Horizon Forbidden West, the sequel to 2017’s Horizon: Zero Dawn, promises to continue the adventures of Aloy as she journeys across the post-post-apocalyptic U.S., fighting robot dinosaurs, and exploring sunken ruins. With PlayStation and Sony announcing the game at their June 2020 PlayStation 5 reveal event, the speculation train has officially left the station.
We’ve gone ahead and rounded up everything we know about Horizon Forbidden West, including release date, story, new gameplay, and new machine creatures Aloy will encounter, and more.
Horizon Forbidden West is confirmed for the PS5 and Guerilla Games is “aiming” to release it in 2021. That’s all developer Guerilla Games has said about the sequel so far. That means it won’t be a release window game for the PlayStation 5, which is launching during the “holiday 2020” window.
Horizon Forbidden West Story: New Threats, New Locations
When we last left Aloy at the end of Horizon Zero Dawn, she had defeated the rampant A.I. HADES. Along the way, Aloy also learned the truth about the world: How a company named Faro Automated Solutions lost control of its army of military robots that could subsist on any biomass for fuel, and how Aloy is a clone of Dr. Elisabet Sobeck, the researcher in charge of “Project Zero Dawn” (a vast network of cloning facilities) and how GAIA, the A.I. system that was corrupted by HADES, was responsible for reseeding the earth after it was once again habitable — and that’s just the Cliff Notes version.
In the reveal trailer, we see a new threat emerge, which Guerilla Games calls the “red blight.” It manifests as a moldy mass of red vines that can infect its way into lifeforms and the surrounding environment. Aloy finds a fox (a real one, not a robo-fox) that’s been infected and on death’s door before another, considerably larger creature interrupts her.
It’s currently unclear if the red blight infects robotic lifeforms rather than just organic, like the corruption that plagued the robots in the first game. The red blight is also seemingly responsible for the “supercell storms,” a chaotic swirl of wind and red lightning that covers the sky.
Aloy’s journey to address this new threat will evidently take her from Utah out to the west coast, specifically a post-post-apocalyptic San Francisco. In the reveal trailer, we see an underwater ruin resembling San Francisco’s Palace of Fine Arts, which is a mere eight-minute walk from the north bay coastline.
All that said, HADES was not fully destroyed by Aloy. Sylens (played by Lance Reddick), the former leader of the HADES-worshipping Eclipse organization and the deuteragonist of Horizon Zero Dawn, managed to contain a portion of HADES in a mysterious jar-like device and take it with him to an unknown desert location where a giant war machine lay dormant. There, Sylens told HADES he would discover who originally sent the signal to activate the malicious A.I. It’s still unclear if all the red blight plaguing the west is HADES’ doing, though. Sylens has also seemingly joined a new faction that’s fond of capturing and corrupting robots.
Other brief glimpses in the reveal trailer show that Aloy will at some point visit the Sierra Nevada mountains (where another dormant war machine rests) and the Embarcadero Ferry Building on San Francisco’s Pier. We also see Aloy dust off a sign reading “casino” in simplified Chinese, indicating we may visit Las Vegas, although it could be a part of San Francisco’s Chinatown. Another few shots show the rounded top of the mountains El Capitan and Half Dome in Yosemite, about 200 real-life miles east of San Francisco. A final shot gives us a sweeping view of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge.
Horizon Forbidden West Gameplay
We haven’t seen any actual gameplay of Horizon Forbidden West so far, but a few images in the reveal trailer indicate some changes are possibly on the way.
The most notable addition seems to be Aloy donning a breathing mask and diving beneath the waves of San Francisco’s waters. Aloy can be seen swimming between some seaweed and reeds before an alligator-like snapjaw swims overhead. Aloy appears to hide amongst the reeds, much like the tall grass that provided stealth in the first game, allowing the snapjaw to swim by unaware. It’s currently unclear how combat will work underwater, or if Aloy is fish food the moment she’s caught by a larger predator.
We also see Aloy climbing a ludicrously steep cliffside. Some criticized Horizon Zero Dawn for only allowing players to climb certain stretches of rock, rather than allowing them to climb anything like in 2017’s Breath of the Wild. It’s unclear if Guerilla Games is shooting for more traversal options or if this was just meant to show off the great heights she’ll be reaching in her travels.
As for traversal options, we see Aloy once again riding a horse-like steed (probably a broadhead), but the trailer does show a new type of flying machine, dubbed “sunwings,” that resemble pterodactyls mixed with vultures. Guerilla hasn’t said whether or not you’ll be able to fly on these creatures in Forbidden West, but fans can certainly hope.
A final shot of Aloy facing down a tribe sporting corrupted and armored elephant-like robots may indicate that Guerilla Games is aiming for larger battles between factions of humans and machines, though we’ve yet to see anything of that nature yet, and Guerilla hasn’t confirmed anything of the sort.
Guerilla Games has also stated that due to the PlayStation 5’s computing power, there will be virtually no loading time when fast-traveling across the map, which the game’s director has stated will be a bit bigger than Zero Dawn’s.
New Creatures in Horizon Forbidden West
One of Horizon Zero Dawn’s biggest draws was its variety of robotic creatures, from the tyrannical thunderjaw, the towering tallnecks, to the aerial glinthawks and more. Some new creatures were briefly teased in Horizon Forbidden West’s reveal trailer.
Here we see the “shellsnapper,” resembling a massive tortoise with its powerful jaws and moss-covered backside. It appears to reside in swampy environments, but we wouldn’t be surprised to see it show up across much of the coastal environments we’ll see throughout the game.
We also see the dormant remains of a “metal devil,” the immense machines that instigated the world-ending Faro plague. It’s unclear if we’ll see one in action, considering even one of these murderous machines would spell doom for the surrounding area.
We briefly see a hologram of a dragon flying around Aloy in a desert environment, although it’s unclear if this is just a hologram of a folkloric illustration of a dragon or an actual robotic creature.
We can see Sylens and his new crew subduing boar-like robots for their seemingly nefarious means.
The new “sunwings” can be seen flying above the San Francisco skyline. They’re definitely smaller than the Glinthawks that pursued Aloy in Zero Dawn, but it’s unclear if Aloy will be able to subdue and ride one.
Lastly, we get a look at the “trumortusk,” an elephant-like robot, some of which have been overridden by a tribe of humans and outfitted with spiked armor. The scene of the tribe and their trumortusks preparing to charge Aloy echoes the memorable mumakil charge in The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King during the battle of Pelennor Fields.
If you’re eager for more info, check out IGN’s Horizon Forbidden West hub page, where you can find all our previews and more. Don’t forget to check out everything we know about the PlayStation 5, including other confirmed exclusive games from Sony.