Horizon Forbidden West is fixing the first game's biggest problem — here's how

A screenshot from Horizon Forbidden West
(Image credit: Sony)

Update: Horizon Forbidden West looks bigger and more dangerous than ever.

Sony has released a lengthy new blog post dedicated to Horizon Forbidden West. And not only does this article contain a treasure trove of fresh combat details, but it also includes a few snippets of new gameplay that will make the wait until its February release date seem even longer. 

Let’s be honest, while fighting gigantic robot creatures in Horizon Zero Dawn was consistently fun, clearing bandit camps full of human enemies was significantly less enjoyable. Thankfully, the development team at Guerrilla has clearly acknowledged this problem and is actively looking to fix it in Forbidden West. 

Guerrilla’s community lead, Bo de Vries, explains that there will be an “increased number of human enemies” as well as “new enemy classes with their own combat behavior and functions.” Richard Oud, the gameplay animation director, also added that the goal was “to make human combat as deep and challenging as machine combat.” This is all sounds very promising.

The blog post also outlines that increasing the intelligence of the enemy AI has been a big focus for the development team. This upgrade should be felt when facing human foes, in particular. In Horizon Zero Dawn, bandits would often stand around waiting to be slaughtered without even acknowledging their camp was under attack. Smarter AI should help the world of Forbidden West feel more engaging and dynamic. 

The PlayStation blog post also outlines how Aloy’s abilities can be used in harmony to create dazzling combos, as well as the importance of sound to the combat experience in Horizon Forbidden West. However, it’s a single 30-second clip of gameplay that has taken the PlayStation fanbase by storm.

The extremely impressive footage shows Aloy performing a stealth takeover on a smaller enemy before diving into the sea to avoid a leaping mechanical beast. Aloy then submerges herself underwater before encountering another robotic creature as she swims towards the ocean floor. 

While Aloy could swim in Zero Dawn, diving underwater wasn’t possible; the inclusion of underwater exploration and combat should give Forbidden West a whole new dimension. 

Could Horizon Forbidden West be the first PS5 system-seller?   

horizon forbidden west screenshot

(Image credit: Sony)

Since its launch, the PS5 has been criticized in some corners for not having enough exclusive software to fight Xbox's GamePass service. While the likes of Demon’s Souls, Returnal and Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart have all been well received, they lack the mass appeal of a game like Horizon Forbidden West. 

Granted, Forbidden West will not be a true next-gen exclusive as it’s also launching on the PS4, but it’s clear that the optimal way to experience the game will be on Sony’s flagship console. In fact, Horizon Forbidden West is looking so exceptional that it may be worth tracking down a PS5 restock for. 

We’ll have to wait to get our hands on the full game before we can make a final judgment but as things stand, Horizon Forbidden West looks like it could be the PS5’s first truly essential game. We’ll be shocked if it doesn’t reach the summit of our best PS5 games roundup when it launches on February 18, 2022. 

Rory Mellon
Entertainment Editor (UK)

Rory is an Entertainment Editor at Tom’s Guide based in the UK. He covers a wide range of topics but with a particular focus on gaming and streaming. When he’s not reviewing the latest games, searching for hidden gems on Netflix, or writing hot takes on new gaming hardware, TV shows and movies, he can be found attending music festivals and getting far too emotionally invested in his favorite football team.