As we prepare ourselves in the lead up to Horizon Forbidden West gameplay, here are some things I’d love to see included.
Horizon Zero Dawn was my escapism at a time I ready needed to get away from the world. Without going too much into it right now, my mental health was in a bad way when the game launched in 2017 and it soon became the medicine I needed and enough to get me through a really tough period.
I adored the lush landscapes, hunting down giant pre-historic machines and the beautifully crafted narrative but that’s not to say it didn’t have its flaws, too. As much as I was invested in its world, and without being overly dramatic, it did help save my life, there are a few elements I would like changed, some kept but mostly, I wanted more!
In Horizon Zero Dawn, Aloy was on a mission and only she knew how to deal with it. As much as I enjoyed the solidarity, at times, the emptiness of the world would have felt much fuller travelling with a companion.
We have seen how great this works in games like The Last of Us Part 2 and God of War where the dialogue is constantly kept flowing and you have someone to navigate tasks with. I think the introduction of an adventure partner would make for some epic gaming moments and something I would love to see in the sequel.
A More Complex Aloy
Ashly Burch, the actress behind Aloy’s voice, did an incredible job at portraying a vulnerable yet determined young woman in Horizon Zero Dawn but I think there’s a lot of room for Aloy to grow in Forbidden West.
At times, I found Aloy to be void of expression and emotion. Her facial expressions never quite matched how she was supposedly feeling on the inside and with the sequel, quite literally, on the horizon, I would love to see Aloy deal with the complexities that come with being a human in terms of becoming more aggressive, assertive, fiercer and showing her allowing herself to really let go.
A Fuller World
There’s no doubt about it, HZD’s world is a beautiful place and perfect for capturing that ideal picture but, unfortunately for the explorers, the structures and areas were boring and lifeless.
I feel that Guerrilla poured so much into the narrative and characters that they forgot that players do actually enjoy investigating and roaming around cities, ruins and villages that offer them something of value in return. As pretty as these areas were, they were artificial, hollow and their only real use was indulging in the game’s photo mode.
As we have seen from Horizon Forbidden West‘s last trailer, Aloy can now jump into the ocean and explore an underwater city. I hope this design element has also been spread across the rest of the lands to offer players an even greater and fuller experience.
More Side Quests
I really enjoyed many of the side quests in HZD but I feel that some could have been better implemented and provided a greater impact on the player, not to mention more of them. Taking a leaf from The Witcher 3, which in my mind is the masterclass of side quests, HZD could have benefitted much more and made further use of its map by including meaningful and enticing quests where some also affected the story along the way.
I hope in Horizon Forbidden West, we get to see locations being used to their full potential as well as the world-building and lore applied to a greater effect.
Seeing Through the Eyes of Another Character
I mentioned The Last of Us Part 2 earlier regarding the companion element, and mostly because I’m a huge fan of the game but in this instance, I feel that Horizon Forbidden West would benefit greatly from showcasing another character’s view of the world.
Being able to hop into someone else’s mind not only offers a greater understanding of that character that goes beyond a simple narrative conversation, but it also provides players with a more rounded and in-depth grasp of the world itself where it doesn’t solely revolve around one characters way of thinking.
I’m very excited to see what today’s State of Play Livestream brings in terms of quality to Horizon Forbidden West as we get to take a closer look at some gameplay. I hope that some, if not all, of these measures are implemented but regardless, I have a feeling Forbidden West could be a game that will come out top on my most beloved titles list.
Sony’s State of Play will take place today, 27th May 2021, at 2 pm PDT /5 pm EDT/10 pm BST/11 pm CEST.