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'Horizon Forbidden West' Review: An Enthralling Adventure Of Stunning Vistas And Tons of Content

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'Horizon Forbidden West' Review: An Enthralling Adventure Of Stunning Vistas And Tons of Content

Guerrilla Games’ hugely anticipated sequel to 2017’s Horizon Zero Dawn, Horizon Forbidden West is, to put it simply, an absolutely stunning adventure. It feels great to once again play as Aloy and explore an apocalyptic future filled with incredible machines and ancient ruins. Forbidden West really takes everything that worked in its acclaimed predecessor and builds upon it in spectacular style.

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Check out gameplay from Horizon Forbidden West in the video below...

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A direct sequel to the first game’s events, Forbidden West finds Aloy back on her mission to save the world from complete extinction by hunting for a backup GAIA system - GAIA being an all-important AI that players of the first game will know all about (and which is also, kinda, Aloy’s mum and dad) - to take control of the Earth’s ecosystem. The opening of the game is admittedly a bit of a slog as its aim is to introduce players old and new to the world of Horizon and all its controls. So for those stepping into Aloy’s shoes for a second time, much of this will feel tedious; but once you get past the initial tutorial phase, the game opens up for exploration, the accepting and completing of missions, relic hunts and much more.

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As the name suggests, this sequel has Aloy venturing into a region known as the Forbidden West in order to complete her (and, therefore, your) world-saving mission. This new area opens up more of the post-apocalyptic United States for the player to explore, and gives the world of Horizon so much more environmental diversity. Terrains range from snowy mountains to sandy deserts, and each area is beautiful to behold, especially on the PlayStation 5. It’s worth noting, however, that every now and then during my pre-release test, which came before patches, I did experience some graphical issues such as slow pop-ins and glitchy lighting. 

Horizon Forbidden West / Credit: Sony Interactive Entertainment, Guerrilla Games
Horizon Forbidden West / Credit: Sony Interactive Entertainment, Guerrilla Games

When it comes to traversing the lands, Aloy has a plethora of tools at her disposal. The overriding tool makes a return so that you can take control of a variety of land machines to mount and ride. Newly introduced are the Pullcaster and Glider, which you can use to climb heights and glide down safely. You unlock the Pullcaster in the opening of the game and this new tool is basically a grappling hook that allows you to gain altitude at certain points. As for the Glider, this is a pretty self-explanatory tool and an absolute game-changer when it comes to getting down from high points quickly and easily. 

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Unfortunately, while these new tools make life so much better when it comes to movement, they’re not the most intuitive things to use, initially feeling fairly clunky (again, this game was tested pre-patches). Compared to other items at Aloy’s disposal, they’re not the smoothest of things in the game, especially the Pullcaster which is very jolty when you use it. It’s both fast and slow to use, which is strange to say without showing it in action, but it’s a tool that can quite frequently give the player a bit of a whiplash. The same can be said for certain climbing points as well. You’ll gain good speed but then suddenly be forced to stop when trying to move onto a different point. More often than not I wouldn’t bother with the Pullcaster unless absolutely necessary.

Horizon Forbidden West / Credit: Sony Interactive Entertainment, Guerrilla Games
Horizon Forbidden West / Credit: Sony Interactive Entertainment, Guerrilla Games

That being said, it’s still an utter joy to explore these new lands, and later in the game you unlock even more tools which further improve the simple pleasure of seeing what’s down there, up on that ledge, or just over that hill. And Forbidden West’s world is absolutely huge as well - you will never find yourself without something new to do. You can take over rebel outposts, complete a variety of side missions, explore ancient ruins for relics, and so much more. There are hours upon hours of content to enjoy here, and while the main quest line will take around 20 to 25 hours to complete, the game is still chock-full of stuff.

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Speaking of the main questline, if you were a fan of the story from Horizon Zero Dawn then you will undoubtedly find yourself quickly sucked into this new one. After defeating the rampant AI HADES in the first game, Aloy is now on a mission to bring GAIA back online to save the world from extinction. Along the way, you learn so much more about the Old World, Elisabet Sobeck, and the other tribes that live in this new world. The Forbidden West is home to a variety of tribes who have based their religions on fragments of data that they collected from the Old World. The mystery that surrounds everything is what makes this such an enticing story, much like the first game. If you’re anything like me you’ll want to just keep blasting through the main questline because you want to get the answers to so many burning questions.

Horizon Forbidden West / Credit: Sony Interactive Entertainment, Guerrilla Games
Horizon Forbidden West / Credit: Sony Interactive Entertainment, Guerrilla Games

As intense as the main questline can become, there are plenty of options open to Aloy when it comes to being fully prepared. You can level up your gear and attach coils to weapons and outfits that give you certain bonus stat boosts. This can all be done from a workbench, and you’ll find these in a variety of settlements, usually with merchants nearby too. As long as you have the resources, you can upgrade a lot of your stuff. Certain upgrades require you to collect certain parts from machines, and this is easy enough in theory - you’ve just got to aim for those parts and shoot them off. If you’re looking to buy higher-level gear then you can chat to the nearby merchants to see what they have on offer. 

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Along with the equipment you also have different skill trees to upgrade, to get you prepped for missions. The great thing about the skill trees is that levelling them up isn’t locked to your overall level. You unlock skill points to use whenever you complete certain missions, and also unlock them when you generally level up. This is ideal because it means that side missions and other activities can push your skill trees to higher levels, thus readying you for the endgame challenges.

Watch the story trailer for Horizon Forbidden West, below...

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Like many open-world adventure games, there are missions that recommend you be at a certain level before attempting them. Thankfully these are just recommendations and don't lock off the mission from you, so if you’re just a tad bit under level, you can still attempt them. If you’re anything like me and get too enticed by the main story then you’ll find yourself jumping into missions when you’re a solid eight levels below the recommended. Does that make things difficult? Yes, without a doubt. But does it make completing the missions impossible? Absolutely not - so long as you’re well-stocked with resources and equipment, then it’s totally doable.

As for resources, things like medicinal berries and wood for arrows can be found everywhere. You will never fall short of stock - in fact, quite the opposite! When your pouch is fully stocked, which it quite often will be, then any extra resources get sent straight to your stash. You can find this stash in all kinds of settlements, usually around workbenches, and it’s as easy as just holding the square button to replenish your pouches. If you level up your pouches too then you’re golden to properly take on some of the harder missions, even if you’re technically a little under-levelled.

Horizon Forbidden West / Credit: Sony Interactive Entertainment, Guerrilla Games
Horizon Forbidden West / Credit: Sony Interactive Entertainment, Guerrilla Games

Horizon Forbidden West really spoils you with resources from skill trees to weapons and more. There’s enough in here to really help you progress through this huge game, and main missions aside there are plenty of fun side quests, scavenger hunts and more to do. You’ll find these extras everywhere, and they tend to be a fun break from the demands of the main questline.

Horizon Forbidden West is a clear step up from the first game. With the addition of new biomes, extra tools, an extremely compelling story, and a ton of content to keep you busy, this is another single-player action-adventure hit for PlayStation. It’s amazingly fun to play, consistently incredible to look at, and even while writing these words, all I’ve wanted to do is jump back into the Forbidden West.

Pros: huge open-world, stunning new biomes, incredible story, lots of content to keep you busy

Cons: some controls are clunky, graphical issues can briefly kill the immersion

Fans of: Monster Hunter, Tomb Raider, Assassin’s Creed

8/10: Excellent

​​Horizon Forbidden West is released for PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5 (version tested) on February 17th 2022. Review code was provided by the publisher. Find a complete guide to GAMINGbible's review scores here.

Featured Image Credit: Sony Interactive Entertainment

Topics: PlayStation, PlayStation 5, Sony, Horizon Forbidden West

Dean Abdou
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