Horizon Forbidden West was supposed to be PlayStation's big fall 2021 exclusive - until it wasn't.
According to Guerilla Games' Game Director Mathijs de Jonge, the sequel to 2017's Horizon Zero Dawn will instead be delayed to February 18, 2022. The decision to delay the first-party exclusive title now leaves a sizable gap in Sony's fall 2021 fall lineup.
Why was Forbidden West delayed?
Forbidden West has to be one of the most hyped games in recent years. Sony's follow-up to Guerilla Games' first original IP following its work on the Killzone series was the subject of an extensive gameplay preview in mid-2021.
By then, many had expected Forbidden West to release in late 2021, although we did do a write-up on why we thought that it wouldn't be a bad idea to delay the game to 2022.
Although Mathijs did not explicitly state the reason for the delay, he did confirm that their teams were "hugely impacted by the global pandemic". As the studio adjusted to "new workflows, protocols, and other challenges", they also worked hard to keep its times "safe" while also working on making sure that team members had a "healthy work/life balance."
TLDR; the reason is partly the COVID-19 pandemic and partly the fallout resulting from the fiasco surrounding Cyberpunk 2077.
What's next for PlayStation Studios?
At the moment, PlayStation Studios, which Guerilla Games is a part of, is working on dozens of PlayStation-exclusive titles. The majority are slated to release sometime in 2022, including the next God of War and Gran Turismo 7.
It feels awfully counterproductive to release two of PlayStation Studios' biggest action-adventure titles in the same year. We speculate that the next God of War will be pushed back to 2023.
If it's any consolation, there is a long list of games that have been postponed and delayed this year. Case in point, another PlayStation-exclusive (albeit a timed-exclusive) in Arkane Studios' Deathloop was delayed to September 2021, although it has since gone gold. Ghostwire: Tokyo was also postponed to 2022.
With that said, what is perhaps the biggest issue here is that there is currently a glaring lack of games that can take advantage of the PlayStation 5's hardware. It's nice that some PS4 games are best played on the PS5, but outside of Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart, Sony doesn't have a game that makes PlayStation 5 a must-buy console. Then again, maybe this is intentional.
Sony is currently struggling to keep up with the demand for the PS5 due to the ongoing global chip shortage. Purposely delaying PS5-exclusive games - Forbidden West will be on the PS4 as well - is a great way to keep on selling more PS4 units and to give PS5 stock levels a chance to catch up.
At this rate, it won't be until 2023 or 2024 when we start seeing games that can fully take advantage of what the PS5 has to offer.