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Change YoY: NEW!    My Rating: 9.4 / 10

The highest ranked new game on my list this year, Horizon Forbidden West was for quite a long time among my most anticipated games in general. I loved the first game already, the setting and characters it introduced us to, the beautiful visuals and excellent music, as well as the gameplay elements that allowed for various different ways of tackling combat encounters. In Forbidden West all of those elements are still in place, just ever so slightly improved and polished even further. Had it not been for another game released the same year, this would now be my new favourite open world game ever. Alas, just like the first game was sadly overshadowed by Breath of the Wild, Forbidden West suffered similarly thanks to Elden Ring, which I will talk about later.

The setting remains one of my personal favourite worlds in any video game, the intricate history providing a wonderful backdrop to your adventure. This also felt like a fitting continuation to the first game, as the truths Aloy learned in Zero Dawn drive her to seek further answers in entirely new places and engaging with ever increasing threats. Speaking of, the characters, Aloy first and foremost, are still great. I find Aloy to be one of the best characters in video games, and the rest of the cast is excellent as well, both the returning familiar faces and the new additions. I very much enjoyed spending time with them at various points in the game, whether during quests or just sitting back to hang around at their base camp to learn more about them as people. The gameplay also saw various new additions, with new weapons, enemy types, and more elements added to make it ever more varied than before. This is also an absolutely gorgeous game, and the soundtrack is one of the best of recent years.

While the first game felt like Aloy's journey to discover the history of the world and the truth behind what led to its current situation, as well as finding out about her own past, Forbidden West was much more about her learning to trust others and forging closer relationships with people, though still obviously also fighting to save the world at large. Just as much as the game was about tackling these dangers, it was about Aloy coming to terms with the fact she couldn't do everything on her own, that she had to trust others to help her. This is also a significant element in the game's excellent expansion, The Burning Shores, where most of the runtime is spend working together with another character who ends up becoming very important indeed to Aloy in that time.