If you’re anything like me, you were ecstatic to finally get some cold, hard facts about the upcoming PlayStation 5 release. Beyond the new specs (which on their own are enough to make you start saving), there were a slew of announcements including new exclusive titles. While the PS5 will come out ‘Holiday 2020’, we might have to wait to play some of these exciting new titles, (seemingly) featuring female leads.

Horizon Forbidden West (Guerrilla Games)

I’ve made no secret of how much I loved the first Horizon Zero Dawn when it was released back in 2017. Featuring Aloy (played by the phenomenally talented Ashly Burch), HZD is about an outcast living in a world where robot animals roam the countryside. The story is rich and deep, with satisfying payoff for even the smallest off-handed comment. The gameplay is varied and challenging, asking you to learn about each robot to successfully hunt it. It’s visually a pleasure to look at, from the world-building to the individual motion capture on characters.

Building on the same foundation, the sequel is already looking to be just as good. The trailer confirms that we’ll get to play as Aloy again, and on a solitary journey into the West. The few creatures we’ve seen, from her mount to the giant turtle with a tree growing out of its back, feel like a return to something well-loved, but in a new ecosystem. The trailer seems to promise some underwater sequences, and a tour across the California post-apocalyptic wasteland. We also know we’ll be seeing more of the illusive Sylens. We also may get to learn more about Rost, Aloy’s adoptive father, who once traveled into the West before she was born.

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While Horizon Zero Dawn wrapped up much of its plot at the end of the first game, I’m personally excited to see how this game builds on the premise in new ways. It seems that something is again trying to kill the living creatures of this world, leaving only space for the artificial. We see Aloy bow over the body of a fox, seeing rot spread from the ground below it and poisoning the food human survivors are eating. The first game had a strong environmental message to it and I’m pleased that the conversation didn’t end there for the developers.

No release date yet on this one, but we’re expecting to get Horizon Forbidden West sometime in 2021.

Returnal (Housemarque)

While I’m not a big fan of rogue-likes, I am a big fan of a good story. And it seems like Returnal is going to be very satisfying in that regard. The plot is straightforward enough: our lead character keeps reliving the same events (crashing on an alien planet, being attacked, and dying).

The interesting part is that the world seems to morph and change around her. The narration from the trailer suggests that the changes are making the world into a hybrid of her history and this alien world. It has a very Annihilation feel to me (which I also absolutely loved) with some third-person combat mixed in. I’m also reminded of the part of Bioshock II where you play as a Little Sister and see flashes of the world as it is, behind the beautiful veil that’s being shown to them. I’m really hoping we get to play through some of the serene, Earth-based content as well as the alien world in gameplay.

Again, no release date on this one; likely sometime in 2021.

Project Athia (Luminous Productions, Square Enix)

We don’t know much about Project Athia (working title) yet; in fact, we don’t even know the name it will launch with. With a one-minute video trailer, it leaves us with more question than answer. Thankfully, they’re all questions I’m happy to wait on an answer for.

The trailer introduces us to a female lead (Athia, perhaps), who seems to have some godlike powers. She wields vines to hold back her foes and lands from incredible falls with her cloak waving like a superhero. The few monsters we see have a distinct horror feel, reminiscent of Dark Souls, with a gaping fire maw out of the belly of a great dragon. There’s no question, the action-packed pace of the trailer is enough to get anyone excited to see more.

We also know that Luminous Productions is behind this game; a studio formed from the team that made Final Fantasy XV. While we’re looking at a debut game here, it’s clear this is going to build on the expertise of this team in a new way, and moving away from the world of JRPGs. With Gary Whitta (Prey, Telltale’s The Walking Dead, Rogue One) writing for the game, I’m really optimistic that I’ll get some hardcore feels from this one.

Project Athia doesn’t have a launch window yet, so I’d be surprised if we see it before Holidays 2021.

 

This article was originally published on 6/25/20

 

 

Melissa Taylor-Gates
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