Yesterday, Sony and its first studio Guerrilla Games unveiled a 14 minute gameplay trailer of their anticipated sequel to Horizon Zero Dawn, Horizon Forbidden West.
Sony’s first party studios rarely disappoint, they are usually first class in terms of graphics and in pushing technology forwards. Guerrilla Games crafted one of the most beautiful open world games of the last generation in HZD. To my delight, Horizon Forbidden West continues that tradition in a game that surpasses the visual brilliance of Ghost of Tsushima and even out shines standard bearer Red Dead Redemption 2 as far as open world games go.
Gorgeous foliage, along with some of the best (if not the best) water effects that I have seen in an open world game shined throughout the gameplay demo. The particle effects, and overall clarity of the image was astounding even though I watched the trailer at 1080p.
The underwater scenery, which can now be explored at Aloy’s leisure is just stunning, and unrivaled by any game that has come before it.
Machines look just as intricate as they did before, but the demo introduces a giant ‘elephant like’ machine, that resembles the giant elephants from Return of the King (Lord of the Rings film).
PlayStation 5 vs PlayStation 4
The trailer ran at a buttery smooth 30fps even in hectic areas. It will be interesting to see if the PS5 version offers a 60fps mode. The gameplay trailer was running on a PS5 console, and it certainly looked better than anything made for the PS4 (except The Last of Us 2, but that was a fairly linear game),so it will be interesting to see what type of cuts are made to get the game running on Sony’s older machines.
Guerrilla games is more capable than CDProjekt, so I wouldn’t expect a Cyberpunk 2077 situation here (especially since Horizon Zero Dawn was already spectacular looking on the base PS4). Still, I expect the base PS4 version to run at sub 1080p resolutions (even as low as 720p), that’s how good the trailer looked.
Unfortunately, unless HZD fans are willing to pay scalpers 2-3 times the base price of a PlayStation 5, most will be stuck playing the long awaited title on PlayStation 4 (or Pro). I assume Guerrilla is working hard to optimize it for base and pro PS4 consoles since most players will be experiencing the game on those systems.
The gameplay remains largely the same, but it has evolved. Now Aloy has new tools at her disposal. The trailer showed her utilizing the Shieldwing, which is a glider in the vein of Link’s own handy gliding tool in BotW. The Pullcaster which is a “hook shot” device that allows Aloy’s to reach different surfaces in quick fashion. My favorite addition however, is the Diving Mask.
The Diving Mask, allows for limitless underwater exploration, and given the beauty of the under water scenery shown on the trailer, this is definitely a game where you will spend hours upon hours on underwater sightseeing.
New combat moves, and skills are also showcased during the “boss” confrontation at the end of the trailer. It seems Horizon Forbidden West has been built upon the excellent foundations set by the previous title, and I couldn’t be more excited about this game’s potential.
A Majestic Single Player Experience
Horizon Forbidden West looks to continue the strong story telling effort set by its predecessor. Aloy finds herself on California this time around, and it seems like she has to fight a new enemy threat (Raiders riding machines) while preparing for (or trying to stop) an upcoming “storm”. Needless to say, I can’t wait for Sony to give us a release date, and more information about the title.
Sony has, and will continue to bet on large multimillion dollar single player experiences, and Horizon Forbidden West looks to continue that trend. While we will have to wait until we are further along the generation in order to see what the PlayStation 5 can really do within the open world genre, Horizon Forbidden West looking this good as a cross generation title is certainly a promising sign for future games to come.
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