Ars Technica -- Ars Approved
February 2022 is proving to be a packed month for big-budget adventure games. There aren't enough hours in the week for anyone with a career, family, or life to beat the uneven-but-interesting Dying Light 2, the promising Souls-like adventure of Elden Ring, and the many, many hours of H:FW.
I can't tell you to pick one of these games over the other, let alone whether you should leave your kids stranded after soccer practice because you have one more side quest to complete in any or all of them.
But if you forced me to pick only one February game to recommend, I'd point to H:FW as the month's best testament to how beautiful, thrilling, and emotional video games can be. It also gets bonus points on the recommendation matrix for its healthy accessibility sliders, which, among other things, let anyone downgrade the combat to either "simple" or "cakewalk" difficulty levels. I still think H:FW is more fun with difficulty cranked up, so that players can't stupidly melee their way through some of gaming's most thrilling herd combat. But that's your choice to make, not mine.
Eurogamer -- Unscored
While it's undoubtedly another accomplished game in terms of technical achievement and sheer visual spectacle - I'm reminded again of those incredible faces, and one particularly outstanding underwater level - I've enjoyed Forbidden West less than Zero Dawn. The main story has major issues, and the level design made it difficult for me to play the way I had previously enjoyed, while making a lot of the newer systems feel redundant. Beyond that, the sense is of a game where Guerrilla has cobbled together RPG building blocks often without making them work within the context of its own game, and in some cases actively worsening Horizon Forbidden West as a result. I don't expect groundbreaking innovation, but with using well-established elements there's always the danger of them having been done better elsewhere. Unfortunately, with Horizon Forbidden West that's often the case.
GameSpot -- 8/10
Horizon Forbidden West does a lot more right than it does wrong. It might be jam-packed with stuff to see, do, know, and remember, but when its many systems come together, it can be a beautiful, exciting, and delightful open-world experience. The story that drives you through the frontier is often well-told and does well to center actual characters rather than audio logs, and while the map is littered with icons, it's much more often that they're fun, skillfully crafted diversions than random busywork to fill a checklist. There's a huge amount to do and see in Horizon Forbidden West, and the great majority of it is worth doing and seeing thanks to strong writing, great visuals, and some marked improvements to the series' underlying ideas.
IGN -- 9/10
A triumphant combination of enthralling combat, top-tier creature and character design, and a captivating open world, Horizon Forbidden West is an absolute blast and fantastic showcase for the power of the PS5. Although the return of a couple of familiar series trappings and a noticeable lack of freeform climbing never threatens to derail the enjoyment, it does leave it falling frustratingly short of something revolutionary. Major evolutionary steps have firmly been placed in the right direction, however, and there’s no doubting the many, many hours of fun to have with Aloy, who stakes her claim further to be one of this generation of gaming’s greatest characters. Guerrilla has outdone itself yet again with Forbidden West, and at this trajectory, neither the horizon nor the sky's the limit for what could come next.
PowerUp Gaming -- 8.5/10
Do not mistake me here; with additional patching, Horizon: Forbidden West is still a top-tier game that’s well worth emptying one’s pouch of metal shards to purchase. In no time, I fell back in love with the hunter-gather loop and the methodical nature of its machine murdering – I have no doubt you will, too. Those epic, sometimes 20 minute long fights I had with the 40 odd cast of megafauna machines…man, I’ll be telling my grandkids about some of those one day.
Basically, I still think the emergent battles you stumble across in Horizon: Forbidden West are the end boss fights that lesser games wished they had. If you hold gameplay to be your chiefest concern, as I do, then this safer than expected sequel still absolutely hunts.
Push Square -- 9/10
Overall, Horizon Forbidden West is a huge improvement on its predecessor. The map is diverse and full of stunning sights; characters and conversations are so much better; and the already great gameplay is enhanced with new weapons, more options, and better melee. The story doesn't have quite the same element of surprise as the first game, but it still builds upon things with some daring twists of its own. Any minor quibbles we have melt away when the game's firing on all cylinders. It's a gorgeous, wildly fun action RPG, and there's nothing else quite like it.
Stevivor -- 6.5/10
But that’s how it is at the end of the day. It’s a game of contrasts. A game about robot dinosaurs where you spend far too much time fighting robot meerkats and boars instead for some reason. One with brilliant voice acting that you begin to hate because some characters won’t shut up. Where the side quests are great, but they’re so simple as to feel pointless. Where the combat features a complex balance between elemental strengths and weaknesses but you can ignore all that via a rain of explosive spearheads.
If you look at it from that perspective, it almost makes sense that Horizon Forbidden West is the most linear open world game I’ve ever played.
The Washington Post -- Unscored
Whenever a highly anticipated sequel comes out, there’s the inevitable question of how it stacks up to the original. “Horizon Zero Dawn,” Guerrilla Games’ award-winning, 2017 open-world RPG, set a high bar with its compelling story and gorgeous environments. I can definitively say after rolling credits on “Forbidden West” that it not only meets that bar, it parkours over it and soars off on a robo-bird into the sunset.