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[Game Informer ] Eight Promising Improvements Coming To Horizon Forbidden West

Horizon Zero Dawn set a solid foundation for Guerrilla Games to build upon in Horizon Forbidden West, and the developer isn’t about to let this opportunity pass it by. For the upcoming sequel, Guerrilla Games looked at fan feedback, revisited ideas that were too ambitious for the first game, and tapped into the studio’s well of creativity to make Aloy’s exploits even more exciting. For our latest cover story, we saw Forbidden West in action and learned firsthand about how the sequel is making some worthwhile changes to improve upon its predecessor.

Better Cinematics​

We expect improved graphics with each new entry in a series, and so far, the footage shown for Forbidden West has been extremely impressive. But sometimes it takes seeing the game up-close to really notice its finer points. “Some of the big upgrades we’ve made to our cinematics include full motion-capture, better facial animation, and a top-tier cast,” says narrative director Benjamin McCaw. “That level of quality goes across the entire game, including some of our minor scenes.” In the demo we saw for the cover story, dialogue exchanges felt more authentic between characters due to these improvements, and it was especially noticeable in the facial animations. Aloy can now convey much more with her body language and eyes.

Livelier Locales​

Guerrilla wants settlements to feel “more lived in” and exciting to explore. This means townspeople will be more active, and you’ll experience fun little moments throughout their day. “We’ve upgraded our civilians and settlements since the last game with an improved crowd system, better animations, and much better audio,” McCaw says. “So everything should feel a little bit more authentic and lifelike.” During our demo, as we headed toward a tavern, we saw folks stumbling around outside of it, muttering incoherent sentiments and searching for their drink. Entering the actual tavern, things became more spirited, with patrons passionately ranting about their troubles, happily dancing together, and even a group singing merrily about their drunken tales as they banged on their table to establish a beat.

A Revamped Skill Tree​

Guerrilla has completely revamped the skill tree to give players more options to play how they want. It now features six different playstyles: warrior (melee), trapper (placing/disarming traps), hunter (ranged weapons), survivor (health/resource), infiltrator (stealth), and machine master (hacking). It appears each specialization has approximately 20-30 skills. The trees offer a mix of active skills, like using fewer resources in crafting, and passive boosts, like low health regen. Each tree also has its own unique Valor Surge, which are new special skills that can be executed once you fill up a meter by playing tactfully. In addition, certain boosts and skills can be upgraded to higher levels to raise their effectiveness. However, the biggest game-changer is the outfit and weave boosts, which can take certain skills past their level cap, raising some stats 300 percent.

More Scanning Abilities And Information​

Aloy’s scanning abilities now reveal more valuable information than ever. Getting around should be easier, as she can now scan for grapple points, which are annotated in yellow, in the environment. However, the most beneficial aspect is her ability to learn more about her mechanical adversaries. Guerrilla wants to give players as much information as possible to inform their strategy, so you’ll find out more than just about their weaknesses and main stats when scanning. You can now learn everything from if a machine has a key upgrade resource to if a part is indestructible. You can even uncover if one of their weapons is detachable and can be used for your own gain. Aloy can also tag parts, giving them a purple hue. It not only makes it easier to target these components but also ensures the parts don’t get lost in the chaos on the battlefield once you shoot them off.


Better Side Quest Rewards​

If you didn’t feel the side content was worth your time in Zero Dawn, Guerrilla is working to change that in Forbidden West. Its solution? More interesting side quests and greater rewards for engaging with them. “There’s a lot more variety in that sense - a more sense of accomplishment that you actually get something cool in return for doing these quests,” says game director Mathijs de Jonge. “That was another part where we felt like we had some room for improvement. So you get a cool weapon or you get a cool outfit, something that’s really useful for your next quest or activity.”

A Less Cluttered HUD​

If you thought there was too much on the screen to keep track of in Horizon Zero Dawn, you weren’t alone. Guerrilla took that feedback to heart going into Forbidden West and worked to have fewer distractions on the screen. “By default, the game starts on a minimalist mode, where there’s as little HUD information on the screen as possible,” explains de Jonge. “But in this mode, you can also just swipe up on the touchpad, and that will immediately bring up all the important information, such as objectives, or maybe your health, or your inventory.”

More Time With Companions​

If you were hoping for better relationship-building between Aloy and her companions, you’ll be happy to know this was an area of focus for Guerrilla with Forbidden West. The team spoke a lot about its efforts to improve its companion characters in hopes of players forming stronger connections to them. “The big focus, though, that we wanted to change from the first game to the second, is that you just get to spend more time with key characters,” McCaw says. “That’s something we tried to do consistently throughout the game. Not just for characters that you meet along the main quest, but also certain side quest characters; they don’t just go away after one quest.”

The Ability To Create Jobs For Upgrade Parts​

Really want to upgrade your weapon or armor, but don’t feel like searching aimlessly for the part in need? You’re in luck! Now, with a click of a button in the crafting menu, you can create a job to locate the resource you need. This will activate a quest and put a path on the map to where the machines holding them reside. It means you’ll never have to waste time just hoping for a drop, or wondering if you’re in the right place.

This is also a good thing, as machine parts will be more vital this time around. “In [Horizon Zero Dawn], it was more about the metal shards,” de Jonge says. “In this game, we tried to bring the machines and the encounters with the machines more into play, so a lot of the upgrades also cost specific machine resources. You have to go out and hunt specific machines.”
 

ZehDon

Member
Maybe it's just this picture - although, I thought I noticed in the demoes as well - but Aloy has that fake hero lighting on her at all times. Even when there's no nearby light source. The rest of the scene looks incredible, but I feel it makes her look like she's been pasted into the scene from somewhere else. I think its especially noticeable on her hair and face. Or maybe I'm just losing my mind :S
 
Maybe it's just this picture - although, I thought I noticed in the demoes as well - but Aloy has that fake hero lighting on her at all times. Even when there's no nearby light source. The rest of the scene looks incredible, but I feel it makes her look like she's been pasted into the scene from somewhere else. I think its especially noticeable on her hair and face. Or maybe I'm just losing my mind :S

Stylistic choice. I like it. It makes it looks like a Star Wars movie
 

KAL2006

Banned
Better side quests rewards is disappointing, do I have to do these shitty side quests to get nice gear. I liked in the original there were only a handful that gave good rewards so I can ignore the shitty side quests.
 

KAL2006

Banned
giving players more incentive for sidequest is a good thing. If you don’t wanna do the sidequest don’t do them lol…like what

Can I not do the side quest and still acquire the items. I don't want to chase badgers and help find a guy his lost shoe halfway across the map to get the new ultimate bow weapon.
 
Maybe it's just this picture - although, I thought I noticed in the demoes as well - but Aloy has that fake hero lighting on her at all times. Even when there's no nearby light source. The rest of the scene looks incredible, but I feel it makes her look like she's been pasted into the scene from somewhere else. I think its especially noticeable on her hair and face. Or maybe I'm just losing my mind :S
Lol thats what hero lighting is and we already knew this…
 

Claus Grimhildyr

Vincit qui se vincit
Huh? Horizon had a great story. The only issue is that a lot of it is in the audiologs

Not quite. The Audio Logs were to help build the world and expand upon it. The story was everything revolving around Aloy and that was mindless and forgettable. It wasn't insultingly bad, but it literally left zero impression.

The things people remember Horizon for aren't the characters. Its the art direction, the robots. That is why they have put that front and center with the marketing. Even the devs know that the story was the weak point of the first title.
 
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DeepSpace5D

Member
I wonder if I too would forget about the story now if I had played it on release in 2017.

But having just beat the game 2 days ago, I loved pretty much everything about it. Finding out what Project: Zero Dawn actually was, was equally fascinating and depressing. The connection between Elizabet Sobeck and Aloy, the GAIA project.

I thought it was all brilliant stuff personally.
 
I wonder if I too would forget about the story now if I had played it on release in 2017.

But having just beat the game 2 days ago, I loved pretty much everything about it. Finding out what Project: Zero Dawn actually was, was equally fascinating and depressing. The connection between Elizabet Sobeck and Aloy, the GAIA project.

I thought it was all brilliant stuff personally.

The most important parts of the story are very memorable. If I’m being honest i dont remember a lot of plot point of game stories over the years but HZD stuck with me because i was super into the mystery of how everything went to shit and why robot animals were roaming about. The whole thing with ted faro deleting the alphas and mankind collapsing due to the machines replicating. I love all of it
 

DeepSpace5D

Member
The most important parts of the story are very memorable. If I’m being honest i dont remember a lot of plot point of game stories over the years but HZD stuck with me because i was super into the mystery of how everything went to shit and why robot animals were roaming about. The whole thing with ted faro deleting the alphas and mankind collapsing due to the machines replicating. I love all of it
Yeah the story was probably the biggest surprise of the game for me. I already had a feeling going into it that the combat would be great based on videos I had watched.

But like you said, the story of Ted Faro and how the world in its current condition came about to be. Very interesting stuff, and scarily not that farfetched of an idea with continued advancement in robotic research.

Anyway, the story has me very intrigued to continue it with Forbidden West and see what’s going on with this blight upon the land. The very end sequence with Sylens has me scratching my head and looking for answers as well.
 

Hugare

Member

Better Side Quest Rewards​

If you didn’t feel the side content was worth your time in Zero Dawn, Guerrilla is working to change that in Forbidden West. Its solution? More interesting side quests and greater rewards for engaging with them. “There’s a lot more variety in that sense - a more sense of accomplishment that you actually get something cool in return for doing these quests,” says game director Mathijs de Jonge. “That was another part where we felt like we had some room for improvement. So you get a cool weapon or you get a cool outfit, something that’s really useful for your next quest or activity.”

They dont get it

Its about the journey, not the reward

I didnt give a damn about the reward in TW 3 sidequests. Some money? Whatever.

What made them the best in the biz was dialogue/story. Thats the reward.
 
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Better Side Quest Rewards​

If you didn’t feel the side content was worth your time in Zero Dawn, Guerrilla is working to change that in Forbidden West. Its solution? More interesting side quests and greater rewards for engaging with them. “There’s a lot more variety in that sense - a more sense of accomplishment that you actually get something cool in return for doing these quests,” says game director Mathijs de Jonge. “That was another part where we felt like we had some room for improvement. So you get a cool weapon or you get a cool outfit, something that’s really useful for your next quest or activity.”

They dont get it

Its about the journey, not the reward

I didnt give a damn about the reward in TW 3 sidequests. Some money? Whatever.

What made them the best in the biz was dialogue/story. Thats the reward.


It’s about both. I don’t want to spend 30 minutes exploring or questing for something stupid like random shards. It has to feel rewarding in something tangible to the game and narratively. Witcher gave good experience points and there were lots and lots of stuff to upgrade your armor and weapons to be be found.

Also, gear and crafting was insanely priced in witcher so money was always good
 
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DeepSpace5D

Member

Better Side Quest Rewards​

If you didn’t feel the side content was worth your time in Zero Dawn, Guerrilla is working to change that in Forbidden West. Its solution? More interesting side quests and greater rewards for engaging with them. “There’s a lot more variety in that sense - a more sense of accomplishment that you actually get something cool in return for doing these quests,” says game director Mathijs de Jonge. “That was another part where we felt like we had some room for improvement. So you get a cool weapon or you get a cool outfit, something that’s really useful for your next quest or activity.”

They dont get it

Its about the journey, not the reward

I didnt give a damn about the reward in TW 3 sidequests. Some money? Whatever.

What made them the best in the biz was dialogue/story. Thats the reward.
Well it looks like from that paragraph that not only are the rewards greater, but the side quests are more interesting as well.

Too often I felt the side quests in Zero Dawn were essentially just highlighting a track with the focus and then tracking something down following the purple tracks.

There’s definitely alot of room for improvement in the side quests so we’ll have to see what they come up with.
 

Tschumi

Member
I've said this recently elsewhere, what i really want is for the zone-crossing quests to be more optional, or, just, more easily digested
 

BigTnaples

Todd Howard's Secret GAF Account
I wonder if I too would forget about the story now if I had played it on release in 2017.

But having just beat the game 2 days ago, I loved pretty much everything about it. Finding out what Project: Zero Dawn actually was, was equally fascinating and depressing. The connection between Elizabet Sobeck and Aloy, the GAIA project.

I thought it was all brilliant stuff personally.
I also finally finished it 2 days ago. (Got half way though then stopped for PC version, started over and completed it)


I thought the story was brilliant and polished. In fact I’d say it’s among my favorite narratives of any game I have ever played, wasn’t perfect and not all the characters were super memorable, but Aloys story and the story of how the world came to be was incredible. Also the audio logs were Bioshock/Doom 3 tier. Great acting.
 

GymWolf

Gold Member
Nah. Best they will do is better graphics and more interesting combat scenarios.

The devs have never been able to write a good story.
Lol horizon had one of the best scifi plot of the past gen.

They may not have the witty writing or the super memorable characters of witcher 3 or a yakiza game, but the plot, the lore and all the micro details to make it believable were top tier.

Even killzone had a super interesting lore that was never explored in the games. (The reason why you read people cheering for the helgast instead of the isa in hardcore forums)
 

Panajev2001a

GAF's Pleasant Genius
I remember it.... It being garbage was the issue.
Relevant to keep going on and on and on about it with the noise of it drowning out people trying to remind you that they have hired new writers. one of their new m lead writer being the one from Fallout: NV, but then it would not help thread crapping by ignoring the “things that have improved in the new title and here is why” topic and doing shade throwing one liners focusing on the old game (ironically the one liners do not bother telling a story about why the story was so garbage ;)).
 

cormack12

Gold Member
Thank god for the last one, trying to find that fucking fox skin for the fast travel pack was an exercise in frustration, especially with the drop rate. Looking forward to the better skill tree as well.

I never thought the hud was cluttered in the first tbh. There were some text based items that could be disabled (the loot updates and quest summary), and maybe a narrowing of the health/pouch bars too. I guess they mean the little icons on the floor when something died, but they aren't any different to the glows in Odyssey for example. Plus some of the HUD elements are meant to be augmented by the focus.

I honestly think it was just a psychedelic and inconsistent colour scheme of the HUD making it look worse

 

SLB1904

Member
Thank god for the last one, trying to find that fucking fox skin for the fast travel pack was an exercise in frustration, especially with the drop rate. Looking forward to the better skill tree as well.

I never thought the hud was cluttered in the first tbh. There were some text based items that could be disabled (the loot updates and quest summary), and maybe a narrowing of the health/pouch bars too. I guess they mean the little icons on the floor when something died, but they aren't any different to the glows in Odyssey for example. Plus some of the HUD elements are meant to be augmented by the focus.

I honestly think it was just a psychedelic and inconsistent colour scheme of the HUD making it look worse

Wasn't hud dynamic? I don't remember the hud looking like this cluttered
 

GymWolf

Gold Member
Readed the whole thing, literally zero new info whatsoever, it is just a sum of the old things they already covered.
 

Fredrik

Gold Member
Readed the whole thing, literally zero new info whatsoever, it is just a sum of the old things they already covered.
Was the scanning for grappling points known?
I hoped you could grapple anywhere. One of the more annoying things in HZD was that you had to climb on specific spots.
 
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GymWolf

Gold Member
Was the scanning for grappling points known?
I hoped you could grapple anywhere. One of the more annoying things in HZD was that you had to climb on specific spots.
Yes well known for a while.

You only need to focus to make them clear, but you can climb almost everything without using focus before hand from the past news we had.
 
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RyRy93

Member
What it really needs: a callable mount from the start, flying mounts, more powerful weapons and dialogue options that don't feel completely pointless
 
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