https://safirsoft.com Horizon Forbidden West gameplay reveal: Swimming with tropical robo-saurs

Gorgeous shift to tropical, flooded, future San Fran—but how will it look on PS4?

Aloy, the braided-hair hero of Sony's 2017 smash Horizon Zero Dawn, is set to return to consoles later this year in the series' first sequel, and on Thursday, we finally learned how that sequel video game will look.

On the cusp of 2021's kinda-sorta virtualized E3, creators Guerrilla Games premiered an uninterrupted, 14-minute gameplay sequence from this year's upcoming (and undated) Horizon Forbidden West. The sequence centers on an early-game mission to save a captured ally, and it has all the hallmarks of a flashy press conference reveal: familiar characters, slow-motion pans over insane-looking robot monsters, and a conveniently linear path full of perfectly placed midbattle dialogue.

Performance savings via new hairdo?

Still, what we saw actually looks like a real-deal, Horizon-branded video game—and arguably one that will neatly scale to Sony's past-gen PlayStation 4 console, since it leans less on flashy new tech like ray tracing or uninterrupted landscapes. This gameplay reveal was advertised as running on real PlayStation 5 hardware, however, so exactly how the game will downscale to base PS4 consoles remains to be seen. (Lower frame rates? Fewer water effects? Aloy's signature braids chopped off and replaced with a buzz cut?)

In terms of the game's mechanics, Aloy continues to move on foot around an apparently open world with an arsenal that melds the handmade with the bionic. Once again, she can stealth-sneak on a robot and override its internal logic to make it docile. In terms of weaponry, she now wields a few more supercharged options, including: a "power surge" that she can slap onto her staff for new melee combat abilities; a "shield glider" that lets her float, semi-protected, when dropping from great heights; a "pull-cast" that works like Spider-Man's wall-sticking grappling hook; and a special mask that lets her breathe underwater without a time limit.

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Yes, Aloy can swim to a much fuller extent in this game, which fits the first announced setting for the game: the far-in-the-future, decimated remains of San Francisco, now completely overgrown with sandy beaches, jungle-like florae, and increasingly flooded zones. Small traces of the past remain in the form of building signs and wrecked car bodies that somehow survived so many years of decay, but otherwise, the world is mostly overrun with the same robotic dinosaurs and beasts that roamed the world, and hunted Aloy in clever packs, in the 2017 original. We get a glimpse of a few new robo-saur designs, including a raptor-like monster with twin chainsaws for a mouth and a massive wooly moto-mammoth—and we see Aloy's surprise that local raiders have learned to tame and use these monsters the same way she has done with others.

Yes, it's coming to both platforms, though we don't yet know how the final product will scale between two generations.Enlarge / Yes, it's coming to both platforms, though we don't yet know how the final product will scale between two generations.Sony Interactive Entertainment

Further ReadingSony lists PC version of Uncharted 4 in investor reportThis reveal teases future zones for Aloy, including a map interface that appeared to target Baja California, but it otherwise doesn't introduce wildly new concepts, be those new ways to tame monsters, entirely new weapon systems, or a possible party of additional warriors along your side. This reveal seemed poised to remind us that this is still a Horizon game, in terms of herding, riding, and defeating sensationally designed robot monsters—though I'm curious to see how many additional features and touches are revealed in the eventual hype trickle between now and, well, whenever the heck the game launches. Should it meet its announced launch window of "2021," then we can begin counting down when to expect its eventual PC port.

Listing image by Sony Interactive Entertainment / Guerrilla Games

Horizon Forbidden West gameplay reveal: Swimming with tropical robo-saurs
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