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Why Slowing Loading Screens In Horizon Forbidden West Is Actually A Good Idea

Some might not be able to remember, but games used to have excruciatingly long loading screens. These served as a way for games to initialize new areas, be it levels or accessible areas, without freezing momentarily or cutting to black. To mitigate this, many developers have used these intrusive loading screens to give out additional information about the game to players, such as tips and tricks in regards to gameplay and/or information on characters in the game world. Other things, such as concept art and vivid screenshots, were also featured within loading screens in a past era.

However, as technology and hardware have advanced over the years — such as the implementation of solid-state drives (SSDs) — the need for these loading screens has been all but eliminated. Outside of loading a game up from a fresh state, loading screens on newer consoles such as the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X|S are very much a thing of the past while mid-game. But there are certain exceptions to this rule, such as the newly released "Horizon Forbidden West", the sequel to 2017's "Horizon Zero Dawn." And the way they've brought back these relics of the past is actually kind of great.

Horizon Forbidden West uses loading screens to give out tips to players

In "Horizon Zero Dawn", loading times could take anywhere up to a minute to complete. With "Horizon Forbidden West", however, loading times are typically completed in under five seconds (via GameSpot), which provides a great boost for gameplay components such as fast travel. But the game's developer, Guerilla Games, discovered that players were reliant upon the in-game hints that these loading screens provide. In an effort to compromise with these players who found the tips useful, Guerilla Games kept the ultra-fast loading screens and gave players a button prompt upon the loading's completion.

"We had to add a very simple feature where it hangs on the loading screen for enough time so you can actually read at least one hint while it loads," technical director Michiel van der Leeuw told Endgadget in an in-depth interview about the game. This has given players the ability to read as much information as they wish and offers a quick out to those who would much prefer to discover the game's secrets on their own. 

Other than the game's loading screens, van der Leeuw also expressed confidence in the quality of both the PS4 and PS5 versions of the game. "I'm quite happy how it turned out," van der Leeuw said. "I'm very proud of the PS5 version. But the PS4 version has the same sort of atmosphere, same sort of feel. Of course, it's a generation older, but it holds up, I think, quite well."