Is "Horizon Call of the Mountain" for PSVR 2 an open-world game?
The exclusive VR adventure "Horizon Call of the Mountain" for PSVR 2 is perhaps less open than the original. But that's not necessarily a bad thing.
Is it open world or not? That's the question many VR fans have been asking since the unveiling of the prestige title Horizon Call of the Mountain for PlayStation VR 2.
The gameplay scenes in the impressively beautiful panoramas do hint at an expansive world. However, it is still largely unclear how freely it can be traversed.
A newly added text on the official website suggests that it might be a more branching game than a completely open world: The text describes a varied landscape with several paths that can be searched to discover all the secrets of the mountains.
Horizon Call of the Mountain is likely more linear than the original, but that doesn't mean it has to be on rails
The linear boat ride shown in the first trailer has already triggered discussions about whether the VR spin-off of the Horizon series could just be a simple tech demo on rails. After all, the first two games in the Horizon series were full-blown action adventures in a freely explorable, open world.
On the PlayStation Blog, Guerrilla's Narrative Director Ben McCaw promptly debunked such rumors at the time. He explained that the linear river journey is only a small part of the game, where VR gamers and viewers can enjoy the graphics. Incidentally, the series creator Guerilla is only responsible for the development. Studio Firesprite (The Persistence) is responsible for most of the work.
In the second gameplay trailer from June 2, a much more expansive landscape and freer movements could be seen. While traversing the world, the purified Shadow Carja warrior Ryas uses ropes and pickaxes, among other things. The previous protagonist Aloy, on the other hand, will only get a guest role.
VR plays by its own rules: Less is sometimes more
However, when fighting with the bow and handcrafted weapons, one difference to Horizon Zero Dawn and its successor Horizon Forbidden West stands out. In the new VR game, many enemies seem to appear in areas that are somewhat reminiscent of demarcated arenas. In the first two installments, the robot dinos and metal monsters often appeared farther away in the landscape, allowing Aloy to stalk relatively freely.
Maybe it's just a coincidence, but probably the change in game design is due to the demands of virtual reality. Experience has shown that exploring open worlds is much more strenuous with the VR headset. This is especially true when developers confront players with many map markers and crafting mechanics.
Less is often more in VR, especially since it's harder to focus attention on specific points. The 360-degree view and the omnidirectional sound make sure that you are much more audiovisually involved.
That's why I'm a fan of the game design in Asgard's Wrath: In the role-playing game from Sanzaru Games, the levels are mainly linear. Numerous branching paths nevertheless convey a nice feeling of freedom without overwhelming the player. Whether Horizon Call of the Mountain will follow similarly linear but branching paths is unknown. I would welcome it.
It is not yet known when the action adventure or Sony's PSVR 2 will be released. A release of Horizon Call of the Mountain as a launch title is likely. Sony is after all promoting the featured interactive river ride as the perfect introduction to the magic of Playstation VR 2.