[PlayStation 5] Horizon Forbidden West Review

by EdEN, Owner

The wait has been long, but Horizon Forbidden West is finally out on PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5. Are you ready? Check our Horizon Forbidden West review!

The wait has been long, but Horizon Forbidden West is finally out on PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5. After the pandemic got in the way of every single studio’s release dates – be they small indie teams or huge ones like Guerrilla Games – it’s now 2022, and Horizon Forbidden West is out as a Cross-Buy title on PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5. Sony Interactive Entertainment has certainly been waiting for 2022 to hit since it’s going to be the year of not only Horizon Forbidden West but also of Gran Turismo 7 and, hopefully, God of War Ragnarök.

Horizon Forbidden West is an open world action RPG set six months after the events of prequel Horizon Zero Dawn. You don’t need to play Horizon Zero Dawn and its DLC – The Frozen Wilds – to be able to enjoy Horizon Forbidden West since you’ll get a bit of a recap during the intro cutscene and as you take on the starting area – a starting area that reminded me at times of the starting area for The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, given its tutorial focus and the overall scope of the area you’ll be exploring.

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Story-wise, Aloy is on a very important quest to find a backup for GAIA. GAIA is the AI program that was in charge of trying to hack all of the robots – you know, the dinosaur-like enemies you faced in Horizon Zero Dawn and will battle against in Horizon Forbidden West – as well as set a terraforming protocol to build back the planet before there’s nothing more to eat, and the red corruption that is eating the land destroys everything. If she can find GAIA’s backup, she can revert all of the terribly wrong. As expected, it’s not going to be as easy as just locating an item.

Horizon Forbidden West is the best-looking game on PlayStation 5, making it a showcase for what Sony’s console can do and how Guerrilla Game has learned to squeeze as much extra juice as possible from the PS5. The game’s character models, environments, lighting, textures, Aloy’s hair, the foliage, the small and the giant machines, everything is above and beyond what Horizon Zero Dawn had to offer on PlayStation 4. Depending on what your TV can support, you can activate HDR to make everything pop in a different way. The game also offers two modes depending on how you want to experience this quest: you can favor performance and lower the resolution to 1080p while boosting the framerate to 60 fps, or you can favor the graphical presentation to have a 4K resolution while the framerate is lowered to 30 fps. How will you play Horizon Forbidden West?

As you progress through the game, you’ll gain access to skill points that you can use on the different skill trees to unlock new abilities and boosts for Aloy. Leveled up? You’ll get some skill points. Completed a quest or two? You’ll have some extra skill points for your count. Do know that once you assign skill points, there’s no way to respec them, so be sure to make every choice count. There are passive boosts that will stack, and that can make a big difference when in battle. You might want to add a special shield to add some valuable protection. You can heal yourself with plants, as you can see during the intro sequence, so perhaps you might want to boost how many resources you get when scavenging plants. There’s no way of getting enough skill points to max out all skill trees, so be sure to plan for how you’re going to play.

To be able to make the most of your time with this game, you need to know what you’ll be going up against, what lurks in each area, and where you’re yet to explore. Horizon Forbidden West uses a fog-of-war of sorts that covers most of the map, keeping you from seeing what’s really out there. To counter this, you must find the colossal tallnecks. Tallnecks are huge robots with, well, a very tall neck, which you must climb in order to uncover the surrounding areas. There are only five in the whole game, so you can imagine how important each one is going to be!

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You should also make good use of Aloy’s scan and Focus ability. Pressing up on the D-Pad will quickly scan her surrounding area so that you can notice any nearby enemies, as well as all the natural and other types of resources you can collect for crafting and healing purposes. Press and hold up on the D-Pad, and Aloy will go into Focus Mode. When in Focus Mode, a small sphere will form around her, allowing Aloy to scan enemies to learn more about them and their weak spots so that you can plan accordingly.

To make it possible for gamers of all skill levels to enjoy Aloy’s latest adventure and have a shot at completing all story missions, side-quest missions, and seeing the credits, Guerrilla Games has included several difficulty levels, as well as having a special Custom difficulty setting. There’s Story, which makes combat a lot easier so that you can focus on the exploration and narrative elements. Easy bumps things up a bit with a light combat experience as you explore the world of Horizon Forbidden West.

There’s also Normal, which is the standard experience that balances combat, exploration, and story, giving you the journey that the developers intended. If you find that a bit on the easy side, you can increase it to Hard, which adds a bigger challenge for combat, so you’ll need to pay attention to the movement and attack patterns of all the enemies you meet so that you can find the right window of opportunity. After this comes Very Hard, in which every mistake you make in combat will have its consequences.

And then, we have the Custom difficulty setting. As the name suggests, this one will allow you to make extra changes to arrive at a special mix of settings so that you can tailor your experience. Along with selecting the overall difficulty, you can also change how much damage Aloy receives in combat, change the health of your enemies, activate the easy loot option, which makes it possible to loot all parts and resources from defeated machines even if you don’t destroy the specific parts that contain them before destroying said machine, adding an auto-heal function, and more. And no, activating any of these will not void any of the trophies because there are no difficulty-related trophies!

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On that note, what are you going to have to do to add another Platinum trophy to your collection? Well, there is some very good news for Horizon Forbidden West! First of all, the game is a Cross-Buy release, which means that with your purchase, you’ll get not only the PlayStation 5 version but also the PlayStation 4 version. On top of this, if you decide to play the PlayStation 4 version first – which, mind you, still looks great – then you can then upload your save to the cloud and import it to the PS5 version – or copy it from a USB if you don’t have both versions of the game downloaded to your PS5 and didn’t Platinum the PS4 version on said console – and all trophies will auto-pop… including the Platinum!

With this in mind, do consider this: there is a single missable trophy in the game, which is awarded for scanning one of each machine type. This is missable because, well… the final main story quest includes a pair of machines that only show up during said story quest, and if you don’t scan them, or scan them and then die, you will miss them and will have to replay the whole game! Because of this, I suggest that you make a backup save on USB when you start that final story mission, just in case you don’t get the two final scans needed for that particular trophy to pop.

As for the rest of the trophies? It’s a long list with 50 Bronze trophies (yes, I said 50!), 8 Silver trophies, and a lone Gold trophy. The requirements include the aforementioned scan all machine types, as well as increasing your player level to 20, 30, and 50, completing different story missions as you help the groups that you’ll find in Horizon Forbidden West, defeating at least one type of each Acquisition, Reconnaissance, Combat, and Transport machines, discovering and completing three relic ruins, obtaining one weapon from each weapon class, performing a stealth kill on 10 machines, learning all available skills for one skill tree, and more.

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There’s also a Photo Mode you can access by simply pausing the game. From the pause menu, open up Photo Mode, and you’re ready to go! Ghost of Tsushima featured an excellent Photo Mode, and Horizon Forbidden West also has a nice variety of options for you to tinker with. You can change Aloy’s pose, facial expression, face paint, hide Aloy in case you want to take a picture of the environment, decide if there is or isn’t going to be any lens flare on the shot, change the brightness and color intensity, or change the time of the day. You can change each element until it all just feels right before taking that memorable image you need.

It was a long wait, but Horizon Forbidden West has definitely been worth it. It’s the best-looking game on PlayStation 5, offering tons of content to take on between its story missions and the great variety of side-quests to complete, and a story arc that will keep you engaged from start to finish. A lot has happened to Aloy over the six months since HADES was defeated in Horizon Zero Dawn, and she’s ready to once again save everyone before it’s too late. Horizon Forbidden West is out as a Cross-Buy title, either in its Standard or Digital Deluxe editions, so you’ll get both the PS4 and the PS5 versions at no extra cost.

This Horizon Forbidden West review is based on a PlayStation 5 copy provided by Sony Interactive Entertainment.

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