The latest issue of Game Informer has arrived with a massive, 12-page feature on the upcoming PlayStation exclusive Horizon Forbidden West, bringing with it a slew of new information to pore over as we anticipate one of 2022’s biggest titles.
Head to the Game Informer website to learn how to pick up an issue or subscription and read the full piece for yourself – it’s a fantastic read – but we’ve broken down a few of the key new things we’ve learned for you below:
A Sequel Was Always Going To Happen
Although the sheer success of the first game apparently took the team by surprise, Guerrilla had already built the potential for a sequel into Horizon Zero Dawn’s narrative. Not only that, but after the first game was completed and released they were left with tons of unused ideas and a lot of learned lessons on how best to bring the game’s world to life.
A sequel was “inevitable” then, according to the developer, and a bigger arc for Aloy was on the team’s mind for a long time already. The concept of the Forbidden West was already hinted at in the first game, and the team knew that they had a compelling new story to tell for Aloy as she struggles with the weight of being the world’s saviour.
Side Quests And NPC Characters Have Been Improved
Guerrilla mention multiple times throughout the GI article that a key focus of theirs was to ensure side quest content and side character interactions were more compelling than in the first game. It starts with a simple goal – give Aloy more time to spend with all of the faces she meets throughout the game so that the player can forge deeper relationships.
The worlds also seem to be filled with more life, as the article describes one particular scene in a town’s tavern that’s crowded with residents getting their drink on, chatting, arguing and singing.
The team has also made side quests more rewarding, giving players more incentive to complete optional content by more often handing them useful gear like weapons and outfits.
A New, Revamped Skill Tree
Aloy’s skill tree in Forbidden West has seen a significant overhaul, now split into six distinct playstyles – Warrior, Trapper, Hunter, Survivor, Infiltrator and Machine Master. Guerrilla says each specialisation has enough depth to create very different gameplay experiences, but players can mix and match as they like.
Every skill tree also features a unique “Valor Surge” which are the new special skills that Aloy can use by filling a meter during gameplay.
You Better Work (Bench)
The workbench is a brand-new feature in Forbidden West that allows Aloy to upgrade her gear and outfits as well as craft items. Thew new game does away with the simple metal shard upgrade materials from the first game and instead places new importance on the components that Aloy harvests from specific machines.
Aloy will also be able to craft ammo and traps out in the field, without needing a workbench or having to stock up at a merchant. Guerrilla says the need to find a workbench for the rest of crafting and upgrade management is an effort to remind players to keep on top of what they have available and to make regular stops at settlements.
A major push for Guerrilla in Forbidden West is expanding on the idea of Aloy’s different outfits. The system has been expanded greatly from the first game with outfits factoring into both the workbench system as well as Aloy’s skill trees, allowing players to really capitalise on every unique ability, combining them with outfits that push specific stat bonuses even further to create distinct character builds.
Aloy’s New Focus Scanner
To support the new upgrade systems, Aloy’s Focus has had a bit of an upgrade in Forbidden West and can now help her identify and analyse machines in the world. The new scan feature gives her access to information such as enemy weak points and resistances, detachable or indestructible parts and those all-important upgrade resources.
To further support this, whenever Aloy needs specific components for an upgrade the player is able to highlight the necessary items in the crafting menu that will point her to where the required machines typically reside, and her scanner will tag the parts she needs to nab from said machines.
All The New Machines (So Far)
Speaking of machines, Horizon Forbidden West is going to have a ton of new ones, and Game Informer’s coverage also includes details on a bunch of them. You can read about them (and see screenshots) in full here, but we’ve included a quick rundown below:
Rollerback – A giant armadillo-like machine that (yep) attacks by rolling around, making use of flame-firing parts and eject-able scales. Death armadillos, basically.
Burrower – Described as the ‘successors’ to the original game’s Watchers, Burrowers are weasel-like machines that like to dig and swim and will alert nearby machines of Aloy’s presence.
Bristleback – Inspired by boars, these tusked machines ‘graze’ by digging up resources from beneath the ground. They’re big and brutish, but also adept at ranged attacks – a scary combo.
Clamberjaw – Baboon-like machines that can scale walls, make use of status-affecting attacks and travel in formidable groups.
Tremortusk – The enormous, mammoth-like machines that have featured heavily in previous gameplay footage. Armed to the nines and used as walking fortresses by human factions, these aren’t to be messed with.
Clawstrider – Mechanical velociraptors that can stun Aloy before attacking in packs and even spew fire.
Shellsnapper – Majestic, turtle machines that are incredibly territorial and well-protected by a camouflaged and heavily fortified shell.
Tideripper – Aquatic machines that resemble plesiosaurs, these guys are as keen as you are to take advantage of Forbidden West’s new underwater sections.
Sunwing – Huge, Pterosaur-like machines with solar panel wings. They’re most vulnerable while collecting solar energy but this is also when they’re at their most alert.
Slitherfang – This is the huge, fearsome snake-like machine that made an appearance in the recent The Game Awards trailer. Game Informer has a full feature on this one right here.