Horizon Zero Dawn, the 2017 open-world game about listening to Lance Reddick’s silky smooth pipes, was a looker, pushing the boundaries of how pretty a game could be on the PlayStation 4, despite coming out halfway through the console’s life cycle. It should come as little surprise that the sequel, next year’s Horizon Forbidden West, will similarly push aesthetic boundaries.
This week, over on PlayStation Blog, developer Guerrilla Games showed off new details about Horizon Forbidden West’s visual bona fides. Specifically, main character Aloy will sport some next-level realism.
Thanks to the All-Holy Power of the PS5®, Aloy’s new and improved character model will include things like peach fuzz, tousled hair, and frighteningly realistic freckles, while her clothing will stretch realistically at the seams. Guerrilla has increased the number of skeletal joints in her character model, too, to make for a wider range of motions meant to replicate the movements that actual human people make.
In short, Horizon Forbidden West will take place in the place beyond the Uncanny Valley.
But these PS Blog posts exist in the service of sales and marketing, so of course you’ll read some lines that make you go hmmmmm. Get a load of this one: “Just because the team has been pushing the boundaries on the PlayStation 5 version of Horizon Forbidden West, doesn’t mean that the PlayStation 4 version will be compromised, notes Bastien,” which sure sounds like two statements that are at odds with each other.
As we’ve seen with other cross-gen releases, like Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales, the PS4 version has (of course) notably performed at a lower benchmark, with pared-down graphics and longer load times. (The PS5 version of that game is also nearly a dozen gigs smaller, too.) That shouldn’t be a shocker, because the PS4 is obviously a significantly less powerful bit of tech than the PS5. When a game is untethered from the PS4 and comes out just for PS5, we’ve seen the results—from the tentacles and particle effects of Returnal to the overall eye-popping...ness of Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart. I’m not saying the PS4 version of Horizon Forbidden West won’t be gorgeous. I’m just not holding my breath for a lack of “compromise” (unless I somehow get one of those fancy futuristic underwater-breather thingies shown off in the game’s trailers and promotional materials).
Horizon Forbidden West comes out February 18, 2022, for PS4 and PS5, confirming earlier reports that Sony’s next big marquee release wouldn’t be released in 2021.