Horizon Forbidden West improves upon many features that were introduced in Horizon Zero Dawn. Likewise, as a Sony first-party franchise, it is thrilling to imagine what improvements and changes will be made in Horizon’s third installment. Rumors of a Horizon Zero Dawn remake or remaster and a multiplayer Horizon game make the franchise’s future even more exciting, and the features implemented in each will surely have a large impact on where the franchise is headed. For example, Horizon could find its next biggest improvement in its Machine Master skill tree.

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In fact, skill trees in Horizon Forbidden West could improve overall. Horizon arguably has an overabundance of skill trees in general, which are oriented toward individual builds as an action-RPG, but the idea of having particular builds is not recommended because players need to be well-rounded in order to have an effective playstyle in Horizon. Still, the Machine Master skill tree is lackluster in comparison to the game’s other skill trees, and could be dramatically improved in Horizon 3 if it was to implement more customization and iteration on overrides, especially considering new flying mounts.

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Horizon Forbidden West’s Machine Master Skill Tree is Rudimentary

The Machine Master tree is heavily influenced by passive boosts that affect the efficiency of overriding machines, as well as their offensive and defensive capabilities. These abilities include taking less damage while mounted on an overridden machine, increasing the amount of time that a machine stays overridden, and being able to repair damaged overridden machines for fewer metal shards.

In the grand scheme of gameplay in Horizon Forbidden West’s enormous open world, players may not have mounted and ridden many machines. Since Horizon Forbidden West gives players so many other traversal options, mount machines are limited by where players can and cannot go with one.

For instance, players cannot enter into settlements with a befriended machine. Besides, fast-travel in Horizon Forbidden West is as simple as crafting a pack and picking a known campfire, which makes machine riding superfluous in terms of getting to a destination after the first time.

It does not help, then, that the Machine Master tree provides no substantial incentive to override as many machines as possible. In a sequel, Horizon’s implementation of Machine Master abilities as well as override customization needs an overhaul to feel more competitive alongside other skill trees. If machines could be customized during an override, for example, to activate certain features in their mechanical anatomies, it could present some great combat opportunities.

Likewise, if players had personal mounts that they could name and cosmetically customize, the door would open to a lot more mounting features. For example, players could potentially need to find other machine parts that could make their personal mounts stronger if fashioned to them.

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Horizon 3 Needs Greater Customization with Machine Master Overrides

Players learn to mount a flying machine so late into Horizon Forbidden West that it is an afterthought, unless they want to explore areas that are otherwise inaccessible, or if they have other optional content they wish to finish. Still, it is a great new mechanic that Horizon should enhance further in a sequel, and the most effective way to do so would be to improve how Aloy overrides machines.

Unlocking the ability to override machines through the completion of Horizon Forbidden West’s Cauldrons is brilliant, since it greatly incentivizes players to search for them and navigate them. But customization can be improved with more options in how players would like machines to behave.

Perhaps if there were options for players to activate EMPs, track other identical machines, or target a specific machine nearby, overriding would grant players more choices in the open world. Overriding is also simple once players have unlocked the ability to do so, but it would be interesting to see a taming mechanic added that required players to use a particular spear or item attachment.

For example, a Snapmaw could be lured by a particular trilling signal emitted by an attachment to Aloy’s spear, which then leaves it vulnerable to being overridden. In terms of mounts, Horizon’s next installment will hopefully add more flying machines to ride, and it would be great to see underwater machines be overridden and ridden as well.

How Machine Mastery Could Affect Horizon’s Rumored Multiplayer Game

It is unofficial still at this point, but a rumored Horizon multiplayer game has a lot of potential. If released before Horizon’s next game, for instance, these override and mount mechanics could be introduced in the multiplayer game beforehand. If it gets released afterward, then there would be no reason for the multiplayer game to not have all the updated, enhanced mechanics that a new sequel could bring. The Machine Master skill tree does not need to affect all machines equally, but it should definitely incorporate abilities that players would want to salvage their XP for.

The best skill trees in gaming all have players make difficult choices between which skills to spend their points on. Meanwhile, Machine Master hardly encourages any alternate playstyle or mechanics that players need for any particular situation. This is partly because overriding and riding machines is not as engaging or rewarding as it should be. In a Horizon multiplayer game, though, it would be exciting to ride side-by-side with other players on Chargers into battle against a Tremortusk or a Slaughterspine. It is fantastic that players could attack while mounted, but this could be elevated even further.

Now that flying mounts have been introduced to the Horizon franchise, the next entry will need to emphasize this mechanic in a big way. If an ability could let players swoop down in battle and pick up other machines in their machine’s mouth, then drop it from a great height, it would greatly reward players who take the time to spend points into the Machine Master skill tree.

Horizon Forbidden West is available now for PS4 and PS5.

MORE: Horizon 3 Combat Could Flourish with More Gear Than Heavy Weapons from the Old Ones

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