Horizon Forbidden West is a massive accomplishment of a game, not just for its quality, scale, and being a great follow-up to a very good original title, but for its technological achievements, part of which include being able to run on PS5 and the previous generation PS4.
While multiplatform releases on a base level, even among current-gen consoles can create a lot of issues for developers, cross-generational releases create an even greater set of issues and limitations.
In the case of Forbidden West, those issues almost meant that the game would lose one of its key late-game features of being able to hop on the back of a Sunwing and fly through the air.
Speaking about the journey Guerilla Games took from the Horizon Zero Dawn to Forbidden West with GamesIndustry.Biz, art director Jan-Bart van Beek revealed how flying was something Guerilla was working on almost “up until the last moment.”
“It was almost up until the last moment that we didn’t know whether we could support flying on PlayStation 4. We were like, ‘Do we need to cut the whole feature of the game? That’s going to make such a mess’ but we got it to work. We sacrificed some codes to the gods,” van Beek said jokingly.
And quite the mess it would have made – those who’ve played through Forbidden West can easily recall more than a few side missions and story missions that all require you to take to the skies with a Sunwing.
Even getting the override code for the Sunwing is a key moment in the story between Aloy and her newly found clone-sister, Beta.
For that, and so much more to change would’ve been a huge undertaking, and could have potentially pushed the game’s release back quite a bit.
Angie Smets who recently went from studio director at Guerilla to head of development strategy for PlayStation Studios even added that it was the first time Guerilla worked on a multi-platform/multi-generational game since 2004.
“In the early part of the project, it was really hard to get the focus ont he PS5 and push the quality bar there,” said Smets. “And in the second half it was really hard to get the PS4 to catch up.”
While Microsoft has already announced it has left the Xbox One behind, the same still hasn’t officially been said for the PS4. Guerilla’s example is just the latest to once again show how developing across generations just makes things more difficult for developers.
Though the pandemic definitely pushed timelines back on everything, including when PlayStation would eventually drop the PS4, it’ll be interesting to see just how much longer first-party titles support the last-gen console.
Source – [GamesIndustry.Biz]