Should you play Horizon Zero Dawn before Horizon Forbidden West?

The story continues in the newest iteration of the Horizon franchise.

Image via Guerrilla Games

The hype train for Horizon Forbidden West is full steam ahead after a long wait for the sequel. Those who haven’t played the first game are starting to take notice and are wondering if they should complete Horizon Zero Dawn before moving on to the sequel.

Forbidden West takes place after Zero Dawn and the original game and its sequel are linear in story. Those who didn’t play the original won’t know who some characters are or why they’re important to Aloy. Events are also mentioned in Forbidden West that took place in Zero Dawn and aren’t explained because the game assumes the player has already experienced it.

While players could go watch a video on the storyline to catch them up, it won’t be nearly as detailed as actually going through the game. The beginning of Forbidden West gives players a rundown of the events that led up to it, but it serves as a refresher for those who played the game, instead of a summary of all the events that took place in Horizon. The Horizon series does tend to take its time with its storylines, meaning that a 20-minute video on the overarching story likely won’t provide enough detail to carry into Forbidden West.

In addition to the storyline, there are some mechanics and gameplay features that carry over into Forbidden West from Zero Dawn. This includes some of the weapons and the ability to override machines, something that’s barely mentioned in Forbidden West because the mechanic was introduced in detail in Zero Dawn.

It’s highly advisable to complete Zero Dawn before going into Forbidden West. There’s no concrete rule that it must be completed, but to grasp the story and the narrative that the developers began in Zero Dawn, many players will find that characters or events that are mentioned in Forbidden West aren’t familiar to them if they haven’t played the first title. The game will be far more enjoyable if the player completes both games in order.