Guerrilla Games has made plenty of changes to Horizon Forbidden West that improves the gameplay experience when compared to Horizon Zero Dawn. In their latest PlayStation Blog, they explain how the combat has evolved from Zero Dawn yet still manages to stay “true to Aloy’s identity”.
The team wanted to make sure players had more freedom in Forbidden West. They’ve already explained how they’ve done this by implementing a variety of new weapons, tools, outfits, and abilities, including a new high vault traversal mechanic and climbing technique. Guerrilla’s Gameplay Animation Director Richard Oud explains:
It was important to us that players feel like Aloy has grown in her skills and confidence coming from her adventures in Horizon Zero Dawn and the Frozen Wilds. She gained a lot of experience and that needed to show in her animations. Our aim was to show that Aloy is more comfortable traversing her environment – without losing sight of the fact that she’s human, of course, so things don’t always go perfectly for her. The grapple mechanic is a good example of this: she is more agile and resourceful, but at the same time we show the physical struggle when she’s being pulled up on bigger inclines.
However, this means Aloy’s opponents have also evolved to match her new skills. There are new mechanical enemies and human enemies are more advanced. They can now jump and climb in response to terrain changes, instead of taking the long way around. They can also swim, an ability that Aloy herself has now gained. This means there’ll be underwater battles where the enemies can dive and chase after her, perhaps even combining leaping out of the water with an attack.
Both the animation and audio teams have been working hard to make sure players are never taken completely by surprise while in combat. Each enemy has a different “gameplay function” that can be anticipated through its actions, posture, and motion, giving players a chance to come up with an appropriate response. Enemies will approach Aloy and investigate things they find suspicious, like a body of a machine or an arrow that lands nearby. Machines also have their own unique audio cues that depict ranged and melee attacks. Melee sounds build up to the moment of impact, while ranged attacks have weapon charge up sounds or projectile sounds.
Aloy can also escape from combat by breaking the line of sight and stealthily sneaking away. Human enemies will then team up to form a search party complete with a leader giving orders, but this in itself will give players an idea of what they can do next to outfox their opponents.
Players will get to try out the improved combat for themselves when Horizon: Forbidden West releases on PS5 and PS4 on February 18, 2022.[Source: PlayStation Blog]
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