Sony’s brand new PlayStation VR2 headset is almost here and, along with it, are over 30 launch titles to choose from. As one of the first games to be announced for the new headset, Horizon VR: Call of the Mountain generated a lot of hype. Given that it was developed exclusively for PS VR2 by two of Sony’s first party developers, it was quickly positioned as the showcase title for the headset. We’ve finished the main storyline of the game and completed some of the side quests and can confidently say it’s not only the showcase title for PS VR2, but, in our opinion, should be seen as a showcase title for VR in general. Here is our review of Horizon VR: Call of the Mountain.
In Horizon VR: Call of the Mountain, you play as Ryas, a disgraced former soldier who is an expert climber and master archer, that must unravel a new mystery surrounding the machines to redeem himself
and save his people. Throughout your playthrough, you’ll ascend the towering peaks of the Carja Sundom and fight off multiple machines, whilst also developing and adding to your toolkit and weapons array. Fans of the first two Horizon games and the series’ main protagonist are are also in for a treat as you’ll meet Aloy along with way, along with other familiar faces and new characters in the world of Horizon.
With a strong ‘tribal politics’ theme throughout the overarching narrative, the main plot is somewhat straightforward and easy to follow, if a little heavy-handed at times. Horizon veterans will see similarities to themes covered in previous instalments whilst newcomers might have to pay more attention so as to understand what’s actually happening.
Sony’s own blog did a nice little intro piece for gamers looking to learn more about Ryas and what he’s tasked with in the game but, thankfully, when actually playing through the story, there aren’t hours of dialogue and static conversations to sit through as Guerilla and Firesprite know players just want to actually play the game.
Like past Horizon games, Call of the Mountain has a lot of climbing. The way you climb in this game is by holding out your hand with the PS VR2 controller to reach and grab onto a higher platform. There’s a subtle and clear signs for which platform you should aim for so you won’t need to worry about any needless climbing.
It’s hard to get used to it at first but pass that, it’s a pretty enjoyable experience. It truly felt like I was exploring the world of Horizon myself. Having to physically imitate the climbing action throughout the game was certainly a way to burn down those calories.
We’re also introduced to a pickaxe later on in the story to help traverse even more daunting cliffs and mountainsides and honestly, I understood why this was an actual climbing technique after trying it out myself. In game, of course.
In terms of walking or ‘locomotion’ in this game, there are two options. The first, and more ridiculous looking one, lets you just swing your arms like you do when you walk while pressing the buttons on the controllers and you’ll move towards the direction your facing. The other, more relaxed and less intensive option (the one I used) was the ability to just use the thumbstick to move around the environments.
If you are familiar with the Horizon games, you should know that the game is packed with life. From the plants to the waters, they are all interactable in the game. It didn’t stop there, as even the objects you can find in the game are the same. You can look inside crates, pick up pots and fire them around the place, the list just goes on. It definitely adds to the overall level of immersion and believability.
Like Aloy, Ryas’s main weapon is the bow and much like how it plays out with the movement of the game, you will also need to replicate the movements in archery to use the bow. You draw the bow, load in your arrow, pull the string and release it to let the arrow fly. With the haptic feedback from the PS VR2, I can feel the sensation of the bowstring tightening when I pull it and works perfectly to engross you in the combat.
The machines aren’t just gonna stand there menacingly taking your arrows though, they’ll jump at you with the intention to kill. They’re not as agile as they were in the previous games, but a threat is a threat.
This is where the dodging mechanic comes in. No, you do not need to cartwheel from the enemy. All you need to do is strafe past the enemies by swinging your arms left or right while pressing the buttons on the controllers or flicking the thumbstick.
It might not be as impressive when compared to Aloy’s summersault but strafing the enemy left and right while taunting them is pretty addicting. You can also aim for their weakness to knock off their plates and still strafe around them to keep them on their toes.
Speaking of the enemies, the Guerrilla and Firesprite did an amazing job bringing in a huge variety of different enemy types into the VR game. From the Watchers to the enormously imposing Thunderjaw and even the docile Tallneck.
Crafting is present in Call of the Mountain albeit limited. There are still different types of arrows that you can craft so you adapt to the situation at hand like Shock Arrows to stun enemies. Unfortunately, there is no spears so you’ll need to rely on your trusty bow to fight. They’ve also forego healing herbs and instead, the apples you can pick up around the game are what you’ll be using to keep your health in check. There’s a clever feather-like array on your less dominant hand to indicate your current health status which is handy for glancing at might fight to see if you need to grab an apple.
Immediately at the start of the game, I fell in love with the game’s visual as I fully immerse myself in it. As I rode the boat and witnessing the world of Horizon in vivid VR, I couldn’t help but just be at awe. From the lush green forest, the serene waters and to just the overall atmosphere, it’s simply beautiful.
Once the machines come on the scene, the immersion is taken up a notch. Seeing the Grazers on the riverbank as they bask in the sun is simply amazing.
Just from afar, you can already tell that these machines are gigantic in scale but it was only after get to look at a Tallneck up close will you truly understand just how incredibly massive they really are.
Horizon Call of the Mountain’s visuals are far above anything I’ve seen on any previous VR games. In fact, it almost looks as beautiful as Forbidden West. Yes, it is by the same developers but the fact that they can translate it into the VR game just as well is just absolutely amazing.
The headset feedback from the PS VR2 is also superb. The mild vibration that they gave you as the machines approach you, or just having them walk near you shoots up my adrenaline straight away. It was so immersive that it actually made me feel that there really was a machine in the room.
Horizon VR: Call of the Mountain is one of the best VR experiences I’ve had to date. The sheer scale of it all is jaw-dropping. The climbing and combat mechanics are intricate and realistic whilst still keeping things enjoyable and approachable. The teams at Guerilla and Firesprite have really kicked off this new generation of PS VR in a huge way. This is a must play title for anyone that picks up the PS VR2, it’s that simple.
Horizon VR: Call of the Mountain launches Wednesday, Feb. 22nd, alongside the launch of the PlayStation VR2 for €69.99.
It’s also launching as part of a PlayStation VR2 bundle for €649.99, saving you €20.
REVIEW: Horizon VR: Call of the Mountain
Horizon VR: Call of the Mountain is the standout showpiece for the launch of Sony’s PlayStation VR2 headset and truly raises the bar for VR immersion.