Is Horizon Too Focused on Its Lead Character?

Is Horizon Too Focused on Its Lead Character?
Is Horizon Too Focused on Its Lead Character?

Horizon Forbidden West delivered an extraordinary post-apocalyptic adventure centered around Aloy’s solo quest to save the world. While this lone wolf approach allowed for an intensely personal story, some critique these types of “single character” games as overly narrow and limiting. So could embracing a wider ensemble cast strengthen the Horizon series moving forward?

The Risks of Single Protagonist Games

The main risk with building a game around just one central hero is that everything hinges on that character being compelling enough to carry the full weight of the experience. If the writing fails to make them relatable or their journey engaging, the entire game falls apart. In Horizon, Aloy’s likability and the mysteries surrounding her origins provide strong hooks, but everything still revolves entirely around her actions.

This singular focus becomes especially apparent when examining the supporting cast. While allies like Varl, Erend and Sylens accompany Aloy at times, they play minimal active roles compared to her solo feats. These characters offer some social connection, but Aloy solely forces against threats like HADES and the Zeniths.

Other story-driven action games highlight this limitation further. The Tomb Raider trilogy has similar issues anchoring everything on Lara Croft without developing a memorable supporting crew. Besides some insightful back-and-forth with Jonah, Lara might as well be alone on her globetrotting adventures.

How GTA’s Ensemble Approach Hit Big

Is Horizon Too Focused on Its Lead Character?

On the flip side, studios like Rockstar have found immense success embracing an ensemble approach in games like Grand Theft Auto V. The ability to fluidly swap between Michael, Franklin and Trevor made for diverse storytelling and gameplay styles. This grants a level of unpredictability and nuance a lone protagonist struggles to achieve.

Giving Aloy’s Allies Bigger Roles

Is Horizon Too Focused on Its Lead Character?

So could a similar approach help Horizon overcome the limitations of its solo-hero structure? Aloy will likely remain the sole playable character, but the seeds are there to give allies like Varl and Erend bigger gameplay and narrative presence.

Horizon Forbidden West already took steps expanding ensemble characters like Regalla and Sylens. Further developing these supporting roles could organically round out Aloy’s next adventure while retaining her compelling lone hero appeal.

Ultimately, Guerrilla Games faces a design challenge: give players more dynamic character interactions without diminishing Aloy’s primacy. But if any studio can walk that line gracefully, it’s them. Wherever Aloy’s journey goes from here, she doesn’t necessarily have to walk it alone.

More on Horizon:

Horizon Forbidden West is only accessible on PS4 and PS5.

About The Author

I'm a passionate gamer and a dedicated contributor to the world of gaming news. With a deep love for the captivating worlds of video games, I bring you the latest updates, insights, and reviews on all things gaming.
My heart beats to the rhythm of the virtual landscapes, and one of my true gaming obsessions is the "Horizon Franchise", Zero Dawn and Forbidden West. When I'm not meticulously covering the gaming industry's latest happenings, you can find me exploring the breathtaking horizons of Aloy's adventures.

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