How Horizon Forbidden West and Aloy make me happy

Horizon: Forbiden West is a game from Guerrilla Games, the studio that brought us Killzone. The story takes place in an oil-rich frontier land during 1880’s America and centers around Aloy, one of mankind’s first sentient machines. I’m happy to say this could be your chance to see what Horizon does best!

Horizon: Forbidden West is a role-playing video game developed by Playground Games and published by Sony Interactive Entertainment. The game was released on the PlayStation 4 in November 2016. Horizon: Zero Dawn, which was released in February 2017, has been praised for its narrative and gameplay. Read more in detail here: horizon forbidden west pc.

Horizon Forbidden West key art

Horizon Forbidden West is a lot of fun. (Sony photo)

Horizon Forbidden West is one of the finest games of the year, according to a reader, despite not reinventing the wheel.

In Horizon Forbidden West, I recently accomplished a fantastic narrative task. I knew it was wonderful because after I finished, I felt a nice flush of contentment, like if I had used my time well. I play games for enjoyment (this may seem self-evident, but judging by some scathing emails, I’m not certain it is true for everyone!) That tiny piece of gratification, to be completely immersed in a tale or a universe, and to have forgotten about the stresses of the day, is why I play. That is the nicest feeling I can get from gaming: happiness.

The task requires you to go to what seems to be what was formerly Las Vegas. I had the pleasure of visiting Vegas prior to my wedding (in San Francisco, no less; Aloy’s journey and our wedding tour have been strikingly similar), so I was delighted to see nods to Vegas landmarks along the strip, such as the mini-Eiffel Tower from the Paris hotel tantalizing you towards your goal, half buried in the shifting sands.

For reasons I won’t disclose, Aloy is exploring the underwater ruins of Sin City, and the deeper you go, the more landmarks are painstakingly reproduced – you could recognize Caesar’s Palace or the Bellagio as you swim, full of horror as you evade a few gigantic robo-crocodiles patrolling the area.

I wish I could say more about the mission, but I believe it is still too early for that. But I must say, it was a very unique and enjoyable experience, and the payoff at the end will undoubtedly be my game’s highlight. If it gets any better than that, I’m in for a real treat.

The reproduction of real-life locales has given the realm a depth of realism. The tale must balance reality and unbelievableness – a sci-fi story about a robot apocalypse might easily go into B-movie territory – but the reconstruction of real-world sites gives the world a sense of realism, and the story gets credibility as a result of the setting.

There’s a good movie below that compares various real-world sites with their virtual counterparts. (As a side note, George Lucas and his crew drew inspiration for the architecture of the planet Naboo from the brilliantly reproduced Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco!)

The characters, particularly Aloy, demonstrate this grounding. I’m aware that her glum demeanor is seen as a flaw by some. I recall a Reader’s Feature questioning why she wasn’t more fun or outgoing. While she isn’t really amusing, she does have a distinct personality. Stoic, single-minded, concentrated, courageous, and astute. Her personality influences how she interacts with others around her: she’s wary about pals she could have to leave or put in danger.

I understand the complaint that she may be dull… Would a happy-go-lucky Aloy, on the other hand, be fitting for her character? How else would she behave if the plot and environment were based on believability? She is the clone of a super-successful uber-nerd concerned with rescuing the world, and Aloy has a world to rescue as well. ‘The weight of your work is written plainly on your face,’ says a character early on, and it appears to sum up Aloy’s demeanor, so she best get cracking. She must rescue the planet.

Personalities surrounding her, on the other hand, have a more extraverted personality, and I’ve really like how the plot has Aloy naturally stumbling into other characters throughout the missions. It provides the game a good balance of loneliness in the wide world, but it also adds interaction and a new personality to certain plot objectives, allowing for more developed storytelling beyond Aloy’s (nearly continual) inner monologue.

 

Some readers have criticized the game for not accomplishing anything new, or have compared it unfavorably to Elden Ring. And Guerrilla’s awful timing in releasing the first so close to Zelda: Breath Of The Wild and then the second so close to Elden Ring — games that have the potential to alter open world design – is really astonishing. What I’d say about the gameplay is that if you liked Horizon Zero Dawn, you’ll probably like this. If you didn’t, nothing here can persuade you otherwise.

There are certain adjustments I like, especially how the missions and environment have been simplified to maintain the emphasis on growth. Side quests and objectives purposely loop you back to where you began, or if climbing is involved, you may rapidly rappel down to a fast travel point or employ the always gratifying glider. The amount of time spent gaming is limited to a bare minimum. However, they are modest tweaks. It’s essentially the same popcorn, open world experience as before, with no notable changes to the gameplay wheel. Whether this is a good thing or a bad thing depends on the player.

Despite the fact that my overall impression of the game is excellent, there is undoubtedly a list of little annoyances. The weapon upgrading system, in particular, has to be the most ridiculous. Upgrades will cost you shards, which should be plenty, but the finest upgrades will also cost you rare resources. You may use the uncommon resource to complete the Hunter’s Bow upgrade. However, not long after that, the reward will be… a better, ‘rarer’ Hunter’s Bow.

Much better to have a system as in The Witcher 3 or Soulsborne games, where you may improve your weapon of choice to make it useful for the duration of the game. As it is, each weapon seems flimsy and ordinary, and the excitement of attempting to improve your gear has been replaced with the worry of squandering your time.

The map, as well as how activities are distributed, is a touch too big and sloppy for my taste. After playing Metro Exodus at the start of the year, I was impressed by how thoughtfully the game adds side activities in a sensible manner that never seems overwhelming while yet maintaining enough mystery that you want to investigate. Horizon Forbidden West, on the other hand, is the polar opposite.

When you climb a Tallneck (which, by the way, has been absolutely wonderful), you’ll be inundated with map icons, much too numerous to tell what’s significant and what isn’t. The game also threw in so many missions, side quests, treasures, scavenger activities, board game players, hunting marks, and so on… that I felt overwhelmed, and the game was getting in the way of its own enjoyment.

Thankfully, you’re not alone. There is a long list of icons that you may turn on or off according to your preferences, making the map a more effective tool for charting your next trip without unnecessary distractions. Maybe it’s just a matter of taste. It’s all about having the flexibility to explore an open universe. I’ve had complete freedom to disregard most of the game, but there’s a reason the ‘Ubisoft formula’ is so often imitated: it works.

But it’s not for me. I’ve been playing the game as if it were a straight tale, with the occasional side mission accomplished (which are of a very high standard).

These, though, are minor quibbles in what I consider to be an excellent game. I still have three narrative missions to do, and each one has so far given some big storyline element or set piece, leaving me with that wonderful warmth of well-spent time. Horizon Forbidden West isn’t my favorite game of all time, but it does deliver exactly what I want from gaming: fun and imagination that transports me away from the sometimes depressing Covid-filled, impending nuclear warring world and into the TV screen (ironically, where the world has already ended and may happen again!).

For a few hours, I’m Aloy, rescuing the world while being a little smug about it, and nothing else matters until I switch off the TV. If not for that sensation, why do I play games?

Henshin Agogo, a reader

 

The reader’s feature does not necessarily reflect GameCentral or Metro’s opinions.

You may submit your own 500-600-word reader feature at any time, and it will be published in the next available weekend slot if it is used. As usual, send us an email at [email protected], and don’t forget to follow us on Twitter.

MORE: In Horizon Forbidden West, the worst robot is… Aloy – A Reader’s Pick

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MORE: The first official PlayStation cooperation is the Lego Horizon Forbidden West Tallneck kit.

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Horizon Zero Dawn is a game that tells the story of Aloy, who has been living in a world where humanity has been wiped out. The game is set to release on February 28th, 2017 for PS4 and Xbox One. Reference: horizon zero dawn release date.

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