Horizon Forbidden West is just around the corner, and I pre-ordered a copy the day I started writing this article. I am pretty stoked to play it. I have known this game was coming since the trailer came out in 2020, but IGN just shared its team’s experience playing four hours of the game, and everything about it got me even more hyped.
I spent hours soaking in all these big changes and things you should expect. And I spent even more reading into some theories about what the story will be like. Since most of the articles I read are all scattered across the internet, here’s a compilation of most of the improvements, new features, and possible storylines for Horizon Forbidden West.
So sit back, read along, and put that pre-order in! (If you already played the first game, of course!)
What Even Is Horizon Forbidden West?
I’m not going to waste a lot of words here. If you don’t know what Horizon Forbidden West is, it’s the sequel to Horizon Zero Dawn, a game released back in 2017. If you haven’t played Horizon Zero Dawn yet, I highly suggest closing this article and playing through that first.
Many spoilers and references to the first game will be mentioned here. Consider this your massive spoiler warning!
What Will the Story of Horizon Forbidden West Be About?
Horizon Forbidden West is set six months after the events of Zero Dawn. Our protagonist, Aloy, is back at saving the world again. But this time, it will be even more intense. Why?
GAIA is back online (so I’m assuming we’ll have to play to restore GAIA) and there are now tribes who control machines. Aloy is even shown meeting a mysterious woman named Tilda (played by Carrie-Anne Moss. Yes, Trinity from The Matrix!).
The most noticeable thing about Tilda is how futuristic she looks. She might be an Android, a Human, or an AI. Whatever she is, I think it’s almost certain that she has knowledge of the old world.
There’s also this trailer that showed some of the tribes present in the upcoming game. At the end, it mentions “rumors of a stronger tribe,” so I think those rumors probably refer to a tribe or group of humans that survived the Faro Plague a thousand years ago.
While there are many ways they could have survived all this time, they were likely from space. Here’s a theory on Reddit from u/DoctorVisible8130 that elaborates on this. If they are survivors of the old world, I bet that Tilda is a part of them.
We can’t say for sure, and there are a lot of things to discuss and theorize, but at the very least, I think we’ll soon discover more stories about what really happened to the “old ones” and why they went extinct.
I mentioned that the Forbidden West would be way more intense, right? I’ll tell it straight: I think that the main antagonist will be whoever or whatever activated the Faro Plague and sent the signal to wake up HADES prior to the events of Horizon Zero Dawn.
We might also have a great boss fight with HADES (and probably Sylens, too). If you recall the ending of Horizon Zero Dawn, Sylens captured HADES and asked him to reveal a lot more knowledge, including who HADES’ masters are who woke HADES up.
One of the main threats in the Forbidden West is a collapsing biosphere that threatens to kill all life. The threat is caused by chaotic weather and the red blight, an ailment that threatens to destroy the environment.
So far, the only information we have about the red blight is that it infect the lands, choking wildlife, starving animals and other tribes, according to Mathijs De Jonge, a director of the upcoming game.
Other than that, there are new tribes, which might mean new allies, but it likely means new enemies.
This time around, there will be a rebel group led by someone named Regalla. They can control machines, which probably make them the most dangerous humans in Forbidden West (other than the metal world survivors if they are present).
Besides humans, there are a lot of new machines. I won’t mention all of them here, but if you want to see them, here’s a list of all the new and returning machines.
Two machines that immediately caught my attention are the Slitherfang, which resembles a giant cobra, and the Tremor Tusk, which looks like a mammoth. These are probably the most intimidating machines that are confirmed to appear.
But rumors are floating around that Metal Devils, or Titan machines might awaken in Horizon Forbidden West. For context, those machines are as big as mountains, and they will make the Slitherfang and Tremor Tusk machines look like tiny toy robots.
Now that we’ve covered the possible stories and characters in Horizon Forbidden West, let’s talk about some of the new tools that will make exploring the Forbidden West more exciting.
The Shieldwing is a new tool allowing Aloy to glide (like in Zelda: Breath of the Wild). We don’t know a lot about it yet, but it apparently was supposed to be included in the first game.
If you are a gamer, I bet you know what a grappling hook is. The Pullcaster is basically a grappling hook.
The biggest tool upgrade might be the Focus. So far we know it can do these two things:
The Focus can show clues, targets, and identify machines. But a welcome addition is that it can now alos show and mark climbing points! That’s an upgrade compared to handhold points in the previous game.
If you’ve ever experienced spending minutes trying to find handhold points to climb a cliff in the first game, you know how big of a deal this is.
One game mechanic in the first game is targeting machine parts. You can hit specific parts to kill the machine faster or harvest machine parts. But the thing is, targeting these parts needs you to point at a certain part carefully. During heated battles and encounters, you can’t really stay still long enough to know which part to target. It could get extremely frustrating.
In Horizon Forbidden West, the Focus will now allow you to lock your target on different machine parts just by pressing your left and right d-pad buttons.
Here’s a Horizon Forbidden West Gameplay demo on PS5 that shows Aloy fighting a Tremor Tusk. You can also see the Pullcaster, Shieldwing, and Focus in action!
A Better Open World Experience
Horizon Forbidden West will feature a larger open-world map. The previous game’s map was a post-apocalyptic version of the United States, but it only spanned from Colorado to Utah. If you include the Frozen Wilds DLC, the northmost part of the map included Wyoming.
With Horizon Forbidden West, the map will reach all the way to the west coast. The trailer already showed some landmarks like the Golden Gate Bridge in California (I think Aloy’s going to Silicon Valley!).
With a larger map, Guerilla Games improved the open-world experience (especially compared to how some parts of HZD felt).
I already mentioned that climbing was improved thanks to the Focus device. But the real improvement is this:
Swimming and Diving
Swimming is already present in Horizon Zero Dawn. But it’s just not satisfying, especially with Snapmaws living in the only places you can swim.
But diving? Now that’s something new, and it’s not just for eye candy. It’s also a new game mechanic that you can use to hide from machines and other enemies.
Faster Loading Screens
This probably has more to do with the new PS5 console and its SSD storage than with the game itself. But still, faster loading screens do improve exploration since fast travel won’t be super frustrating anymore! Well, for everyone except people like me who will playing Forbidden West on the PS4.
As I mentioned earlier, this game has a huge map. But games with huge maps tend to make the open-world experience a bit too barren. Just look at Red Dead Redemption and, of course, Horizon Zero Dawn.
Horizon Forbidden West will make the environment more lively by putting in more NPCs with more random animations.
Interactions between characters also seem to have improved with better facial and body animations.
Clear a Bit of Space on Your PlayStation
This is going to be a large game so you might want to clear some space on your PlayStation to make room for Horizon Forbidden West.
How much you need to clear will depend on your region. U.S. copies will have a download size of around 86 GB. In contrast, EU copies will have a larger size of 96 GB (probably due to having extra language options).
If you have a brand spanking new PS5, Horizon Forbidden West and other upcoming games might be a good reason for you to use the PS5’s SSD expansion slot. Here are our SSD recommendations for your PS5.
How Long to Beat?
For Horizon Forbidden West, it’s rumored to take as long to beat as Horizon Zero Dawn which is around 22-40 hours. Make it 60 if you want to finish everything.
With all the new tech and improved graphics, not to mention better gameplay, I think Horizon Forbidden West will be worth it. Heck, I’d buy the game for the story alone.
Pre-Order Your Copy
Here’s an affiliate link to a Launch Edition of Horizon Forbidden West if you want to support A Little Bit Human when you pre-order:
And if you want to discuss more gaming stuff like this, join our Discord server. If you’re still not sure it’s worth the price, check back here after it’s released because I’m also going to write a review as soon once I play it!