Aloy is back, but nerfed.
After watching the lengthy catch-up video, I’m ready to take on the sequel to one of my favourite games of the last generation. I’m not ready to be useless at it.
This is the overriding feeling of playing Horizon Forbidden West on PS5.
The game cannot be faulted in appearance or scope, yet something has happened to the combat.
The previous game, had massive beasts, that you could tame, hunt or avoid as you chose, this sequel feels very claustrophobic.
Where’s all my Stuff?
Firstly, anyone who played the original, likely did the questline to get the best armour in the game, the Shield Weaver.
This armour was a bit like the Crysis suit and made you near-invincible in combat.
In Forbidden West, you are wearing it, but need to dig into the menu screens to find out the suit has ‘lost its power source’.
Bit of a cop-out, but I suppose you couldn’t be waltzing through the sequel without any threat.
Stranger still, seems to be the complete loss of any combat skills and ability.
Considering the game picks up just after the events of the first, this is a bit of a narrative issue.
You’re starting at the start again, despite being this great hero who saved the world a few weeks ago.
Not the best look, when the first machine you meet in the game hands you a defeat.
It might be my memory, but I played HZD like I was the ultimate hunter/ archer. I was triggering slo-mo, firing an arrow into the eye of a machine before sliding under their legs and bashing a weak spot.
In Forbidden West, Aloy can just about hit the torso of an enemy when they’re standing still.
Muscle memory would normally return after a few sessions, but I’m deep into the game now and still feel useless when made to fight multiple enemies.
It’s not that you die, you just aren’t cool anymore…
I think a lot of this comes from the kill zones, you have to fight enemies in.
There always seems to be a tree or a rock or even a piece of scenery that gets in the way of your dodge/roll and gets you damaged.
There’s just no room to dodge clear and pull the bow out, meaning you resort to melee attacks more often than you did in the first game.
The archery and bowcraft, was what set HZD apart from its rivals and to see a heavier necessity for melee, making it look like the other games in the genre.
Everything about the game just feels cluttered.
There are too many enemies in each section and the sections aren’t as organically clever, when it comes to stealth.
There may as well be a massive sign, pointing to a patch of long grass to hide in each time.
The controls aren’t intuitive, and you need to contort different ways to make use of any new abilities.
There are even more quests than before.
There are also swimming sections…
Despite the negativity, you will enjoy this game if you are a fan of the first one, but if you’ve never played the first, you might like it even more.
It’s still well above the average game, but like HZD, when it released alongside Breath of the Wild, this will find itself in the shadow of Elden Ring.