If you thought the exploration in Horizon Zero Dawn was a little restrictive, then you're in luck. Horizon Forbidden West is adding free climbing, as well as a range of new traversal tools to help you move around its world.
What do we know about Horizon Forbidden West free climbing?
This news comes to us via an interview between Game Informer and Horizon Forbidden West execs Mathijs de Jonge and Benjamin McCaw. In the interview, de Jonge says there will be "more" than the grappling hook, glider, and oxygen mask we've seen so far. He also says Aloy will be "completely free" to climb rocks, mountains, and cliffs in the game. The original Horizon Zero Dawn featured predetermined climbing points, which were controversial among players due to the open nature of the world. There are also plenty of mobility-based quality of life improvements in Forbidden West, like Aloy being able to grab ledges just above her. Speaking to IGN, de Jonge says the team used an automatic system to determine whether a surface is climbable, so you'll be able to go straight over mountains instead of laboriously walking around them.
It sounds like Guerrilla has been working hard on overhauling a lot of Horizon Zero Dawn's systems for the sequel. Director de Jonge says the Horizon Forbidden West skill tree has been "completely redesigned" and populated with new skills, and that the team threw out the old skill tree in favor of a complete redesign. Forbidden West's melee combat has been "greatly expanded" over the original, and will now feature different combo attacks acquired through the new skill tree. There will also be a brand new workbench for upgrading weapons. Workbenches will be placed in settlements, and you'll be able to upgrade gear using resources you scavenge either from the world or from machines. The upgrade system will be much more "elaborate" than Zero Dawn's upgrade system.
Another new feature in Forbidden West is Valor Surges. They're effectively super moves that Aloy acquires through the new skill tree. You can build up your Valor Surge bar by executing combat moves skilfully, including landing headshots and detaching components from machines. According to de Jonge, Valor Surges are intended to be "big payoff moments" that reward good play with powerful combat boosts. Obviously, de Jonge is staying coy about what these Valor Surges will actually be, so you'll have to get stuck into the game itself to learn that.
What else did we learn about Horizon Forbidden West?
In Game Informer's interview, de Jonge and McCaw also discuss the narrative in Horizon Forbidden West. Six months have passed since the events of the original game, and Aloy is now on a mission to discover the source of the mysterious Red Blight that's sweeping the planet. Along the way, she'll meet and interact with old faces and new characters, including old friend Erend and wandering scholar Sylens. Speaking to GamesRadar, McCaw said the role of the companions has been "greatly expanded" this time around, and that Aloy's reputation has essentially been "reset" in Forbidden West's new locations. While the large majority of the game will take place in the titular Forbidden West, you'll also be revisiting some old locations, and McCaw says there will be "some surprises" as well. McCaw wouldn't discuss the biomes that are available in the game, but he did say there will be "many, many terrain types and climate types".
If you're a music nerd, you'll probably want to take a look at a new PlayStation Blog piece in which Forbidden West's composers discuss its score. All four composers - Niels van de Leest, Joris de Man, and duo The Flight - return from Zero Dawn, and they're joined by Oleksa Lozowchuk, who's worked on games for EA, Capcom, 2K, and more. We'll be hearing new tunes and returning favorites alike, so if you love Aloy's Theme, you'll be happy to know it'll be making a return in Forbidden West. It's well worth reading the full blog post if you want to get super-technical about music.
According to French gaming YouTuber Julien Chièze, Horizon Forbidden West will also come complete with a 60fps performance mode on PlayStation 5. You'll be able to choose between that smoother frame rate and a 30fps mode that emphasizes quality but lowers the frame rate. Guerrilla says development for Horizon Forbidden West is "on track", but de Jonge says the team is working in "strange times", and both de Jonge and McCaw refused to be drawn on whether the game would still arrive this year. We'll have to wait and see whether or not Horizon Forbidden West launches in 2021 or whether the game is delayed, as God of War Ragnarok recently was. We'll bring you more as soon as we get it.
Are you looking forward to these new Horizon Forbidden West features? Let us know in the comments below!