Horizon Forbidden West's narrative director Ben McCaw has said that the game has been designed so it's possible to focus purely on the main story, suggesting that you'll be able to skip most of the side content.
Speaking with IGN, he said "We wanted to make sure that there's a certain path through this game, where if players want to experience the main quest and kind of get to the end of the story as quickly as possible, that they could do that, and also there's definitely a progression through this game that's really focused on combat."
However, judging by IGN's preview on the game, you'll have plenty of reasons to stray from the main path as Guerrilla Games has worked to make side activities more meaningful and ultimately contribute to Horizon's world.
"It's great to have a huge open world, but if all of the activities in it feel tacked on or not related or not essential, that's not a great feeling ... If there is going to be an activity in the world, a board game, a melee pit, even a camp or outpost associated with Regalla's rebels, and things that return from the previous game, they all need to feel part of the world. They all need to be part of the story" McCaw explained.
For example, sidequests are woven into the overall story, with McCaw promising that any NPC you aid will return in some capacity afterwards. Some will also offer more worthwhile rewards such as a new weapon type.
Boring game? No, board game
IGN's preview has confirmed a couple of entirely new side activities as well, such as a dedicated board game called Machine Strike which involves using machines to capture terrain.
You'll be able to acquire new game pieces throughout the adventure, each one having their own stats, and it implements parts of the main game like the armor plating from the machines Aloy fights in the wild and her Overcharge ability.
There is also an optional arena mode that has you attempt different combat challenges within a time limit. Completing them will earn you medals that can be spent on acquiring new equipment and there are online leaderboards so players can compete with one another.
Horizon Forbidden West will launch next month on February 18 for PlayStation 5 and PlayStation 4. While there is plenty of PS5 footage to gawk over, we have yet to see any dedicated PS4 gameplay, although screenshots confirm that it will at least look just as pretty as it does on PS5.
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Michael is a freelance writer with bylines at the Metro, TechRaptor, and Game Rant. A Computer Games Design and Creative Writing graduate, he's been passionate about video games since the Game Boy Color, particularly Nintendo games, with Xenoblade Chronicles being his favorite game ever. Despite everything, he's still a Sonic the Hedgehog fan.