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I loved Horizon’s story, the open world, and the battles: Zero Dawn, Sony’s Guerrilla Games’ big PlayStation 4 hit. I was not at all surprised that the title of the female character Alloy has sold more than 20 million copies since its inception in 2017.
And I’m not surprised that Sequel Horizon: Forbidden West is a great game. I played on the PlayStation 5 and finished the story after dozens of hours of play. And I was shocked to learn that I completed only 30% of the content in the game after the credits roll. I probably put a good 50 hours in it (my timer wasn’t exactly 167 hours). I must remember that when I finished the first game I was only 32% by content.
I enjoyed going into battle with the crazy and terrifying machines of the post-apocalyptic world and uncovering the intricacies of complex storytelling. In the early part of the game it was very difficult to fight against those machines with underpower alloys. But I also enjoyed keeping those animals and riding on them or flying in the endless sky.
As you can see on social media, Horizon: Forbidden West is one of the most beautiful games you’ll ever play, with the PS5’s graphics capabilities delivering some awesome visuals as well as quick-action combat at the same time.
I thought some of the boss fights were very tough. If you don’t level up, going behind some big machines is suicidal. But over time, if you do enough missions and side quests, you will become stronger and will be able to allocate points to different characteristics and become more powerful or skilled. Fighting a boss like Regalla would have been very difficult if you had not mastered a variety of battles, including escaping.
I worked with the boss, shooting a variety of arrows, setting traps, and engaging in as many melee fights as I could. Some of those boss battles seemed to last forever, like the boss battles I faced in Halo: Infinity. It felt good to get through it when you finished. Finding some side was also very difficult. And it was so much fun.
By the end of the game, I had completed 17 main missions, eight side questions and two tasks. I sent 262 machines (one by one, some of them with gigantic boss beasts) and 106 men. It was boring and rewarding.
What would you like
This story is one of the best sci-fi post-apocalyptic stories I’ve ever seen that can sustain itself in such a long game. You don’t feel like you’re just playing a map game because the story takes you to both the past and the future when you try to unravel a mystery and save the whole world, against all odds.
I loved exploring the depths of the world through new mechanics like aviation. At the beginning of the game after you fight Regalla’s dirty tricks, you get a shield that you can use as a glider. The glider lets you jump off mountain peaks or tall buildings and slowly floats down to the ground.
You can also gain access to some flying machines at the end of the game and call them whenever you want. By this time in the game, you will have unlocked many fast travel links and so it will help you to get a lot more. But sometimes flying is the best way to go to war. I unlocked the sunwing machine mount after the upgrade so I could embroider and override the machine later.
When you’re hoping to climb to the top of the Talanek, a giant mechanical beast that can map the entire area for you, it’s often easier to get out of the Flying Mount and fall to the top of the Talanek. I also used a lot of flying mounts to fight some of the biggest beasts in the game. On the ground, those beasts surrounded me and tore me apart. But when I had a flying mount, I could call it in, escape, make a surprise attack on an animal from above, and then call the mount back when I could. The alloy became more dangerous when it could attack from above.
Swimming was also a pleasure. At some point in the story, you gain access to the swimming mask and the accompanying oxygen source. It allows you to dive deeper for longer, and you can explore the entire underwater city and fight with underwater machines or hide from them.
Only by flying and swimming did I realize that the world of the first game was much more limited than the sequel. Just by unlocking these abilities, you realize that the world is truly three-dimensional, and you have a lot to explore in the world of Horizon: Forbidden West. Compared to the new game, the old world of Horizon’s first game seems so flat.
Which you may not like
I have nothing more to say on this front. I think the alloy is very light on emotions this time. She almost never looks sensitive, and she has very little sympathy for the beta, which is her own DNA-based version, which is easily discouraged. The alloy eventually comes around with a hug and communicates on a human level. I understand that the developers saw her as a strong warrior who had no patience for weakness. She doesn’t like meditation or pomp, and she hates anything that slows her down.
But the narrators risked turning her into a robot when she faced so much suffering in the world around her. I admired it when some different twists were taken in the description that revealed more shades of the alloy’s character and its weaknesses. But I don’t think the character design is flawed.
I had some rare crashes while playing, but starting backups and getting back to where I was was so easy that this was no problem. I found only one side search that I could not complete. I made it into every part of Shadow of the West Side Quest until I reached the final boss and his annoying machine. It took me a while to get competitive in that fight, but then the game kicked me out of the chamber where the boss fight took place. The door was red instead of blue, and I had no way to get back into the chamber. I went back countless times, and it never reset.
As the story took its various twists and turns and led to its conclusion, I went on the final expedition. I didn’t level out some important weapon types and I thought I could get through them. But it turned out that some of the new enemies I encountered were only sensitive to certain types of weapons that I did not have.
I made all the way to the final boss fight of this game, but I couldn’t win it with the weapons I carried. So I restarted the previously saved game and bought and leveled the gear I wanted. Then I went back to the full endgame, and it went much easier. The final battle was still tough, but I defeated it in my third attempt.
I’ve seen a lot of people say they’ve left Horizon: Forbidden West to play other games like Gran Turismo 7 and Elden Ring. I’m in the middle of the Alden Ring right now, and I think my training wheels are on. But I will not leave Horizon: Forbidden West, because I think this will be one of the best games of 2021.
Mike Minotti actually reviewed the game for us. But for my own review, I give the game a 5 out of 5.
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