Sony and Guerilla Games have released new details for next year’s Horizon Forbidden West, the sequel to Horizon Zero Dawn that is set to arrive in February 2022.
The deep dive focuses on the new abilities and tools Aloy will have at her disposal in the post-apocalyptic world where everything is out to get her. Today’s article on the PlayStation Blog also focuses on how the Pullcaster will make traversal streamlined, with the idea being the open world is a playground.
Horizon Forbidden West is built on the principle of player freedom; the team at Guerilla wanted to expand and build upon the open world by giving players more ways to get around.
As seen in the gameplay video, Aloy’s got a variety of new tools at her disposal in Horizon Forbidden West.“Aloy can climb freely on and across huge sections of rocky terrain; even more machine types can be used as mounts; grapple points can be found throughout the environment which allows agile vertical traversal; swimming underwater has opened up a whole new aspect of exploration; gliding with the Shieldwing provides the ultimate view of the beautiful world of Horizon Forbidden West – not to mention a quick way down from great heights!” says David McMullen, Lead Systems Designer at Guerrilla.
This meant that the team working on the game needed to address the new challenges brought on by level design. New tools mean players should be able to outsmart the level design and challenge themselves and bypass some of the puzzles.
Aloy’s Pullcaster works in several ways by allowing her to pull and break objects, also by using the adaptive trigger tension as you pull, you’ll feel the tactile dimensions increase. By giving players the choice to ascend environments and also offering a traversal /escape option, the tool can also be used to launch the player into the air to grab ledges, glide, or more.
The free climbing system is another big feature Guerilla is excited about, given large sections of the game implement climbing (where it makes sense and narratively of course!) in ways it wasn’t possible in Horizon Zero Dawn.
Next is the Shieldwing, a team favourite that provides players with verticality and also landing on your mount, ziplining, the strike from above skill, and more.
How do you deliver a worthwhile sequel? One way in Horizon Forbidden West is through the workbench, where you can upgrade and strengthen weapons and outfits. You also unlock new perks, mod slots, skills and a larger degree of customization.
“In Horizon Zero Dawn, skills were bought and unlocked as you levelled up,” Dennis explains. “While that principle remains in the sequel, we completely redesigned the skill tree with additional tracks and skills; within the skill tree, skills also synergize with those that are either already present on outfits or need to be unlocked on them.”
Another change includes bringing melee and ranged combat closer together given that Aloy isn’t one to dive in headfirst. Players will go back and forth between melee and ranged and the developers know this, so they set up new skills like the Resonator Blast, a tool that charges your spear with melee damage then blast enemies with the energy stored.
‘Then there is the Valor Surge feature; there are 12 in total, with each of them representing and strengthening a specific approach to the game. You unlock and upgrade them through the skill tree with skill points. There are three levels of each Valor Surge: the higher the level, the longer the charge up, but the more powerful the attack.’
We see the Valor Surge above and in previous deep dives. The purple bar begins with one notch and expands to three as you strengthen each Valor Surge. You receive Valor by hitting weak spots on enemies or removing components.
And that isn’t all players will be able to do in next year’s sequel. Before, we never faced both humans and robots together. Now, Aloy will need to face both of them together and deal with mounted enemies.
You’ll need to adapt to the situation and decide which threat needs to be taken on first and be effective with your decisions. These changes make for exciting encounters for Aloy to deal with.
Thankfully, new weapons like the Spike Thrower will make Aloy’s life a bit easier. This new weapon is high damage and when thrown at the right time, makes it easier to hit large targets.
“There’s a number of other subtle yet impactful additions that enable more dynamic gameplay,” summarizes David. “Just to name a few examples: Aloy can wall jump, leap away from a climb surface, high vault, and more. While these might sound like small things, combined they make for engaging environmental challenges and more player options.”