Horizon Forbidden West introduced a plethora of updates and changes to the series but left out a seemingly obvious choice when it comes to Aloy’s weapons. The sequel launched in 2022 to favorable reviews. It boasts a lush open world full of diverse locales and a wealth of memorable NPCs to interact with. The story picks up straight after the previous game, Horizon Zero Dawn, and sees Aloy battling a threat beyond anything she could imagine.
Many new features were added to Horizon Forbidden West. A variety of new NPC tribes means a variety of new armor sets based on each, and each set ties into the completely revamped skill tree system. Powerful Valor Surges can help turn the tide of battle, and the new skill trees each have their place to suit anyone’s playstyle, especially once given access to Horizon Forbidden West‘s new game plus update. The Shieldwing glider allows Aloy to turn the most deadly of falls into leisurely glides, giving plenty of time to admire the game’s gorgeous visuals. This new mobility extends underwater as well, with some of the game’s most breathtaking sights being found beneath the waves.
With underwater exploration being a major new focus in Horizon Forbidden West, it features a notable absence of any sort of underwater combat or underwater weapons like a harpoon gun. Aloy’s only option, when confronted with the game’s increased variety of waterborne machines, is to hide and hope they lose interest. While not having a way to fight back underwater aids in the alien nature of the environment, Aloy’s variety of weapons and abilities make it strange that she has no way to save herself should she tangle with a Tideripper or a Snapmaw.
While a simple harpoon with rope seems like an obvious choice (no need to make it one of Horizon Forbidden West‘s Legendary Weapons), especially given Aloy’s proficiency with her spear, there are better options already present that could lend to underwater combat in Horizon Forbidden West. Her Ropecaster weapon, used for tying down machines on land, could feasibly be modified to work underwater. This could lead to interesting gameplay features, such as a Ropecaster modified to shoot nets that entangle machines and slow their movement or the ability to hook a machine and hold the rope to allow the machine to pull Aloy through the water at a speed she couldn’t manage by herself. The aerodynamic nature of the projectiles means that even with an arbitrary range limitation as is common in many games featuring underwater combat, it would still be a viable and believable weapon.
A counterargument can be made that the lack of any underwater combat against Horizon Forbidden West‘s new machines emphasizes the alien nature of the environment. Humans are not inherently suited to underwater traversal or survival. The lack of combat underscores this limitation and serves to both show that Aloy is not a master of this environment and emphasize the deadliness of the machines that are. It is a give-and-take between gameplay and atmosphere, and which one won depends on what the player is looking for.
Horizon Forbidden West‘s lack of underwater combat may be puzzling to some. The ability for Aloy to defend herself underwater seems like it would fit into both the lore of the series (with weapons like the spear and Ropecaster) and gameplay (with underwater gameplay being a major presence). Ultimately, the developers had to make a choice between balancing gameplay and atmosphere. It’s possible Horizon Forbidden West‘s DLC may add underwater combat, though Aloy’s only option being to hide underwater truly underscores just how out of her depth she is when going beneath the waves.
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