When Horizon Forbidden West, Guerrilla Games' sweeping post-post-apocalyptic epic sci-fi action RPG, came out in February last year, its highs and lows embodied the double-edged sword of video gaming. Its next-gen graphical fidelity, dynamic combat sandbox, and ambitious open world design were all dimmed by the lack of an emotional core. Not for a lack of trying, Forbidden West failed to ground its chaotic action with considered writing. Despite upgraded facial capture technology, fully animated cutscenes, and a crew of new support characters who all talked a lot, the game often felt bogged down by artificial clunk. While its lush flora, azure waters, and pristine mountains came to life in breathtaking visual detail, its people, more often than not, refused to do so. Even the series' torchbearer, the redheaded huntress Aloy, remained elusive.