Monday, Dec 11, 2023

Horizon Forbidden West Review - The Best in the West

Horizon Forbidden West Review - The Best in the West

Horizon Forbidden West on PS5

Horizon Zero Dawn, the 2017 film that introduced a new era to Sony's first-party studio Guerrilla Games, was released in 2017. The Killzone series' linear corridors and orange-eyed Helghast were forgotten in the new IP. Instead, we met Aloy, a friendly protagonist, and an open-world filled with machine-like animals roaming the Earth, just waiting to be killed. Aloy then took their parts apart like a complicated and quite vicious puzzle. It provided a solid foundation and a promising ending. Horizon Forbidden West is the sequel to that original. It's just like any sequel should be. Horizon Forbidden West is bigger and better than its predecessor.

Forbidden West continues from Zero Dawn. Aloy tries to figure out what is causing an unstoppable plague -- a red-colored moss which poisons the earth and its natural inhabitants -- and destructive storms that threaten the planet. Aloy is also prompted to set off on another epic adventure. This time, he will explore the Forbidden West's Tenakth territory, No Man's Land, and the Sundom of Meridian, which Aloy explored in the original game. Sylens is another case, and he remains as mysterious in the sequel.

To avoid spoiling any of the story's details, Forbidden West's narration is superb. It maintains a solid pace that will keep you interested and eager to continue Aloy's adventures. The story explores themes such as greed, selfishness and the ignorance of humanity about the damage it has done, giving plenty of food to think about our actions in the world. Horizon's narrative and world are so captivating because of this last point. It is the fact that there is a tangible connection back to the real world, and our actions and behaviors. This is further illustrated by the scattered "ancient" ruins, and remnants, of our society.

Aloy is just as charming as Zero Dawn. Her curious nature and unselfish desire to help the world make her as beloved as ever. In times of despair and darkness, she is a beacon of hope and light. She refuses to accept a bad situation, and her journey from Nora to legendary warrior is an inspiring example of this. This is a story about optimism in the face relentless adversity. It also shows how it's impossible to be happy in all situations, no matter how good your track record.

Ashly Burch gives another outstanding performance. She brings this charmingly determined heroine to life. Lance Reddick's performance of the mysterious Sylens was also a highlight. The performances by the whole cast were outstanding. Strong writing and contrasting characters were delivered in a way that made each person you meet feel unique and more memorable.

Guerrilla Games manages to find some genuine humor in a very serious, grounded narrative. This is thanks to Aloy’s constant commentary on her ever-increasingly difficult tasks. This supporting cast is also no slouch, with new faces such as Kotallo, Morlund and Erend providing comic relief in their conversations to Aloy. Varl and Varl are sounding boards and voices that support our hero, Sundom, in her times when she needs them most.

This all adds up to a story that is even more memorable than the one before it. You will be able to remember your characters, both new and old. Horizon Forbidden West's story is a masterpiece by Guerrilla Games. It's full of surprises and twists that will keep you guessing.

The gameplay is excellent, especially when it comes to combat or traversal. You can feel the former much more because of a variety of new mechanics like Valor Surge's that act as a special move once you have filled up your Valor Meter. They can be unlocked by completing the six skill trees within the game. High Volley, for example, can be found in Hunter's skill tree. This is a ranged attack-oriented skill tree. Aloy will fire a high-arcing volley at your enemies. In the stealth-oriented tree, Stealth Stalker activates a cloaking device that dramatically reduces your visibility to your enemies.

Weapon Techniques are essentially the same as the original game, but they are designed to provide a special attack for specific weapon types. There are many more Weapon Techniques than the original game. Aloy can fire a powerful shot from a seated position, such as the Sharpshot Bow's Braced Shot. It explodes upon impact. These Weapon Techniques require Weapon Stamina to ensure they are not overused in combat. The more powerful the Weapon Technique, the less your stamina will be.

There are a wealth of new weapon types, such as the buzzsaw-cross-boomerang Shredder that hacks away at enemies before returning back to you, and explosive spears and various elemental damage types. These weapons ensure that Aloy has a wide range of weapons to choose from, and are suitable for dealing with the many formidable machines she will encounter while exploring the Forbidden Wild. Although I still found myself using the different types of bows when combat became particularly chaotic, I also found them to be the most efficient and easiest to use. However, having different options to exploit the weaknesses of each machine rewards a more strategic approach.

The enemies you encounter feel more difficult and interesting than the ones in Horizon Zero Dawn. You will need to use a variety of weapons and ammo to get the components out. In some cases you may even be able to use your own weapon against them. You can spot a Sparker on the Charger's back. To cause a chain reaction and deal hefty damage to the bull-like beast while temporarily paralyzing it, target it with shock ammunition. You may come across a heavily armored Rollerback. You may come across a heavily armored Rollerback. Acid ammo or traps can chip away the armor and reveal weak points that can be targeted for huge damage.

Aloy has improved melee combat for the sequel with new combos that Aloy is able to use to break the armor and temporarily stagger a machine. Although it's a good improvement, melee combat still lacks the magic Aloy's ranged weapon, traps, and tripwires provide. Although human enemies are generally easier to handle than their mechanical counterparts in combat, it shouldn't surprise that they are the true star of the series.

It would be remiss of me not to discuss the diversity of these machines. Guerrilla Games has spent time looking into every detail of these machines, from fan favorites such as the Thunderjaw-inspired T-Rex, to new additions like the previously revealed Tremortusk. These machines are a masterpiece of design. The Slitherfang's gears spin and whir in perfect synchronicity. This illusion is created by wires and machine muscles working together to bring these mechanical wonders to life.

It is amazing how much detail there is, from the rust of rivets to the shine of silver and steel to the scratches and scuffs of time and the sparks that fly in metal-to-metal collisions. It is often amazing to see how each machine can be taken apart and rearranged, which can limit its functionality or cause a huge elemental chain reaction.

These and many more are available in the Forbidden west, an open-world rich in legends that enriches the world. These environments are far more diverse than the original game. There are towering mountains that cover vast areas of desert, thick jungles, crumbling ancient ruin, and huge systems of underground tunnels and caves that combine to create a new layer of exploration.

Aloy will unlock key upgrades as you move through the main story. You can use her glider, underwater breathing apparatus and other gadgets such as the grapple shot to reach specific points or pull down rubble walls. Aloy's greatest improvement in traversal is the vastly increased number of points at which she can just dig into the side of the cliff to scale it with an effortless fluidity almost as captivating as its elegance. Aloy is not able to climb every mountainside or cliff-face, but she can quickly use her Focus to find ridges and holds on any surface that she can reach. This resolves many of my frustrations from Horizon Zero Dawn. Surfaces that appeared to be climbable were not.

Horizon Forbidden West, a PS5 game, is jaw-droppingly gorgeous. It features snow-tipped mountains that are covered in mist and naturally falling down their jagged edges. The sunlight that pierces the jungle canopy illuminates the colorful flora, fauna, and plants on the floor. Foxes, Peccary, and rabbits all scurry about stopping for food before continuing their journey.

It's almost as if the world is alive, that lights never go out, even when your controller is off. This sentiment is evident in all the settlements throughout the Forbidden Wild. These settlements feel much more substantial and populated than Zero Dawn, from Chainscrape's first settlement, to Plainsong, which has a beautiful choir that you hear when you arrive. Aloy will be told by NPCs about rumors they have heard or seen out in the wild. Merchants can be heard trying entice passersby to trade with them. There's even a game called Machine Strike which makes each area feel more authentic and lived-in. Settlements feel more like real hubs, where humanity's last remaining remnants gather to share their strength, converse with each other, or simply to make their home.

Guerrilla Games did an amazing job of making sure that the Forbidden West is as large as its neighbor, No Man's Land. Aloy can complete combat challenges within a time limit and receive lucrative rewards. Hunting Grounds or Melee Pits are more machine- and human-based combat challenges.

Survey drones circle certain areas of the map while artifacts are hidden inside Relic Ruins. These rooms contain intricate puzzles that will leave you scratching and wondering. Gauntlet Runs are for those who want to race no-rules machines with Tenakth Tribe members. Cauldrons can be used to dig deep and find override codes for various machines around the globe. To add spice, there are Rebel Camps, Outposts, and Outposts that can be tackled to satisfy any Far Cry-style ambush missions.

Horizon Forbidden West's world is filled with wonder and wonder. This is what so many have been clamoring for since Breath of the Wild in 2017. It's that feeling of forgetting all about the main story and allowing yourself to wander off-road into unknown territory. Side quests in Forbidden West feel just as well-written and substantial as the main story. This means that even if you've read all of the story content, there's plenty to keep you exploring the Forbidden West.

One of my standouts was when I visited a flood village to rescue the tribal members from a building. Another highlight was when I had to take down Snapmaws who were standing between one group and safety. Finally, I solved a few environmental puzzles in order to shift a huge crane to rescue others stranded on a rock face. Side quests often combine platforming, combat and puzzles. They feel just as well-designed than the main ones. These side quests feel more fun and well-designed than other fetch-quest fluff found in open-world games, whether it's the combination these gameplay mechanics or strong writing.

Horizon Forbidden West is a bit less than its predecessor. However, there were some performance problems and bugs. One time, the game did not register my trigger pushes to fire or prepare my weapons. In another crucial story cutscene, the audio cut out briefly before popping back in. Another incident saw an odd, and frankly unsettling blue glow around the screen's edges when the camera panted to Aloy. There were also four crashes to the PS5 home screen. Another amusing incident was when a room suddenly filled with water. This caused Aloy to swim underwater and then emptied a few seconds later, sending her to the ground. The screen went black after Aloy died in the final mission. After that, the audio was restored and the screen went black again. To continue, I had to close and reload the game. The auto-save feature was very thorough during main story missions so I didn’t lose any progress.

Aloy's animations have some issues, especially her hair in cutscenes. Her hair seems to move with an alarming level of sentience even though she is still standing. It was also common for her to climb ladders and other objects, which can be quite immersion-breaking.

Guerrilla Games' day one update has been released. I spent more than 10 hours playing the patch in open-world activities and noticed fewer pop-ins. To be completely transparent, I spent 35 hours playing the story and exploring open-world before this patch was released. I can't return to certain areas where I encountered bugs to confirm if the patch has made things better.

It doesn't matter if Forbidden West is being "held back", or if it is simply pushing the PS5 beyond its limits or if there are some other bugs that were missed during QA. This all takes away from the immersive experience Guerrilla has meticulously created. It is disappointing, given the reputation Sony's first-party Studios have earned throughout the PS4 generation. There is also an expectation that things will improve, despite the price hike on its exclusives.

Horizon Forbidden West continues to be a surprise and amaze me despite all this. It is amazing to see the ruins of Vegas come alive. The mist that delicately covers the tops of great mountains off to the distance. The intricate systems of cogs and screws that bring the machines to life. It is easy to lose yourself in the vastness and variety of the world.

Horizon Forbidden West, a stunning sequel to one the PS4's most popular exclusives, is now available. The game's story is its greatest strength. It features memorable characters, twists and turns, and a steady pace. Combat has been improved, with new weapons and mechanics to make killing machines and people a satisfying experience. This is all wrapped up in a rich world of lore, which feels more alive than the previous version. The PS5's exclusives have visuals and animations that give it that blockbuster feel. While bugs and glitches may occasionally ruin your experience, most are fixed by the day-one update. Horizon Forbidden West, a PS5 game that is highly recommended and a great GOTY contender for 2022, is a must-play.

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