To kick off the new year, we’re shining a spotlight on some of the biggest and most anticipated games of 2022 across all platforms and genres, today looking at Guerrilla Games’ PlayStation exclusive, Horizon Forbidden West. We’ll be looking at its journey so far, why we’re so excited for it, and what we expect out of it in the new year. Here’s everything you need to know about Horizon Forbidden West, including its history, gameplay mechanics, and release date.
Horizon Forbidden West follows in the footsteps of its 2017 predecessor by kicking off the year with the bang. While the first few months of any given year used to be a quiet time to catch up on our backlogs, that’s no longer the case. The Horizon Forbidden West release date of February 18, 2022 on PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5 marks one of the first big games of the year, as well as the first major PlayStation first-party exclusive since Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart last summer.
Developer Guerrilla Games revealed the sequel at the PlayStation 5 showcase back in June 2020. As the name implies, Forbidden West sees our hero Aloy, once again voiced by Ashly Burch, continuing her adventure across a post-apocalyptic version of the United States, this time focusing heavily on the west coast. Shortly after the reveal, the game was confirmed to be cross-generation for both PS4 and PS5 and was set to release sometime late in 2021 as part of the PS5 launch window lineup. These plans obviously shifted, with Horizon Forbidden West eventually being delayed to its current February 18, 2022 release date.
The new release timing of Forbidden West is also a bit funny. The original fell victim to releasing in February 2017, just a few days before The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Nintendo Switch itself, and it feels like Link’s adventure stole a lot of the conversation in the moment. We’re seeing a similar thing this time around, with FromSoftware’s Elden Ring, another of the biggest and most anticipated games of 2022, coming out a week later than Horizon Forbidden West.
Despite Breath of the Wild, Horizon Zero Dawn went on to become a massive critical and commercial hit, selling over 10 million copies on PlayStation 4 as of early 2019. That number has obviously been increasing ever since, especially thanks to its launch on PC last year, with launch sales nearly as large as those of The Witcher 3. That said, don’t expect Horizon Forbidden West on PC anytime soon – recent first-party PlayStation exclusives weren’t ported to PC until several years after their console launch.
While it is a cross-generational game, Horizon Forbidden West looks absolutely gorgeous, even on older hardware. That said, the PlayStation 5 version of the game will have faster load times thanks to the console’s solid state drive, haptic feedback via the DualSense, and enhanced lighting and visual effects. Also, it’s once again running on an updated version of Guerrilla’s own Decima engine, which was previously used in 2013’s Killzone: Shadow Fall and the original Horizon. They also shared their technology with Hideo Kojima, as it went on to power 2019’s Death Stranding.
Gameplay in Horizon Forbidden West seems to be leaning heavily into bigger environments, deeper combat with smarter enemies, and a greater array of tools at your disposal. Underwater traversal plays a big role this time around, with last summer’s gameplay reveal highlighting this amidst the flooded ruins of San Francisco. Aloy also comes equipped with a grappling hook and a Breath of the Wild-esque paraglider, and if there’s one universal truth to video games, it’s that grappling hooks and paragliders are rad.
Guerrilla and Sony have already shown off quite a bit from Horizon Forbidden West, including a recent look at a giant mechanized cobra called a Slitherfang. With the game set to release in a little over a month, expect to see some hands-on impressions popping up over the next few weeks prior to launch. It’s also clear that Horizon is being positioned as a major franchise going forward, with the recent announcement of Horizon Call of the Mountain for PlayStation VR2, both of which were fully revealed at Sony’s CES 2022 presentation.
Horizon’s success helped it join Sony’s growing roster of currently active PlayStation franchises alongside Uncharted, The Last of Us, Ratchet & Clank, God of War, and almost assuredly Ghost of Tsushima, the latter of which just passed 8 million copies sold. Given Guerrilla’s pedigree, the success of the first game, and the high bar that most first-party PlayStation games manage to hurdle over, Horizon Forbidden West looks to be another big win for Sony to kick off 2022 – and that makes it one of the most anticipated games of the year.