Adventuring Out West

If I had my way, I’d probably skip this week’s blog post again. Because I’m still playing Horizon: Forbidden West and I want to play more of it. Because I think it’s really good and I want to explore and enjoy everything it has to offer. Plus there’s a dope photo mode.

I think part of why I’m so engrossed in Forbidden West is its world. There feels like so much to explore and so many little side-adventures to go on. But it doesn’t really feel like a chore, like how it can in some other open-world games. I think there are a few reasons for this.

The core combat loop is excellent. The machines you spend most of your time fighting are hard to kill. They’re armor-plated with few exposed areas and your main weapon is a bow and arrow. It becomes a matter of strategy, getting in position to aim and hit that weak spot, knowing when to use your time-slowing Concentration to line up a perfect shot, and getting out of the way when that Scrapper charges you. Plus, you need to shoot off some parts for crafting better gear, so there’s a good rationale for trying to be strategic. It’s fun, far more fun than having to fight a bunch of bullet-sponges, so most side-quests that culminate in a fight don’t end up feeling like paint-by-numbers.

And there are a lot, but it’s such fun to find them. The map is full of these question marks that could mean there’s a settlement, machine nest, or even a Cauldron just around the corner. Plus, even when there isn’t all that much, there might just be a tall rock island on a plateau with a cool, gnarled tree atop it. Forbidden West’s world is what I like about Breath of The Wild; there’s a sense of discovery to the world, where even if there isn’t something shiny waiting for you, you still feel like this part of the map was still meant to be something special to look at. Half the joy of it is for going there and entering that space. And the world is so well crafted, so alive, that just being in the space is a delight.

But through it all, the story that lives in that world remains so compelling. It’s not just robot dinosaurs and a glorious world; there’s a great plot that goes along with it. Aloy’s on a quest to save the world, again, and part of that means making us, the player, care about the world. We meet different tribes and make friends along the way. Plus, Aloy herself is a wonderful character;  she’s a bit of an oddball but someone who genuinely loves the world and wants to make it better. Getting to see the broken post-apocalyptic world through her eyes is great, and somehow, the game never seems to lose the plot.

Alright, I think that’s enough words. I’m going to jump back into this game now.

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