Horizon Forbidden West Has a Whole Team of Developers Just to Make the Open World Feel Alive

Horizon Forbidden West has a whole team of developers solely dedicated to making its open-world experience feel alive for players in the game, called the Living World Team.

In a new insight into Horizon Forbidden West on the PlayStation Blog, Lead Living World Designer at Guerrilla, Espen Sogn explains how his team is working on different aspects of world design to bring the PlayStation exclusive to life.

“When you walk through the Forbidden West, everything should feel like it belongs there," says Sogn. "The Living World team at Guerrilla works on aspects of the game that make the world feel authentic and alive: the tribes, the settlements, and the people within them. There’s an intention behind everything we place within the world.”

It's seemingly that intention that will help players to understand and fully experience Forbidden West's storyline and characters when it launches next year. As part of the post, the studio explains that the Living World team has been working closely alongside the game's narrative designers to ensure players are greeted with a visual experience that makes sense from a storytelling perspective throughout the game.

“Our main challenge is translating this narrative framework into visuals that are integral to the world itself,” says Sogn. “For example, the Tenakth [one of the human tribes within the game] are known to be competitive and combat-focused, but so are other tribes. So how do we distinguish them, and how do we communicate that visually?”

"It then becomes all about the details, the animations, and the behaviors. Within their settlements, you’ll see the Tenakth working out, readying themselves for battle. They’re often younger because they need to be capable warriors. Their base is an ancient ruin, from which they’ve picked up certain Old World gestures that they may not fully understand – like using a military salute to say hello."

"Ultimately, our goal is to make sure NPCs feel connected to where they live, and we work closely with other internal teams, such as Narrative, Quest, and Environment, to make sure that every location feels authentic," concludes Sogn.

All in all, it sounds like another potential avenue that Guerrilla is looking to improve on within the Horizon sequel. Earlier this month, the team confirmed that Forbidden West's robot animal population will be able to make use of ideas and mechanics that couldn't be achieved in the first game of the series. Meanwhile, the studio has also offered insights into changes that Aloy will experience this time around, with the character set to gain a number of additional tools at her disposal as well as added combat techniques and increased climbing capabilities.

Horizon Forbidden West is set to launch on February 18, 2022. For the latest from the game, make sure to check out our dedicated IGN page.

Jared Moore is a freelance writer for IGN. You can follow him on Twitter.

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