PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4
February 18, 2022
Fans have been eagerly awaiting Horizon Forbidden West’s launch for years, and now it’s finally here. The sequel boasts a whole host of new features, exciting locales, and a sprawling story, some of which are detailed in our round-up of everything we know about the game. While these are all great things, it leaves a lot for new players and even veteran fans to wrap their heads around, especially in the first few hours. But you don’t have to set out into the Forbidden West unprepared. Here are ten essential tips and tricks for players to keep in mind as they embark on a new journey with Aloy.
Don’t Stress Over Zero Dawn’s Story
The Horizon games are story-heavy, and while we recommend experiencing the first game to get the full impact of the narrative, you won’t need to play Zero Dawn to understand Forbidden West. Guerrilla gives players a broad-stroke recap of vital information from the first game before you step foot on your adventure. It absolutely contains spoilers for Aloy’s first journey, though, so if you want to enjoy game one without spoilers, don’t start with the sequel. Forbidden West is also very good about using dialogue to refresh players on returning characters and their relationships with Aloy.
Use Your Focus, A Lot
Thankfully, Guerrilla has tweaked the once-grating sound of your Focus, the device that lets you examine the world around you, because there are even more reasons to use it in Forbidden West. You can send out a pulse to scan the environment for a quick lay-of-the-land, but your futuristic second sight will really come in handy for highlighting areas connected to new features. It can be hard in the beginning to distinguish when and where you can use new tools, so if you get stuck, turn to your Focus for help. You might also notice the scanner highlighting a few rocky surfaces with yellow, indicating you can climb on them thanks to the new free-climb mechanics. The Focus also comes in handy when battling machines. While looking for high-tech details on your mechanized foes isn’t exclusive to Forbidden West, the system has been reworked for this game, making it easier to find machine weaknesses in a fight.
You Can Find Tutorial Notes Later
Since Forbidden West tries to catch you up on the backstory while getting you up to date with the game’s mechanics, there is a lot of information to take in during the opening hours. Though the helpful hints can sometimes disappear quickly, or new data can push out recently learned information, don’t worry about trying to keep everything in your brain just from memory. Everything in the tutorial, from how to perform basic moves to how upgrading your armor works, is stored away in your notebook menu tab. It might be a good idea to skim over it occasionally, just in case it helps you recall a small but useful detail.
Skimp On Supplies At Your Peril
Gathering resources in the environment is crucial, and with the new auto-stash feature, you can grab more supplies than you can carry now. Extra resources are sent to storage chests you can find in major settlements or shelters. So, grab everything you can. Like in the first game, almost everything, from healing to upgrading, relies on finding certain ingredients or machine parts. It’s really tough to get through a fight if you’re caught in the middle of a battle without weapon-crafting materials. On top of everything from the first game, Forbidden West introduces even more resources and ways to use them. Gathering top-quality ingredients and bringing them to the world’s best chefs will net you a hearty meal and valuable stat boosts. Delivering dye components to special merchants lets you customize your look.
Guerrilla is trying to make the side content more meaningful and plentiful this time around, so take a second before walking past that NPC hailing you in the market. Sometimes unexpected and easy-to-ignore characters can hold the key to important things. There is a powerful new weapon, for example, that you can pick up fairly early in the game if you stop to chat with the right tinkerers, but the game won’t call this out directly. You’ll also find people dotted throughout the world who will give you information on locations to explore, fresh activities, and narrative-focused side quests. Don’t miss out on Forbidden West’s new in-universe strategy game, Machine Strike, or the challenge of the fight pits just because you failed to chat with the game’s denizens.
Choose Wisely In The Revamped Skill Tree
Now split into six separate categories, the skill tree is all about accommodating different play styles. If you like to move in quietly and kill from cover, go hard in the Infiltrator section. On the other hand, melee-centric players should pour points into their Warrior skills. However, with the introduction of Valor Surges, there’s a little more strategy to spending your hard-earned experience than just leveling up what skills you like. You’ll get access to these powerful moves automatically, but only after unlocking three abilities that touch it. So, you’ll want to look carefully through the six categories, noting what the Valor Surges in each section do, before charting your path forward. Additionally, certain skills tie into activities in the world. For example, you’ll need to unlock the first two combos in the Warrior skill tree to advance through the ranks of the fighting pits.
So, you’ve finally got time to haggle with the merchants, and those metal shards are burning a hole in your pocket. But don’t snap all those tempting wares up at once! Metal shards act as both a form of currency for purchasing items and a resource upgrading gear. Early in the game, it’s tough to gather enough shards and other necessary machine parts to buy and level up everything, so be selective. That shiny new bow that has similar properties to your starting weapon might not seem like such a good deal when you can’t afford more diverse weapons or traps later on. And keep in mind that every merchant you come across, for the most part, will have different items than the last one. So always check your inventory and prioritize getting the widest array of weapon types and various damage options you can early on.
Don’t Be Afraid Of Fast Travel
Once the world opens up and you can start traveling around the map on your own, Forbidden West lets you fast travel for free from any campfire. All you need to do is visit a location or campfire, and you’ll be able to travel there in the future. So, if you see a campfire on your journey, it’s worthwhile to head in that direction. You don’t need to light it for the fire to become part of your traversal network; just get close enough to it to prompt the message that you’ve discovered it. Fast travel packs are still useful, however. You can use these consumable items no matter where you are to travel to a fire or settlement, which comes in handy if you haven’t seen a fire for a while. Keep a few of these packs on hand; you won’t regret it. However, if you just want to take your time wandering the beautiful landscape, we can’t blame you.
Tame A Mount Early
No matter how convenient the fast travel is in the sequel, you still have to find places before you can teleport there. To make this process go a little faster, be sure to jump on a mount as soon as you can. Luckily, the game steers you past machines you already know how to override early on, giving you access to your very own robotic steed. You also get the ability to summon your mount once you tame one, so it’s safe to wander off and call the mechanized creature back when you need it. But you probably won’t be sticking with the same steed for long, as the game has more mount options than ever before. Head to the machine catalog in your menu, and you’ll find each ridable machine has a hoofprint mark next to it, making it easy to know which robots to look for in the future.
Get Serious With Side Content
The first game was all about the golden path, but the sequel encourages you to frequently step off the yellow brick road. There is a lot to do, with many activities offering boosts or interesting ways to break up the main gameplay. These include objectives that flesh out the world, like a side activity that lets Aloy superimpose an ancient image on top of its current, ruined site. It’s not essential to the narrative, but viewing the destruction highlights the stakes of Aloy’s adventure. If you’re looking for puzzles to solve, delving after relics in old ruins will scratch that itch, and picking up a machine-hunting contract will point you towards useful parts. Taking advantage of the relationships set up in Zero Dawn, Forbidden West also constructs narratively rich side quests centered on past friends.
Are you excited to get started with Horizon Forbidden West? Tell us about it in the comment below!