Horizon Forbidden West is the follow-up to the 2017s critically acclaimed Horizon Zero Dawn. Taking place around six months after Aloy defeated HADES to become the “Saviour of Meridian” all should be good in this post-apocalyptic world ravaged by machines with humanity’s survival on the brink of extinction. However, that is not the case.

Hoping that HADES has been destroyed for good, aided by her good friend Vari, Aloy discovers that the remains of HADES have been stolen by the dastardly Sylens. It’s unclear what Sylen’s intentions are, but if you know this sly individual, it’s probably safe to assume that there is a selfish gain. Upon discovering Sylen’s scheme, he invites Aloy to find him so that he may share the knowledge of HADES.

Unfortunately, that is not the only concern of Aloy, as a deadly virus has plagued the lands and threatens to exterminate all life as we know it. Is there a connection between Sylens and the plague? If Aloy is to discover the intentions of Sylens and save the world once more, she must venture into the Forbidden Lands. Oh, the lands are also on the brink of a civil war between its tribes, so yeah, Aloy has her work cut out for sure.

horizon forbidden west

Credit: Guerrilla Games

Horizon Forbidden West is a big game, really big. Not only in map size, but in sheer density too. Thankfully, Horizon Forbidden West is not a case of quantity over quality. If anything, neither aspect is sacrificed. If there was ever a sequel described as bigger and better, then it’s Horizon Forbidden West. There’s just so much to do, find hidden ruins, partake in salvage contracts, take out a dangerous tribe, and go for a spot of hunting. And of course, we have missions too, after all, in-between social activities, Aloy does have the world to save.

Despite its scale and with so much to do, Horizon Forbidden West does not feel like clutter. Everything has a purpose, whether it’s story progressions, resources to craft, improving precious gear or just level-up Aloy’s abilities. However, if you wanted to focus on the story missions, Horizon Forbidden West lets you focus on what you want to do and doesn’t feel like you’re being pressured into anything that feels like filler. Guerrilla Games has shown how to craft a meaningful and immersive world to explore as you please.

Aloy also has more tricks up her sleeve, she’s more agile, she’s a better climber and most impressively, she’s as charming and witty as ever. Without giving too much away, she also has plenty of new tools to play with too. As you may have seen in the various gameplay trailers, Aloy has a few key pieces of gear at her disposal, with more surprises to discover. The Pullcaster is a Batman-like grappling hook device that can not only help Aloy scale obstacles, but she can also pull objects and even grumble walls to explore new areas.

horizon forbidden west

Credit: Guerrilla Games

The Shieldwing takes a leaf out of Breath of the Wild and lets Aloy glide gracefully through the aim and hopefully reach high vantage points or even make a quick getaway. Finally, the Diving Mask does exactly what it says on the tin. With it, Aloy can search the waters for even longer to discover treasures, secret caves or hide from danger. Whether its cool gadgets are a trusty bow & arrow, much like its activities, all the weapons, gadgets, traps and more all serve their purpose and all should be utilised at least once to find what suits you in the Forbidden Lands.

As you would expect in the sequel, Horizon Forbidden West introduces plenty of new creatures, and political tribes all looking to rule the lands. However, as nature in this new world dictates, it’s the machines that dominate this earth. We have some of the old favourites such as the Thunderjaw, Behemoths, Scorchers and more. I’ll only name a few because discovering new creatures is part of the joy of this game. As you may have seen in the trailers you will encounter the Raptor-like Clawstriders, the viper-inspired Slitherfangs as well as the annoying Burrows. You’ll marvel at the wonder of at least one creature in this sequel, that’s until the shite charges right at you and kills you.

horizon forbidden west

Credit: Guerrilla Games

Thankfully, when you do die, the loading times (at least on PS5) are super quick and you’ll be back into the action in no time. Speaking of the PS5, this version of Horizon Forbidden West makes fantastic use of haptic feedback and adaptive triggers. However, much like any game that takes advantage of the DualSense controller features, it’s hard to explain. So, if you haven’t already, you’ll get an opportunity to experience them soon.

What you can experience, regardless of whether you play on PS4 or PS5 is the amazing soundtrack and wonderfully acted voice cast. I can hand on heart say that the soundtrack to the Horizon series is easily one of my favourites of all time. It’s so soothing to listen to the sounds and take in the ambience as you explore the world. The soundtrack also knows exactly when to crank up the tension when it’s needed. It says a lot to say that I use the Horizon soundtrack to chill out at home when I’m feeling stressed.

Furthermore, much like the first game, all the voice actors do an amazing job in the sequel. And I’m not just talking about the brilliance of Ashley Burch as Aloy and Lance Riddick as Sylens. Literally, everyone does an incredible job lending their voice talents. From the main cast to a side quest deliverer, from top to bottom, the cast of Horizon Forbidden West stands out from the crowd like no other.

Of course, we can’t talk about Horizon Forbidden West without saying how damn gorgeous this game is. Sure, I’m playing on the PS5, but even 207s Horizon Zero Dawn looks better than a lot of new-gen games today. So, you can be sure that this sequel looks awesome on PS4 too. I cannot praise its stunning world enough and the facial animation is amongst the best you’ll ever see. On PS5 you have two graphic modes.

You have Performance Mode which has a 1800p resolution at 60 frames-per-second. While Quality mode runs at a native 4K at 30FPS. I went into Horizon Forbidden West expecting to go with the Performance Mode, but oddly, Quality Mode seems to run smoother than I would expect to see from 30FPS. So, I chose Quality Mode, but it’s all a personal choice at the end of the day. To be honest, you can’t really go wrong with either choice. I did notice some graphical glitches at launch from time to time such as texture pop-in and NPCs behaving oddly. Thankfully, a patch has recently been released and from what I can tell, most of the issues appear to be fixed.

To conclude, to put it simply, Horizon Forbidden West is an absolute triumph. And to think, Guerrilla Games developed both the PS4 and PS5 alongside each other. Yet, it seems like no sacrifices have been made at the expense of the other. I said earlier that this sequel is bigger and better, and that couldn’t be any closer to the truth. Horizon Forbidden West takes up so much of my time because I simply cannot get enough of it. It’s one of those games that I can’t stop thinking about when I’m away from it. Speaking of which, I’ve got to go. After all, I’ve got a post-apocalyptic world to save. Horizon Forbidden West is the first must-have PlayStation exclusive this year.