What is Horizon Forbidden West Guided or Explorer Mode?

Whether to choose Horizon Forbidden West Guided or Explorer Mode is the first decision you’ll have to make in the game. But what does it actually mean? The choice will decide whether to have the landscape and objectives laid out for you through on-screen pointers, or whether you want minimal help, leaving you free to discover the world of Horizon Forbidden West yourself. Both have their advantages for a certain kind of player although it’s made all the more tricky by the fact that the game doesn’t suggest one direction over another, or explain that much, but don’t worry – we’ll lay out the differences between them below, which one you should probably pick, and how you can change between Guided and Explorer Mode in Horizon Forbidden West.

Horizon Forbidden West Guided or Explorer Mode choice explained

Screenshots from Horizon Forbidden West running on PS5

(Image credit: Sony)

Picking between Guided or Explorer Mode in Horizon Forbidden West isn’t too drastic a choice, as all that changes is certain information given to you when finding locations – and even if you don’t like the choice you picked, you can change it at any time.

Guided Mode generally highlights key objects and locations tied to your currently selected quest with objective markers as part of your heads-up display. If you’re not close to one, it instead highlights and leads you to the nearest road, then takes you along the shortest path to that location. The intended effect is that players should never be uncertain about where they’re going or what they’re looking for, as the Focus always makes it clear where the next point of interest is.

Explorer Mode dials back on a lot of this. Objectives are instead marked on the compass dial at the top of the screen, so you only get their direct position relative to you, and have to work out the path to that yourself… Though going into the map screen and selecting a location will still show a road to take, it’s just limited to that map screen.

Can you change Horizon Forbidden West Guided or Explorer Mode later?

Horizon Forbidden West guided explorer mode

(Image credit: Sony)

Players who pick one choice and regret it, or just want to try both experiences, need not worry. You can switch between aspects of Guided and Explorer Mode in the game settings at any point with no penalty to the player. Just pause and go into settings whenever you want to swap.

For this reason, we suggest choosing Explorer Mode when you first start the game. The changes made to Guided Mode’s HUD are a bit intrusive, and it’s still generally quite easy to find where you’re going even in Explorer Mode. Pick the more immersive option, but don’t feel obliged to stick with it if you’re ever uncertain about where to go next.

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