One of PlayStation's biggest games ever is expected to be released on the PlayStation 5 in 2021. The game in question is Horizon Forbidden West, a sequel to Guerilla Games' open-world sci-fi game from 2017. Sony Interactive Entertainment has continued to pull back the curtain on the long-awaited sequel where Aloy's adventure continues ahead of its latest State of Play.
This is everything that you'd want to know about the game, including its release window, platforms, and story details.
SIE and Guerrilla gave gamers their first in-depth look at the upcoming open-world title during a PS5 reveal event on June 11, 2020. We got another brief look at the game on September 16 during the console's price and release date unveiling. Coming into 2021, those are the two main times the game has been showcased, though the developers have talked about it elsewhere.
Leading up to those colossal announcements, Guerrilla had teased the sequel's existence with a handful of mysterious job openings and even a few accidental social media posts. But now the title has been confirmed as an early release to show off the technical capabilities of the PS5 by continuing Aloy's critically acclaimed storyline.
The unparalleled sci-fi action game was a monumental release for its Dutch developer, which had stuck with the Killzone series since Sony acquired the studio in 2005. Its last game before Horizon, Killzone Shadow Fall, was a PS4 launch title and met with lukewarm reviews. 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. Luckily, Horizon Forbidden West isn't far off.
When is the Horizon Forbidden West release date?
Sony Interactive Entertianment President and CEO Jim Ryan, who is in charge of all of PlayStation's operations, confirmed Horizons: Forbidden West's release window. He confirmed in an interview with Famitsu that the game will be released in the second half of 2021. It will likely be poised as the big new PS5 release this fall.
Guerrilla Games had previously confirmed that Horizon Forbidden West is coming in 2021 shortly after its announcement. It currently shares a release window with the sequel to God of War, though we still don't know if that game will manage to release this year.
Horizon Forbidden West will be released just over four years after the original, which is a surprisingly quick turnaround for what is expected to be an enormous game. Horizon Zero Dawn took Guerrilla about seven years to develop and it was announced two years before its launch.
Guerrilla built its own engine from scratch, and that is an extremely labor-intensive process. It appears the developer saved a lot of time with the engine under its belt, which could be what made Horizon Forbidden West's 2021 release date window possible.
Is there a Horizon Forbidden West trailer?
Yes, there's an announcement trailer that teases the game's story and gives some very brief looks at gameplay and the west coast locations that Aloy will explore. You can watch that below and also check out a video where the developers discuss the game further. Fans are hoping that another will come out during Sony's State of Play on February 25, though the third party focus makes that unlikely.
Is Horizon Forbidden West a PS5 exclusive?
While it's one of Sony's major 2021 release, 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's still on PS4. The true PS5 exclusives on the Horizon currently include Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart, Returnal, Gran Turismo 7, and the sequel to God of War.
While Horizon Forbidden West isn't a PS4 exclusive, it will take advantage of some of the system's 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 Audiotech. "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.
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 is in need of 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.
Heavy spoilers for Horizon Zero Dawn ahead.
What could the Horizon Forbidden West story be about?
Horizon Zero Dawn 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 one of many warring tribes 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 to not 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.
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.