The recent State of Play from PlayStation offered fans a fantastic first look at Horizon Forbidden West in action; It looks very, very good on a PS5. The graphics aren't the only thing that looks good, though. There's a lot of new stuff going on worth talking about.
Here's everything you need to know about all the new Horizon Forbidden West features we've had a look at so far.
LATEST - Free Climbing, World Depth, and Human Armour
PlayStation's State of Play was a great first look at Horizon Forbidden West but there's a lot more to unpack and discuss when talking about Guerrilla's next PlayStation exclusive title.
Firstly, "you can climb anywhere" in Horizon Forbidden West. In the State of Play, we saw Aloy use her Focus to reveal some tactically placed handholds on ruinous columns nearby. However, this doesn't mean that they only appear when revealed with the Focus and that isn't to say that you'll only be able to climb certain areas. Game Director Mathijs de Jonge had this to say regarding this...
" So now the entire world, everything is automatically annotated. That means you can climb anywhere... I think some people think that you have to [use the Focus] to be able to climb, but that's not true. This is just for light, for low light conditions, to be able to highlight them so you can actually see them better. But the player could climb anyway without having to ping."
In addition to this, in a conversation with IGN, de Jonge and Narrative Director Benjamin McCaw discussed the way that Guerrilla has added new depth to their in-game world and added a level of tactics to human-on-human combat that wasn't present in Horizon Zero Dawn.
On deepending the world around Aloy:
" The map is a little bit bigger, but in general, we've really looked at increasing the density, and adding more content, making sure there's a lot more to do for the player across the map, and then making that content also engaging by telling little micro-stories..." - Game Director Mathijs de Jonge
" There's the tribal world, there's the world of the machines, and there's also our world. We really tried make sure there's exploration throughout the open world related to all three, and also that we are deepening and evolving this story of all three... " - Narrative Designer Benjamin McCaw
And, on the improved tactical combat:
" With the machines, the combat is pretty tactical. And there's always multiple ways you can take them down. With the Focus scan, you can scan the machine, check out what are the weaknesses and what are the interactive components… So for this game, we [thought] with the humans, what if we Focus scan them?" - Game Director Mathijs de Jonge
" We've added armour on them. You see this after Aloy has taken down one of those Raiders, and she runs towards the next one, she starts meleeing and hitting him. Several plates light up on him. And this is armour that can be knocked off, so you expose more vulnerable parts, as well, that you can then shoot at." - Game Director Mathijs de Jonge
Underwater Exploration Is Here
Horizon Zero Dawn was always missing one thing, wasn't it? You could clamber up mountainsides, roam the jungles... But you couldn't really take a dip in the sea.
Well... Aloy, get your flippers on. Horizon Forbidden West is introducing underwater environments and exploration. This is undoubtedly the biggest new feature we've seen for Horizon Forbidden West from Guerrilla so far. It looks, to put it plainly, insane!
The graphics alone are stunning and we know that this is going to open up a whole new way to play and explore the luscious world being built for the next Horizon game.
Shield-Glider, Grappling Hook, and Traversal
Guerrilla isn't just adding "swimming" to its line-up of new traversal mechanics for Horizon Forbidden West. There's also a gliding feature and a grappling hook to help Aloy get around!
The Pullcaster is a new gadget that allows Aloy to grapple onto certain points in the world of Horizon Forbidden West and clamber up to otherwise unreachable places.
The Shieldwing acts as a glider, of sorts, that helps Aloy survive otherwise unsurvivable jumps from high places. Guerrilla has also implemented a new "free climbing" feature which will help to add depth to the way you'll be playing Horizon Forbidden West.
Aloy uses her Focus to scan her surroundings and reveal unseen climbing points on various structures. It's a bit more "Assassin's Creed" and we're perfectly okay with that. Horizon Zero Dawn's traversal mechanics were a bit limited, in hindsight.
Reactive Environments & More
Although this might be considered a smaller detail by many, it's still an impressive new feature worth talking about. Industry commentator Shinobi602 has rightfully pointed out that Guerrilla has implemented further detail in their in-game environments.
The example he has shared showcases a Tremortusk's frontal laser attacks deforming the beach's sand as it chases after Aloy. It's a fantastic display of what's possible with the PS5's new hardware and an exciting insight into all the other details Horizon Forbidden West has built upon.
We're not sure there's going to be quite fully destructive environments yet, but we're expecting to see a few trees splintering at the very least going forwards.
Horizon Forbidden West could be the biggest sequel we've ever seen. We've still not got a release date yet, though, so we might still have a little while to wait...