Guerrilla Games debuted the first PS5 gameplay of Horizon Forbidden West last week via a new State of Play, revealing with it new details about exploration and combat.
And while the presentation provided many answers, it also raised several questions about the sequel, so IGN spoke with game director Mathijs de Jonge and narrative director Benjamin McCaw about details from State of Play and what they mean for Horizon Forbidden West’s progress in the series’ games and storytelling.
Free climbing is much freer
While Horizon Zero Dawn’s open world allowed players to explore many nooks and crannies of their world to uncover secrets, reach new biomes and more, the climb was quite limited, largely defined to specific areas with only one clear path to explore. No longer with Horizon Forbidden West, which will allow more freedom to climb from ledge to ledge than before.
When it comes to traversal and human combat, this was a point from Horizon Zero Dawn, where we wanted to improve the mechanics. And this [State of Play] is a showcase for that, to show that you can now climb for free anywhere in the world, ”said de Jonge in an interview with IGN, noting that the way Forbidden West allows free climbing actually changed during development.
“We hand-commented on many rocks, cliffs, mountain sides. But at some point, we changed it to an automatic system that only detects if there is a lock somewhere in the geometry, ”he said.
“So now the whole world, everything is automatically commented on. That means you can climb anywhere, ”he continued, noting that this will be somewhat limited in settlements, where players should not expect to fight either.
“There is more hand-placed, controlled exploration. But outside the settlements, in the open world, you can climb anywhere. ”
De Jonge emphasized that what the players saw in State of Play – when Aloy’s Focus zeroes in on a few handles on the pillars of dilapidated buildings – is not a sign that it is the only structure people can climb. Instead, Focus lets players get a better sense of where these tangible locations are.
“I think some people think you have to [use the Focus] to be able to climb, but that is not true. These are just too bright, too bad lighting conditions, to be able to highlight them so you can actually see them better. But the player could climb anyway without having to ping. ”
A bigger world, but a more varied one, too
Although Guerrilla does not yet offer an accurate comparison of size, she has suggested that Forbidden West will be a bigger world like Zero Dawn for players to experience, but during my interview, both de Jonge and McCaw emphasized that the developers really aimed to deepen the world. players wanted to explore, instead of just making it bigger.
The map is a bit bigger, but in general we have really looked at increasing the density, and adding more content, and making sure there is a lot more to do for the player across the map, and then making that content engaging by telling small micro stories, ”said de Jonge.
That philosophy played into the open world storytellers will encounter, which McCaw described as rather layered.
“It is the tribal world, it is the world of the machine, and it is also our world. We really tried to make sure that there is exploration in the open world associated with all three, and also that we deepen and develop this story of all three, ”McCaw said. “Aloy ventures into a mysterious and dangerous frontier. That’s what the Forbidden West is. And we wanted to make sure that it is always a mystery for her to solve, and always more for her to explore. ”
Of course, an important way developers are adding depth to the world, literally by adding depth. Aloy will be able to explore underwater, and it’s an area in the world the team really wanted to live to the surface, the world players have become familiar with and will explore further in the Forbidden West.
“Exploration is really the theme. And it’s not enough for us to just show underwater. We wanted to make sure it was as beautiful as what you see in the natural world over it, ”McCaw said.
“But it was not enough just that you could swim around underwater. We wanted to do some things that are very surprising and interesting. And I think that’s where some of the things in the story come in, and we just can not wait for the players to see what they will experience. ”
While the team understandably stays close to the story, there are some mechanics that players can see hinted at in the presentation, including underwater currents and “hidden kelp” that de Jonge referred to the underwater locations for Aloy to hide, as well as a “cat and mouse” – approach to averting enemies in the water.
Make human combat more tactical
While Zero Dawn’s robotic enemies required a variety of strategies to take down properly, the fight against human enemies was largely the same across the country. Forbidden West wants to change that, as stated in the State of Play. The new footage showed a finisher-style move, Valor Surge, as well as a fight against a larger enemy that forced Aloy to use a combination of attacks from range and melee.
“With the machines, the fight is quite tactical. And there are always more ways you can take them down. With the Focus scan you can scan the machine, check what the weaknesses are and what interactive components … So for this game, we [thought] with humans, what if we focus on scanning them? What kind of things can we see, and what kind of extra things can we put on them to evoke this tactical game around them, ”explained de Jonge.
“We have put armor on them. You see this after Aloy has taken down one of these Raiders, and she runs towards the next, she starts beating and beating him. Several plates light up on him. And this is armor that can be turned off, so you also expose more vulnerable parts that you can then shoot at. ”
Players need to be more good and tactical when tackling humans as well, especially since de Jonge noted that the studio has also made human enemies a little more aggressive.
Horizon Forbidden West has no release date yet, but Hermen Hulst recently said that the next Horizon is set for a launch in the 2021. For more information on the latest gameplay, be sure to check out our immediate reactions to Horizon’s State of Play and read an overview all the new Forbidden West details.
Jonathon Dornbush is IGN’s Senior News Editor and Host of Podcast Beyond! Talk to him on Twitter @jmdornbush.