Horizon Zero Dawn was, without any doubt, one of the best games that came out on the PS4. There are a lot of reasons for this, though some would point out that it’s because the game is a new IP with an interesting gimmick. After all, controlling and fighting robot animals is a treat and a half. With that in mind, Guerrilla Games isn’t done with the Horizon Series yet as they’ve made a sequel: Horizon Forbidden West, which we’ll talk about today.
What Is the Horizon Series?
The Horizon video game series was created by Guerrilla Games, starting with Horizon Zero Dawn. The game was released back in 2017 to massive acclaim by both players and critics. This is due to its story, graphics, and the fact that you fight robot animals and dinosaurs. Guerrilla Games then follows this up with Horizon Forbidden West which we’ll talk about below.
What Is Horizon Forbidden West?
Horizon Forbidden West is the sequel to Horizon Zero Dawn and follows Aloy’s story into the titular Forbidden West. The game was released on February 18 this year on PS4 and PS5.
Check out the PS4 copy on Amazon!
Where Can You Play Horizon Forbidden West?
Horizon Forbidden West is a Sony Exclusive game at this point. Thus, it’s only playable on PlayStation, particularly the PS4 and PS5. However, there are instances where Sony Exclusive games will become playable on PC as well later on in its life. It’s something that’ll hopefully also happen on Horizon Forbidden West.
Horizon Forbidden West PS4 & PS5 Review
Is the newest installment better than the earlier Horizon game? In this section, we dive deep into every aspect of the Horizon Forbidden West game for PS4 and Ps5.
Horizon Forbidden West is an impressive game in terms of graphics whether it be on PS4 or PS5. The Decima Engine proves its chops again, with the game looking incredible in terms of visuals. This was helped by the sheer power of the PS5’s hardware. However, the PS4 Pro’s less capable gear can still run the game’s visuals pretty well, though not as consistent. As a side note, notable uses of the Decima Engine include Until Dawn and Death Stranding.
Given that it’s a cross-generation release, Horizon Forbidden West can be forgiven if there are a few things that didn’t go well graphically. However, due to the capabilities of the Decima Engine, Horizon Forbidden West not only retained its visual greatness but improved in some aspects. In terms of rendering, Horizon Forbidden West is a sheer treat because there are a lot of large and small details that can be rendered by the game when it’s running while still keeping 60fps.
An example of this would be the various grass textures and even Aloy’s hair, which was a surprise and a half when it was revealed. In addition, things like fog, clouds, and even water reflections look markedly improved compared to Horizon Zero Dawn due to various engine improvements. This is done through various additional computations in the game’s graphics engine which adds a lot of life to the game’s world. This didn’t even take into account the underwater sections, which are a whole different ballgame with their mechanics.
However, the downside to this much power in terms of graphics is a few concessions in other areas—specifically, a bit of lag on the PS4 Pro. The game is also capped at 30fps to boot.
Gameplay and Controls
In terms of gameplay, there’s not much that changed on Horizon Forbidden West compared to its predecessor. If you’ve played Horizon Zero Dawn, be prepared for more trap-laying, arrow shooting, and other stuff. However, we’ll talk about those in the Combat section of the article. For now, let’s talk about traversal and other gameplay essentials.
In Horizon Forbidden West, Aloy gains a few new tricks up her sleeve in many areas, specifically on traversal and special abilities. She now has a sort of paraglider which she can use to traverse large areas of the map by air. She also gains access to the Pullcaster, which is a grappling hook with additional features.
In addition, Aloy also has Valor Surge. These are Horizon Forbidden West’s version of super moves that gives Aloy special buffs for some time. These range from increased physical damage increased elemental damage and resistance, increased trap damage, increased toughness, and more. Popping these skills can be a significant boost to Aloy’s abilities in battle, and can lead to a lot of cool moments. Also, activating Valor Surge has a sick animation every time they’re activated, and they never get old.
The next thing we need to talk about is Horizon Forbidden West’s combat, which hasn’t changed that much. As per usual, the weapon wheel is Aloy’s friend in all things. Players can still cycle between arrow types and gadgets using the wheel, which lends a lot to the game’s tactical nature.
Tripcasters, Blast Slings, and Rope Casters are still the utter monsters that they were on Zero Dawn. The sheer satisfaction of landing Rope Caster shots, Blast Sling explosions, and tripwire shenanigans still send a thrill of joy to my heart. They can also still be used in either stealthy or aggressive ways. Of course, a bit of inventiveness and creativeness still apply in the use of these weapons. After all, nothing’s more stylish than destroying a mech dinosaur by leading them to a tripwire trap while pelting them with explosives and arrow fire.
This leads us to the game’s enemies and various machines, and by God, the various machines look good. There are 22 new machines in the Forbidden West, and each one has a lot of cool abilities to them. We’ll list them all later, but the principle of taking them down remains the same: Target all weak points. These can range from elemental damage to attacking various parts of their bodies and traps.
Meanwhile, human enemies are a whole different ballgame compared to machine enemies. They can still be killed with a good ol’ fashioned arrow to the body enough times. However, they come in packs, and some of them even make use of tamed machines to multiply the danger to Aloy. Careful usage of items, abilities, weapons, and the environment is needed to defeat them.
Of course, the main draw of Horizon Forbidden West will always be the various machines that roam its world. Aloy and the game’s story is another good draw, to be sure. However, the machines can steal the show on some parts of the game.
Here are the various machines from Zero Dawn that make a triumphant return on Forbidden West. After them, we’ll also list the new machines that make their debut here.
- Specter (Specter Prime)
The story of Horizon Forbidden West starts immediately after Zero Dawn ended. Well, six months after. Aloy just finished kicking the ass of the HADES AI, and all seems to be well. However, some loose ends still need to be taken care of. Specifically, the fact that HADES, the AI Aloy fought on Zero Dawn, was stolen by an individual named Sylens.
Sylens dangles valuable knowledge in front of Aloy, taunting her to journey to the Forbidden West to learn more. Aloy does so, sparking another epic adventure that’ll take her to various locales around the Forbidden West. Eventually, she’ll find out about the world’s past, unite the various tribes of the Forbidden West, and stop a deadly plot.
As per usual, the sound design of Horizon Forbidden West is top-notch. These range from ambient sounds like the crispness of Aloy’s steps on the ground, to the combat and traversal. The whole game is utterly gorgeous not only in terms of visuals but also in the sound department, which adds to the game’s immersion.
Sadly though, there are times when this immersion is broken by Aloy saying stuff like: “I can use this to do this.” throughout the playthrough. It’s a bit annoying and kinda feels like the game is holding your hand throughout the game. It’s not a deal-breaker, but it takes away the fun of exploration from the player.
In terms of World Design, Horizon Forbidden West is a visual treat. The game’s world looks incredibly beautiful due to the amount of work the developers did to improve upon the previous game in terms of graphics. There are a lot of secrets to uncover and cool things to obtain as well. These range from weapons, upgrade materials, cool new machine mounts, various lore dumps about the current situation, and more.
However, we need to talk about the map.
Don’t get us wrong, the map is expansive and incredibly dense, with a lot of things to discover and obtain. However, it’s a bit cluttered with question marks that signify there’s something there, whether it be enemy camps or a collectible item. This cheapens the exploration game a bit since they signify that there’s something in the area you’re going towards. It’s a helpful tool to use when the player wants to find a specific place, yes. But it takes out a bit of player agency in letting them discover and explore the Forbidden West on their own.
In addition to this, Aloy is a bit on the noisy side, constantly reminding the player to use specific abilities in certain situations. While this is helpful, it can be on the annoying side of things and affects how players see the world in general as it exacerbates the feeling of everything being a collectible. Other than this, the world is great and pretty expansive.
Horizon Forbidden West PS4 & PS5 Differences
There’s not that much of a difference between the PS4 and PS5 versions of Horizon Forbidden West. At least, in terms of gameplay. Graphics-wise, the game looks gorgeous no matter the console generation. However, there are a few subtle differences here and there when it comes to previous and current-gen.
For example, the PS4 Pro has a bit of stuttering in the edges when compared to the PS5. In addition, the previous-gen console has a bit of difficulty maintaining 30fps in certain parts of the game. This can be detrimental on certain points, specifically, in fights where much is going on or when particles are flying all over the place.
Horizon Forbidden West for PS4 & PS5 vs. Horizon Zero Dawn for PS4 & PC
There are a lot of new things in Horizon Forbidden West that were not there when it was released. The most prominent of these is the fact that workbenches exist in certain parts of the game’s world. These workbenches can be used to upgrade Aloy’s weapons to be more effective against enemies.
In addition to the workbench, we’ve already talked about the fact that Aloy has a paraglider and grappling hook now. These additions improved world traversal quite a bit when they were added. Next on the list is the skill tree’s expanding a lot, with a myriad of cool skills to use in battle. Underwater exploration is also a thing in the game, though there’s no underwater combat, sadly.
Is Horizon Forbidden West Better Than the First Game?
In terms of graphical aspects and gameplay, Horizon Forbidden West exceeds its predecessor by a wide margin. There are a lot of cool things that the player can do on Forbidden West that are just not possible on Zero Dawn. Overall, Horizon Forbidden West looks like a high-budget film combined with a game.
There are a few hiccups here and there of course like some bugs. But other than that, Horizon Forbidden West is a great sequel to Horizon Zero Dawn.
Horizon Forbidden West for PS4 & PS5 vs. Similar Games
Now that we’ve talked about Horizon Forbidden West for the PS4 and PS5, let’s talk about other games like it. We’ll start with Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, Far Cry 6, Ghost of Tsushima, and lastly, Elden Ring.
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla
First off is Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, which is pretty similar to Horizon Forbidden West in a few ways. What sets them apart though is how Valhalla deals with melee combat.
The Assassin’s Creed games have always put a lot of emphasis on stealth. After all, you’re an assassin, you’re supposed to sneak around. However, their combat is also one of their greatest strengths, with parries, ripostes, counters, and a lot of weapon swings against various foes. In Valhalla’s case, this was further expanded upon by the game’s skill and weapon system.
In Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, players get weaponry with unique movesets that they can pick and choose at their leisure. The players can then use 2 weapons in both main and offhand to dual wield. Combine this with the fact that there are legendary weapons in the game? And this is how you can wield both Excalibur and Mjölnir in a fight against random mooks.
In terms of map exploration, the map of Assassin’s Creed Valhalla has a lot of cool things to discover and explore. We’ve already talked about the fact that Mjölnir and Excalibur are weapons you can find in the game if you look hard enough after all. There are a lot of things to explore on the map, though the fact that there are a lot of map markers can be a bit annoying to deal with. Other than this, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla is a pretty solid Assassin’s Creed game, though it’s not the best. That distinction goes to Assassin’s Creed 2.
Far Cry 6
Next on the list is Far Cry 6, the latest installment of the Far Cry series that takes place in a nation ruled by a ruthless dictator. If you’ve already played the other Far Cry games then you’re gonna expect quite the same things when you play Far Cry 6. Good gunplay, a lot of whacky things, an okay story, and a villain so good it should be illegal.
Said villain, the El Presidente Antón Castillo, voiced by Giancarlo Esposito of Breaking Bad fame, steals the show. He’s charismatic, very threatening, incredibly cool, and a lot more things that should be experienced in-game to be believed. The game also received a few DLCs that tackle various Far Cry antagonists from previous games in the series. Fan favorites like Vaas Montenegro and Pagan Min make a return to the game on Vaas Montenegro: Insanity, and Pagan Min: Control respectively.
All in all, Far Cry 6 is a decent game. If you want more Far Cry, then you should try it out. Also, you can get an alligator as a pet. If that’s not enough to convince you to get the game, nothing will.
Ghost of Tsushima
Next on the list is Ghost of Tsushima, which is a game that takes a lot of inspiration from black and white samurai films. This shows in the game’s various cinematic flourishes and world design as the island of Tsushima is a sight to behold. The game also has a Kurosawa Mode, which turns the whole game into a black and white Samurai film. It’s not a good idea as the player will miss crucial details of the world, but if you wanna do some sick photo mode pictures? It’s a godsend.
In addition to this, Ghost of Tsushima’s combat is top-notch. There’s a lot of emphasis on the game’s swordplay and mechanics when it comes to melee combat. However, the player also has options on what they want to do in a fight, specifically, 2 ways. They can either go the path of an honorable samurai, or an efficient, yet honorless ghost.
Either way, Jin Sakai, the game’s main character, will free the island of Tsushima from the Mongol invaders. This mission will lead him to a harrowing journey filled with loss, betrayal, and a lot of things that’ll spoil the plot a lot if talked about here.
Last but not least is Elden Ring, From Software’s latest game release and their first foray into Open-World games. If we’re being honest here, the Souls series is one of the best series to put in an Open-World format due to how much stuff there is in the games. At least, in the minds of some people. This is vindicated big time on Elden Ring’s release as the game world is so vast, and beautiful, yet so filled with secrets and hidden treasures.
However, don’t expect Elden Ring to just give these treasures to the player, oh no. this game is hard, and it’ll kick the player’s ass without any mercy or respite. If they want to thrive in Elden Ring, they need to learn it, internalize it, and make use of everything that the game gives them. An example of this is the jump button, a simple addition that has a lot of implications.
There are things in the game that can only be dodged by jumping, and rolling through attacks is sometimes not a good idea. Jump attacks are also a thing now and can lead to significant damage to the enemy’s invisible posture meter. Once filled, this staggers the enemy, opening them to a damaging critical strike.
This is just the jump button to boot. Torrent, the player’s trusty steed, is an absolute blessing in the Open-World environment. He’s immune to quite a few of the game’s various status ailments, can double-jump, and is very fast. On certain Open-World bosses, Torrent is a good way to dodge attacks by either double jumps, or just straight-up outrunning them. After this, the player can close in for their reprisals and attacks.
All in all, Elden Ring is a great game that was worth the 3-year wait.
Check Out Horizon Forbidden West for the PS4 & PS5 Today!
Overall, Horizon Forbidden West is a great open-world action RPG with a lot of new things for players to chew through. It’s got great visuals, a good story, cool combat, and a lot of nice set pieces. It’s a treat of a game and well worth the money.