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Horizon Forbidden West's Best Hidden Feature

Horizon Forbidden West has one of the most extraordinary suites of in-game and accessibility options, making for a frankly daunting collection of tweaks and changes available to adapt the game for exactly how you want to play it. But there’s one feature buried there that you’ve likely missed, and it’s amazing: Co-Pilot Mode.

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This change, found in the games’ Settings > General, is near the bottom of that very long list. It lets you have two controllers simultaneously control Aloy, making the game so much more accessible to so many people.

My son, seven years old, was really keen to play some Horizon. However, as much as he amazes me with his competence with games, I knew how this one would end. He’d be immediately overwhelmed with all the instructions, frustrated at having to remember so many buttons, and then inevitably end up sulking when the first machine surprised him and his fingers panicked. And, you know, I’m tired. There’s only so much seven-year-old bullshit I can put up with a day. Then I noticed the option.

I figured it’d be a pain in the ass to get working. The game even put me off with the Settings warning that it “requires a second user profile.” Except, it really doesn’t—you just fire up a second controller, then when prompted select “Add User > Play as a One Time Guest > Quick Play.” That’s it, you’re back to the game, and now both controllers work.

And they work surprisingly well! I figured it would want to switch back and forth or be fussy about conflicting inputs, but it’s remarkably smooth. So, as my boy starts getting his butt beaten by a Bristleback, I can oh-so-subtly hit up on the d-pad to heal him, letting him take a win. Then, if a scuffle starts with a Tremortusk, I can be more overt: switching weapons for him, restocking ammo supplies, even pulling off a timely dodge, while he gets on with the far more entertaining work of filling the mammoth machine with arrows.

Unfortunately, this mode doesn’t stretch as far as being able to reprogram his brain to stop trying to defeat everything with melee attacks, so there remain a fair number of enthusiastic conversations on the couch. But it’s allowed us to enjoy this game together. (And no, I don’t let him play any of the bits where you’re fighting other humans.)

Of course, this is also a superb way to play the game with friends or family with restricted dexterity or physical limitations. Or, for extra fun, if you just want to prank your sibling while they’re playing and you have a second controller hidden.

Co-Pilot mode is not unique to Horizon Forbidden West, but it’s still extremely rare to see it as an in-built option for a specific game. Xbox users have been able to use a co-pilot option from the console’s main options since the Xbox One. It was reported in 2019 that the PlayStation 5 would mimic the feature after patent applications for the feature were found, but that doesn’t seem to have yet appeared as an across-the-board option. Clearly, the PlayStation can do it, as HFW proves, but it’d be great to see it as a built-in console feature. We’ve contacted Sony to ask if there are still plans.

Meanwhile, let’s celebrate Horizon Forbidden West for adding to the numerous ways it has gone above and beyond to be as inclusive to as many players as possible.

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