Horizon Forbidden West multiplayer footage leaks, prompting meltdowns about the art style

The internet is having a normal one.

Image via PlayStation

Leaks in the gaming industry are par for the course these days, with companies frequently scrambling to wrestle back control of the narrative after various bits of info are presented to the public before their time. Netherlands-based development studio Guerrilla Games was the most recent victim of the phenomenon, after some early alpha footage of its planned multiplayer game set in the Horizon universe was unceremoniously leaked to ravenous fans.

In a since-locked post on Reddit, user BirdonWheels shared a 12-minute video which appeared to show off a very early alpha build of Guerrilla’s multiplayer Horizon spin-off. The video reveals several character models and demonstrates some movement and combat mechanics, as well as no-clipping around the world to showcase some of the different environments. The video is from a very early build of the game, allegedly from the summer of 2020, so there’s not a lot else going on in the game’s world yet, but it still appears to be a solid skeleton of a game. Of course, most fans in the comments focused on just one thing — the art style.

Far from the more realistic visual style of Zero Dawn and Forbidden West, the as-yet-unnamed multiplayer Horizon game showed off a more stylized character design in this video, more akin to Fortnite than Aloy’s other adventures. Many commenters on Reddit and on Twitter lambasted the choice in art direction, calling it “hideous” and “just not right” among other less-than-charitable descriptors. Some pointed out that, considering the video came from a build that was over two years old, the visuals could have changed drastically in the interim, although original poster BirdonWheels shared a piece of concept art that appeared to double down on the more cartoony aesthetic.

It wouldn’t be such a surprise if Horizon’s multiplayer offshoot did stick with the more stylized design. The popularity of Fortnite has shown that a more cartoony art style is no barrier to success, and in a purely pragmatic sense it’s easier for a game to render hundreds of characters in such a manner rather than the more photo-realistic style of the main games. Whatever the case, Guerrilla is remaining tight-lipped for now.