Everything We Learned From The New Horizon: Forbidden West Gameplay

Everything We Learned From The New Horizon: Forbidden West Gameplay
Image: Sony

What does Aloy’s second adventure have in hold? Early Friday morning, Sony finally revealed the first gameplay from Horizon Forbidden Westincluding more information about the faction system at the heart of the Horizon Zero Dawn sequel, new enemies, and some of Forbidden West‘s new environments.

The game, which is still launching on both the PS4 and PS5, began with a small pre-stream show featuring camera footage of a rocky, desert location that was eerily similar to the opening areas of Horizon: Zero Dawn. It also gave everyone a little taste of what Sony’s E3 showing might have been, as the company opted not to have a presence at E3 again (albeit digitally) for the second year in a row.

When the gameplay reveal began properly, Mathijs De Jonge was introduced as the game director for Horizon Forbidden West. De Jonge confirmed some of the new environments had been revealed in the pre-show beforehand, and that all footage to follow had been captured on the PS5. The gameplay began with what looked like a male character coming to, seeing Aloy in first person:

horizon forbidden west

Erend was directly mentioned, and survived what sounded like an attack from raiders (who were supported by machines). Aloy’s told to go find Erend before the raiders do, and the cut scene shifts to Horizon‘s traditional over-the-shoulder camera view.

The environment is a lush, leafy area with ruins on the beach that almost has more of an Uncharted vibe:

horizon forbidden west

A raider than appears riding one of the machines while Aloy hides in the grass. We quickly get to see a new tool for Aloy: a smoke bomb, allowing her to disengage. Aloy also has what appears to be a small grappling hook, before she hides by dropping into the water below.

There’s also a quick snap of Horizon Forbidden West‘s UI, although it doesn’t appear to be the full UI from what was shown. When swimming, for instance, there’s no oxygen metre — but that could simply have been disabled for the presentation. (Guerilla Games later confirmed in the presentation that Aloy has access to technology that allows her to swim indefinitely, as well as bursting through strong water currents.)

horizon forbidden west
horizon forbidden west

After Aloy chases the raiders with Erend, we get to see some of Aloy’s new animations and attacks. She has the ability to power up her melee attack via what seems to be the purple-powered energy on her UI. The animation shows her effectively plugged in what looks like a small coil into her staff, triggering an AOE field around her that looks like it applies some kind of stun.

Aloy also now has a Breath of the Wild-esque glider, powered by the energy from her staff. (It’s called the Shield Wing.)

horizon forbidden west

After finally teaming up with Aloy, it’s time for a joint fight against the Horizon: Forbidden West elephant-like creature, which repeatedly fires dual lasers towards the ground at Aloy. Aloy’s able to pick up what’s best described as a plasma-powered machinegun left by one of the raiders, but not before dodging the cyber-elephant’s direct charges by grappling and vaulting over nearby objects.

After rescuing Erend, Aloy — who has more freckles in the Horizon sequel — passes over an orb of some description which brings up what looks like a map. A storm then envelops the area, something Erend quips Aloy always predicted.

Ben McCaw, Horizon Forbidden West‘s narrative director, then came on to explain some of the machines and threats behind the game. A red light is the main antagonist of sorts, and Aloy has to search the old world for technology to bat back the blight. Erend headed to San Francisco for one piece of that technology, which is how he ended up becoming captured.

Aloy’s focus scanner will now showcase areas you can freeclimb. Guerilla added that machines will drop weapons you can equip, and all weapons can be upgraded via a workbench (that wasn’t being shown off during this livestream).

The livestream didn’t conclude with a release date, so for now, all we know on that front is that Horizon: Forbidden West is due to launch sometime between Q3 and Q4 this year.


  • Them not giving a release date is interesting, since I think most people have been assuming end of the year just to be on the safe side.

    So them not going, “Alright it’s out November!” or such makes me wonder if it’s either coming earlier than most expect, or they’re looking to somehow cushion the blow of pushing it back to 2022.

    That said, in general I’m all for games that don’t give an actual release date until the title is only like 2-3 months out from release anyway.

    • Well, even if it’s next year, we still have Legends and the Pokemon remakes to poke and prod until this comes out since they’re November – January. It’s not like the end of the year release schedule doesn’t already have some competition to run distraction if the developers need longer.

      • Yeah, the end of the year has some solid hits coming.

        I’m personally looking forward to Dying Light 2, Stray, Total Warhammer 3, Darktide, FF14 expansion, CP2077 and GTAV PS5 versions, Ghostwire Tokyo, Back 4 Blood, God of War 2, and Deathloop. All of these are supposed to be coming out this year, though I fully expect almost half of them to get pushed back.

        With so much worth playing, it’ll be hard to be too crushed by any delays.

        • Open Roads, New World, Scarlet Nexus, Flight Sim on Xbox, new Tales game, Cat Game (read: Stray), Age of Empires 4, the Diablo 2 remaster, Icarus, Neo: The World Ends With You, that 12 Minutes game if it’s still a 2021 release…

          It’s actually a lot of really good AA and mid-tier games with plenty to play, and just enough smattering from the AAA side. Ratchet very soon is looking good too.

          • If we look at stuff that’s imminent, I’m also pretty hype for Hired Gun, ZAMN/Ghoul Patrol re-masters, Little Devil Inside, and Samurai Warriors 5.

            In the indie space, there’s so much due this year! My wishlist from festival demos is nuts.

            Chinatown Detective Agency STILL says 2021 with no release date and it’s driving me crazy – that was some solid investigation satisfaction. Going Medieval and Hokko Life (I think Leah already covered this one?) both look super promising early access, and the demo for Until We Die has me itching for its June release. I’m a sucker for base defense titles, and this one’s got a couple extra layers to keep things interesting. Breakwaters looks like a really interesting expanded take on what Windbound did. Riftbreaker for more wave defense+base building, and Touch Type Tale’s demo had me completely wrapped a year ago and now it’s almost due! Potioncraft should be a good release too, hopefully more developed from the demo. Same applies to King of Seas and Tainted Grail, both of which came out I think literally today/yesterday. I need to find reviews for those, they both looked promising but possibly needing more time to cook.

            N1rV Ann-A is due soon, Solace State and Gamedec too, to really scratch the cyberpunk RPG itches. Ascent for the cyberpunk action. The Cloudpunk expansion came out a couple days ago and I really need to pick that up and give it some love.

            Oh! And Unpacking should be out this year too. Man, that gave me some feels playing the demo. They really found a way to bottle nostalgia.

          • And Disgaea 6 and the Soul Nomad rerelease from NISA. Those two games alone can easily chew up 200-400 hours of your life if you’re aiming for superbosses or going through Nomad’s various endings.

          • This is for transient, but hasn’t Nirvana (I’m not going to remember the letters to numbers at this point XD) been indefinitely postponed? Which is really unfortunate since I *love* VA11 Hall-A.

            Scarlet Nexus is the main one I’m looking forward to for the rest of the year, along with PSO2:NGS. Need to get my MMO fix somewhere else since FFXIV is insisting on dragging out the whole Zenos/Not-Asahi thing.

          • *sob*

            I finally played through VA11 Hall-A on the Switch recently, and God I should have played it so much sooner. Loved that.

  • Couldn’t be more excited for this after watching that, looks like they’ve improved all areas of the gameplay especially with that staff/bow combat with the raiders. Hoping that is an indication of the machines AI at the start, working in groups to chase you down and looks like they’ve put some effort into the swimming sections, always seems so rudimentary in most games. Also grappling hook, looks like it’ll be a lot of fun in combat.

    Visuals also looking top notch too, particularly the sand and water (always thought water couldn’t get any better after seeing it in GTA IV, those reflections at night time but it has come a long way since).

  • The main thing I took away from the demo is that a lot of devs are going to continue pushing as much visual fidelity as possible at 30 fps on console. I really wish they’d focus on making 60 fps the baseline and then squeeze as much fidelity out of it that they can. After playing open world games like Valhalla at 60 it feels so jarring going back to 30.

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