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Horizon Forbidden West: What's The Difference Between The PS4 And PS5 Versions?

The long-awaited sequel to "Horizon Zero Dawn" is right around the corner. Set for a Feb. 18, 2022 release, "Horizon Forbidden West" is sure to satisfy fans of its successful predecessor. Aloy is poised to take on everything from machines to a mysterious threat to the planet known as the red blight in another thrilling action-adventure RPG.

"Horizon Forbidden West" will be a PlayStation exclusive offered on both PS4 and PS5, despite Sony's former claim that the game would only be available on the hard-to-get, high in demand PS5. Though future PlayStation titles beyond "Horizon Forbidden West" won't offer players free upgrades from PS4 to PS5, this upcoming title will allow PS4 players to get the next-gen version at no additional cost.

Given the confusion and changes around the release strategy for "Horizon Forbidden West," players are eager to understand how the PS4 and PS5 versions of the game will differ. Before getting lost in the multiple different editions available to fans, fans of Aloy's adventures should know how each console will also offer a slightly different experience.

Horizon Forbidden West was largely developed with PS4 in mind

Thanks to a Game Informer interview with "Horizon Forbidden West" developers, fans have a good idea of what to expect from both the PS4 and PS5 versions of the game. As game director Mathijs de Jonge explained, PS4 owners can rest assured that their experience was integral to the creation of "Horizon Forbidden West." In his words, "a lot of the development has taken place on the PlayStation 4, and a lot of playtesting was also done on PlayStation 4, so we are ensuring that owners of that console have a great experience and that the game will look fantastic on that console."

This is good news, since a stricter focus on PS5 and DualSense-reliant mechanics could have come at a cost to last-gen players. Given the fact that "Horizon Zero Dawn" started as a PS4 exclusive prior to a successful PC port, fans who were pleased with the way the first entry played should be happy to expect a similar experience for the second one. And of course, all the key story and gameplay elements will remain on the PS4.

Since the PS4 version of "Horizon Forbidden West" can be upgraded for free to the PS5 version, players with the next-gen console might be wise to buy the older version and upgrade later to save $10.

Expect plenty of visual upgrades for PS5

The next-gen iteration of "Horizon Forbidden West" adds quite a few elements which should sound similar to anyone familiar with the capabilities of the PS5. As de Jonge explained to Game Informer, the PS5 version allowed the developers to "go much further." Striking graphics are guaranteed on the console, which means that "visually, [the developers] can add a lot more detail."

Fans who caught the extended "Horizon Forbidden West" gameplay trailer might recall Aloy diving, swimming, and fighting monsters in the water. Though these scenes will be part of all game editions, de Jonge shared that "graphically, the rendering technique for the underwater scenes is special for the PlayStation 5," meaning players can expect "extra details and extra systems, like the wave technique is better on that system." On the topic of graphics, players can also expect "special cinematic lighting" for Aloy throughout the PS5 version of the game. This is possible due to the console's increased processing power.

Finally, players can expect a "sense of immersion" thanks to the DualSense PS5 controller. According to de Jonge, "the adaptive trigger conveys the sense of pulling the bow and releasing the arrow much better than the DualShock [PS4] controller." 3D audio and haptic feedback also add to the enrichment of "Horizon Forbidden West," fulfilling the developers' goal of helping players "feel like they're there in all the environments."

By the looks of things, players can't go wrong in selecting either version of "Horizon Forbidden West." All that's left is waiting patiently for the Feb. 18, 2022 release.