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Horizon Forbidden West Discusses New Game Mechanics Designed Around Player Choice

Horizon Forbidden West, Guerrilla, gameplay, post, detail, information, new weapons, mechanics, shieldwing, Pullcaster

Guerrilla Games has published a PlayStation.Blog post detailing some of the new gameplay features and mechanics present in Horizon Forbidden West, coming to PlayStation 4 and 5 next February. The studio’s second entry in the quasi-futuristic open-world series was shown to players during a State of Play presentation earlier this year, highlighting mechanics like Aloy’s new ability to climb certain structures more freely, which received more information today. A new high vault traversal mechanic is part of Guerrilla’s emphasis on free climbing in Horizon Forbidden West, as it allows Aloy to “hoist herself on top of any object of jumpable height with room to pull up.”

Two gadgets we’ve already seen are the Shieldwing, a Legend of Zelda-inspired paraglider, and the Pullcaster grappling hook. Guerrilla explains that both tools have their uses in and outside of combat. While the Shieldwing can be used to speed up traversal, the Pullcaster will allow Aloy to quickly pull herself up to high ledges and move around objects in the environment.

Meanwhile, new, diverse weapons include the Spike Thrower, a high-damage device that makes it easier to hit large targets. Lead combat designer Dennis Zopfi explained that Guerrilla wanted to bring ranged and melee combat closer together for Horizon Forbidden West, meaning players can expect to find utility for both approaches throughout the game. One mechanic that mixes these ideas together is the Resonator Blast, a charge attack that can be paired with a projectile to create a massive explosion.

“Then there is the Valor Surge feature; there are 12 in total, with each of them representing and strengthening a specific approach to the game,” Zopfi said. “You unlock and upgrade them through the skill tree with skill points. There are three levels of each Valor Surge: the higher the level, the longer the charge up, but the more powerful the attack.”

Horizon Forbidden West is being developed with player choice in mind. You’ll still be buying and unlocking upgrades as you progress through the game’s story, but this time, Guerrilla says the skill tree has been completely redesigned, with some skills able to synergize with other abilities. Players will also have access to a workbench that can be used to upgrade weapons and outfits with perks, mods, customizations, and more.

One of the features exclusive to Horizon Forbidden West players on PlayStation 5 is DualSense support, as Guerrilla says the controller’s unique offerings are “heavily featured throughout our mechanics.”

“From the scrape of rubble as you push a crate, to the sensation of an unravelling winch as you use the Pullcaster — with the increased adaptive trigger tension as you pull,” Horizon Forbidden West lead systems designer David McMullen said. “We’ve also added extra tactile dimensions to increase both the gameplay value and the feeling of being part of the world Aloy is moving around in; these can be subtle as the sensation of grass brushing around you to indicate you are entering stealth grass, or the pop of the adaptive trigger as you reach maximum draw with a bow. We even use the absence of adaptive tension to help communicate when you’re out of ammo.”

Horizon Forbidden West is set to launch on PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5 on February 18, 2022.

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Michael Cripe
Michael joined The Escapist team back in 2019 as a news reporter but has been covering games, movies, TV, and music since 2015. Most of his time is spent on the news team, but you’ll definitely see his name pop up in the opinion and interview sections from time to time. From the most obscure indie games to the industry’s AAA juggernauts, there’s nothing Michael isn’t interested in digging into. The vast majority of Michael’s work can be found at The Escapist, but his bachelor’s degree in Multimedia Journalism has led him to other sites like OnlySP, Gameranx, and Kansas City’s The Pitch. When he’s not writing, Michael is probably playing Super Mario Sunshine, Dead Space, or The Binding of Isaac. If you’d like to connect and talk about the latest in pop-culture, you can follow Michael on Twitter (@MikeCripe), Instagram (mike_cripe), or LinkedIn if that’s your thing, I guess.