Oh Snap, There’s Definitely Going To Be A Shark Machine In Horizon Forbidden West, Isn’t There?
The Horizon series has almost limitless potential when it comes to enemy designs. While some of the foes Aloy does battle with are humans, a lot of the time, it’s with Machines. And since these are the animals of Horizon’s world – though organic animals still exist – and are heavily influenced by dinosaurs, being a thematic icon for the restart of the evolutionary cycle, the possibilities are endless. Any animal that exists or ever has existed, along with every dinosaur ever – all of these have potential to become Machines. Now that Forbidden West is taking us underwater, the world of Horizon’s beasts is about to get even bigger.
Horizon Zero Dawn knew that the key to making the Machines memorable wasn’t all about size or power, but variety. We had behemoths like the, well, Behemoths, as well as Thunderjaws and Rockbreakers. Stormbirds soared through the sky, sleek Stalkers patrolled the perimeter, and the more docile Longlegs huddled around in groups. Despite being unnatural by design, the Machines felt incredibly natural because of the way they filled out different biomes with an ecosystem that existed independently from you.
While the game was designed in such a way that you wouldn’t end up taking on four Bellowbacks the first time you were allowed to wander around with your regular bow, it didn’t seem as though these Machines only existed to give you something to fight against. You had the freedom to search for tougher battles, and might have ended up in situations where, at low health and limited ammo, a Machine you weren’t expecting suddenly descended on you. Likewise, you might come across a pack of vulnerable Machines and be able to harvest their resources with ease. It was the Machines’ world, and you were living in it, rather than the other way around.
In Forbidden West, we’ll see more of the same. Elephants – or are they Oliphaunts? – are in the mix now, and you get the feeling that Guerrilla Games is just getting started. Especially because we can now go underwater, which brings me to my biggest fear – we’re definitely getting a Machine shark, aren’t we?
As we head underwater, Forbidden West is gaining opportunities Zero Dawn didn’t have access to, and that means a whole new wave (eh?) of Machines are about to hit our shores (eh? eh?) – including a terrifying shark. While I’m personally scared of birds, sharks are probably nature’s most terrifying creature. They’re up there with alligators and crocodiles as the animal kingdom’s most perfect killing machine, but crocs are a little less cinematic. You’ve got Black Water, Lake Placid, Crawl, and they’re decent croc/alligator movies, but they’re not a patch on Jaws, while sharks also have Deep Blue Sea, The Meg, Open Waters, 47 Meters Down, and of course, Sharknado and Shark Tale. Sharks are much more frenzied, and that makes them perfectly suited to terror of the deep in Forbidden West. It’s also why I hate them.
Despite underwater levels having a bad rep, Forbidden West’s look like they’ll be brilliant, especially because it seems like a lot of the game is being designed with that in mind. Since that means spending a lot of time underwater – and since Horizon is combat heavy in its design – there will almost certainly need to be underwater Machines. We could get an octopus or a Portuguese man o’ war, but I think sharks are a pretty safe, pretty terrifying bet. Aloy might be tasked with swimming away from these sharks, trying to slow them down, or fighting them strategically with some underwater weapons. Since Horizon usually gives us the option of fight or flight outside of the main narrative, you’ll likely have the equipment to do it all.
Sharks add a new sense of danger, too. On land, you have a lot more control over how much distance Aloy keeps from her foes. Underwater, with creatures all around her and dark shadows lurking in every corner – do oceans have corners? – Aloy is no longer a hunter, she’s being hunted. I kind of hate the prospect of sharks being added in, but I also see the vast potential they offer.
Other underwater creatures are sure to feature too. Electric eels seem to make sense, and we may see a huge whale just for spectacle. You can get mounts on land, so a rideable dolphin underwater doesn’t seem out of the question. Whatever the game has in store for us, Forbidden West could have the most exciting, most terrifying underwater sections gaming has ever seen.
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