Developers: Guerrilla Games, Firesprite
Platform: PlayStation VR 2
Gene(s): Adventure, Action
Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Horizon Call of the Mountain is the latest Horizon game that follows in the footsteps of Horizon Zero Dawn (2017) and Horizon Forbidden West (2022); this game follows the adventure of a new protagonist in this new VR world of Horizon.
Horizon Call of the Mountain is a stunning VR landscape for you to explore; it’s the first game I have played for PS VR2 that feels like a next-generation VR title. There are genuine awe and surprise moments from the introduction through the game. The environment is a mix of giant peaks, tropical forests, wetlands, and snow mountain ranges. The world is alive with creatures, characters and enemies you will be familiar with if you have played any game in the series. You can play this game without prior exposure to the Horizon series; you may miss some minor details and not recognise some characters. The Horizon series is fantastic, so it’s always worth visiting.
The graphics are stunning, and the headset enhances the immersive experience; the drawing detail of the environment seems infinite. Sound effects, the soundtrack and the game direction; make the world seem real. You can look down at the colossal peaks when you reach their summit or look up and admire their sheer scale. Character detail, including voice acting and rendering, is fantastic, too. I can’t have any qualms over the level of detail in the world. The world is vast, and VR lets you roam and take the world in at your own pace.
The core gameplay is wandering and exploring the beautiful with a lot of climbing mountains, ruins, and a lot of structures. These elements give the game a sense of open-world fun. Your view in the headset is the world, and your two hands (VR controllers), can use gestures which are the default setting or the analogue stick for movement in the game. The VR controllers control climbing and use of the bow; the grip and shoulder buttons on the controller are your primary controls. The x, square, triangle, and circle buttons are for accessing inventory, crafting, and switching between game mechanics. Large parts of the game are climbing the fantastic Horizon environment; you get a real sense of the scale of the world as you climb the vast peaks. There are a lot of cinematic moments in the game that ratchets up the tension and makes the game much more exciting. The other mechanics are the action and fighting elements, where you become an archer and a nimble parkour runner trying to avoid enemies. There are more mechanics as you progress through the game and lots of puzzles to solve. I can’t fault the gameplay; there are enough variety and action elements to keep you occupied, built with VR in mind.
As you progress through the game, you will come across scrap items from killing machines that allow you to craft essential items but are not as in-depth and critical as the original Horizon games.
VR headset and controller, on the whole, are superb in the game. I didn’t get any nausea or motion sickness in the game despite its change of pace and fast, action-packed nature at times. On a broader note, it was frustrating when the headset lost track, breaking the stride of the game; this is not the game’s fault but most likely the PSVR2 headset. Sometimes, when nimbleness is required, the tracking goes askew, which is frustrating. I had less than two by two metres of free space recommended to play the game. I had some runs with no issues; the game flowed beautifully. I could play Horizon Call of the Mountain for around 2 hours without a break. I felt less fatigued from the VR experience than from other games. There is a learning curve in using VR, so it will take a few hours before you reach that sweet spot of the controls being intuitive and second nature.
It’s my favourite VR experience and makes you rethink the VR experience, and it will differ from a traditional game using a controller. It’s brilliant from the moment you step into the world; the cinematics, voice acting, story-telling, soundtrack and sound effects make the experience a rich, immersive VR experience. The world is stunning in all its glory.
Horizon Call of the Mountain uses VR to design a new gaming experience for this medium. More thought and design are needed to construct a VR game that has to consider its form factor.
Despite the fun I had, there are some downsides, too, but it tends to centre around the tracking of controllers and headsets as opposed to the gameplay. Also, the VR version of Horizon isn’t going to play like the original two games; the mechanics have to adjust for VR and play to its strengths. VR gaming is a paradigm shift from traditional games. Horizon Call of the Mountain is another fantastic Horizon game, so I can’t complain!
Also as we are reviewing the game before it’s release on the 22nd of February, it’s still pre-release software and there will be updating coming for the game.