Horizon Forbidden West: Details on freer agility, DualSense extras and riding enemy factions

Sony explains in the German PlayStation.Blog what was already touched on in the state-of-play trailer for Horizon Forbidden West. As Guerrilla’s Lead Systems Designer David McMullen explains, heroine Aloy has had all sorts of new ways to move around the world:

“She can climb freely along huge stretches of rocky terrain; even more types of machines can be used as mounts; All over the area there are gripping points that allow vertical movement; diving opens up a whole new aspect of exploration; and sliding with the shield wing offers the ultimate view of the beautiful world of Horizon Forbidden West – not to mention a quick way down from great heights. “

Another function is the movement mechanics of reaching high roofs, which basically enables Aloy to pull himself up on any object at jump height that offers enough space for it. The focus of the development has always been more dynamic interactions with the world – that players, for example, can manipulate and destroy their surroundings with tools such as the train thrower; or be able to arm yourself against a blow from above by throwing a grapple hook and sliding the shield wing.

However, this wide range of new options also poses a challenge in terms of level design, according to McMullen:

“Movement puzzles don’t always have a binary solution; we encourage players to just experiment and have fun with the new tools. There will be a variety of challenges regardless of play style, skill level, or previous experience in Horizon Zero Dawn.”

With the DualSense controller, PS5 owners also get more rumbling rubble when pushing a box or a more authentic wobbling when the winch is released when using the drawbar – including the resistance of the adaptive triggers when pulling.

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Even the “feeling of grass” should arise, according to a formulation that is definitely not ambiguous, as soon as you walk in a meadow and are grazed by stalks. You can tell when you can camouflage yourself just by feeling it. Other cool responses from the adaptive trigger include maximum arc tension. Vibration despisers should be prepared to be shaken by their hands non-stop: “We even use the lack of adaptive voltage to tell you that you have run out of ammunition.” “Shield wing.” McMullen explains:

“The pull thrower is a mechanical device that is worn on the wrist and has two separate functions. The first feature is a grabbing mechanic that allows players to climb the environment quickly and easily, and adds a dynamic locomotion / escape option to the player toolkit. When grabbing, players can activate the throwing function and be thrown up to gain a higher lead, fire a bow, slide, attack from above or even reach a point further away. The second function of the puller is a winch that allows players to dynamically manipulate, move and destroy the objects in the environment. For example, you could pull a hidden loot box down from a ledge or open a vent to create a new climbing path. (…) The shield wing can be wonderfully combined with numerous other mechanics, both inside and outside of a fight, such as landing on a mount, using a zip line, the hit-from-above skill and much more … “

Here are a few more passages from the very long blog post, which, among other things, deal with the fight:

“Dennis Zopfi, Lead Combat Designer at Guerrilla: (…) ‘A completely new concept in Horizon Forbidden West is the workbench where you can improve and reinforce weapons and outfits. This unlocks new advantages, modification slots or skills and it offers more customization options, higher resistances and new skills for the players. ‘

Alternatively, Aloy’s skills can be improved through the skill tree. “In Horizon Zero Dawn, skills were unlocked and purchased by leveling up,” said Dennis. ‘While the principle remains the same in the sequel, we’ve completely redesigned the skill tree – with additional paths and skills; Within the skill tree, skills also interact with those that are already available in outfits or that have to be unlocked for them. ‘ (…)

There are direct combat mechanics, such as shooting and hand-to-hand combat, but also indirect ones, such as skills, outfits, upgrades and weapon techniques. (…)

The Forbidden West is a majestic but dangerous frontier land with many mysterious threats for Aloy to encounter. This creates an additional objective for Dennis and the teams, which is to make sure she has the right weapons and tools for these fights.

“We wanted to bring close and long-range combat closer together,” says Dennis. ‘Aloy is not a brute force character, so we were looking for ways that players could switch between hand-to-hand and long-range combat and use her precise archery to great effect. A new example of such a skill is the Resonator Strike, which allows the spear to be charged with melee hits. When fully charged, the energy can be placed on enemies (both humans and machines). A large, devastating explosion can then be triggered with one projectile!

Then there is the burst of courage. There are twelve in total, and each of them represents and strengthens a specific approach to the game. You can unlock and improve them with skill points in the skill tree. Each push of courage has three levels: the higher the level, the longer it takes to charge, but the stronger the attack.

This level is shown on the purple bar that can be seen in the gameplay trailer: You gain more courage – or charge this bar – through skillful actions such as hitting weak points on opponents or removing components. In the video you can see how Aloy uses the burst of rays on the stocky Tenakth warrior.

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Also, it was important to reward players for close combat situations as it is very dangerous to get that close to opponents, especially the machines! Those who are skillful and brave can do a lot of damage with these new features – but be careful! ‘

Apart from these encounters, it now requires completely different martial arts, because some enemy factions can now ride machines. According to Dennis, the players need to keep a close eye on both the opposing riding machine and the rider.

‘In Horizon Zero Dawn, encounters with machines and humans were very separate, they never really fought Aloy as a group. The world has changed in Horizon Forbidden West. It is more dangerous, has more opposing factions and more machines – and they can now fight in groups, which is a real challenge for our heroine and the player.

When it comes to mounted combat, the player has to adapt and decide who to take out first and what is the most effective course of action for it. Human opponents have weapons, attacks, and abilities that machines don’t have, and vice versa. So they complement each other in these encounters and keep the player on their toes! (…)

For example, the sting thrower is a new high damage weapon that – thrown at the right moment – hits larger targets more easily. For elemental damage like fire or glue damage, you can opt for the explosive sling, and so on. Each weapon has different perks, ammunition types, and weapon reel slots that can be used to further customize them – although some weapons must be upgraded before they can be upgraded. ‘”