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Horizon Forbidden West trailer, release date, gameplay, and more

Horizon Forbidden West
(Image credit: Sony)

Horizon Forbidden West will one again see players take control of Aloy, a hunter braving an Earth reclaimed by nature — and the animalistic machines that inhabit it — long after an apocalyptic event.

Sony revealed the game, a sequel to 2017’s Horizon Zero Dawn, last June. It’s set for launch later this year on the PS5 and PS4, and following a recent PS5 State of Play, we’ve finally seen Horizon Forbidden West in action.

While this footage was but a short glimpse Horizon Forbidden West, here’s everything we know about the game so far.

Horizon Forbidden West release date 

horizon forbidden west

(Image credit: Sony)

Horizon Forbidden West is currently slated for a 2021 release. Given we're already in the Spring of the year, it doesn't look like it'll arrive until at least the Fall of 2021. 

Furthermore, it could even end up getting pushed back to 2022 if the game’s scale proves the need for extra levels of polish. in a recent PlayStation Blog post, Hermen Hulst, head of PlayStation Studios, said: "For Horizon, we think we are on track to release this holiday season. But that isn’t quite certain yet, and we’re working as hard as we can to confirm that to you as soon as we can."  

From that we could posit Horizon Forbidden West is on track for a release this year, probably towards the end of 2021. That could be optimistic thinking on our part, but the game looks like it's a good way into it's development. 

Horizon Forbidden West latest news

In an interview with Game Informer, Horizon Forbidden West game director Mathijs de Jonge noted that the game has been made for the PS4, meaning it will deliver a "great experience" but will also come with a slew of graphics improvements for the PS5. 

“For the PlayStation 5 we can go much further, of course,” the developer explained. “Visually we can add a lot more detail. Graphically, the rendering technique for the underwater scenes is special for the PlayStation 5, it has extra details and extra systems, like the wave technique is better on that system.”

Horizon Forbidden West trailer

Horizon Forbidden West Sony State of Play

The vertical slice of gameplay footage shown during Sony's PS5 State of Play event gave us our first look at Horizon Forbidden West in action; you can view the whole thing yourself below. It begins with Aloy hiding from the new, velociraptor-like Clawstrider machines, which quickly force her into an pacey escape.

This first action sequence demonstrated several new mechanics, like a quick scan mode for Aloy's Focus device: this instantly marks up handholds she can grab to traverse the environment. Aloy also gets a new grappling hook gadget that lets her zip to marked anchor points.

We also got to see the added underwater exploration, which can involve finding spots to boost Aloy through strong currents. She's equipped with a breathing mask, so you won't need to come up for air.

Later, an encounter with human enemies provided the chance to show off Aloy's new combat moves, which include longer melee combos and an activatable power-up for her spear — complete with dramatic super move animation — that makes short work of a tribal miniboss.

horizon forbidden west

(Image credit: Sony)

The climax, a battle against the mammoth-like Tremortusk and its human masters, is a symphony of Horizon Forbidden West's new tricks. There's grappling, new explosive spear and movement-slowing sticky bomb weapons, and Aloy's Shieldwing glider: a hard-light parachute that looks as useful for escaping a collapsing building as it does for more peaceful traversal.

The latter half of the preview shows Aloy battling a rebel faction of the Tenakth, a Western tribe whose people are only met briefly in Horizon Zero Dawn. But there'll still be more familiar faces along for the ride, including Aloy's buddy Erend, seen here as the moustachioed damsel in distress.

Horizon Forbidden West gameplay 

We know from Horizon Zero Dawn that the Forbidden West is an area of North America that lies beyond the land of the Carja tribe, and is a dangerous part of the land full of murderous machines. From this and the footage of glistening beaches and mountainous terrain, as well as glimpses of a ruined Golden Gate Bridge and the San Francisco landmarks like the Ferry Building and the Transamerica Pyramid, Horizon Forbidden West takes place on the West Coast of a post-apocalyptic USA.

Game director Mathijs De Jonge noted that the overall size of Horizon Forbidden West will be “a bit larger” than its predecessor but will take advantage of the PS5 SSD tech and avoid the need for virtually any loading screens. 

Speaking of beaches, the trailer showed Aloy in some form of cobbled together scuba gear to drive beneath the sea and explore submerged buildings while avoiding crocodile-like robots. But the game also seems to involve climbing snow-capped mountains and exploring caverns filled with long-lost technology.

And alongside killing robot dinosaurs you’ll also once again be able to take them over and use them as a mount to navigate the open world.

Horizon Forbidden West story 

As mentioned, Horizon Forbidden West will see you fill the boots of Nora hunter Aloy and appears to follow on from the ending of Horizon Zero Dawn. We know that by the appearance of Sylens, a somewhat enigmatic character from the first game who had intimate knowledge of the Hades AI that was the intent of wiping out life on Earth. 

The AI caused the spread of corruption that not only turned the robots dinosaurs and creatures more violent but also poisoned the land around it. That corruption looks to be back in Horizon Forbidden West, with Aloy noting that it needs to be stopped before it wreaks havoc on a world that’s recovering from the first apocalypse. 

Horizon Forbidden West

(Image credit: YouTube)

A new fanatical adversarial cult looks like it’ll also present a hurdle that Aloy will have to overcome. And she’ll be in for a fight as a robotic woolly mammoth was shown off in the thrall of said cult, which will likely require some smart tactics to take down.

That’s all we know, but we’d forecast a few plot twists to take place as well as there being hidden items, quests, and locations that provide more insight into the world before it met its doom from what was essentially a bit of stupid programming.

Horizon Forbidden West outlook  

All Horizon Forbidden West really needs to do is build upon the critically-acclaimed Horizon Zero Dawn.

With the power of the PS5, the DualSense controller, and the 3D Audio capabilities, Horizon Forbidden West should look, feel and sound very impressive; going by the footage so far it looks rather beautiful. 

Horizon Forbidden West

(Image credit: Sony)

Ideally, some more RPG elements and the ability to better shape the story and interact with the world wouldn’t go amiss. 

But Horizon Zero Dawn still feels fresh to play today, so if Gurrila Games can simply evolve that formula with Horizon Forbidden West it’s likely to be onto a winner.