Following new details regarding Aloy and her new abilities for Horizon Forbidden West, Guerilla Games has provided some information about how the machines will be different in the sequel. There will be some returning machines that Aloy and players will have to face from the first game like The Watcher and the Snapmaw, but Forbidden West introduces new threats as Aloy travels to a new region. We were introduced to a few new machines in the gameplay reveal such as the fast and agile Clawstrider and the deadly mammoth-like Tremortusk. “We’re getting to explore a new area within the world of Horizon. It was interesting to figure out what type of machines would live in different ecological zones, and how they would interact with each other, their environment, and of course humans,” Principal Machine Designer Blake Politeski said. “Machines are the so-called caretakers of this world, so how they perform their roles and what the player can do to use these behaviors to their advantage was always interesting to consider. During Horizon Zero Dawn’s development, we had a ton of ideas — of course not everything could make it into the first game, but now with Horizon Forbidden West we’ve been able to match some exciting ideas that previously weren’t feasible with new and interesting concepts!”
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In Horizon Zero Dawn, there were over 25 different machines. Since it was the start, Guerilla Games made each machine distinct by defining different roles. “The Watcher is like a security camera, the Ravenger is an enforcer, and so forth,” Blake said. “Once those base roles were decided, we could really build on that by mixing in robot designs, unique abilities and features, and of course cool weapons and attacks.” In Horizon Forbidden West, the catalog is getting expanded further with all the new machines. Each machine has a unique behavior and that becomes the basis and gets expanded on when the machine’s role is defined in the world. For example, the Sunwing is a new flying machine in the game. Guerrilla wanted a slightly bigger flying machine than the Glinthawk. The team studied various flying reptiles and primitive birds for inspiration and came up with the concept of their wing collecting solar energy during the sunny weather. In doing this, an interesting gameplay dynamic was created. They are vulnerable when they are harvesting solar power, but Sunwings are more alert to potential predators when they are idle. “We always want to make sure the machines are connected, and that they serve a greater purpose; so the whole machine (eco-)system is in harmony – just like in the real world,” Blake said.
Machines are more dangerous in Forbidden West, but the player is given more tools, weapons, and options to deal with them. Machines have specific sounds for idling, alerting others, and initiating attacks. With the PlayStation 5, this is even more profound with 3D Audio. Machines are more mobile in almost every way you can imagine. They can jump, swim, and cling to surfaces. “Because of this, Aloy will need to keep up with them, so there’s new movement mechanics to help her out,” Asset Art Lead Maxim Fleury said. “We’re also focusing more on Aloy’s ability to survey and plan an encounter before engaging, as well as her ability to escape if things don’t go as planned.”
The Tremortusk is one of the biggest new machines that has been revealed so far. Maxim explains that “the Tremortusk is based on a mammoth with a nod to the historic and cinematic examples of the great war elephants. It has many different attacks and a body covered in various guns. Apart from using its tusks to attack up close, it also has different elemental weapons it can use. The one we see in the trailer is controlled by a rebel faction of the Tenakth, but you can also find them wandering the wilds.”
Blake Politeski said “it reminds me of a mixture of war elephants and a huge siege tower that was used to attack fortresses in medieval times: hard to destroy, slow-moving, and a lot of firepower,” This generated the idea for the Tremortusk, which is a well-armored but slow machine, almost an unstoppable force. In Horizon Forbidden West, human enemy factions can control machines, so it seemed like a natural fit to combine the two and make our own spin on ‘war elephants’, with a platform on top that humans can fire at Aloy from. To circle back to the machine (eco-)system, it was created to keep balance on Earth and ensure that humans cannot wipe out life again. Tremortusks were created as combat machines — protecting other machine species so they can do what they were designed to do without human interference.”
Both Blake and Maxim agree that the Tremortusk is one of the most formidable enemies in the game, requiring a lot of preparation to defeat. “We recommend using traps as well as the Pullcaster. Though slow, they can reach a speed that will easily trample Aloy, so get ready to dodge. Finally, be wary of its flamethrower trunk…”
Horizon Forbidden West is set to launch on February 18, 2022, for PlayStation 5 and PlayStation 4.