Design Doc – Horizon: Machine Hunter
Rumours abound about the Guerrilla Games developed Horizon franchise (Horizon: Zero Dawn, Horizon: Forbidden West) being shopped to external developers for franchise expansion opportunities. Many fans would be justifiably panicked by this prospect, either due to over-saturation of the franchise, or even the increased risk of a weaker product due to the creative minds behind the IP not working on it directly. While these are absolutely reasons to be concerned, there is also an opportunity here that can come from a fresh set of eyes and a different skill set, one which could actually enhance the franchise’s standing as opposed to harming it. We’ve already learned of a PS VR2 title – Horizon Call Of The Mountain, but that aside, imagine a turn-based tactical game akin to XCOM with giant mechanised monsters for example, or, for the purposes of this discussion, a Monster Hunter-like title. This is where “Design Doc” comes in: These are my ideas for how to make a “Horizon: Machine Hunter” a winner.
What is one of the most appealing components of the Horizon franchise to people? Inarguably it’s the mechanical beasts that roam the land and wreak havoc on citizens of the fallen world. If I’m being honest, there’s quite a bit of Monster Hunter in Horizon as is. Going head-to-head with the almighty Thunderjaw, the enormity of the Tremortusk, or the death from the skies that can come from a Stormbird, is an epic, often prolonged experience. For someone with the tools at her disposal that Aloy has, that fight is difficult enough as is, but if you’re less able, less armed, and if you don’t have the luxury of owning a Focus, you’re in for a rough time.
What I’m pitching is a Horizon title in name, that is Monster Hunter by nature. Being a normal ol’ human levels the playing field significantly, and makes the machines into the incredible threats we know they can be. Set the game in the world of Zero Dawn, while Aloy is in the Forbidden West, and let the brave souls step up to the plate to fight for humanity. Upgrade paths for weapons and armour are easy to conceptualise; the wild designs that the remnants of humanity have concocted make for a logical upgrade pathway, while the escalating power of the machines, and durability of their make-up also lends itself to the upgrade trees seen in Monster Hunter. Reporting suggested that at one stage Horizon: Forbidden West, or a bridging launch title (similar to Miles Morales) was supposed to include co-op multiplayer, and with this being a modern staple of Monster Hunter, it’s easy to see a Horizon take on Monster Hunter emulate this approach.
What Need Does It Serve?
The need is all on Sony’s end; fans have not necessarily been asking this, though it’s something I doubt they would object to. The growth of Monster Hunter in the West since the launch of 2015’s Monster Hunter World has been incredible, serving as the tip of the spear for others looking to penetrate the market. Dauntless’ emergence gave players an alternate pathway in with its F2P systems, Toukiden has received an unexpected sequel, while interest in the PSVita title Freedom Wars has piqued in the years since World’s debut. Despite all of these smaller-scaled up-and-comers, there is an opportunity for another big contender in this space, and with a heavy sci-fi focus as opposed to Monster Hunter’s fantasy setting, there leaves plenty of room for both titles to coexist and not tread on each other’s toes.
Of course it’s important to consider what a title such as this would bring to the table that is different. There’s so much DNA that could be easily shared between the two IP, to the point where we saw a crossover in Monster Hunter World: Iceborne, but what would set Horizon: Machine Hunter apart as a standalone game? It’s the technology at players’ disposal. While Aloy’s Focus can tell players a lot about weaknesses and be incredibly helpful for tracking, various other pieces of technology, including some that have granted Aloy the ability to command machines, could give Machine Hunter a layer of complexity that isn’t present in Monster Hunter. Instruct some machines to engage with your target, weakening it, allowing you to get in for an easier kill, scale the beast and possess so you can then get it to harm itself, possess mounts to scoot around the environment quickly. All of these options give the player more to consider than the standard Monster Hunter bout.
Sealing The Deal:
Based on one release, Horizon has already become one of PlayStation’s most lucrative IP, and the manufacturer/publisher has made it abundantly clear that they want to expand the franchise as far as it can go. With that knowledge at our disposal, it’s hardly a surprise that PlayStation Studios would be eager to broaden the franchise’s horizons (pun intended), even if they need to enlist the help of external parties to make it possible. While we may still see Horizon through the PSVR headset or a host of other possible ideas and spin-offs stemming from Aloy’s adventures, Horizon: Machine Hunter might serve as the loftiest point of the expanded world that PlayStation seems keen to establish. For fans, they won’t need to wait 4 years for sequels of Sony’s premiere RPG franchise, but can get an outstanding complementary title that challenges and engages players in a whole new way.
So that’s what I’m pitching you, the audience as a potential Horizon: Machine Hunter title. What do you like? What needs refining? Would you snap this up if it were available to you? We want to hear your thoughts, so be sure to hit us up via social media!