Horizon Forbidden West - Before You Buy
Hey, and we're back with another episode of the Before You Buy That Show where we give you some straight-up gameplay and our first impressions of the latest games released. As usual, it's me, your old article game uncle, Jake Baldino. We're talking about Horizon Forbidden West. Now I know a lot of you guys are probably going to comment and say before you buy, I already bought the game.
Look, we don't like to rush the magic here. We're a little slow. We didn't really get into the game early, so thanks for your patience on this one. Let's give you some information. This is the follow up to Horizon Zero Dawn, which was released in 2017, which feels like a billion years ago now. This sequel is bigger and better, and there's a lot to it.
It's gorgeous, it's fun and, like the first game, for me personally, I haven't quite fallen completely, like 10 out of 10 in love with it like other folks have, but it's still pretty damn great. It improves upon the first game in countless ways and is more interesting and more engaging, so let's jump in and just before we do, of course, so you know this footage was captured on PS5.
It is spoiler free now. You might see some characters and some cool areas from within the first few hours, but I made sure to kind of edit around anything significant, so you're good. This takes place pretty close to the end of the events of the first game. Eloy sets out after being victorious at Meridian because her battle isn't over.
Now it gets way more complicated, and after a brief reunion with some allies from the last game, she's headed west to find Lance Reddick. It's gotten more answers, and it's pretty much saved the planet now. You definitely need to know what's going on here. The game on boards you somewhat, but there's a lot.
The first game was overwhelming, and it just dumped rules and cultures and religions and leaders and creators and factions and sci-fi stuff on you nearly constantly, and some of that is required here. knowledge here for the second game. It's been a minute since I played the original and I never finished the DLC, but I watched a few plot summaries on YouTube and I was good to go, so I highly recommend doing that if you've never played the first one or if you're like me, you play too many games and your memory is starting to rot away.
I was like, "Where am I?" Where was I? So straight up, I found the story more interesting this time around. I was like 50/50 on it in the first game, but they got Eli's origin story and the mysteries of the world out of the way, and that makes room for in this second game, way more of what it clearly wants to do: have a bunch of cool looking tribal men and women talk and do cool stuff and fight and also go full on science fiction in spots.
It still dumps a lot on you, but I found it more interesting overall because Aly is still pretty cool but a little less one-note and always intense, and then there are some other cool characters established here to kind of bounce off her pretty well. It also helps that all the characters are. Even some of the smallest ones that pop up are like extremely emotive and realistic facial expressions.
There are still a lot of forgettable characters, but it helps make a difference. At least for me, it keeps me interested. It has a slow start, but just about once you get past the embassy, you're in for a good one. The meat and potatoes, of course, is the gameplay, and once again, Horizon is a monster hunter game in disguise, and that's not a bad thing.
You have a ton more equipment at your disposal now and there are more robot creatures that have even more stuff to shoot off of them and collect and then craft and make more cool stuff. I'm only scratching the surface, but it looks like the real star is actually just the weapon variety. It's just really nice, and one of my favorites is the throwable.
Now it's still very much a weapon wheel in the game where you're constantly bringing it up and swapping stuff in and out, and it's a bit much. You know, the combat's still a little weird. You can see the options from Thankfully, they set up a quick weapon swap, but there are so many tools, you're still going to need to bring that sucker up a lot.
It's very micromanaged, but it's still fun because it can be tactical. When you play it smart and plant some traps and make your big hunt go down, human encounters are stronger now because the alloy has a bit more melee capability and in the environment, there's just more. It's still messy, but there are better ways to take down a base than just kind of hiding in the grass, which bored me in the first game.
My only real big issue is that there's not much, really, in terms of defensive stuff for a lot of the game other than just running away and spamming the dodge roll when some creatures start chasing you. It can still make some encounters feel a bit sloppy and goofy, especially because so many of the robots can still just like one shot, you know.
I do love the challenge, but the way the attacks are telegraphed and how to avoid them just never feels quite right, thankfully. As you do unlock more stuff, you get some tricks, which I'll get to in a bit now. The other nice thing that does help with hunting monsters is the grappling hook and the glider and stuff.
There's a bit more verticality now because climbing is more generous and you can also just grapple hook and zip your way up to places. It changes things up quite a bit, especially in certain biomes and areas, and it's great for travel because now you have way more different mount types and the glider to really close some distances in this game.
borderline, too massive a world On a side note, the new swimming is great. It's actually pretty fun exploring the underground caves and stuff, and it's one of the few games where the swimming controls don't just annoy me. So that's a win, but thankfully the world size isn't bad because the world is more engaging now.
There are way more interesting spots, and there's always something new to discover, which I know is such a cliched phrase, but there's also way more decay than in the original game, so you really feel more of a mark of the old world, and that nicely gives you more article gaming activities. Plus, the interior stuff is more interesting this time around, which was an issue I had with the first game.
I've seen a lot of folks for the original game throw around the Ubisoft open world type. You know, the type filled with cluttered maps and endless mindless filler content to keep you busy. Now, I got some vibes here and there with the first game, but I think it's much better this time around. The story is more interesting, the side quests are more compelling and meaningful (always rewarding), and the activities are generally worthwhile.