Horizon Forbidden West Review – I hadn’t played the previous game, Horizon Zero Dawn, when I was offered to review the Horizon Forbidden West. Some suggested to just watch some summary videos on YouTube to catch up with the story and start playing Forbidden West.
I resisted that easy way out and played Zero Dawn first. I wasn’t disappointed. Even though the game was released 5 years ago, it doesn’t look outdated and boy, the story twist is amazing after you find out what Zero Dawn actually means.
After completing the game, I then jumped into Horizon Forbidden West and glad that I could experience the lore & beautiful world all over again, but in better ways.
Compared to Horizon Zero Dawn, you’ll experience better graphics, better gameplay, more actions and puzzle-solving, lots of diving into the deep water, better melee combat, more variety of skills and weapons, and more.
In Horizon Forbidden West, you are back to save the world. The land is dying and time is running short. As Aloy, you must again fight the machines and try to unlock more secrets of the past to find out what’s going on and more importantly, how to prevent the end of the world. I didn’t want to say much just in case you haven’t played Zero Dawn yet while reading this review.
You’ll be meeting old friends from Zero Dawn, which is why I recommend to play Zero Dawn first as you’ll get attached to some of them like Erend.
Speaking of voice acting, the Forbidden West is full of good and memorable ones. Thanks to the newer graphics engine, the facial expression of the characters is better than ever and you can also see how well-polished the characters are. The textures are of high quality, and whatever armor you equip looks really good in the game. And yes, Aloy even has facial hair if you look at her closely during the cut scenes.
There are lots of different armours and weapons to purchase and collect in Horizon Forbidden West. They are all specialised in different things which reflect how you approach combat such as being stealthy, melee focused, close combat, etc. This way, you are not really required to get every armour possible in the game and in fact, you can save resources or focused on specific weapons and armours that will enhance your playstyle.
And to further support your specific playstyle, there are 6 different skill trees to browse and tons of different sets of skills to unlock. For example, there is a whole skill tree for melee combat – which was absent in Zero Dawn. In Forbidden West, melee combat definitely gets a lift up as you can do different light and heavy attacks combo that do different things. There are also a few cool moves that end with unleashing your arrow into the staggered enemy.
Another skill tree is reserved for you who like to slash your way while you are mounted or relying heavily on mounts. If you like traps, there’s that too.
While there are many skills you can unlock, you’ll find plenty of skill points to allocate as you don’t really need to unlock the trees that you are not going to use anyway. For example, I rarely use traps or mounts (apart from getting to a point faster) so I end up having about 50 skill points to allocate by the end of the game.
On each skill tree, you’ll also find special moves (Valor Surge) that you can execute when you have enough valor. The valor meter will increase in combat as you hit the enemies’ weak points and later, you can upgrade some skills to further help you fill the meter (such as gaining valor when you are getting hit). You can only equip one Valor Surge skill though, which is a pity.
There is also a new Weapon Technique skill that you can unleash, depending on what weapon you are equipping. Unleashing these skills will use the corresponding weapon stamina.
Like Zero Dawn, you can quickly switch to another weapon while in combat through the weapon scroll wheel. Unlike Zero Dawn though, there are a lot more arrow types/elementals this time such as Plasma and Purgewater. Juggling between elemental statuses and weaknesses is definitely the key point in winning tough battles, unless if you play on Normal or Easy difficulty where you should be fine without having to exploit these.
Since each weapon doesn’t usually have all the elemental and status arrows, you’ll be switching to different weapons often on harder difficulties. It can sound fun, or troublesome – whichever way you see it. As you can see below, the weapon scroll wheel can indeed look quite cramped and complicated as you have to pick on the weapon AND arrow type at the same time on the wheel during combat.
There are definitely lots of improvements from Zero Dawn to Forbidden West. What I like most is the inventory system. In Forbidden West, you can literally pick anything you can find in the world without worrying about your inventory limit. You do have an inventory limit per item, but the excess will go into your stash automatically. Once you are in front of your stash (which can be found in each settlements and towns), you can quickly do a resupply from your stash to your inventory. Smart.
Selling items to merchants is made easier now with a separate “Valuables to sell” section so you can quickly know which items are safe to sell.
There are also lots of new guided options (that you can choose to turn on or off) such as markers, etc.
You can fast travel to places other than campfires this time.
You can customise the colour of your armour with the dye system.
Overall, the Forbidden West is definitely better than Zero Dawn which is not surprising considering the sequel was launched a few years after. It also has great story twists and I really enjoy playing through both the side quests and main storyline until the end.
Horizon Forbidden West Review Conclusion
Horizon Forbidden West definitely delivers in all fronts: storytelling, gorgeous graphics, voice acting, variety of quests, skill trees, combat system – all delivered in a well-polished game.
There are also tons of little things that you may or may not notice, indicating how well-polished the game is. The actions you do after certain dialogues sometime will trigger extra dialogue commenting on your action. There are also different banters you’ll hear from your companions after completing certain missions. And when you have done certain actions before even triggering a quest, the game will automatically detect this and trigger a different dialogue acknowledging your completed actions. There are a lot more examples you’ll find as you play the game.
With freedom to do what you want in the gorgeous world and freedom to choose how you want to fight, Horizon Forbidden West is a great game for all types of gamers. Difficulties can be changed at all times and guides + markers can be enabled to make it easier to spot climbing points and to go to your destinations. Or, you can choose to disable all these to make the game more challenging.
Disclosure: Horizon Forbidden West review licence for PS5 was supplied for reviewing
Horizon Forbidden West Review
A very well-polished sequel to the Horizon Zero Dawn