Horizon Forbidden West Difficulty Levels Explained

Wondering which difficulty level you should pick for Horizon Forbidden West? Here's a super simple guide to help you pick the right one for you.

Horizon Forbidden West can be a fun and challenging open-world game so long as you’re playing on the right difficulty setting for your skill level.

Thankfully, the game includes several difficulty options including a custom one that lets you adjust certain game parameters to your liking.

In this guide, we’ll explain all Horizon Forbidden West difficulty levels and differences as well as show you how to change the difficulty and help you pick the best one for you.

By the end, you should have no trouble deciding which difficulty to play on and feel more than ready to dive into one of the best PlayStation exclusives of 2022.

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All Horizon Forbidden West Difficulty Levels And Differences

All Horizon Forbidden West Difficulty Levels And Differences

Horizon Forbidden West features 6 difficulty levels for players to choose from: Story, Easy, Normal, Hard, Very Hard, and Custom.

In addition, each difficulty level gives you two options for how you want the game to handle Quest Pathfinding and Waypoint Pathfinding: Explorer and Guided.

Since enemies have the same attack patterns/levels and Aloy earns the same amount of experience regardless of which setting you pick, it all comes down to scaling damage taken/dealt.

Below, you’ll find a general outline of what you can expect from each difficulty level.


On the Story difficulty, players are free to focus on Horizon Forbidden West’s narrative and explore the world without too much worry.

This is due to Aloy taking reduced damage and dealing significantly more against any enemy she encounters.


Easy difficulty works similarly to Story but with slightly fewer combat accommodations regarding damage.

Still, players should have no trouble focusing on exploration and Horizon Forbidden West’s story.


Treated as the default difficulty, Normal provides a good mix of exploration, story, and challenging combat without being too demanding.

If you would like to play Horizon Forbidden West with a balanced experience, this will probably be your go-to option.


Hard difficulty is where things start to ramp up regarding Horizon Forbidden West’s combat.

Players can expect a decent challenge as Aloy deals slightly lower damage and takes increased damage from enemies.

Very Hard

Like Hard but only harder, the Very Hard difficulty is for anyone looking for an exceptional challenge in Horizon Forbidden West.

At this level, Aloy’s damage is significantly reduced and enemies deal far more damage per hit compared to all previous levels.


The Custom difficulty level is unique in that it lets players customize their experience by selecting how much damage Aloy receives and deals separately.

Additionally, players can modify other game parameters such as Aloy’s Concentration Duration, toggle Auto Concentration/Auto Healing, and decide their Quest/Waypoint Pathfinding preference.

How To Change Difficulty Levels In Horizon Forbidden West

How To Change Difficulty Levels In Horizon Forbidden West

If you ever feel stuck or have second thoughts about the difficulty setting you chose, you’re free to change it at any point in the game settings.

This is done by pressing the Options button to pause the game then navigating to Settings < General < Difficulty, and switching to the desired difficulty.

Which Horizon Forbidden West Difficulty Setting Should You Choose?

Which Horizon Forbidden West Difficulty Setting Should You Choose

Still having trouble deciding the right difficulty setting to play Horizon Forbidden West on? Let’s see if we can help steer you in the right direction.

For most players, the best option is going to be Normal as it provides a good balance between combat, story, and exploration.

If you find the combat in action RPGs particularly hard, then you may be better off picking Easy or even Story if all you care about is experiencing the game’s narrative.

On the other hand, if your combat skills are up to par and you’ve already beaten Horizon Zero Dawn, you should do fine on Hard or even Very Hard difficulty.

Last but not least, the Custom difficulty is perfect for anyone who wants to experiment with different game settings and adjust things like enemy health and damage scaling.

Since Horizon Forbidden West doesn’t tie any of its achievements to difficulty levels, you can earn all the trophies and get platinum regardless of the setting you pick.

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Justin Fernandez

As a fan of both indie and triple-A games, Justin finds joy in discovering and sharing hidden gems with other passionate gamers. In addition to reporting on the latest and greatest titles, he manages GamingScan’s social media channels.

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