Horizon Forbidden West reviews round-up

Aloy riding along a beach.
(Image credit: Guerrilla Games)

As part of the more general shift towards releasing its big firstparty games on PC, one of Sony's first big statements of intent was the release of Horizon Zero Dawn in 2020. Developer Guerrilla has long been one of PlayStation's 'showcase' studios (it was previously best-known for the Killzone series) and Horizon Zero Dawn was and remains a gorgeous open-world. The sequel Horizon Forbidden West is about to be released, the reviews are flooding in, and no it's not yet confirmed for PC: But come on.

PCG gave the original 86%, and by the sound of things Forbidden West is a lot more of the same: But bigger, better, and all that jazz. Our colleagues over at GamesRadar+ awarded the game 4.5 stars and called it "nothing short of phenomenal." While acknowledging the climbing still isn't as engaging as it should be, GR+ ends on the observation that "You know a game is good when the robot dinosaurs aren't the thing you want to talk to your friends about first."

Lots of folk are going bananas for Aloy's latest outing. VGC "found ourselves audibly gasping at some of the locations the game has hidden away" and slapped it with the top 5-star rating. Game Informer gave it a whopping 9.25 and said: "Horizon Forbidden West reaches a new high bar for Guerrilla Games. It does more than surpass its predecessor; it takes Horizon’s fiction to captivating places and builds a rich world that rewards you for the effort you put into it. Mostly, it’s an entertaining experience, complete with jaw-dropping moments and unforgettable fights."

Some big dinos chasing people.

(Image credit: Guerrilla Games)

IGN was pretty much in lockstep with that score-wise, a 9.3, though did find some stuff to grumble about. This reviewer appreciated the greater density of the world this time around and the light emergent systems scattered throughout:

"The action isn’t just restricted to the many, many objective icons on the map though—aimless wandering is rewarded with random events taking place across the world, which gives a sense of real discovery. These range from fighting off some rebels who have prepared an ambush by a rocky path to rescuing a family from a herd of aggressive machines, and many more. Occasions like this further build on a feeling of genuine causality to your actions in the world too, as you’ll bump into the same people later at a settlement who will thank Aloy for playing the role of hero."

Screenrant awarded its own 4.5 score, calling Forbidden West "a lock-the-doors sci-fi epic packed to the brim with fascinating characters and countless pleasures that will take players many hours to completely devour." NME also joined in the 'it's pretty good' vibe with a 4/5 score: "the combination of the unique world, compelling narrative and the Monster Hunter-lite combat makes this more fun than the tide of open-world adventure games."

Not everyone's going goo-goo over Guerilla's latest. A more measured reaction came from the Telegraph, which gave it 3/5 and said "while there's a lot of things to like here, it's a harder game to love. Like a band who go for extraneous instrumentals and showy solos over memorable choruses, one can't help but want a tad less filler and a touch more killer."

Aloy swimming.

(Image credit: Guerrilla Games)

Over on the sites that don't use scores, however, there is some serious criticism coming the game's way: Guerrilla are probably quite glad that Eurogamer don't do numbers because wow they had some issues! "I've enjoyed Forbidden West less than Zero Dawn. The main story has major issues, and the level design made it difficult for me to play the way I had previously enjoyed, while making a lot of the newer systems feel redundant. Beyond that, the sense is of a game where Guerrilla has cobbled together RPG building blocks often without making them work within the context of its own game, and in some cases actively worsening Horizon Forbidden West as a result."

Polygon, meanwhile, had huge issues with a game about environmental traversal being so, well, one-note in its solutions to these things. "The grappling hook is full of potential, but it’s mostly used to dislodge vent covers, and often requires players to time jumps perfectly. In a game so obsessed with the joy of exploration, it’s all the more heartbreaking to adhere to environmental puzzles’ single-track solutions."

Who knows what to think! This all sounds pretty similar to reaction the first time around. Some were wowed, as ever, by Guerrilla's technical mastery and the original setting: And of course, robot dinosaurs are cool. The original game's open world soon began to feel a little empty, however, and going by some of these reviews that's a recurring issue. So the reviews round-up is: It's mixed. By the time it hits PC, we'll have our own verdict.

Rich Stanton

Rich is a games journalist with 15 years' experience, beginning his career on Edge magazine before working for a wide range of outlets, including Ars Technica, Eurogamer, GamesRadar+, Gamespot, the Guardian, IGN, the New Statesman, Polygon, and Vice. He was the editor of Kotaku UK, the UK arm of Kotaku, for three years before joining PC Gamer. He is the author of a Brief History of Video Games, a full history of the medium, which the Midwest Book Review described as "[a] must-read for serious minded game historians and curious video game connoisseurs alike."