Aloy returns in a game that is bigger, bolder and better than Zero Dawn.
It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of Horizon Zero Dawn, the 2017 action adventure from Sony Interactive and Guerrilla Games. The main character, Aloy, is one of my favourite game characters of all time and the game itself just felt like something completely different from anything I’d played before, in addition to have a great storyline.
Forbidden West keeps most of what made Zero Dawn work. Guerrilla haven’t reinvented the wheel for this sequel but they have given Aloy some new tools, the most important being a handy grappling hook, and vastly improved her climbing skills by making hills and mountains far more accessible and, in the process, opening up the game world.
The story follows on from the first game, so it’s well worth making yourself familiar with that before you start. There are a lot of call-backs and cameos, and it really helps if you’re already invested in the cast. In addition to the lands that Aloy traversed in the original, Forbidden West, as it’s name suggests, opens up a huge new game world with a very different look and feel to it. Those who are familiar with the lands of the Nora, Carja and Oseram (a future version of Colorado and its neighbouring US states) will really feel like these are foreign lands to them and the new tribes encountered there all have their own unique rules and rituals. Most of them also need Aloy’s help, whether they know it or not, but its the imminent threat of the extermination of all life that drives Aloy towards the West in order to find answers and a way to stop another apocalypse.
Side Quests are another thing that Guerrilla have hugely improved upon, though they can often provide quite distracting. Some will provide weapons or techniques that will be essential for solving main quests later in the game, others provide interesting sub-plots, characters and one even changed the aesthetic of a whole area of the game and is well worth seeing,
The machines are back, of course, and provide most of the action, alongside some even bigger mechanical monstrosities that really impress on screen. New techniques are required in order to successfully take these on but the game deftly manages to ride a good line between hand holding and letting you figure these out for yourself, giving you the arsenal and a few missions with which to learn to use it before shoving you into a full battle and letting you pick and choose from what you’ve learnt.
Even near the end of the game, Forbidden West still manages to find new things to throw at you, both in terms of skills and story twists. It keeps you engaged right until the end. It’s likely that we’ll see a second sequel in the Horizon series and based on Forbidden West, I’ll be first in line to join in the adventure.