I’ve Played a Bit: Horizon Forbidden West (PS4)

Screen capture from PS4 Horizon Forbidden West

Horizon: Zero Dawn is one of my favorite games of 2018 and, the more I’ve thought about it, one of my all time faves. I loved every part of it – Aloy was a strong, feisty heroine. The world was huge and gorgeous and fun to explore. The fight mechanics were more than just hack & slash, but required strategy and different approaches, which could work with several different play styles. And the story. I loved the story so much, both Aloy’s journey and the entire backdrop of the world.

I was cautiously optimistic when the sequel was announced – of course I wanted to run around with Aloy again, but was there more story to tell? Turns out, yes! Picking up right where Zero Dawn left off, Forbidden West puts Aloy on a mission to save the world again. While she averted the crisis of rogue AI Hades taking over in the last game, she didn’t fix the overall problems, the ones that caused Hades to become a threat. And while that story would have been enough to support the game, Guerrilla Games added a bonus layer.

Screen capture PS4: Aloy

One of my complaints about the game is there is SO MUCH MORE. I understand wanting to get extra with the sequel, but the amount of new weapons, armor types, and skill trees that unlock bonus actions…I’ve felt a bit overwhelmed at times. Some of it just learning what Aloy has at her disposal, but the game doesn’t go over much of that in the tutorial, which is more of a refresher on the basic abilities of the character. But in addition to Aloy’s basic bow, she has a smaller, up close warrior bow (I guess the equivalent of a shotgun bow?), a throwing spear, sticky bombs, and then modifications on the original arsenal.

I’ve played for dozens of hours now, leveling up to 21 and going back to tackle the levels below me to find new equipment and gear that will help me battle the machines of the West. I can’t tell if I am missing items from these quests and that is why I don’t have specific arrow types or if they are just not available to me at the moment. I don’t remember this many armor types in the previous game either, but I do tend to put on an outfit and just stick with it so it is possible I just leveled up one and moved on.

Speaking of leveling up, with so many items to level up, the act of finding materials is even more intentional. Before I tended to just find items after machine battles or when hunting for food, but I am finding as the game advances, I’m going to have to go on personal side quests to get the parts I need to upgrade items.

Oh and we have to talk about Machine Strike – the game within the game. This trend seems to be going strong in video games, and while Machine Strike is no Gwent, I do find myself drawn to the board game tables as I wander certain towns…perhaps because the NPCs at the table remind me of myself, sitting with their game all set up, yelling out that they will play with literally anyone willing to sit down…

BUT ANYWAY! I completed the tutorial table and have done a couple other tables as I passed through towns. It is a nice diversion when you just need a break from the action and fighting. I do feel like there is enough strategy that just collecting all the pieces won’t automatically equal a win, which I like.

Also, photo mode is ridiculously fun in this game, with Aloy’s many poses leading to some gorgeous landscape shots…and also ridiculous ones, like this:

Screen capture PS4: probably a little disrespectful to pose next to a downed machine like this…

All in all, I am enjoying this game a lot. There is SO much to do and explore and I keep bouncing between side quests and the main mission, not wanting to end it all too quickly but also wanting to find out how it will all end.

Are you playing Horizon: Forbidden West? Have you played Horizon: Zero Dawn? How are your adventures going? What is your playstyle? Let me know in the comments or link to your own posts!

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