hasn't yet decided on a release date. Originally, the game was scheduled to be released in 2021, and while the game still has a chance of making that date, a 2022 release date seems more realistic at this point. Given that the team are working under even more pressure as a result of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, it's to be expected that the production process might slip somewhat.
However, Sony may well feel a bit more comfortable with launching the game this year following its no show at E3 2021, as Horizon Forbidden West's biggest open-world competitor, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild 2 (title TBC on that one), has been pushed to sometime in 2022. The original Horizon Zero Dawn launched just a week before The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, and while the game did very well, it was arguably outshone by both a new game in the Zelda franchise and the launch of Nintendo's new Switch console. But with Nintendo's sequel pushed to an unspecified 2022 date (check out what we know on that game, here), perhaps 2021 is the perfect time to launch Horizon Forbidden West without a new Zelda game breathing down its throat.
Despite the game not having a solid release date yet, we've actually been treated to a substantial amount of footage of the Horizon Forbidden West in action so far. The original announcement trailer was quite lengthy and showcased some of the new enemy types and abilities Aloy has at her disposal in the sequel. Following that, a few months later Sony delivered a State of Play presentation exclusively focused on the game, and this is where we first saw Aloy's new gadgets including the new grappling hook and glider. You can check out the announcement trailer and gameplay in the videos below.
State of Play Gameplay Reveal:
Well, obviously the Forbidden West, right?
Okay, I'll give you some more than that. The sequel sees Aloy journey west across America to what looks like a ruined post-apocalyptic version of San Francisco. Remnants of the Golden Gate Bridge can be seen, amongst the ruins of other familiar West Coast landmarks.
It's a far cry from the largely Utah- and Colorado-based locations of Horizon Zero Dawn, and it really shows. Graphically, the game is a step up, and most significantly the colour vibrancy has been increased exponentially. The new San Francisco locations have absolutely played off the Californian area known for its sun, sea and sand vibes, creating a vibrant set of new locations that will keep players engaged.
Following a trend set by Sony at the moment, Horizon Forbidden West has been confirmed not to be a PlayStation 5 exclusive. It's not the only PS5 game to get the treatment, with the upcoming Gran Turismo 7 and (the working-titled) God of War: Ragnarok also receiving cross-gen versions. The stunning action RPG has been confirmed to also be heading to Sony's last-gen console, the PlayStation 4. While this was originally met with groans from fans who wanted to see Guerrilla Games really push the PS5 to its limits, the decision makes perfect sense when you think of just how many PS4 consoles there are out there, and how hard it has been for most people to get their hands on a PS5 since its launch in November 2020.
The good news is that there doesn't seem to be a huge amount lost by making the game a cross-generation experience. In an interview with Game Informer, Benjamin McCaw and game director Mathijs de Jonge reveal that most of the development was done on the PS4 anyway, and that the PS5 version simply allows for extra detail and smoother animations. I imagine those lightning-fast PS5 load times won't hurt either - though if you're playing the game on PS4 it might make your console sound like a jet engine taking off...
The other possibility, and one that has not yet been confirmed, is that the game could eventually make its way to PC via Steam or other digital storefronts. In the last couple of years, Sony has embraced the concept of re-releasing some of their exclusive games on PC platforms, such as Death Stranding, Days Gone, and the original Horizon Zero Dawn. While it's not likely to happen anytime particularly soon, we could potentially see Horizon Forbidden West receive the PC treatment in the future as well.
No multiplayer features or modes have been announced for Horizon Forbidden West at this time, but you never know. Many first-party Sony Interactive Entertainment (SIE) studios have included co-op or multiplayer modes in their games, but many of PlayStation's biggest hits of late have been single-player focused - like God of War, The Last of Us Part II, and the original Horizon Zero Dawn. Guerrilla Games have multiplayer experience with the Killzone series, though, so it's not impossible that Horizon Forbidden West will include some kind of multiplayer feature.
Known PlayStation veterans Guerrilla Games are behind both Horizon Zero Dawn and Horizon Forbidden West. While the Dutch studio has found great success with its Horizon games, they're probably most well-known for the Killzone franchise, which encompasses (to date) three mainline games and multiple spin-off titles. Killzone Shadow Fall was the last major Killzone game, and was a tentpole PS4 launch game in 2013. Guerrilla Games are based in Amsterdam, and their previous CEO, Herman Hulst, has done very well for himself as he was recently promoted to the Head of PlayStation Worldwide Studios. Given the pedigree of the studio, there is a lot of anticipation for Horizon Forbidden West, but their track record suggests they will be more than able to deliver.
Horizon Forbidden West uses Guerrilla Game's proprietary Decima engine, first used to power Killzone Shadow Fall. Select other PlayStation exclusives have used the engine, such as Death Stranding and Until Dawn. The engine has been upgraded for PS5, with multiple new bells and whistles added to let the console truly shine.
Okay, now we're really getting into speculation territory. Not much has been revealed yet about the story of Horizon Forbidden West, but what we have seen has been very intriguing. Aloy's adventures in the post-apocalyptic version of our world continue following her defeat of the rogue A.I. Hades in the original game, and her learning of the destruction of humanity. The discovery of a strange red plant that appears to be taking over the world everywhere Aloy goes leads her on a new quest to uncover its origins.
The plant, known as the "red blight", is a vine that seems to be causing an unnatural illness in the native wildlife of the world, and even somehow causing massive red electrical "super cell" storms that are devastating the land. Galvanised by this new threat, Aloy travels west to uncover the source of these new dangers.
While the shift in the game's location means that lots of new characters are expected to be introduced, the developers have also teased that many familiar faces from the first game will be returning as well. In the gameplay from the State of Play presentation, Aloy rescues one of her existing comrades, Erend, from a raider attack. Expect to see many returning favourites before the credits roll. There also appears to be a new faction focused on capturing and corrupting some of the robots wandering the landscape.
One of the best and most memorable aspects of the original Horizon Zero Dawn was the fights against the mechanical creatures that roamed the landscape of the game world. Horizon Forbidden West is giving us much more of that, with a wider variety of creatures to fight and dominate.
This time, we're seeing alligator-like Snapjaws, pterodactyl-like Sunwings, and a huge tortoise-like creature called a Shellsnapper. But the game is also going larger, with one of the highlights of the State of Play gameplay being Aloy taking down a mammoth elephant-like creature called a Tremortusk. While we still don't know when we'll be getting our hands on Horizon Forbidden West, we're sure to have some epic battles whenever the game eventually drops.
Featured Image Credit: Sony Interactive Entertainment, Guerrilla Games
Chosen for YouChosen for You
Most Read StoriesMost Read