Horizon Forbidden West is a deeply involving experience, full of imposing machines, warring tribes, and a ton of lore to uncover. It is also an astounding technical achievement, with an attention to detail across its gameplay, character, and visuals that had us shaking our heads in awe.
There were a lot to choose from, but here are our 26 favorite amazing little details in Horizon Forbidden West. (Some spoilers ahead if you have not played into the later portions of Horizon Forbidden West!)
1. Guerilla has spent a lot of time perfecting Aloy’s animations, even in less dynamic moments. When standing near a ledge, for example, Aloy will sway and try to keep her balance.
2. Her arms will visibly shake when you have a bow drawn.
3. In more dynamic moments, Guerrilla’s knack for bespoke animations continues to impress – the rappel down move is back and cool as ever, but the way Aloy activates the Shieldwing, or throws out the Pullcaster to lock onto a point are just as stylish.
4. Machines are subtly different from one another. If you look closely, they have the logo of their cauldron (where they were manufactured) printed on them.
5. They’re also realistically battle-worn. If you zoom in on their exteriors you’ll see rust spots and scratches, especially on their undersides.
6. Aloy has a lot of verbal callouts, but we’re always impressed when she mentions things related to her quest log – if you’re doing the main quest but you’re close to a sidequest beat, for example, Aloy might mention it aloud. (ie: Rebel camps)
7. Aloy will physically react to whatever environment she’s in: she’ll shiver in the cold, catch snowflakes in her hand, and she’ll sweat and pant in the heat.
8. She’ll also verbally mention the weather. She’ll call out if it starts to rain, or if she’s caught in the snow, she’ll verbally call it out.
9. Aloy’s hair is once again incredibly dynamic. It flows in the wind, bounces while running, and moves around realistically underwater.
10. When you finish a sidequest and Aloy says to a key character from said sidequest that she’ll check in on them in town, she actually means it. You can visit the town they head to and actually check in on them with some dialogue options.
11. When you attract a machine’s attention but then throw a rock to distract it, it will keep watching the spot it thinks you’re in as it moves to where you threw the rock, like “you watch your ass”.
12. You can use the Pullcaster to snag items off ledges you can’t reach… or if you just don’t want to walk all the way over there.
13. The DualSense mirrors the movements of machines. A bigger robot will cause a larger rumble, and machine attacks that stagger Aloy will be felt in the controller.
14. Speaking of the DualSense, it will use its haptics and speaker to mimic elements of your weaponry, like the crackle of electricity from a shock Tripcaster.
15. Sidequests, too, have real meaning this time around. You can pop in and out of Chainscrape if you want, or you can follow all of its threads and effect real change, ousting its leader and inserting a new, cooler head of the town.
16. Conversations are more interesting across the board this time around. Characters are more often interacting with the world around them, gesturing more, and just generally talking more like real people.
17. Speaking of, Guerrilla also found a neat trick to always ensure no matter what choices you make in conversation, it’s always ready for another question. Aloy and another character might be sitting in one position as their default, but will move around, stand up, gesture to nearby items, and more if you dig into dialogue options. But as they wind down, they’ll slowly return to their default resting animation so that it’s a smooth transition into whatever comes next.
18. Machine Strike, Forbidden West’s game-within-a-game, adapts the main gameplay mechanics in really cute ways – game pieces have both shielded spots and weak points.
19. Lighting can make a big difference in showing off the detail in Horizon Forbidden West’s costumes; depending on the angle, the light will highlight different patterns on the outfit.
20. Aloy’s outfit will also get dirty/snowy/sandy depending on where you slide.
21. If you wander out of range during a conversation to grab an item and the conversation ends abruptly, it will resume naturally when you move back in range of the NPC you are talking with.
22. If you’re trying to stay out of a machine’s way by balancing on a pole out of its reach, it will absolutely notice you and try to knock the pole down. Grapple points can be destroyed by machines with their ranged attacks.
23. Occasionally, you will stumble over tribes taking on machines of all sizes, and sometimes they’ll have chipped away at them enough for you to swoop in, finish the job, and steal the loot.
24. You can Shieldwing into certain parts of the environment to give you a lift, like dust tornadoes in the desert.
25. You can also drop from the Shieldwing onto your mount and yes it rips as hard as it sounds.
26. And finally, if you switch into photo mode, you can use the Snow Angel pose in sand or snow to actually make snow angels!
Those are our favorite little details – what did you notice? Shout out in the comments. For everything else Horizon Forbidden West, check out our review, the biggest changes from Zero Dawn, and how long it takes to beat.