Many great games came out in 2017. Persona 5, Hellblade, Nier: Automata. Breath of the Wild won Game of the Year. But the game that I couldn’t stop playing until I finished it one morning at 3am was Horizon Zero Dawn. I loved it. It was exactly the kind of game I was craving at the time it came out.
So yes, I’ve been waiting ecstatically for this one. Which, unfortunately may have been to my own detriment. At least in the beginning. I said this in my video review above and I’ll say it again: play Horizon Zero Dawn soon before playing Forbidden West. The hook into the sequel was lacking. Which meant that the first 30 odd minutes of gameplay were somewhat lacklustre and I felt out of place.
But then you move past all that, get into the meat of the game, and sync with the rhythm of the narrative. And when that happened, my love for the Horizon series was rekindled. Once more I found myself absorbed into the world and rooting for Aloy and her companions.
As with any good sequel, the narrative focused on expanding our knowledge of the world. Learning about the peoples beyond the mountains, and discovering what might have happened to people in different parts of the world. New friends mingle with old, and Aloy continues to act all Lone Wolf on us. Fortunately everyone has started to tell her off for it, which is great. People and events are put in front of her to help her realise chasing after Elizabet is destroying her own greater giftings and talents. It’s actually so good and I want to make a video about it someday. Maybe when the third game comes out and her arc is complete.
While the tedious start is probably my biggest critique of the game, I also felt the occasional boss battle was … subpar. There was a cognitive dissonance between what I was being told to feel and how I actually felt during these battles. I never found my tactics were forced to change, nor stakes (gameplay-wise) particularly driven high. This might have been because I was playing on Normal difficulty. But even so, I found random encounters with big machines in the wilds to feel more significant than some of the big scripted battles. Which says many great things about the world and game in general!
I personally love Zero Dawn more than Breath of the Wild, and Forbidden West more than Elden Ring. Mainly because it’s more the kind of game I gel with better. If you gelled with the last one, you’ll love the sequel even more. After thinking over it, Forbidden West improves the game a lot, in ways I didn’t think it could. But I kinda only noticed this in hindsight. So, please play it. Make your way into the Forbidden West. It’s seriously a good time.