PC Games Horizon Forbidden West PC review

Published on April 12th, 2024 | by Ali Arkani

Horizon Forbidden West Complete Edition PC Review

Horizon Forbidden West Complete Edition PC Review Ali Arkani

Summary: Horizon Forbidden West is a great sequel. It improves upon the very gameplay mechanics that made the first game so unique while addressing some of its shortcomings such as the lackluster melee combat.


A big step forward

Horizon Forbidden West was one of the first real next-gen titles for PlayStation 5 and now that it’s released for PC, I can see why. The sequel to Guerrilla Games’ post-apocalyptic action role-playing title is by all means a big step forward but by no means perfect.

Horizon Forbidden West picks up the story right where it was left off at the end of the first game. The rogue AI called HADES is no longer a threat to humanity but when the sources of the initial signal that caused it to malfunction are revealed, Aloy is faced with an even fiercer enemy from the past. The story of the game is a compelling one with well-written new characters and beloved returning ones. The game’s side-quests are some of the best I’ve seen since Cyberpunk 2077 with engaging storylines. The downside of the story is its world-building and Aloy’s character arc.

The way “diversity” is forced into the game breaks the flow of suspension of disbelief. There are countless human tribes in the world of the game each with its own primitive culture and beliefs: some consider the machines as living gods, while others pray to the sun. They are all protective of their religious beliefs and prejudiced when it comes to their traditions. Yet, they have no prejudice against race and gender identity! Every single tribe has at least a couple of Asian and African as well as LGBTQ+ members. It’s truly strange to see people with such barbaric laws such as trial by combat and primitive worldviews such as worshiping idols are suddenly so open-minded and inclusive when it comes to respecting women, gender identity, and ethnic differences.

Horizon Forbidden West PC review

The way “diversity” is forced into the game breaks the flow of suspension of disbelief.

Aloy’s character arc is also non-existent! Unlike the first game in which Aloy starts her journey as an outcast and ends up as the only savior of mankind, during Forbidden West‘s long campaign, Aloy doesn’t experience any further development whether spiritual, personal, or physical. There’s no depth to the character and her selfish and bossy attitude is unlike what we have seen in the last instalment. She’s so reckless and blunt in her actions and statements that she feels more like a villain rather than a hero.

For example, when she is finally given an audience with the Chief of the Tenakth tribe Hekarro to access the old-world technology guarded by them and is refused, her first response is saying: “What prevents me from killing you here and getting what I want?”. This is by no means the first argument of a reasonable hero against a king! Further, down the same quest, she blows up the fortifications of a stronghold to make the clan’s leader forge an alliance with Hekarro because guess what, the leader told Aloy his walls will protect his people and he needs no allies. There is a thin line between being a badass and a being a jackass and when it comes to Aloy, writers of Horizon Forbidden West have crossed it.

The gameplay is perhaps the brightest part of the game. Aloy is now equipped with new tools such as a grappling hook and Shieldwing Glider which makes exploration in the game much more enjoyable. The combat has more depth to it as well. There are multiple new melee combos available in the skill tree to unlock and Aloy can also energize her spear to deal more damage to enemies with melee attacks.

Horizon Forbidden West PC review

Ranged weapons such as different types of bows and spear launchers are now equipped with a stamina bar and Aloy can unlock special moves in the sill tree that consume stamina to execute. Each weapon type has multiple stamina special moves that players can choose based on their play style. Valor Surges are another special ability that temporarily boosts Aloy’s combat capabilities. Valor Surges can increase ranged damage, stagger enemies, turn alloy invisible, or provide other special buffs.

Fighting giant machines and dismantling them piece by piece is perhaps the most iconic aspect of the Horizon franchise and it is amped up to the next level in Forbidden West. Not only there are multiple new types of machines in the game, but the framework of fighting the machines is also completely reworked. Some machine parts are needed for upgrading weapons and armor and they are either fragile or explosive which means Aloy should either cut them off the machines before they are dead and the part is broken or kill the machines without damaging the part and triggering an explosion. This single feature adds more tactical depth to the game’s iconic dismantling system forcing the players to calculate for the loot before engaging in combat.

The new chain reaction system is also pretty useful. If Aloy shoots elemental canisters on the machines -such as acid or electricity- with the same type of elemental arrows, the canisters explode and deal massive elemental damage and status effect to that machine and everything else in its vicinity. This is yet another reason to equip multiple types of bows, further deepening the strategic aspects of combat in Horizon Forbidden West.

Horizon Forbidden West PC review

Dismantling machine parts are now more strategic.

Outside combat and when it comes to puzzles, the game feels shallow. First of all, Aloy keeps talking and verbally solving the puzzles to the point that it is literally spoiling the fun. There is rarely a moment of silence in the game outside free roaming and Aloy’s constant hinting even in combat gets on the nerves. The puzzles of the game are also forced into a single solution while there are multiple apparent ways to solve them. For example, in one section of the game, Aloy was supposed to bring a battery to the other side of a pond. If the battery touched the water, it would have discharged and needed to be charged again. That makes sense, but when Aloy left it on dry ground and entered the water herself, the battery discharged as well! There is no logical reason here except that the devs wanted the players to find a solution on this side of the pond and force a specific playthrough.

Last but not least is the game’s performance on PC since it’s the PC port we are reviewing. Once again, Nixxes handed out a great PC port. During my 40 hours of playing the game, I encountered no bugs or performance issues. The game is so well optimized that I could run it native 4K @60FPS most of the time on my RTX 4090. The game also supports DLSS and Frame Generation as well as FSR which means even higher frame rates with upscaled 4K reclusion.

Horizon Forbidden West is a great sequel. It improves upon the very gameplay mechanics that made the first game so unique while addressing some of its shortcomings such as the lackluster melee combat. While the game’s approach toward creating a diverse world and a more determined portrayal of Aloy is flawed, it doesn’t prevent the players from accompanying her on her post-apocalyptic journey in the lands of machines.

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