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Horizon Forbidden West release date, trailer, story, and pre-order info

Coming soon to a PlayStation near you.

Sony Interactive Entertainment
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One of PlayStation's biggest games ever is coming to PlayStation 5. Horizon Forbidden West is a sequel to Guerilla Games' acclaimed open-world sci-fi game from 2017, Horizon Zero Dawn. There’s still a lot we don’t know about the game, but Sony has already unveiled plenty of gameplay and new mechanics.

Here’s everything that you'd want to know about the game, including its release window, platforms, and story details.

When is the Horizon Forbidden West release date?

Sony has revealed that Horizon Forbidden West will be released on February 18, 2022. This is later than the 2021 release that was originally expected and leaves the PS5 without a major holiday exclusive. On PlayStation Blog, Game Director Mathijs de Jonge explained why the game was delayed:

“It’s no surprise that our teams were hugely impacted by the global pandemic; we have been adjusting to new workflows, protocols, and other challenges, while keeping our teams safe and prioritizing a healthy work/life balance...While the decision to move the game’s launch to 2022 certainly wasn’t easy, we’d like to take a moment to thank all of our fans for their unwavering support; we know how much you’ve been looking forward to reuniting with Aloy and her friends, continuing her story, and exploring a new and more dangerous world.”

The delay wasn’t much of a surprise though, as reports of it being pushed back emerged over a month before the delay was announced. A July 2021 Bloomberg report revealed that it wouldn’t be released until 2022, which turned out to be true.

Sony Interactive Entertainment

All of this came after lots of claims that the game would still be released in 2021. The developers showed off 14 minutes of gameplay footage from an early mission set in the ruins of San Francisco on May 27 but did not conclude with a firm date as many observers had expected.

In a PlayStation Blog post published just after the May 27 event, Narrative Director Ben McCaw noted, “We don’t have an exact release date yet, but development is on track, and we’ll have an update for you very soon.” Gamescom turned out to be “very soon.”

“For Horizon, we think we are on track to release this holiday season,” Head of PlayStation Studios Hermen Hulst said in a June 2021 PlayStation Blog. “But that isn’t quite certain yet, and we’re working as hard as we can to confirm that to you as soon as we can.”

These comments seemed to suggest that a release date reveal was coming soon and that it would be in 2021. However, speaking to Game Informer, Game Director Mathijs de Jonge explained why Sony was hesitant to share a release date:

“The development is on track. The thing is, these are just strange times that we're all in and we have never finalized and shipped a game under these kinds of circumstances. So we are constantly calculating our schedules and looking at, ‘Okay, where are we?’ and ‘Are there any unforeseen things that might happen?’ We just want to be super confident when we announce the release date, that we're actually going to hit it. So we just need a little bit more time, and then we can come back with a final release date.”

This new release date means Horizon Forbidden West will arrive 5 years after the original. For comparison, Horizon Zero Dawn took Guerrilla about seven years to develop, and it was announced two years before its launch.

Can I pre-order Horizon Forbidden West?

Yes, pre-orders for Horizon Forbidden West are now available. There are multiple versions of the game that you can get too! The standard version of the game costs $59.99 on PS4 and $69.99 on PS5. The $89.99 Digital Deluxe Edition on the PlayStation Store comes with the following items:

  • Horizon Forbidden West (Digital) PS4 and PS5 versions
  • 2 Special Outfits (Carja Behemoth Elite and Nora Thunder Elite)
  • 2 Special Weapons (Carja Behemoth Short Bow and Nora Thunder Sling)
  • In-game Resources Pack including ammunition, potions, and travel packs
  • In-game Apex Clawstrider Machine Strike Piece
  • Exclusive Photo Mode pose and face paint
  • Digital Art Book
  • Digital Soundtrack
  • Digital Version of The Sunhawk

Physically, the $79.99 Special Edition is the cheapest non-standard version of the game features a Steelbook, the Nora Legacy Outfit and Spear, a digital soundtrack, and a min art book. On PlayStation Direct, an expensive Collector’s Edition that costs $199.99 is available and comes with the following bonuses:

  • Horizon Forbidden West (Digital) PS4 and PS5 versions
  • Horizon Forbidden West SteelBook Display Case
  • A custom sculpted Tremortusk and Aloy statue
  • Mini Art Book
  • 2 Special Outfits (Carja Behemoth Elite and Nora Thunder Elite)
  • 2 Special Weapons (Carja Behemoth Short Bow and Nora Thunder Sling)
  • In-game Resources Pack including ammunition, potions, and travel packs
  • In-game Apex Clawstrider Machine Strike Piece
  • Exclusive Photo Mode pose and face paint
  • Digital Soundtrack
  • Digital Version of The Sunhawk

There was an even better Regalia Edition that had an even more detailed statue, but it’s out of stock now.

Is there a Horizon Forbidden West trailer?

The May 27 State of Play presentation contains the most up-to-date gameplay footage and includes details about Forbidden West’s story and mechanics. You can check it out in full below:

If you want to see more, the announcement trailer also teases the game's story and gives some very brief looks at gameplay and the west coast locations that Aloy will explore.

What are some of the new features in Horizon Forbidden West?

During Sony’s May 27 State of Play event, narrative director Ben McCaw highlighted several new tools in Aloy’s arsenal.

  • The focus cannon will highlight spots that allow free-climbing.
  • The pullcaster functions like a handheld zipline, allowing Aloy to flit away from danger fast.
  • The shieldwing (the one that looks like a “laser umbrella”) is a glider that reduces the risk of fall damage and lets you get the drop on your enemies.
  • The diving mask allows Aloy to stay underwater indefinitely and navigate past baddies under the sea.
  • Certain enemy machines can be “overridden” and used as mounts to help you navigate the open world or aid in combat.

Aloy will also have new weaponry, like the spear for close-up melee blows and valor charges, attacks that do heavy damage. In addition, you’ll get access to even more weapons throughout the game that can be upgraded with workbenches scattered around the world.

Is Horizon Forbidden West a PS5 exclusive?

While it's one of Sony's major 2021 releases, Horizon Forbidden West is not a PS5 exclusive. Like Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales and Sackboy: A Big Adventure, it's a cross-gen experience that will also be available on PS4. This was confirmed in 2020 by PlayStation, and Hulst reiterated that fact in his June 2021 PlayStation Blog interview while also revealing Gran Turismo 7 and the new God of War will have PS4 versions as well.

This might be frustrating for fans who feel that PS4 will hold the games back. Despite that, Game Director Mathijs de Jonge admitted to Game Informer the fact that Forbidden West’s development and playtesting has mostly taken place on PS4. This claim was backed up by a report from Video Games Chronicle, which claims the game was always slated for PS4.

That said, Horizon Forbidden West will take advantage of some of the new-gen console’s niftiest features.

"Horizon Forbidden West features new weapons that are designed to feel unique and play a specific role in combat with machines and human opponents," Game Director Mathijs de Jonge explained to PlayStation Blog. "The DualSense wireless controller adaptive triggers will help us to make the weapons feel even more unique and satisfying to use."

The game will also take advantage of the system's 3D Audio tech. "Now with the PS5 console’s Tempest 3D AudioTech sound engine, we’ll be able to play sounds in such a way that players will be able to locate the machines around them with greater ease, which is great for situations in which you find yourself surrounded or just want to sneak on machines," Mathijs de Jonge explained in another PlayStation Blog post.

Can I upgrade to the PS5 version of Horizon Forbidden West for free?

Originally, PS4 to PS5 upgrades were going to be limited to special editions of Horizon Forbidden West. Thankfully, Sony backtracked on this decision following substantial backlash from the community.

“Last year we made a commitment to deliver free upgrades for our cross-gen launch titles, which included Horizon Forbidden West,” said Sony Interactive Entertainment President and CEO Jim Ryan on PlayStation Blog.

“While the pandemic’s profound impact pushed Forbidden West out of the launch window we initially envisioned, we will stand by our offer: Players who purchase Horizon Forbidden West on PlayStation 4 will be able to upgrade to the PlayStation 5 version for free.”

Going forward, players will have to pay $10 if they want to upgrade the PS4 version of a game like Gran Turismo 7 to the PS5 version.

Could Horizon Forbidden West support multiplayer?

Guerrilla hasn't confirmed a multiplayer mode for Horizon Forbidden West, but a series of intriguing job listings have hinted that it might be possible.

An opening for a “Game Server Engineer” at Guerrilla suggested that Horizon Forbidden West might also feature a new online mode. The job description states that the developer needs someone to work on "systems like matchmaking, tournaments, clans, and leaderboards."

A feature like this could take the form of PvE battles where players can team up and face off against powerful robotic animals for better rewards than they would receive by doing them on their own. The mention of "clans" is even more interesting, as Guerrilla could let players create their own tribes with friends to complete quests in a mode outside of the main story campaign, a lot like Red Dead Redemptions 2 Online.

That said, it's possible that this job listing was unrelated to Horizon Forbidden West, so take it with a grain of salt.

Guerrilla Games

Who are the Horizon Forbidden West composers?

On June 3, 2021, Sony Interactive Entertainment confirmed that the following artists are composing Horizon Forbidden West’s soundtrack:

  1. Joris de Man
  2. Niels van de Leest
  3. The Flight
  4. Oleksa Lozowchuk

For an early taste of the game’s soundtrack, the composers released The Isle of Spires EP. A video featuring the composers’ insight was also released, and you can check that out below.

What’s the Horizon Forbidden West story?

Horizon Zero Dawn was a monumental release for its Dutch developer, which had stuck with the Killzone series since Sony acquired the studio in 2005. Horizon Zero Dawn proved to be the studio’s magnum opus when it was met with critical acclaim and nominated for Game of the Year at The Game Awards 2017.

The title’s breath-taking environments, monolithic mechanical animals, and captivating plot came together to form a near-perfect RPG experience that let it easily compete against other big-name franchises.

Heavy spoilers for Horizon Zero Dawn ahead.

It is set in a post-apocalyptic world where massive, self-replicating robots are the dominant species, and humans — who have already undergone a mass extinction — are thrust back into the tribalistic society.

Gamers play as Aloy, a member of a tribe that stumbles upon the origins of the mechanical beasts the rule the world. They were created by a company named Faro Automated Solutions nearly 1,000 ago as “peacemakers,” but need biomass for fuel. Eventually, they consumed so much of the Earth’s biosphere that it eradicated most humans. But there was a Plan B.

Faro also created an artificial intelligence named GAIA that could shut down the peacemakers, create its own robots, and make the Earth livable for humans again. But APOLLO, the system designed to teach humans not to repeat the mistakes of the last generation, was sabotaged by Faro and led to the rise of Aloy’s tribal society.

Upon discovering GAIA, Aloy is warned about HADES, another Faro system mysteriously triggered to carry out a controlled extinction if GAIA couldn’t reestablish a stable human society. Aloy faces off against HADES at the end of the game and apparently defeats it, but not for good.

Sylens seems to have a sinister plan to gain knowledge from HADES, which could play out in 'Horizon Forbidden West,'.Guerrilla Games

The final scene of Horizon Zero Dawn reveals HADES has not been completely defeated. A dark entity — thought to be HADES — shoots out of a pile of rubble and is captured by Sylens, a secondary character thought to be Aloy’s ally.

He seems hungry for knowledge about the evil system’s “masters” and seems ready to stop at nothing to acquire it. He could be the main villain of Horizon Forbidden West or the catalyst for its events, at the very least. The official website for the game gives more insight into its premise. "Life on Earth is hurtling towards another extinction, and no one knows why."

"It's up to Aloy to uncover the secrets behind these threats and restore order and balance to the world. Along the way, she must reunite with old friends, forge alliances with warring new factions and unravel the legacy of the ancient past — all the while trying to stay one step ahead of a seemingly undefeatable new enemy," it concludes.

Horizon Forbidden West will be released exclusively on the PS5 in 2021.

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