During Sony’s PS5 reveal on June 11, we caught our first glimpse of the Horizon Zero Dawn sequel, Horizon Forbidden West. As expected, the game is being developed for PS5, though no release date has been provided as of the time of this writing.
We’ve speculated for a while now that a Horizon Zero Dawn sequel may be announced and included in the lineup of launch titles for PS5. That said, we’re less certain about this now given the fact that Spider-Man Miles Morales has a confirmed Holiday 2020 release date while Horizon Forbidden West does not.
It’s possible the developers are saving the “available on PS5 at launch” reveal for another presentation closer to the console’s release, but again, this is all speculation on our part.
From the reveal trailer, we know Horizon Forbidden West is a full sequel that picks up after the events of 2017’s Horizon Zero Dawn. With the info gleaned from Horizon’s DLC, Frozen Wilds, we know Aloy was exploring areas in and around what was once Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton National Park during the events of the first game.
With a title like “Forbidden West” one can infer that Aloy is… traveling West. How far West? Well, the trailer shows that Aloy will now be able to explore the ruins of San Francisco, California.
Everything we know about Horizon Forbidden West
In the trailer for Horizon Forbidden West, we see references to San Francisco multiple times from the Golden Gate Bridge to a building that outright says “San Francisco” on it.
Breaking the trailer down into smaller chunks, we see San Francisco’s beautiful skyline in ruins, flooded and overgrown with plants. Diving underwater, a brief shot of the Palace of the Fine Arts can be seen.
In another underwater shot, we see ruins of what looks like the Ferry Building based on the large clock tower and matching front windows.
On land, Aloy brushes dirt and dust off a sign that likely came from San Francisco’s Chinatown. We also see a beautiful hologram of a Chinese dragon.
In a scene where Aloy climbs up a steep, rocky cliff, the landscape behind her pans out to reveal Yosemite National Park which is a huge deal as it implies the game's explorable map is going to be absolutely massive.
Looking back at the map for Horizon Zero Dawn, it was considerably large for an RPG and boasted a multitude of locations for players to explore. It was also expanded upon with the addition of the Frozen Wilds DLC.
As of right now, it sounds like Horizon Forbidden West will be larger in scale than its predecessor. Depending on where you begin (Wyoming area from Horizon Zero Dawn or California starting at Yosemite) it'll likely take longer to complete as well.
Keep in mind, if Aloy is able to explore Yosemite National Park, that area is located 171 miles away from San Francisco. Even condensed down and compressed to fit a standard video game format, the distance between those two locations is pretty substantial.
We say this from personal experience having made the almost four hour drive between the two.
The trailer makes a point to show you one of the most recognizable staples of San Francisco, the Golden Gate Bridge next to the wreckage of a Metal Devil, emphasizing just how big and terrifying these Metal Devils were.
As with everything in this post-apocalyptic world, the bridge is in ruins though you can still see its signature color and structure despite the plants that have overtaken it.
Not to nitpick too much here, but it’d be extremely unlikely that the bridge would retain its color (even in a faded, rusted format) after 1,000 years of neglect.
If you talk to people who upkeep the bridge today, they’re constantly having to touch up the paint. Constantly. Fun fact, between 5,000 to 10,000 gallons of paint are used to touch up the Golden Gate Bridge on a yearly basis.
With Horizon being a futuristic game, it’s always possible that people known in the game as the “Old Ones” found a way to preserve the color of the bridge permanently before perishing.
It’s an exciting idea on its own, and we hope it becomes a thing in real life, especially for the workers who have to climb up the bridge and paint it all while dealing with strong gusts of salty ocean air.
Anyway, sorry for getting off-topic, let's get back to the most important thing here... Horizon Forbidden West!
Near the end of the trailer when the title card appears, we get our final glimpse of San Francisco as a whole with its decimated skyscrapers and Golden Gate Bridge towers looming off in the distance. It’s rendered beautifully.
Speaking of familiar sights like the Golden Gate Bridge, Aloy (reprised by Ashly Burch) isn’t the only returning character in Horizon Forbidden West. Sylens (voiced by Lance Reddick) can also be spotted with a look on his face that suggests he’s up to something.
As for what, we have no idea. We do see him observing a machine being tied down before it's eventually subdued with a swift poke to the eye. The scene feels sinister, though it’s still unclear whether Sylens is a villain or not.
Given the events in the post-credits scene for Horizon Zero Dawn, we’re curious whether we’ll need to fight Sylens in Horizon Forbidden West in addition to the threat he’s carrying around with him – or if we’ll end up having to team up with him in order to clear away the red rot creeping through the landscape.
We won’t give too much away if you haven’t played or finished Horizon Zero Dawn just yet, but we strongly recommend brushing up on the game before playing Horizon Forbidden West.
If you’d rather get an overview of the story without playing the game, here's one of our favorite videos... “The Unexpected Success of Horizon Zero Dawn” from YouTuber LazerzZ. It explains the first game beautifully, and gives you a better idea as to why Sylens is a character you should keep an eye on.
Now that we’ve established the game’s setting and returning characters, let’s take a closer look at some of the features we can expect in Horizon Forbidden West.
In the trailer, Aloy is first seen riding in on a Charger, suggesting that machines from the first game will make a return in the sequel.
In the forest scene, we see one of the threats that Aloy will have to deal with – a red rot that’s begun to overtake the nature around it, causing plants and animals to die. Thinking back to Horizon Zero Dawn, we know that Faro’s robots consumed biomass as fuel.
Towards the end of Horizon Zero Dawn, it was revealed that HADES wanted to bring back the Faro Plague (rogue Chariot robots) whose unstoppable biomass consumption threatened to eradicate all organic life on Earth.
Aloy seemingly put a stop to HADES’ machinations, but given the red rot shown in Horizon Forbidden West and knowing the sort of weapon that Sylens is now carrying around with him, it looks like we once again have an issue with biomass consumption.
Whether it’s born from the Faro Plague, something (someone) related to it, or something totally different, is unclear. We’ll have to play Horizon Forbidden West to find out.
In the forest, we get to see a new machine designed like a large snapping turtle. We’re also introduced to a new tribe of people we’ll be able to interact with, their outfit designs appearing more tropical in nature than designs found in Horizon Zero Dawn.
In the trailer, there's a haunting scene of Aloy riding past a graveyard of machines with a massive Metal Devil in the backdrop, lightning flashing behind it.
We’re genuinely curious as to whether we’ll finally see one of these Metal Devils in action in Horizon Forbidden West. On the one hand, we really hope we don't because how would you even fight that thing?
On the other hand… it's hard to not be curious given the fact that we keep running into them. It's not just one Metal Devil, there are several out there and that's absolutely terrifying.
In Horizon Forbidden West, Aloy has new tools at her disposal including a face mask for deep sea diving. Aloy could swim in Horizon Zero Dawn but it wasn't exactly a main feature.
With the sheer number of underwater scenes spotted in the trailer, it seems like we’ll be able to spend much, much more time swimming around in Horizon Forbidden West.
We’re really looking forward to soaking in the breathtaking underwater scenes.
Another returning machine is the Snapmaw who can apparently swim in any body of water, river or ocean. It's a robot so this makes sense, but it's unsettling to see it casually swimming around in the ocean. We’ll certainly have to keep an eye out for these while exploring underwater!
The trailer makes a point to show you how diverse the landscapes are in Horizon Forbidden West. It's not just post-apocalyptic San Francisco.
You can explore the beach, the forests, a desert lined with ruined automobiles, the ruins of San Francisco, Yosemite, and whatever the developers have included in the areas located between San Francisco and Yosemite.
For example, it'd be awesome to see the rolling hills of the Altamont Pass with its row after row of windmills. We loved driving through this area while we were in California and would love to see some variation of it in Horizon Forbidden West.
The end of the trailer makes a point to also show another tribe in Horizon Forbidden West, with this tribe able to ride on the backs of towering elephant machines. It seems like this tribe may pose a threat, and if they are a threat, we’re in for quite a fight.
After watching and rewatching the trailer, we find ourselves even more impressed by what Guerrilla Games has been able to bring to life.
We’re uncertain whether they’re still using the Decima Engine again for Horizon Forbidden West as the end of the trailer lacked a title card listing out technical details about the game and they've been quiet on the game as a whole outside of the announcement trailer.
Our assumption is that yes, Horizon Forbidden West is another Decima Engine game and if Guerrilla is in fact using the Decima Engine here, they’ve really built upon what they were able to do with Horizon Zero Dawn. It’s wildly impressive.
A release date has yet to be provided for Horizon Forbidden West. As noted at the beginning of this feature, our prediction has always been that a Horizon Zero Dawn sequel would be one of the main launch titles for PS5 given how well the first game sold.
Speaking of which, we feel the game's sales performance doesn't the recognition it deserves.
Horizon Zero Dawn was released on February 28, 2017, a few days before The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and the Nintendo Switch console came out. Horizon Zero Dawn was a brand new IP which meant that gamers weren’t uncertain what to expect from the title. They had no idea if it'd be good or not.
Despite its newness and having to compete against Breath of the Wild (which earned a multitude of perfect review scores) and the Nintendo Switch, Horizon Zero Dawn did extremely well for itself at launch.
It also maintained strong sales in the months following release, likely because gamers started to finish Breath of the Wild and had more time on their hands for Horizon. If you ask, many gamers will even tell you that they purchased a PlayStation 4 just to play Horizon Zero Dawn.
With all of these things in mind, it’d make sense for Sony to have Horizon Forbidden West as a launch title in order to help sell the PS5. That said, with Spider-Man Miles Morales confirmed for Holiday 2020, Sony won't have a hard time convincing gamers to buy a PS5.
We don’t know about you, but Spider-Man was one of the best PS4 games we’ve played (same with Horizon Zero Dawn) and the ability to play as Miles Morales this time around… well, you get the idea.
We were on board for the PS5 for Spider-Man Miles Morales alone, seeing Horizon Forbidden West just cemented the fact that we're buying a PS5. How could we not?
In the months leading up to the console's release, we'll continue to follow games like Horizon Forbidden West closely and will be sure to update you as soon as additional info is revealed. Most importantly, a release date for both Horizon Forbidden West and the PS5 itself.
Until then, what do you think of the game’s announcement trailer? Are you excited at the ability to explore the ruins of San Francisco and Northern California as a whole? Comment below!