Horizon: Forbidden West Review(PS5)
Updated: Mar 1, 2022
Developed: Guerrilla Games
Published: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Genre: Action Adventure
Release Date: February 18th, 2022
*Review copy provided to me by SIE and Playstation*
''Journey To The West''
Horizon Forbidden West is action adventure game that is developed by Guerrilla Games and published by Sony Interactive Entertainment. As a sequel to the widely successful Horizon Zero Dawn, not only is there a lot to live up to, but there are also high expectations for this title to be the next big exclusive on the Playstation 4 and Playstation 5. But does Forbidden West live up to those high standards? or does it under achieve with the weight of its own hype. Only one way to find out, so lets go!
The land is dying. Vicious storms and an unstoppable blight ravage the scattered remnants of humanity, while fearsome new machines prowl their borders. Life on Earth is hurtling towards another extinction, and no one knows why. It's up to Aloy to uncover the secrets behind these threats and restore order and balance to the world. Along the way, she must reunite with old friends, forge alliances with unlikely new factions and unravel the legacy of the ancient past, all the while trying to stay one step ahead of a seemingly undefeatable new enemy.
Now before we dig into this monstrous sized game, I want to make clear of how this review is exactly going to go. Due to there being a ton of twists, turns and major events that take place that will shake the very foundation of the series and its lore, I will not be covering every single detail of the story. However, that's not to say were going to be skimpy about it either and just tell everyone ''sorry, go read the story elsewhere if you want to know about it, try google, chump''. No no, that's not how we do things around these parts. So just know that before moving forward, there will be MAJOR spoilers going forward, so turn away now if you are not wanting to be spoiled just yet with what this title has to offer. So lets dive right in and see just what this sequel has cooked up for us this time.
Forbidden West kicks off shortly after the events of Zero Dawn and the DLC Frozen Wilds with the world covered in another blight and plague, plant life is dying, the world decaying, what could be happening? even after defeating the rogue Hades in Zero Dawn, even now, many months later, Aloy is still trying to pick up the pieces and fix this broken world. The game begins with Aloy in a dream like state, finally feeling wanted, loved, whole, as she's embraced by Elizabet, the only person who has ever felt like a mother figure or someone that lifts Aloy up from all the madness. But this tender and heartwarming moment is cut short due to Thanos snapping his fingers and making Elizabet nothing more than dust in the wind as Aloy comes to realize that she is once again, all alone. Man Thanos, what a freaking jerk. Waking up from her dream, she again comes to grips that, yes, she's all alone, she has no one, and vows to not only herself, but to Elizabet, that she will find the ''Data'' she needs in order restore balance to the world and save it from the destruction that is currently littering the world in chaos. However, as soon as she begins to head off, her friend Varl appears before her to let her know that he's been tracking her movements for a very long time and he cant believe that after they defeated Hades together, that she would just ditch him and the crew in the middle of the party and disappear. Aloy takes offense to this and says she's always been an outcast, a loner, and plus they ordered cheese pizza when she wanted pepperoni and mushroom. I mean heck, even I agree with her on that. It's all about the priorities. Ok ok. Clearly she didn't want pizza, but she's just not good with the whole social thing, so she felt like she had no choice but to leave.
After this opening introduction scene, you're then basically thrown into the games tutorial mode, one that lasts a good two hours. Oh ya. Two hours. But, honestly, it works so seamlessly and so fluid that it did not even seem like a tutorial, which is great, considering there are so many games out there that don't waste an opportunity to throw text boxes in your face every two minutes like Kingdom Hearts 3. Yikes. During this two hour opening of the game, you will learn how to use your focus skill that allows you to scan your environment to find materials, healing plants, treasure chests and even scan enemy machines to not only log their names into your database, but also to see their weakness in regards to element or weak points, so you can craft a trap or use a weapon that's best suited for each fight. It is also here where you get your early glimpse at just how beautiful this world truly is. Each area even in its linearity early on is lush, vibrant, with greens, reds, purples, browns, and even the water looks the most realistic I've ever seen in a video game before. Oh man, where is that one guy that used to post on Miiverse all the time anytime a game had ''good looking water'', he would be losing his mind right about now. The game's overall combat starts off as a typical hack and slash with major focus on using combinations of light and heavy attacks by using R1 and R2, while also holding down R2 to unleash a powerful lunge attack against a machine, which if timed and hit successfully, will knock it's dino self on its butt and allow you to initiate a critical strike against it while its vulnerable, either killing it outright so you can salvage its materials to sell or use it to craft, or damage it enough to gain you a quick advantage. Simple right? well, kind of. It gets more advance the further you go into the game, but let's dive back into the story just for an itty bitty amount of time.
As you and Varl progress through the early story, you go in search of data through long dormant ancient cities of old, use your pullcaster to pull down walls to create a new ways to traverse, learn how to shimmy walls and use X and circle to jump back and forth, which is really fun, find out more about Far Zenith, the group of people that left Earth thousands of years ago, as you see a hologram of Mark Zuckerberg and Meta verse, learn how to craft items such as bomb traps, acid traps, different forms of arrows, upgrade your equipment via work benches in towns by upgrading its material or adding coils and weaves, which act as stat boosts for extra defense or elemental buffs. You also make your way to Meredian and learn that the spear you used to defeat Hades in Zero Dawn, was nothing more than a ruse by Sylens in order to keep Hades alive in order to extract precious data from him, which may actually be the reason for all the blight that's taking over the world right now. What the heck dude? you just wait till I head West, I'm going to super slap your mug around to the East and West coast side of the world that will make 2Pac and Biggies beef seem ant sized. Time to hit em up, all eyes on me. After the revelation of learning you need to head west to find the data you seek, as well as confront Sylens, it is here where your game TRULY begins, with a beautiful opening montage that shows you the world that you will soon be unleashed in after twenty minutes of cutscenes. Feel free to go to the bathroom, watch some anime, order a pizza while you wait, but.. I wouldn't recommend it, as the montage cutscene is superb. But now is where the game truly begins to shine for the time being.
Once you have access to the world itself, you are going to truly realize how massive this puppy is and not only its vast size, but how populated with things to do it has going for it. This seems to be a problem with a ton of large scale games nowadays where developers create a gigantic opening world that may look pretty but ultimately there's nothing to do, but that's not the case here. While exploring this expertly crafted world, you can collect branches to craft arrows, berries for health, craft new weapon and armor upgrades, upgrade skills for five categories that range from skill trees for warrior that unlocks stronger melee and arrow attacks, Survivor for more potent medicines and health regen, Hunter for stamina regen and for creating more ammo, etc etc. Each class offering their own unique attacks and abilities, including your main power up of Valor. With Valor you're able to use a temporary surge in power that grants you stronger critical hits, boost in ranged damage, or my go to of toughened valor surge, which gives me auto-regeneration for my health every two seconds to ensure I get out of really tough situations. So you get it, you can craft items, health and ammo, pretty in depth skill and upgrade system for gear and play style, use focus to scan for data to enter into your log and to find enemy vulnerability and weakness, pull off bad ass airs shots just like me when acquiring your shredder gauntlet, you get the point. But hang on, this world's massive, right?, almost as massive as Aloy's attitude in this game... what? Oh you'll see. But yes while this world is very massive, there are ways to traverse that make your journey through the land not only less time consuming, but overall less cumbersome. Want to know what they are? are you sure? are you positive? Well.. you'll have to wait just a tiny bit longer for that information as I want to dive back into some of the story beats. I know I know. I can hear the boo's now. If you are going to throw stuff, please make it edible, I haven't had lunch yet. Thank you.
After continuing your journey and realizing in order to get permission to head west, you must first take part in an embassy to negotiate a peaceful voyage. But, yeah, obviously its not that easy. It is here where things can feel a tad bit mundane. Not because its bad ,mechanic wise, or anything that drastic, more so because it's an hour long fetch quest that has you leaving the town, helping this random person out, talking to this guy, coming back, talk to someone in town and then get sent elsewhere. The goal here is to make these pompous egomaniacs happy, they need a specific whistle to be blown or else they won't lift a finger to begin the journey to the embassy, so the whole time you're just trying to make them happy. Its like seeing a kid falling down on the ground and flopping like a Magkiarp screaming for a new Fortnite toy, only this time its adults and my little pony. Brony's know what I'm talking about. Don't worry guys, that's not a dig, I actually used to dub over My Little Pony clips, so I feel ya. But it's not without its moments, when doing these quests and just exploring the town, you'll meet very interesting people, some more so than others, with a character such as Hakund being an absolute jerk to a woman trying to get a weapon fixed. You literally show up and he's just trashing this woman and if you stay along enough and exhaust some dialogue boxes either while upgrading your own items or dialogue tree, he continues to verbally slander her. What's funny is its not even overly mean or super offensive, he's just a total butt head. She either put water in his cereal or kicked his dog.. I'm betting both... she looks evil. Once all that mind numbing fetch quest stuff is out of the way.. oh boy, this is where you start seeing the shift in character in Aloy that differs from how she was in the previous game. It's just dumb and stupid, but in a very entertaining way.
When you complete the quest for the almighty whistle, like you're tasked with taking THE ONE RING to Mordor, you tell the man in charge to blow the whistle, you did what he asked, he hesitates for a minute and before he can really say his answer, she tells him to do it and threatens him, literally, she outright threatens his butt and he's like ok ok geez big red, I'll do it. Now you'd think that would be the end of it right? she got what she wanted, time to move on. Oh no, so wrong. Even though the town already stated they were in financial trouble due to the machines roaming their lands, which we killed now by the way, we then wait for people to gather around after the whistle blows and Aloy proceeds to tell everyone that this man will pay EVERYONE'S wages. Yup. For one, this isn't possible as he doesn't have that much funding to do it, he hasn't had business, so she destroys his livelyhood, kills his business, which in turn hurts the towns people and their economy, all because she wants to go all Fivel and head on west. But that's not the end of her rampage, oh no no. For instance when escorting one of the main VIP's to the embassy, the Carja get ambushed by another tribe riding dino machines. Clearly Aloy can stop them, she whips them all the time, but does she? no way, she literally stands there and says out loud ''they're not going to make it'' and I'm like umm ok? then you know.. DO SOMETHING. Of course she finally does do something, rushing into battle like the fearsome warrior and savior she is, but oh wait, she did it AFTER everyone was DEAD. Seriously, what the heck. The matter only gets worse as later in the story, you're trying to recruit people to help you fight off a major threat, but Tekotteh of Bulwark wont join you, he has his reasons for not wanting war. So you respect his opinion pretty much right? oh hell no. We literally bomb his castle, blowing a hole in it and leaving hundreds of innocent civilians at the mercy of machines and then have the nerve to say ''HA! now you HAVE to join us''. We bullied him into it. Aloy is more hardened and cold than even El Chapo is. She's super hardcore. But all of that is more funny than infuriating really, you just find yourself shaking your head and laughing.
So do you remember when I told you that I was gonna tell you about how to traverse the land and what all the sights you will behold? well don't worry, you big silly, I didn't forget about you. Getting around the large map, you'll have several different ways to make things speed up or just offering some quality of life support. One of the ways you can do this is by sneaking up on machines named Chargers and overriding their system when prompted. This allows you to to take over their system and make them completely docile and ridable. Now its time for you and your best friend to go on a journey and explore together, have a lot of laughs, eat animal crackers, and tell- oh no, he just fell in the river. Uh oh. Dang it. I'm sorry old yeller. That'll do pig... That'll do. Now after you get over the loss of your machine friend because you're a bad driver at anything from cars to mounts like me, you also learn that you're able to find camp fires that are spread out through the world, and by clicking these and initiating a manual or quick save, you will unlock it as a fast travel point, which in order to even use them, you will have to craft Fast Travel Packs. Don't worry, material is easy to come by, so you can make five to six at a time no sweat. Its really hard to explain all the amazing areas that you come across in this game, most of them looking absolutely draw dropping. Whether you are watching the gorgeous waterfalls of Falls Edge, adventuring through thick lush forests where skull kid might be playing, bake in the sun blazing hot weather of the deserts, chill out like Mr. Freeze as you use your glider to soar above the icy cold mountains, using a mask that you got from a man named Marlund, who looks like he's harnessing his inner Seth Rogen, face and all, as you swim in the beautiful blue water, giving you vibes of Mario 64 Dire Dire Docks, witness the reinvigorated lights of Las Vegas, and flying over the entirety of the world map after obtaining a flying bird mount at the end of the game, which was super easy to link up to and heck I didn't even have to be a blue alien and tell it ''I SEE YOU''. So that's a win there.
When you're done doing all your exploring and want to get serious once again with the story, which at times can be hit or miss, you will engage in monstrous fights against a giant machine cobra who is fast as all heck, take on a sand worm who is either after Beetlejuice or an evolved form of a Graboid from Tremors, which would suck because we do not even have Burt to help us out this time. Proceed to then unite warriors to fight by your side, collect Aether over many different areas for GAIA so that she may slowly begin to get her power back, explore dark underground labyrinths to learn more about the Far Zenith and the new threat the world faces, and then finally assemble basically the Avengers of warriors, to take down the holier than thou beings that are threatening to kill everything living on your planet. Honestly the last mission that involved taking them on was a mixed bag because on one hand, you get to see a super awesome climatic battle of the Far Zenith versus our allies and mechs, which we now control due to our friend Beta hacking it all, and even get to see dino mechs running by us at full speed, which reminded me a lot of that scene of the dinosaurs running by in Jurassic Park. Those moments really dang cool, but on the flip side, its not all perfect. Which we'll get to in just a second. After taking down all the other Zenith's in charge of this assault on earth, its now time to face the final boss and hopefully save the planet once and for all. The battle is grueling, mainly because the boss feels cheap with its tactics and also because I'm under leveled, but alas, I take my time and finally muster out a victory and save the day once again, I rock. Now that the game is done, what now? well, tons actually, cause even though you just played your twenty hour story campaign, you bare minimum still have another 20 to 30 hours to go for all content. No joke. however, before we get to that, you have to be aware that this game is far from perfect, there are several glaring issues that either put a hold on my enthusiasm, completely broke the game at times or just tiny nuisances that were more nit picky than big issues.
First small issue I ran into was in regards to the mission Death's Door. In this mission you must use your focus to find a trail and then follow it to your destination, however when doing this, the marker keeps moving left and right of the screen. Follow it and go to where it says and it pops up on the other side, go that way and it goes back to where it originally was, its like playing whack a mole, but for questing, and it was annoying as heck. Fighting can also feel a tad bit cheap at times when going against multiple enemies due to the knock down effect taking so long to get up, which also leaves you vulnerable right when you get back up, sometimes getting juggled multiple times in a row and nearly dying. You can't move or dodge out of the way at times. If you're fighting someone like Plessie or Loch Ness underwater in Las Vegas, then it becomes extremely frustrating when you keep getting knocked back, but then land in water, causing you to move two times slower than usual and just have to keep taking damage over and over and hope you live. Oh man did I say some stuff that day that mama would not be proud of. I'll get soap in my mouth just like Christmas Story. But the absolute WORST travesties of this game happens in the areas of Repair Bay Tau and Seeds Of Past. Its the game completely breaking down and becoming nearly unplayable. The game in both areas drop to roughly 10-15 frames per second and it's like being back on dialup again. It even gets so bad at times that the audio can't even keep up and just shuts off, while everyone moves like they're standing in front of a strobe light. I literally played a level for close to an hour with these game breaking issues and it was damn near unplayable. Luckily this can be fixed by saving your game and reloading it, but sadly with the areas I mentioned, there just isn't one around so you have to tough it out. But in the brighter side of glitches, the funniest one I encountered was on my way to Faros Tomb and just saw a random flying N.P.C. Now THAT was funny and you cant even get mad at that.
After trudging through the main story, you're able to go back to every area you've visited to complete side quests you missed, use your bird to fly onto unsuspecting Tall Neck dinosaurs to destroy its satellite system, which clears up the entire map within your radius, unlock all skill points to become the ultimate warrior, no not the WWF version, the fighting warrior bad ass kind- - participate in melee pits that offer you a chance to hone your skills in battle, take part in The Arena that consists of a series of combat trials that you can compete in to get registered to online leaderboards, clear out enemy base camps like you see in games like Far Cry, and take the land back, solve relic ruins and take part in the games plethora of puzzles and so much more. This game has an endless amount of content and you will not get bored any time soon, that I guarantee you.
At the end of the day, Horizon Forbidden West does end up as an enjoyable experience overall. Sure it doesn't really reinvent the wheel or offer anything that revolutionizes its own genre or even the series itself, but it differs just enough to make it stand out from Zero Dawn. There's the old saying, ''If it aint broke, dont fix it'' and that applies here. Zero Dawn provided a solid foundation for Guerilla Games to follow and tweak and they seem to have done exactly that here with Forbidden West. Obviously its not perfect with some fetch quests that get borderline tedious, a little too much exposition here and there, frame rate drops that can hamper the experience down for the unlucky ones that experience it, and an end boss feeling a tad bit cheap. But with gorgeous environments to explore that have so much diversity in their structure and design, intense and engaging combat that mixes action of equipping the right skills, as well as strategizing each fight with special abilities to take the advantage in your fights, great characters like Varl who vows to fight by your side after taking an oath, Erend who just wants to smash heads in and is always down for a fight, Aloy who may be a bit on the grouchy side, still manages to show her strength and courage, creativity in game play from platforming, to puzzle solving, using a pullcaster to tear down walls and vents, grapple hooking and climbing mountains, the list goes on and on like an energizer bunny. The fact here is simple, there's way more positives then there are negatives, and I can't really say how the game fares on Playstation 4, but with all this having been said, as far as my experience on Playstation 5, I'm happy with my conclusion here. Even with the negative media going on with the title right now, keep your heads up Guerrilla Games, oh it is? oh well great then, That's the spirit, Guerrilla!. My verdict is clear, GameNChick says BUY NOW.