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Two headline additions first shown in a 14-minute gameplay reveal video in June are the Pullcaster and Shieldwing, which make the protagonist more agile during both exploration and combat.
“The Pullcaster is a mechanical wrist-mounted device with two separate functions,” David McMullen, lead systems designer at Guerrilla, told the PlayStation Blog. “The first function is a grapple mechanic, allowing the player to swiftly and easily ascend the environment and providing a dynamic traversal/escape option to the player toolkit.
Horizon Forbidden West - State of Play Gameplay Reveal | PS5
“When grappling, the player can activate the launch — throwing them into the air, where they can grab a higher ledge, fire their bow, glide, strike-from-above or even grapple to a further point.
‘”he second function of the Pullcaster is a winch, meaning the player can dynamically manipulate, move and destroy the objects in the environments. Think about pulling a hidden loot chest from a ledge, or tearing open a vent to create a new climb path.”
McMullen described the glider-like Shieldwing as a team favorite.
“This tool is invaluable with having so much more verticality, where backtracking down the same trail holds less of an appeal as on the way up,” he said.
“Hopefully players appreciate this level of freedom, as well as new gameplay, combat and exploration opportunities. The Shieldwing combines well with numerous other mechanics both in and out of combat, such as landing on your mount, ziplining, the strike from above skill, and more.”
Elsewhere in the blog post, Guerrilla discussed Horizon Forbidden West’s new free climbing abilities, workbench feature, and overhauled skill tree.
It covers new weapons too, like the Spike Thrower, a high damage weapon which makes it easier to hit bigger targets if launched at the right time.
Dennis Zopfi, Guerrilla’s lead combat designer, said Forbidden West brings melee and ranged combat closer together than was the case in the original Horizon.
“Aloy is not a character who deals with brute force, so we were looking for ways to have the player go back and forth between melee and range, where she could use her precise bow skills to work towards a big payoff moment.
“A new example of a skill that does this is the Resonator Blast, where you charge up the spear with melee hits and when fully powered up, the energy can be placed on enemies (humans and machines alike) and followed up with a projectile – resulting in a big damaging explosion!”
Another way in which the sequel freshens up combat scenarios is the ability some enemies have to mount machines.
“In Horizon Zero Dawn, machine and humanoid encounters were very separate; they never really operated as a group against Aloy,” said Zopfi. “The world has changed in Horizon Forbidden West, with more danger, more enemy factions, and more machines – and they can now fight together in groups, which poses a real challenge for our hero, and the player.
“When it comes to mounted combat, the player will have to adapt and decide whom to take out first and in what most effective way; human enemies have weapons, attacks, and abilities that machines don’t and vice versa, so they complement each other in these encounters; keeping you on your toes!”