You’ve just slid under a robotic elephant’s tusk as it tried to gore you with the entirety of its 10-tonne-plus weight. Some of your flowing red hair caught the tip of its kevlar tusk. But that hasn’t phased you; you look up, pull out an explosive spear and jam it under the beast’s jaw. A dodge roll to safety, a quick sprint behind a nearby knoll, and a look over your shoulder tells you it was a clean hit – the resulting explosion took the beast’s plated armour clean off. You notch an arrow to your bow, concentrate as you take aim, and fire. Bullseye! The tusk comes off, clean. Just what you needed for that weapon upgrade.
Does this sound familiar? Because it is. Moment-to-moment, Horizon Forbidden West isn’t all that different from Zero Dawn. Sure, there are more bells and whistles, the world is bigger (and, somehow, also more dense), you’ve got some fancy new ways of getting about, and there are some new robotic animals to dispatch. But this is Zero Dawn, Mark II. For better and for worse.
Guerrilla Games bolted out the gate with aplomb on its first venture into the reset future of the Horizon universe, kitbashing together some fluid My First Monster Hunter combat, a rich and tempting world full of collectible goodies, and a story that had the true identity of red-headed huntress Aloy nestled snugly at its center. Without that central conceit, though, Forbidden West seemed like a dubious proposition – could this 60-plus hour game keep me entertained, even when this main plot point has been removed?