The Best Side-Quests On PS4, PS5

The Best Side-Quests On PS4, PS5

Aloy leans against a tree next to a campfire in Horizon Forbidden West.

Screenshot: Sony / Kotaku

If there is a look in which Forbidden Horizon West should be considered Horizon Forbidden Best, this is the optional stuff. Every side quest in the game ends with a meaningful reward. In some cases, you get a cool weapon or armor set. In others, you’ll catch a richer narrative denouement than what the main story has in store.

Corn Forbidden Horizon West is massive. After 60 hours, I haven’t even encountered all the possible optional activities yet. Not to mention the fact that there is—and this is no exaggeration—15 different categories of side quests, from quest-seeking races to platform-focused cauldrons to combat-heavy activities like hunting grounds and arena. Watch: Time is precious. The indecision is very real, especially when you stare in bewilderment at a bible-length quest journal. If you’re looking to prioritize, here are the side quests you can’t miss.

Mild spoilers for Horizon Forbidden West follow – nothing essential to the plot, just a decoding of the game’s mysteries.

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Shadow of the past (level 7)

Where to start: In Barren Light, on the ramparts near the gate, talking to a guard posted outside a prison cell

Some of the best side quests in Horizon Forbidden West don’t happen in a vacuum. These are quest chains: if you start one, it will launch a series of smaller missions that include an ongoing narrative. The must-see first channel begins with “Shadow of the Past,” which revolves around the Eclipse – an antagonistic faction from the first game, Horizon Zero Dawn – and neatly wraps a lingering narrative thread. It’s a treat for those who have played and loved Zero Dawn.

Plainsong stands against the sky in Horizon Forbidden West on PS5.

Plainsong is one of the most striking locations in Horizon Forbidden West and is a central area for the start of many side quests. Screenshot: Sony / Kotaku

The Roots That Bind (Level 15)

Where to start: In Plainsong, by interacting with an NPC on one of the higher level platforms

The open world of Horizon Forbidden West is so vast that you could easily miss parts of it if you don’t take on certain side quests. “The Roots That Bind” is one of them, sending you on a jaunt through the mountains north of Plainsong, Horizon’s first main town. It’s also one of the most extensive side quests in terms of gameplay, with two tough fights, a long platforming section, and a rare stealth segment.

Hunt Hunt (Level 17)

Where to start: By talking to Drakka at the Arrowhand settlement, just southwest of The Base

Most of the quest chains in Horizon Forbidden West follow a linear path. But the one that starts with “Thirst For the Hunt” – in which you have to help two divergent factions of a desert-dwelling tribe to get water – ends with a mission where the ball is in your court: you have to making a decision at the end changes how the story ends. And yes, echoing what you’d find in, say, a classic BioWare game, the choice isn’t easy.

Opening of the arena (level 18)

Where to start: in the mouth of the arena city (you will get there via the story)

“Opening the Arena” is a fetch quest (boooo) that grants you access to the arena (yay!), easily one of the most entertaining side-activities in Horizon Forbidden West. Not only will you be able to complete unique combat challenges in increasingly difficult settings, but you will also open a storefront that will give you access to some of the the strongest bows and outfits in the game.

Aloy unlocks a cauldron door with her spear in Horizon Forbidden West.

Cauldrons are platform-centric dungeons divided by combat encounters… and strange future tech doors that only open for Aloy’s future tech spear. Screenshot: Sony/Kotaku

Cauldron: Iota (level 22)

Where to start: Head northeast from Salt Bite until you reach the northern border of the map

Horizon Forbidden West runs an open-world convention (climb the big thing to defog the map) in an unconventional way (the big thing is a walking dinosaur called a big neck). Right in the center of the map, you’ll see a large neck for the Shining Wastes region. One catch: you can’t peak it until much, much later in the game when you unlock an upgrade that I’m going to keep quiet about because it’s so cool you should experience the cold moment. If you want to defog this area of ​​the map, clear the “Cauldron: Iota” mission.

What was lost (level 30)

Where to start: in the basics, but not until you are quite advanced in the game (as evidenced by the level requirement)

Few missions are more frustrating than “What Was Lost.” You retread a dungeon that you have already walked. You are fighting a boss that you have already fought, twice. But the narrative payoff here is among the sweetest in the game. Horizon Forbidden West is ultimately hopeful, but it’s set in a stark, unforgiving, and relentlessly brutal post-apocalypse. Take the shining moments when you can get them. (You also get rare crafting components that would be a pain to find otherwise.)

Keystroke learning machine (N/A level)

Where to start: In Chainscrape, by talking to the person at the “Machine Strike” board

I have said before and I’ll say it again (and, right ahead here, probably again and again and again): the “Machine Strike” tactical mini-game is a revelation. Don’t miss it.


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