Grapplehooks are so hot right now.
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Horizon Forbidden West is slated to be released on February 18, 2021, but it's not too early to get a pretty detailed look at some of the new gameplay features. A new PlayStation Blog entry from Guerrilla provides players with a look at Aloy's new abilities that she will utilize in combat and in general exploration. Some of these new tools include a grapplehook and a glider, which should be fun to use in the wilds.

David McMullen, lead systems designer at Guerrilla, begins by talking about a new high vault mechanic that Aloy can utilize. This "essentially allows Aloy to hoist herself on top of any object of jumpable height with room to pull up. Combined with the ability to free climb and adding grapples to our environment, the potential for exploration is greatly increased."

He went on to talk about the new Pullcaster and Shieldwing. The Pullcaster is Horizon's equivalent of a grapplehook. It functions much like you would expect a grapplehook to function but it does include a secondary function. This secondary function turns the Pullcaster into a winch-like tool that allows the player to "dynamically manipulate, move, and destroy the objects in the environments." McMullen explains that some gameplay functionality includes "pulling a hidden loot chest from a ledge, or tearing open a vent to create a new climb path."

The Shieldwing is the in-game equivalent of a glider. McMullen says that players will be able to combine the Shieldwing gliding with other traversal mechanics "both in and out of combat." You will be able to pull off moves like "landing on your mount, ziplining, the strike from above skill, and more..."

Combat, specifically skill trees, have been overhauled in Horizon Forbidden West. The skill trees have apparently been totally redesigned. Workbenches are also included in the game which should give players a greater degree of weapon customizations and upgrades. Combat will tighten up the link between melee and ranged combat. Lead combat designer Dennis Zopfi shares a little example of what this means.

"We wanted to bring melee and ranged combat closer together,” says Dennis. “Aloy is not a character who deals with brute force, so we were looking for ways to have the player go back and forth between melee and range, where she could use her precise bow skills to work towards a big payoff moment. A new example of a skill that does this is the Resonator Blast, where you charge up the spear with melee hits and when fully powered up, the energy can be placed on enemies (humans and machines alike) and followed up with a projectile – resulting in a big damaging explosion!’

‘Then there is the Valor Surge feature; there are 12 in total, with each of them representing and strengthening a specific approach to the game. You unlock and upgrade them through the skill tree with skill points. There are three levels of each Valor Surge: the higher the level, the longer the charge up, but the more powerful the attack.’

"This level is shown on the purple bar you could see during the gameplay trailer: you’ll receive more Valor – or charge up that bar – through skillful actions such as hitting weak spots on enemies or removing components. In the video you could see Aloy perform the Radial Blast on the burly Tenakth warrior. ’

"It was also important to reward players who go into a melee situation, as it’s very dangerous to be so close to enemies, especially the machines! If you are skilled and daring, you can do some really good damage with these new features – just be careful!"
Zopfi says that a number of Aloy's old weapons will return in Forbidden West. However, this release will try to give these weapons a "stronger personality" and make them a bit more situational than they were previously. Obviously, new weapons will also be added to the game. Some of these new weapons include the Spike Thrower which is a "new, high damage weapon which, when thrown at the right moment, makes it easier to hit larger targets."