**WARNING! Spoilers Ahead for Horizon: Forbidden West!**
I finally finished my first playthrough of Horizon Forbidden West! And I can attest that in both narrative and gameplay, this February 2022 sequel to Guerrilla Games’ 2017 hit, Horizon Zero Dawn is a worthy follow-up to the original. As with all great games, completing it left me satisfied and yet sad to see it end. But Forbidden West opened the door for another installment of heroine Aloy’s story. The looming threat of Nemesis, indeed, makes an eventual sequel pretty much a requirement. I’m here for that!
How will the story be told, though? The recent news that a Horizon Netflix series is in development makes that an open – and tantalizing – question. Will there be a third Horizon game? Or will the story of Aloy be taken up instead by the series?
For myself, I find that I can be flexible regarding what format an eventual sequel might take. Give me the third game, or give me a Netflix series. Either, or! You can even provide me with something else altogether, like a novel or graphic novel. It’s all good! Just so long as the rich world of Horizon continues to be explored. But of course, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have some preferences regarding what story elements might be included in any eventual sequel. Compiled below is my list of six things I REALLY need to see in any future sequel to Horizon Forbidden West. See if you agree!
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More Alva, More Kotallo, More Zo
Horizon: Forbidden West introduced so many memorable characters. It’s hard to choose favorites. But any list I make has to include Zo, Kotallo and Alva.
Zo is the Utaru Gravesinger brave enough to move beyond limitations imposed by her culture. She embraces the new technology introduced by Aloy and uses it to help her people. Kotallo is the stoic warrior grappling with the loss of his arm and what place he can hold now in a society (the Tenakth) that reveres physical prowess. The bonds of loyalty and affection that arise between him and Aloy are a pleasure to watch grow. And then there’s Alva, the Quen Diviner with the unquenchable thirst for knowledge. Alva’s personality is so cheerfully winning. It bothers me to think about her returning to a people (the Quen) who not only fail to fully value her but might actually punish her in some way for being what she is.
Whatever a sequel brings, I hope it allows me to spend more time with these three characters.
More About Horizon’s Newest Tribe: The Quen
While every tribe in the Horizon universe is unique in its cultural character, the Quen’s “different-ness” is dramatic. The fact that they have a collection of Focuses – and actively use them – has indelibly shaped their culture and their perception of their world.
The Quen’s ability to explore the oceans was almost certainly aided by the technology they were able to tap into via the Focuses. But Alva hints of various ways they use it for outright ill, too. For one thing, they’re apparently conquerors, having forged some kind of empire in their region. The Carja are, of course, proof that the use of ancient technology isn’t a requirement for heartless tribal aggression. But other impulses exhibited by the Quen make them suspect. There’s their CEO’s creepy reverence for Ted Faro. And Alva admits to Aloy that she fears the advanced Focus she received from Aloy will be taken from her if and when she returns to her people. Apparently, those Quen who hold power guard knowledge jealously and use it to maintain control. Alva might even be in personal jeopardy, as she’s accessed “forbidden” knowledge in the time she’s been with Aloy.
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All in all, the Quen don’t sound like a people I would like very much. But then again, they also produced Alva! I couldn’t imagine a more appealing, open-minded person. I’d like to know how much of an outlier Alva is in her thinking compared with other Quen. I’d also like to know where the Quen homeland is and what it looks like. When it comes to the Quen, I’d just like to learn more.
A Post-Forbidden West Nora Tribe
Different technologies are on full display in Forbidden West. There’s the always-inventing Oseram, forging all manner of new weaponry and new tools. Plus, there’s the Quen’s navigation and seafaring ideations. There’s the crazy-advanced tech of the Zeniths. And then there’s Aloy, distributing Focuses to her team and rebooting Gaia – the quintessential teacher. I couldn’t help thinking of the Nora through all of this. They set up as a goddess the tech they didn’t understand. And their culture prohibited exploration of the important ancient sites within their borders. Nora traditions often run counter to growth.
With threats like Nemesis on the horizon and explorers (and potential conquerors) like the Quen in play, the Nora sit now on the cusp of great change. It’s hard to see how they can possibly escape the need to adjust accordingly.
If Varl is any indicator, the Nora will be able to adapt. It stands to reason that there are other Nora like Varl: curious, thoughtful and open-minded. But we saw in Zero Dawn that there are also plenty of Resh and Lansra-type Nora. This group is not only suspicious of change but hostile to it. I’m curious to see how the Nora handle the post-Forbidden West world.
The Carja + The Tribes of the Forbidden West
I missed Sun-King Avad a little bit as I played through Forbidden West. But his efforts to steer the Carja to a better path and make amends to everybody else for all the wrongs the Carja inflicted under his father are felt throughout the game. The trouble Tenakth Chief Hekarro faces with Regalla, and her rebels is largely due to Regalla’s bitterness over Hekarro’s willingness to accept Avad’s overtures of peace.
I know this isn’t as exciting as fighting machines – but a lot of why I love the Horizon franchise has to do with how much I enjoy the story that’s being told through the games. It goes beyond Aloy’s personal tale. A lot of what interests me involves following the efforts of leaders like Avad and Hekarro, who are trying to lead well and take care of their people. I’d love to dig into these elements more in future Horizon stories.
RELATED: In Praise of Horizon Forbidden West’s Women of Science
Beta Coming Into Herself
Aloy, no doubt due to her childhood as an outcast, struggles over the course of both Horizon Zero Dawn and Forbidden West to allow herself to let people get close to her. But Beta’s personal scars run even deeper. Created by the Zeniths as a tool, Beta was essentially raised by her computerized teachers. The only warm human contact she had came when Tilda reached out to her. But Tilda’s motivations were entirely selfish, and Beta suffered as a result.
The sisterly relationship that grows up between Aloy and Beta is so nice to watch, for both of their sakes. But I’m particularly interested in what it means to Beta. Now that she has people in her life that she can truly count on, how will she evolve? What will she become? I hope any sequel lets me see.
The Story of Sylens (At Last)
It’s been two games now, and Sylens remains a mystery man! His driving motivations are endlessly murky. I didn’t expect him to betray Aloy to the Zeniths the way he did. And I also didn’t expect him to ask her to come with him when he left Earth. I very much didn’t expect him to decide to stay and help in the fight against Nemesis. But the thing about Sylens is, just when you think you know how he’ll react, he surprises you.
Maybe a better understanding of his young years would be revealing? It remains unclear what tribe Sylens even comes from. Is he Banuk? His body adornment is Banuk, but that might have been something he adopted to gain their trust. What little insight we have into his pre-Aloy years (that doesn’t come from himself) comes from the Banuk shaman Ourea in the Frozen Wilds expansion of Horizon Zero Dawn. But Ourea was essentially as perplexed by Sylens as Aloy was (or we are.) Sylens is a complete enigma, one I want to untangle.
So, how about you? Have you played through Horizon Forbidden West? What do you want to see in a sequel? And what do you think about the reported Netflix series?? Let us know in the comments and on social media!
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