Horizon Forbidden West is a sequel to Zero Dawn in every sense of the word. Not only is there a fresh new take on Aloy’s story and world to explore, but it also houses a bevy of new gameplay changes and upgrades that makes navigating its massive map just a tad bit easier.

For this list, we wanted to keep everything as spoiler-free as we could, so while there are certainly going to be some surprises in here, there are a few late-game changes that we’d rather not go into until the general audience has had time to sink their teeth in. So for now, here are the biggest gameplay changes from Horizon Zero Dawn to Horizon Forbidden West.

Vertical Traps

A few new traps have found their way into Forbidden West, most interesting of the bunch being the vertical traps. Meticulously planning for an encounter is core to Horizon’s strengths, and silently laying traps for enemies to run into has always been an excellent tactic. But unfortunately, flying enemies could previously evade all of your ground traps. Using a new vertical trap allows you to ground your winged opponents with plenty of ease.

Change Time of Day

In Zero Dawn, there was no way to speed up or change the time of day. Forbidden West adds this feature by allowing you to rest at one of the many shelters scattered throughout its massive world. So if you’re like us and prefer to scout out areas in broad daylight, then this feature should certainly brighten your day. You can’t pinpoint an exact hour you want it to be, but you can choose morning, afternoon, evening, and night. That’s good enough for us!

Extra Loot Teleports to Stash

By the time you reach the end of Zero Dawn, most loot you’ll find can’t be picked up because your inventory is completely maxed out. This isn’t a problem in Forbidden West! Every time you loot an enemy, pick up ridgewood, healing items – doesn’t matter if you’ve maxed out your inventory, the extra items will get sent directly to your stash, which can be accessed at any town, checkpoint, or shelter.

Aloy Has a Stash

Speaking of stashes, they exist now! Forbidden West has a LOT of weapons and armor that all need upgrading, and luckily Guerilla Games took this into account and decided to let you keep all of the loot you find in the world. They also make great restocking stations for items like ridgewood and healing berries.

You Can Climb More Places!

Zero Dawn was pretty limited as to where Aloy could climb. She was beholden to marked yellow handholds that only existed in very specific spaces. It’s a bit more open in Forbidden West, but of course not anywhere near what you would find in an Assassin’s Creed game. In Forbidden West, pinging your focus will reveal where you can climb, but these handholds are still fairly limited to existing only where the developers feel you need them, such as when you’re platforming through a quest area, or reaching a signal tower. You’ll have to ping a lot to discover where these areas are, or you can just tweak the visual options to always have them highlighted.

Spear Resonator Blast

Aloy’s spear wasn’t useless in Zero Dawn, but in Forbidden West it’s more viable than ever. One of the biggest additions is you can now charge it up to unleash a powerful attack known as a Resonator Blast. As you melee machines or human enemies, your spear will eventually change from purple to blue. Once it’s blue, you can hit your foe with a heavy attack that adds a resonance charge to a spot on their body. Hit this spot with an arrow and you’re rewarded with a huge blast of damage.

New Melee Combos

Charging the spear up with melee attacks is also now easier than ever. The warrior skill tree includes several nodes that not only boosts your melee damage, but also unlocks melee combos. One combo could break an enemy’s block, another causes Aloy to spin to hit multiple enemies at once, and one even has her go completely wild, attacking one enemy in succession incredibly fast.

Valor Surges

Horizon Forbidden West now has six skill trees, up from the four that were featured in Zero Dawn, and each of these houses two special moves called Valor Surges. Think of these as Aloy’s version of a Final Fantasy limit break. Each of the Valor Surges serves a different purpose, aligning with what skill tree they’re in, and can help you get a leg up on your encounter, or get you out of a jam.

Shieldwing Glider

Because Forbidden West is a lot more vertical than Zero Dawn was, in terms of climbing up high spaces, Aloy nabs a glider called a Shieldwing pretty early on. The Shieldwing can basically be used from any height and has zero limitations on how long it can be used for.


Incredibly early in the game, you’ll need to craft a Pullcaster, which is basically Horizon’s version of a hook shot. The Pullcaster is used throughout Forbidden West for a multitude of things, including retrieving hard to reach loot, moving things in the environment to solve platforming puzzles, destroying walls of rubble, and moving crates. Of course one of its most important functions is helping Aloy get to hard to reach places, or saving her bacon in a combat scenario.

Aloy Can Swim Underwater

You can swim in Zero Dawn, but you can’t dive. Forbidden West now has fully explorable areas hidden in its depths, complete with secrets and loot. Aloy can’t hold her breath underwater forever at the start, so your diving adventures need to be kept to a minimum. You eventually get a device that lets you breathe underwater forever and that’s when the real deep-sea diving begins!

Easier Enemy Scanning

Your focus device is a lot more useful this time around when scanning machines. In Zero Dawn, you could look at specific pieces, but it required you to slowly pan your camera around to find the different parts to see their weakness. Forbidden West makes it a lot easier. Now once an enemy is scanned, you can tap around the parts using your controller’s D-pad, and you can even highlight that specific part to keep it glowing after you’ve turned your focus off.

For more, be sure to check out IGN’s Horizon Forbidden West review, learn about how earning a Horizon trophy will plant a real-life tree, and check out our Horizon Forbidden West Performance review.

Source: IGN Video Games All

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