Horizon Forbidden West sees Aloy navigate risky and brutal conditions looking for Gaia’s sub-capabilities, keeping in mind the desire of reestablishing the planet’s terraforming framework, rebalancing the biosphere and saving life on Earth. However our story is set 1,000 years into the future, players will reveal and perceive numerous famous areas from our true today.
DISCLAIMER: Please note that this in the background highlight contains significant spoilers for the storyline and numerous interactivity components of Horizon Forbidden West. To benefit from this top to bottom article, we would emphatically suggest finishing the journey The Sea of Sands before reading.
During the mission The Sea of Sands, Aloy wanders into the dry Stillsands Desert as she continued looking for Poseidon, one of Gaia’s sub-capabilities. Right away, the desert seems forsaken, nonetheless, concealed under the sands are the overflowed ruins known as Dunehollow, previously Las Vegas.
It ultimately depends on Aloy to sort out information pieces abandoned a thousand years sooner by a money manager called Stanley Chen and reactivate the city’s for some time neglected water frameworks to get to Poseidon.
Creating the Vegas ruins
Guerrilla Quest Designer Samantha Schoonen drove the improvement of this journey, The Sea of Sands, beginning to end. To rejuvenate this vision, she did a great deal of examination on Vegas’ notable Strip.
“We looked into casinos and ideated on crazy ideas for far-future Vegas buildings,” says Schoonen. “I drew a lot of inspiration from our concept art as well, and we thought of things like a broken-down roller coaster area, remnants of a pirate ship, and a rooftop swimming pool – we worked a lot with our art departments to figure out what would work, though of course not everything made it into the final game.”
Designing this epic questline was a long interaction loaded with emphasis and coordinated effort, says Samantha. “For main quests, we always start out with a story summary provided by our Narrative team,” she says. “In light of that rundown, we compose a plan record containing all data, similar to story beats, mission goals, a world guide of the area to give an outline of the journey stream and areas, and a definite depiction of these areas.
“We then make an outline of the space. I use in-game reference images to get an idea of the level design and space itself, the outlines. But it’s hard to get a scale of the place while only working in 2D, so as soon as possible, I create a 3D layout in our Decima Engine. We then continue to iterate on flow and level design until everyone is satisfied.”
A underground challenge
“Building a quest that uses water was always going to be a challenge,” says Schoonen. “I recollect that it was so hard to fabricate the Waterlogged journey for Horizon Zero Dawn: Frozen Wilds, and obviously, Las Vegas would be significantly greater! We worked intimately with different groups like tech, enhanced visualizations, and lighting to guarantee we had the frameworks set up for submerged missions to work. We needed to control where the water would be, as well as the air pockets, and perceivability must be adjustable.
“We worked closely together with core design as well, who were in charge of the swimming mechanics. This would be the first quest where the player was able to dive to depths that were unreachable before.”
Core Systems Designer Lennart Hoting dealt with many crossing viewpoints, including swimming and jumping, which are new in Horizon Forbidden West. “We were looking for new heights and depths to explore and new types of natural beauty to showcase,” says Hoting. “As the submerged world is innately entrancing and secretive, it seemed like a characteristic expansion to navigate tragically missing obscure spots, like Las Vegas. We deliberately got some distance from any harsh tone of submerged ongoing interaction and zeroed in on quick and dexterous crossing, with adversary experiences rotating around secrecy to add tension.
“Early in development, we investigated which aspects of water could make for interesting gameplay challenges while also increasing immersion. Water currents soon came to mind. Aloy will sometimes encounter strong water currents that push her away from where she wants to go. You can attempt to sprint through them, but the best way to get through is to make use of underwater boost bars. Aloy can grab onto these and push off of them to gain a short burst of speed which can launch her straight through.”
Creating strain in close quarters
As Aloy procures the Diving Mask, giving her limitless air submerged, she dives into the remnants of Vegas. “Our initial routes for traversal were way too long, so we decided to have a single elevator shaft to go up or down,” says Schoonen. “This shaft couldn’t be excessively enormous because of the over the ground visuals, nor excessively little for the player to move around in or the lift to have the option to work once the journey was completed.
“Once Aloy swims down the elevator shaft, she gets into a Casino space and eventually into the lobby. I really wanted the player to immediately be caught off guard by the Tideripper before becoming aware of the size of the space as a grand opening.”
There are a few rather hazardous machines in the waters of the Forbidden West, including Burrowers, Snapmaws, and the immense Tiderippers. “Aloy has no way of attacking while swimming, so she has to be smart and stealthy to circumvent enemies,” Hoting adds. “The best way to stay out of sight is to use smoke bombs or hide in kelp. These plants grow dense enough that they stop unaware machines from spotting you while giving you the opportunity to peek out while hiding inside. This creates a moment of extremely tactical cat-and-mouse gameplay.”
Samantha progresses forward with this underground area. “The underground dome is a dangerous place teeming with machines, so we added a few structures for the player to hide in as they move between hiding spots,” she says. “The machines are on watch ways, which change at whatever point a hub is enacted. We then, at that point, place the machines close by the player’s course to their next area to make an always present threat.
“A part of the areas went through different cycles, as the structure doors, hubs, and sewers should have been far away yet not difficult to find. Genuine Las Vegas sources its water from the Nevada Hoover Dam, so we needed to convey something almost identical with the holographic guide the player experiences right off the bat in the quest.
“We were so inspired by Vegas and wanted to make the quest worthwhile. By putting in multiple elements, like tracking, combat, stealth, and small traversal puzzles, the player is given lots of variety in gameplay to make it feel fresh. It was definitely tricky to add enough elements without relying on combat and puzzles, which mostly rely on physics. That’s why we also added some air pocket spaces where the player could traverse and interact with the environment.”
The Tideripper trial
After Aloy effectively clears her path through the Snapmaw-plagued waters and actuates Stanley Chen’s old water the board framework, the water channels from the city. Unexpectedly, the size of the vault, and the structures inside, turns out to be clear. Aloy should explore them all the more generally by climbing, skimming, and running, with the vault turning into a huge field for a great battle.
Remember that Tideripper referenced before? With the greater part of the water presently depleted from Dunehollow, Aloy will in any case have to manage this difficult machine before at last getting to Poseidon.
Samantha Schoonen makes sense of how the field for this fight was made. “We worked together with the combat team as this space required several elements to work,” she says. “the Tideripper needed a body of water to emerge from, so we built something of a beach where it could refill its Purgewater Sacs. The arena also needed to be quite deep so the player wouldn’t accidentally leave the area. Lastly, it needed a flat space for the Tideripper to move and, of course, grapple points to give Aloy a quick getaway – though some of those had to be destructible for an added challenge!”
A wonderful view
After overcoming the Tideripper and getting Poseidon, Las Vegas really reawakens. Hypnotizing visualizations enlighten the sky with spooky diagrams of structures that imploded quite a while in the past; recollections of a failed to remember city.
“Having Vegas visually flourish was always part of the narrative vision for this quest,” Schoonen says happily. “Poseidon assumed control over the Vegas water and power supply which was associated with the 3D images. After Aloy battles the AI, the framework completely reboots and the first 3D images have their spot illuminating the night sky. The journey’s consummation was a tremendous cooperation; groups like idea workmanship, cinematics, climate craftsmanship, enhanced visualizations, and lighting all cooperated on that gorgeous second. I just positioned them in the right areas and ensured they appeared at the ok time.
“We all put a lot of love into building this area. I’m astonished by how well this quest has been received, and I’m happy to hear the community has had a great time playing through this underwater world!”
As far as her own #1 second, Samantha Schoonen sees this as difficult to pick. “For a designer, a game is never finished,” she says. “I’d have to look back ten years from now to have a clear opinion because I played through it so often during development. I think it’s more the entire journey of building this quest; that’s my favorite part.”
And concerning Lennart, he says, “I really liked seeing that many players enjoyed the underwater sections of the game and that some even said these were their favorite parts. The response to the Sea of Sands quest, and the love for unique characters like Morlund you meet along the way, was especially great; it is one of my favorite quests. While some players remained anxious about diving, the Diving Mask seemed to really turn these sections into something players enjoy. Reading that people were able to overcome their fears and enjoy the diving experience is amazing.”
There’s significantly more to find in and around Vegas following the Sea of Sands journey, presently highlighting a settlement called Hidden Ember; we’d urge you to return for an extraordinary mission with Morlund, address Porguf in Camp Nowhere, or convey Ornaments to Stemmur, and wonder about special times of year of the Old Ones as they light up the Vegas skies.If you’re keen on a greater amount of the story behind the Vegas ruins, you can watch back our new livestream with Samantha here (we’re experience each Thursday at 4PM CEST, www.twitch.tv/guerrilla).