Horizon Forbidden West: A Dev Blog About Traversal And Survival [VIDEO]

PREVIEW- Guerrilla Games published an extensive post about its upcoming Horizon Forbidden West game on the PlayStation Blog.


“Building upon the foundation of Horizon Zero Dawn, we have added several new ways to move through the world. Aloy can climb freely on and across vast sections of rocky terrain; even more machine types can be used as mounts; grapple points can be found throughout the environment, which allows agile vertical traversal; swimming underwater has opened up a whole new aspect of exploration, and gliding with the Shieldwing provides the ultimate view of the beautiful world of Horizon Forbidden West—not to mention a quick way down from great heights! Our traversal design decisions were always in service of increasing dynamic interactivity with the world around you. This could empower the player to manipulate and destroy their environment with a tool like the Pullcaster or grapple-launching into a glide with the Shieldwing to set yourself up for a strike from above. What excites us most is how our new and old mechanics synergistically interact to provide varied and dynamic approaches to any scenario.



Level design


This wide array of new options also posed challenges to how we think about level design. We need to allow players to outsmart us, using new moves or tools to bypass some of our challenges in clever and unpredictable ways. Traversal puzzles won’t always have a binary solution; we encourage players to experiment and have fun with the new tools. We will offer a variety of challenges, regardless of playstyle or skill or previous experience in Horizon Zero Dawn,” says David McMullen, Guerrilla’s lead systems designer.

“The DualSense wireless controller is heavily featured throughout our mechanics. From the scrape of rubble as you push a crate to the sensation of an unravelling winch as you use the Pullcaster — with the increased adaptive trigger tension as you pull! We’ve also added extra tactile dimensions to increase both the gameplay value and the feeling of being part of the world Aloy is moving around in; these can be subtle as the sensation of grass brushing around you to indicate you are entering stealth grass or the pop of the adaptive trigger as you reach a maximum draw with a bow. We even use the absence of adaptive tension to help communicate when you’re out of ammo,” McMullen added.

“The free climbing system in Horizon Forbidden West is a vast feature we are incredibly excited about, as it has allowed us to make large sections of the terrain climbable (where it makes sense visually and narratively) in a way not previously possible in Horizon Zero Dawn. Rocky surfaces in these areas are freely climbable without the use of tribal handholds! Another addition was the high vault traversal mechanic, which essentially allows Aloy to hoist herself on top of any object of jumpable height with room to pull up. Combined with the ability to free climb and add grapples to our environment, the potential for exploration is significantly increased.





The Pullcaster is a mechanical wrist-mounted device with two separate functions. The first function is a grapple mechanic, allowing the player to swiftly and efficiently ascend the environment and providing a dynamic traversal/escape option to the player toolkit. When grappling, the player can activate the launch—throwing them into the air, where they can grab a higher ledge, fire their bow, glide, strike from above or even grapple to a further point. The second function of the Pullcaster is a winch, meaning the player can dynamically manipulate, move and destroy the objects in the environment. Think about pulling a hidden loot chest from a ledge or tearing open a vent to create a new climb path.

The Shieldwing was always a team favourite; it provides not only the most exhilarating way to return from an epic climb but also the most picturesque! This tool is invaluable with having so much more verticality, where backtracking down the same trail holds less of an appeal as on the way up. Hopefully, players will appreciate this level of freedom and new gameplay, combat, and exploration opportunities. The Shieldwing combines well with numerous other mechanics both in and out of combat, such as landing on your mount, ziplining, the strike from above skill, and more,” McMullen says.

“One of the focus points that influenced all our combat decisions was increased player choice, and we applied this to everything: melee, weapons, outfits, skills and other new mechanics. We wanted to give players more tools, depth and dials to play with. One entirely new concept in Horizon Forbidden West is the workbench, upgrading and strengthening weapons and outfits. This unlocks new perks, mod slots, and skills and offers players a more extensive degree of customization, resistances, and new abilities!





In Horizon Zero Dawn, skills were bought and unlocked as you levelled up. While that principle remains in the sequel, we completely redesigned the skill tree with additional tracks and skills; within the skill tree, skills also synergize with those already present on outfits or need to be unlocked on them. We always start with the character and how we want the player to perceive her during gameplay. In Aloy’s case, this means intelligent, fast, agile, precise, and resourceful; our role is to translate these into game mechanics. Of course, having launched Horizon Zero Dawn already, we had a base to start from, so for Horizon Forbidden West, we looked at where these traits can come through stronger or maybe what could be added. There are the direct combat mechanics, like shooting and melee, and indirect ones, like the skills, outfits, upgrades, and weapon techniques. It is an excellent design challenge to make all these behind the scenes systems work together in the engine.

We wanted to bring melee and ranged combat closer together. Aloy is not a character who deals with brute force, so we were looking for ways to have the player go back and forth between melee and range, where she could use her special bow skills to work towards a big payoff moment. A new example of a skill is the Resonator Blast, where you charge up the spear with melee hits. When fully powered up, the energy can be placed on enemies (humans and machines alike) and followed up with a projectile—resulting in a big damaging explosion!

Then there is the Valor Surge feature; there are 12 in total, each representing and strengthening a specific approach to the game. You unlock and upgrade them through the skill tree with skill points. There are three levels of each Valor Surge: the higher the level, the longer the charge up, but the more powerful the attack. This level is shown on the purple bar you could see during the gameplay trailer: you’ll receive more Valor—or charge up that bar—through skilful actions such as hitting weak spots on enemies or removing components. In the video, you could see Aloy perform the Radial Blast on the burly Tenakth warrior. It was also important to reward players who go into a melee situation, as it’s hazardous to be so close to enemies, especially the machines! If you are skilled and daring, you can do some excellent damage with these new features—be careful!



More danger


In Horizon Zero Dawn, machine and humanoid encounters were very separate; they never really operated as a group against Aloy. The world has changed in Horizon Forbidden West, with more danger, more enemy factions, and more machines—and they can now fight together in groups, which poses a real challenge for our hero and the player. When it comes to mounted combat, the player will have to adapt and decide whom to take out first and in what most effective way; human enemies have weapons, attacks, and abilities that machines don’t and vice versa, so they complement each other in these encounters; keeping you on your toes!

The goal for the weapons in Horizon Forbidden West was to give each of them a more assertive personality, which is also expressed in how you have to handle them. Each weapon has its strengths and weaknesses in terms of the ideal situations to use them in. The Spike Thrower, for example, is a new, high damage weapon that, when thrown at the right moment, makes it easier to hit larger targets. For elemental damage, such as fire or adhesive, you can choose to stick with the Blast Sling and so forth. Each weapon comes with different perks, ammo types, and weapon coil slots to customize them further — though some weapons need to be upgraded first before you can make them stronger,” Dennis Zopfi, Guerrilla’s lead combat designer, says.

“There are several other subtle yet impactful additions that enable more dynamic gameplay. To name a few examples: Aloy can wall jump, leap away from a climb surface, high vault, and more. While these might sound like small things, combined, they make for engaging environmental challenges and more player options,” McMullen summarized. “We put a lot of effort into creating more choice and depth for the players and are super excited to see how people will play as Aloy with so many new possibilities of skills, weapons and gear she can obtain throughout the mysterious Forbidden West. We had a lot of fun creating cool and powerful combinations for players to discover, and we hope people will enjoy the game when it launches!”, Zopfi added.

Horizon Forbidden West will launch on February 18 on PlayStation 5 and PlayStation 4.

Source: Gematsu

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