Horizon Forbidden West is a Graphical Wonder

PlayStation’s State of Play started with its best foot forward during the 14 minute gameplay presentation for Horizon Forbidden West. Not only did they reveal what the power of a fully armed and operational PS5 can do, they also quelled any grumblings that the house of PlayStation may have lost a step in the transition to next-gen hardware.

Originally tweeted by GNARFIELD-aniki 🦀🥃 (@Nintendont_64) on May 27, 2021.

To say that the gameplay video of Aloy’s latest adventure looks the part of a PS5 game is an understatement. The upgraded Decima Engine looks to be pushing the photo-real envelope again — albeit at a steady 30 frames per second. Frame counting aside, the art direction and technical graphics to deliver them are a sight to behold. The blending of the sand and smoke particles technology, the way light is distorted underwater, and the flowing cloth and hair animations meld to form such a convincing and complete picture. This game is a looker.

Originally tweeted by GNARFIELD-aniki 🦀🥃 (@Nintendont_64) on May 27, 2021.

While watching the demo, I kept catching little details that I couldn’t wait to keep track of on my second, third, and fourth watch. The transition from the land chase scene to diving underwater was all real-time and more importantly: interactive. I’m still blown away by how tension filled and seamless this entire encounter was. Once Aloy was underwater, the density of the plants and animals on display was even more impressive to me than what was shown recently in the Ratchet & Clank Rift Apart demo.

The execution of the art aesthetic is incredible. This is Naughty Dog’s Uncharted 4 underwater levels of quality but pushed to the max. The glimmer of underwater subsurface light refracting from the above air is insanely photo-real.

Originally tweeted by GNARFIELD-aniki 🦀🥃 (@Nintendont_64) on May 27, 2021.

Once we get to the boss battle and the finale of the demo, it’s clear that Guerilla Games is trying to upgrade every facet of the original Horizon Zero Dawn. During the battle with the raiders and their beastly Tremortusk, Aloy deployed sticky grenades, explosive spears, and her trademark arrows into the fray. She ducked and dived like a hockey player making the behemoth miss with each electric swipe of its screen filling tusks — then grappled and glided off a destructible column before dealing the final deathblow. This kind of scene would normally be relegated to a typical QTE. But no, this was a pure combat sequence. In a word: spectacular.

Originally tweeted by GNARFIELD-aniki 🦀🥃 (@Nintendont_64) on May 27, 2021.

I was a bit apprehensive about this sequel earlier this year. You see, I played the first Horizon, but didn’t really enjoy it. It was an overachiever in its visuals, but I felt the open world to be lacking, and its lore to be incredibly boring. Also, it was announced as cross-platform with the PS4 which…I don’t know how well it’ll handle this new game. But, hey, get ’em through the door right? With this gameplay reveal, I’ve been reinvigorated on the series and will definitely reinvest my time with Aloy just to see how far the PS5 tech can take her.

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