Next month, Aloy will face new threats in a danger-filled land as she embarks on a new adventure. Horizon Forbidden West’s Burning Shore expansion leverages the power of PS5 to make this journey possible. We reached out to Guerrilla to understand how, and to find out more about the enticing combat and world design details we should expect on April 19. Game Director Mathijs de Jonge offers his development insights.
PlayStation Blog: What were your first impressions when first learning about the power and capabilities of the PS5, from a developer perspective?
Mathijs de Jonge: Horizon Forbidden West is a very visual game, so the promise of more CPU power and memory meant we were going to be able to add even more quality to the image; and gameplay-wise I was most looking forward to being able to play at 60fps. This was high on my wishlist as it works so well with our combat gameplay as you’re fighting the machines.
When I first heard about the superfast SSD, it was hard to believe that it was so capable – but it seems like loading times truly are a thing of the past. This works brilliantly for a game like Horizon Forbidden West, where long loading screens can be a real immersion breaker. From a development point of view, fast loading also helped me with reviewing the game because I could jump straight into any section without having to wait.
How have you taken advantage of PS5’s power to create Horizon Forbidden West: Burning Shores?
One of our key priorities with Horizon games is to add a ton of detail and richness to our environments. On Horizon Forbidden West, everything we added or increased was something we’d need to have a plan around how to optimize for PS4 as well. On Burning Shores, since we can just focus on PS5, we’ve been able to charge forward and we’re really excited about what we’ve been able to pull off in creating this stunning post-post-apocalyptic version of Los Angeles.
The cityscape ruins of LA and its surroundings are highly detailed and require a lot of processing power as well as fast streaming technology to run properly; especially when the player is flying over the lands and can see a lot at once. One of the settlements is situated in and around those detailed ruins, and we were able to squeeze a lot of activity in there.
Another notable one is a particular battle scene that requires a LOT of memory and processing power! To achieve this grand vision both technically and creatively, we definitely were thankful for the many advantages that the PS5 hardware brings.
Horizon Forbidden West delivers fantastic visual effects, animations and immersive audio during combat encounters, especially when battling some of the larger machines. How have you taken advantage of PS5 to deliver these rich visual performances and what can we expect from Burning Shores?
Using the PS5’s processing power we can run certain simulations at higher speed creating more lifelike results and a better gameplay experience. On PS5, the Horizon Forbidden West base game runs at a higher resolution and at a higher framerate than on PS4, and assets are more detailed which makes the overall quality much better. There is also a special lighting setup for Aloy that we normally only display during cinematics, but is active on the PS5 at all times. On PS5 we can draw at higher detail much further into the distance, displaying the stunning vistas our players encounters all across the map. We also support 40Hz Mode and Variable Refresh Rate on capable TVs for even more fluid gameplay.
What is your favorite PS5 game released so far? And from a developer perspective how do you feel it best takes advantage of the hardware?
I sank many hours into Elden Ring on my PS5 and was really impressed by everything it had to offer, but I think God of War Ragnarök wins it for me in terms of character designs and overall visual splendor.