Let's discuss your thoughts on the story (Spoilers ahead!)

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#1 Edited by Sackmanjones (5544 posts) -

Wow, I beat this game last night because I decided I couldn't wait until after work today to see how all of this wraps up. It's something I rarely do and while my sleep deprived body is paying for it, I am happy I did it. I really just want to get a discussion going on the entire story as a whole. What people thought about the world, the plot, the ending, whatever.

Unfortunately I'm working so my post will be brief but I truly was captured by the story and world. I almost had an immersion like I did with the Masan Effect series that I wanted to soak in every audio log and text log I could find. It's a fascinating world that feels incredibly well thought out and is explained in good depth. I think the whole idea of zero dawn jumpstarting a new earth is a really cool concept and I could've seen it get so convoluted that it would've been hard to follow but they gave you just enough to make everything make sense and seem at least possible in the world of Horzion.

Really the thing I didn't like the most was the need to add a hook for a sequel, I will certainly be excited where this franchise goes next, I felt like it was definitely unnecessary like Jeff said and the story really does stand on its own.

Im on a mobile device so I apologize for nasty auto correct issues

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#2 Edited by Humanity (16486 posts) -

I thought it was clever if not a little too idealistic that they wanted to make a future for the descendants of humanity instead of trying to save themselves.

I don't think that the revelation, so heavily telegraphed from the beginning of the game, that Aloy is a clone justifies her being so much smarter than everyone around her, especially considering the Nora seem like such a backwards tribe compared to all the other tribes out there.

As for the story itself I thought it was fine. Clever but also ridiculous to some degree. They made an AI that is destroying the world so their answer is to make another AI to recreate the world ..but then create a secondary set of AI's, one of which is specifically programmed to circumvent Gaia and purge the world anew if they didn't re-make the world just right? That is a really ass backwards plan to be honest.

Finally all the tribal sub plots I didn't care less about. In fact each time the game pulled me away to deal with primitives squabbling over some boring turf wars I would get annoyed that I'm not learning more about the Zero Dawn narrative instead.

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#3 Posted by Nodima (1999 posts) -

Enjoyed the idea of it more than the execution, and like @humanity I couldn't be convinced to care much about the people I was actually interacting with. I wrote more about why in the Impressions thread so maybe I'll pull that comment over to this thread later on today, but suffice to say I was a little let down by how few actual cutscenes there were for such a story heavy game, how animatronic most of the pivotal conversations felt and how much of it was relegated to audio, text and holographic logs that cut off the momentum of the game for extended periods of time.

If this is the spoiler thread, let me also say that I found the post-credits cutscene really bizarre; the game seemed rooted in perhaps idealistic but firmly scientific concepts for the most part, only to at the very end transmit the soul of a machine across the planet into a magic lamp carried by a man whose physical appearance is never explained or even questioned by Aloy or the game itself despite being so unique compared to everyone else in that world.

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#4 Posted by The_Dude_Abides (276 posts) -

I like the main thrust of the story well enough, not great but not bad by any means. Pacing starts out great too but then dragged by the end.

All the tribal stuff i couldn't have been less interested in. Was hard to get past the goofy costumes, terrible dialogue and plastic looking character models.

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#5 Posted by LawGamer (1427 posts) -

I generally enjoyed it, although I really wish that they had used the Old World stuff as a backdrop instead of the main thrust of the plot. The world they built was pretty interesting and they sort of sidelined it for the AI apocalypse story. And I feel like that, while well written for what it was, has been sort of done to death.

I'd also say that both the structure and pacing of the Old World stuff was very poorly delivered. When you were outside the bunkers, most of the audio and text logs you were finding were nothing but a bunch of crap about how shallow the Old World was, and that had nothing to do with the nature of the world or the AI conflict. It was boring and badly written and having it in such abundance actually stunted my desire to explore the ruins in the world because there was never anything interesting to find there. I don't mind having fluff, but it needs to be mixed with substantive information so I feel like I have a drive to explore.

Then when you get into the bunkers and actually start getting background information on the world, everything is well written but terribly, abysmally, stupidly paced. Walk into this room, listen to an audio log. Walk into the next room, view two holograms. Walk into a third room, pick up another two text logs that you need to open a menu to read. And don't dare try to move around when this is going on or you're liable to trip an event that will cause even more people to start talking over each other so you don't hear anything (My personal record for separate conversations talking over one another is four).

As a consequence the main plot lacked any sense of exploration or discovery. I didn't feel like these places were actual facilities as much as they were linear museum exhibits where you push the little button to listen to the narrator talk.

Overall, the plot is sort of like Horizon as an overall game - moments of transcendent brilliance mixed with moments of baffling ineptitude.

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#6 Edited by Humanity (16486 posts) -

@nodima: I was just writing to someone and said the exact same thing about that post credits scene. In a game trying to be about "hard science" (huge air quotes there of course) it's so completely out of character for Hades to suddenly fly out of that core like some Diablo evil spirit. Sylens is another whole bag of worms that seemed completely at odds with everything the game was doing. I honestly was convinced he would turn out to be either Hades all along, a robot, or some manifestation of the Zero Dawn AI's taken physical form. If not for that scene where he rides in on the horses and saves Aloy in the real world I would have been convinced that he was nothing more than a hologram all along. The reality of him being just a guy that is never properly explained was a lot more disappointing.

I wouldn't be surprised if he's a playable character in some DLC content.

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#7 Posted by Sackmanjones (5544 posts) -

@humanity: I agree with you on some of the tribal stuff. I actually enjoyed talking with the sun king and Errand but when your main missions split between learning about zero Dawn and helping Errand find his sister, I just helped Errand as fast as I could so I could just main line all the stuff about he ancient people.

I think they were trying to make you care about these people and establish some relevance to them so when the final attack happened it would have more stakes involved. I think it at least gives an appreciation to how Gaia actually worked and started civilization anew again.

As for the whole HADES vs. GAIA thing, I can see where it just seems silly and unnecessary but I think they explain their reasoning well enough. Creating the ideal world for live to flourish would be incredibly meticulous and incredibly fragile, one thing out of balance could reign hell on the whole planet and basically waste Gaias opportunity to build the planet back again. HADES is there to reset everything if things are turning out to be beyond repair, giving GAIA a second shot.

The problem is that while it was mostly successful with whatever version of earth the game is taking place on, errors that happen after the bioshspere is compelled still trigger HADES, which in turn triggers him to destroy the world again so it can be reborn. Again, the game is fresh in my mind so maybe I missed some other details but that's kind of what I picked up. it could have also been because Gaia had already released the human Zygotes and if you read in the logs all of the reserves were empty. So if HADES went ahead and blew the earth back up, my understanding is there would most likely be no earth to rebuild. Or at least one with humans on it.

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#8 Posted by Sackmanjones (5544 posts) -

@lawgamer: I don't know. I found their AI destroys the world story entirely fresh and different from most other forms of thst trope. The robots weren't killing people because they felt oppressed, they wanted to rule the world or because they became self conscious. From my understanding, they were simply fucked it by their coders and created a glitch with no way to shut down the system. Thst part is cliche sure, but the fact that the robots were essentially just absorbing biomass to function was a cool twist. It doesn't seem like the robots were just engaging with humans at first, it was more of that humans understood that the robots had no parameters on what to "eat" so they were eating everything. Then when people attack the robots response would be to fight back.

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#9 Posted by LawGamer (1427 posts) -

@sackmanjones: Don't get me wrong, I think it's fine for what it is. I particularly like that they didn't try to cop out and make the Old World somehow win at the last minute and instead leaned into the fundamental hopelessness of everyone being completely fucked. Like I said, it's well written.

I just feel like there is a much better story lurking somewhere in the game. If they had kept the Old World stuff as background dressing you discover as you go along and actually focus more on the new world they built it would have helped tremendously. I honestly don't think it would have taken that big a shift - you could have made Sylens the villain, have him figure out how to corrupt the terraforming robots to build his army, and have that be what Hades is reacting to as opposed to "some red lightning happened and now Hades is evil" (Which is what I could gather from the holograms. Thought that part was really badly explained).

That would have made the game more thematically consistent (humans are the lowest common denominator problem) and let them avoid the Aloy-Is-Actually-A-Clone-Of-A-Super-Genius angle which was both forced and never really added anything to the story.

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#10 Posted by Humanity (16486 posts) -

@sackmanjones: I mean it sorta makes sense the way they tell it, but when you stop to think about it - building a highly evolved AI to rebuild the world because it was destroyed in the first place by a highly evolved AI going rogue just seems like a bad idea. Lo and behold the entire crux of the story hinges on you battling an AI going rogue, again, thousands of years later. The only difference being that they caught it early enough this time around where the entire situation was able to be resolved by jamming a spear into a ball, injecting a master override and disabling the bad AI before it had a chance to spread beyond repair.

The story works when you don't think about it too hard, which makes it fine but not exceptional. For instance: if Gaia screwed up several times and Hades had to raze the world to the ground so they can start from zero, how in the world did those ruined buildings survive? How do you have any vestiges of the old world still milling about? How are those evil military robots so perfectly preserved only several feet underground, ready to pop back out at a moments notice when they get the signal?

While I don't think the eventual reveal of Zero Dawn is a disappointment, I do think the lead up and mystery of it all were far more interesting than the actual answers you eventually receive. As mentioned by several people in this and other threads, the weakest part of it all was presentation. The first time you visit one of those old facilities it's all really intriguing and mysterious. Then you eventually come to realize that all of these facilities are identical and that they never contain anything particularly interesting apart from very dry audio and text logs. Most of those logs also turn out to be weirdly pointless "slice of life" type of material that does little to either paint a picture of the old world or clue you in to the state of the current one. Here is a soldier talking about their final stand against the machines, here is a guy talking about enjoying metal music, here is someone leaving a message to their family. It's sad, we know, people died, tragic, but after a while these logs aren't even setting the mood anymore, they're just evoking the same forced feelings of grief and despair over and over again.

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#11 Posted by Hamborgini (106 posts) -

@nodima said:

a man whose physical appearance is never explained or even questioned by Aloy or the game itself despite being so unique compared to everyone else in that world.

Regard this part specifically, I think he was originally a Banuk shaman, as there is at least one other Banuk shaman in the game with similar blue stuff embedded in his body. It's a shame that, outside of a handful of individuals in specific side quests, we never really see or interact with any other tribes besides the Nora, Carja, and Oseram.

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#12 Posted by Sackmanjones (5544 posts) -

@humanity: I see what you mean, and the dialogue and text is really just subject to how much flavor test you what and what you think about said flavor text. And they definitely made the mistake of having characters talk over a recording which really ruins whatever is going on. They should've just had the recording cut out since you can always go back to listen.

However, I think your two questions raised about HADES can be rebuttaled. The buildings will always be there because what what I understand, Gaia and hades are in charge of bringing life back to the planet. They are not flattening the earth and reforming it to their will. They will destroy trees, animals grass, whatever is living. But anything inorganic isn't touched, like mountain ranges, steel from buildings and so on. On top of that I don't think there is necessarily any evidence that hades had ever restarted the world for Gaia until his attempt during the events of the game. As for the robots under the surface, we don't actually know how long it's been since those things have functioned and you can also write it off to sci fi bullshit. If these people can build AI to repopulate the earth of all life, I don't think it's a big logic leap that the military grade equipment used to create the gun platforms could last a long time underground and away from whatever shinanegians is going on with the planet. But again like you said, this is digging really deep into the story and looking for holes. In a tale as layered as this I think you're bound to find them and I guess it'll vary on the player as to whether it bothers them or not. I do see your points however. Thanks for your thoughts though!

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#13 Posted by mems1224 (1759 posts) -

I liked the past story and characters a lot more than Aloy's story and those characters. Aloy was kind of a shitty protagonist. Its like they tried to make her snarky but a lot of the time it came off as her being a jerk. I liked a lot of the audio recordings and holograms. Some of them conveyed just the right amount of sadness and hopelessness.

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#14 Edited by ll_Exile_ll (2777 posts) -

@humanity said:

@sackmanjones: I mean it sorta makes sense the way they tell it, but when you stop to think about it - building a highly evolved AI to rebuild the world because it was destroyed in the first place by a highly evolved AI going rogue just seems like a bad idea.

The earth wasn't destroyed by AI. It's made very clear that the Faro Plague is not some malevolent AI that decided to wipe out humanity. It's not an AI, it doesn't think, it has no agenda and it's goal is not the extinction of all life.

It has no goal, the machines were designed as self replicating automated combat robots with the capability to refuel from biomass if necessary. A programming glitch caused it to do all those things at will with no direction and no way to make it stop. The fact that it wasn't a self aware artificial intelligence was a major factor in it being unstoppable. Intelligent beings can be reasoned with, bargained with. Mindless combat automatons stuck on a loop of doing only what they were programmed to do without restraint cannot be reasoned with.

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#15 Posted by Elyk247 (416 posts) -

@lawgamer: Man you hit the nail on the head regarding how those audio logs were presented. I just got into the habit of listening to each one standing still as I got them so as not to trigger any other dialogue. That stuff was so poorly executed.

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#16 Posted by Humanity (16486 posts) -

@humanity said:

@sackmanjones: I mean it sorta makes sense the way they tell it, but when you stop to think about it - building a highly evolved AI to rebuild the world because it was destroyed in the first place by a highly evolved AI going rogue just seems like a bad idea.

The earth wasn't destroyed by AI. It's made very clear that the Faro Plague is not some malevolent AI that decided to wipe out humanity. It's not an AI, it doesn't think, it has no agenda and it's goal is not the extinction of all life.

It has no goal, the machines were designed as self replicating automated combat robots with the capability to refuel from biomass if necessary. A programming glitch caused it to do all those things at will with no direction and no way to make it stop. The fact that it wasn't a self aware artificial intelligence was a major factor in it being unstoppable. Intelligent beings can be reasoned with, bargained with. Mindless combat automatons stuck on a loop of doing only what they were programmed to do without restraint cannot be reasoned with.

I was under the impression that the peacekeeper robots were governed by central units. Either way, sentient or not, they are robots functioning under some AI directives as they would need to have some basic AI routines in order to actually keep the peace and differentiate between friend and foe. They are machines going rogue, or having a glitch as you call it, and their answer to the problem is to build more machines in order to find a way to shut down the bad machines and terra form the planet. Then a mysterious signal causes Hades to assume control and we are kind of back to square one with robots once again destroying the Earth.

Also the main reason for them being unstoppable was not that they couldn't be reasoned with, but that the encryption to backdoor into their subroutines and shut them down was so advanced that the swarms would have wiped out humanity by the time they would have managed to crack it.

I honestly think large swathes of that story aren't made "very clear" beyond the broad strokes, which works towards it's advantage as you sort of fill in some of the blanks for yourself with very general "it's sci-fi" conclusions.

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#17 Edited by NTM (9929 posts) -

I thought the game was great. The credits just rolled. That said I thought the game would be longer and answer more questions (more clearly?) For example, where exactly did the game take place? What state/city? I was trying to guess early on, and I thought maybe New York or Boston, then later when you get to the western, Meridian area it seemed more like Nevada/New Mexico/Arizona. Reading through some of the text it had mentioned many states and countries, so I wasn't sure if it had answered that anywhere. As for the length, I did put a lot of time into the game overall but hearing that the game's story goes on after one expects, that never happened. I did a handful of side missions, though I'm not sure how many out of all of them. I think some of the praise is perhaps a bit much (and just a bit), but I don't want to put the game down much because it is a really, really great game and an addition to the great games from this year. I am happy I played it. I'm also happy that I can now try to get a Switch and Zelda.

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#18 Posted by Ares42 (3599 posts) -

@ntm: One of the viewpoints shows Denver Stadium, making it pretty clear where you are.

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#19 Posted by burncoat (241 posts) -

I really enjoyed the story. I am a huge sci-fi buff and I thought the whole "Robots turn evil and destroy the world" deal was done enough times that there was no way you can give it a fresh take. I was very surprised by what ended up being the main reason the world got fucked. It's a "grey-goo" type situation but different. There is no real "hive-mind" that ordered all the robots to destroy all life on Earth and there was no dumb "Use humans as batteries" or "I guess we'll just fuck off planet Earth then" situation. The very well built robots just followed their programming and prime directives to a fault, even if that meant a glitch forced them to forget their command structure.

I loved Aloy for the most part. A lot of the time I felt like she reacted pretty much the same way I would in certain circumstances, which is a pretty good sign of good writing. Other times she'd react with indignation and seem like a total self-centered ass. I would feel more in common with Sylens than the main protagonist, finding myself siding with the guy berating our heroine for caring more about her possible origin than the pursuit of knowledge. It wasn't until after I completed the game I realised the context behind my disgust of Aloy and my supporting of Sylens. Aloy was an outcast her whole life, only ever speaking to 2 (3 if you count Teb) people her whole life for reasons she couldn't explain or reason with and completely out of her control. Her entire motivation for becoming a strong and capable warrior was solely for answers to her past, answers she thought the Grand Matriarchs could give her. It almost seemed like she would actually get some decent answers from the one reasonable Grand Matriarch when it turns out she was just as blind to her religious ideology as the others, worshiping a dumb door in a bunker that was no different from those that were considered taboo to enter. Aloy has no context or basic desire to understand what happened to the old world or what knowledge was lost. Her motivation was always driven by self-discovery, why she was considered an untouchable just by being born, why neither her or Rost could participate in the Nora's Reindeer games, it was never about knowing more about her world. Her unique outlook compared to everyone else in the world is solely due to these reasons and growing up with a Focus. Her Focus is enough to give her an edge when dealing with the wildlife and people, but she's only ever used it in the context of being a hunter in a very hunter/gatherer focused society. It helps her track targets, it helps her identify targets, it helps her remember targets. She might have used it to read a recorded message every now and then, but that felt down to immediate curiosity rather than "I really want to know what happened to the world." She's only ever acted in the story based around the simple questions of "Who am I?" and "How can I stay alive?"

Sylens on the otherhand is essentially the player's self-insert. His dialogue and motivations are pretty much the same as ours. Who built this, why robot animals, where are we, why are humans still alive? These are all questions that ran through my head as I played the game. Very often he would question Aloy's motivation and call it childish and selfish, and I'd agree with him. His reaction to realising how the Apollo program was lost was the same as mine. I still think the greatest tragedy in Horizon: Zero Dawn isn't the complete annihilation of the human race that preceded the events of the game, but the absolute loss of Apollo and the thousands of years of history, culture, language, art, and literature. But he's almost too machine-like, or Vulkan-like, in his logic and responses, devoid of emotion or feeling. Yes I'd love to know what happened to the world, but also I feel really bad about how all these soldiers trained civilians to fight to the death. Of course I can appreciate the rationale in the lead scientist sacrificing her life to make sure the project stays safe and secure, but also I think it was incredibly sad to find the primary figure of our story died because of random faulty chance. He actively said he would have used or abused Hades again, despite the loss of life his meddling caused and threatened.

There's always been one reason for Aloy to progress through the story, but for Sylens he had uncountable reasons to progress. I plan on replaying the main story again sometime in the future to really make sure I understood this difference between them. I'm also really looking forward to the future of the story. If superhero movies are any indication, once you get the origins out of the way, you clear the road for some nice, new meat people can enjoy.

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#20 Edited by NTM (9929 posts) -

@ares42: I guess it's obvious for those that know landmarks in Denver. Unfortunately, Denver isn't a city I know that well. That's cool, though. I definitely saw places that made me think 'okay, this definitely looks like a real thing', or a real landscape, but I could never put my finger on it. When you say viewpoints, are you talking about the viewpoints where you can look into the past and get an audio log? I didn't go for all of those. I thought about it after I was done, but I stopped. There are a bunch of places you can see throughout that tell you what it is, though, if you know what's in Denver.

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#21 Posted by Sackmanjones (5544 posts) -

@ll_exile_ll: ah, you explained it perfectly. I think I was getting at the same thing in a different reply but you phrased it better. As small of a change as it is, I think making the robots just doing what they were built for, albeit, unchained, was a cool thing. Its basically the same in the world Alloy exists in too. HADES is doing what he's programmed to do, but since Gaia seems to have been given a conscience, she takes it upon herself to end the world destruction since this world has grown well so far.

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#22 Edited by Sackmanjones (5544 posts) -

@ntm: I think there are also a few text logs and maybe some things in audio that elude to it taking place in colorsdo. I didnt know that that it is specifically Denver. I did see a few photos on Reddit though of actual landmarks in the game and for somebody who doesn't know initially where the game is set and to find that out because of said landmarks is a neat idea.

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#23 Posted by NTM (9929 posts) -

@sackmanjones: Yeah, I guess I was expecting a bigger reveal of the actual location the game took place in, but I suppose it is kind of cool that it is done the way it is (makes me want to learn a little more about Denver). That kind of thing interests me because it makes it more relatable. And yeah, there could have been some text about it. I got a lot of the text/audio logs, but definitely not all of them. I think disappointment is too strong, and it feels off talking negatively about the game because I really enjoyed what it had to offer, but a few things like when Jeff said that the game was longer than he expected, I was waiting for that moment where it felt like it was going to end and yet didn't, but that never occurred. Colin over on Kinda Funny also said he figured out where the game took place before it was revealed, so that led me to believe it was a part of the story in some bigger way. There was a moment in it where I thought that the game would actually reveal that it wasn't on Earth but another planet in the solar system, and this was a bit before the terraforming talk. I think that would have been kind of cool a reveal. Whatever, though, I think it was all well done for the most part. I agree with those that said it could have been done better due to audio going over the audio logs, and I found that it can even cancel it if you go into the weapons menu sometimes, but the dialogue in those logs are well written and well spoken in my opinion.

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#24 Edited by ll_Exile_ll (2777 posts) -

@sackmanjones: Hades is doing what it was programmed to do, but it's not actually supposed to be doing it.

The whole Hades issue arose because the signal that was sent to Gaia by persons unknown basically gave all the subordinate intelligences autonomy. They were all supposed to be under Gaia's control, but now they are all performing their functions with no direction. That's why Hephaestus was producing increasingly hostile and weaponized robotic wildlife, Gaia wasn't there to control it anymore.

Hades has one function, raze the planet in order to prime it for a second terraforming attempt. Clearly it's not needed since life is thriving, but when Hades was separated from Gaia's control it set about doing the only thing it was designed to do.

It's not that Gaia developed a conscience, it's that Gaia was the one that was supposed to give the command for Hades to take action if it were necessary. When Gaia lost control of the subordinate intelligences, she lost the ability to govern when and if they perform their tasks. She was trying to stop Hades because it's function wasn't actually needed, but it was going to do it anyway.

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#25 Edited by Jensonb (2044 posts) -

At no point did I ever find myself trusting Sylens, even when I was glad for his help. That scene at the end felt like vindication of that attitude. I still don't know what exactly that dude's endgame is, but I'm fairly certain it's bad freaking news.

More generally, I love the game. I really like Aloy as a character and I found the world and the backstory genuinely compelling. The gradual revelation of the mystery did manage to keep me guessing most of the way through even if there were a few bits which were fairly obvious earlier on (like Aloy being essentially a clone).

I liked a lot of the stuff in the environmental storytelling too, and there were tiny stories told in some of that which elicited strong responses from me (at one point I recall an audio log essentially having a character gleefully rejoice in the ability to play god and finding it genuinely unpleasant to hear).

As for the way that stuff was presented on the other hand...Not a huge fan. I don't really like audio logs and in-game compendia of text snippets at the best of times because it feels little less disruptive than having to look things up on a Wiki but the audio logs here especially stand out since they have the same flaw as those MGSV cassette tapes in that the game presents the option of listening to them while you play...Then ignores the fact you are so you miss out on audio cues and narrative dialogue. Not enough to detract from the game much, but a frustrating niggle, for sure.

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#26 Edited by Batavist (66 posts) -

Just finished the game and one question I have had for a long part of the game seems to not have been addressed: Where did the "new" people come from? The "adult-children" in the bunker didn't seem to have ever made it out of there. And even if they did, seemed hardly capable of surviving outside. Was the apocalypse not total? Why not address that?

Another thing that has been mentioned in one of these discussion threads, was the deal with Sylens and another npc having tubes on their bodies. If it were just Sylens maybe it'd made more sense not to mention it, given his (kinda lousy) backstory and the post credits scene pointing to a sequel. But why the blood addict as well?

Overall though I'd say they indeed managed to tell a good story, with a mystery they, for the large part, thought through and delivered on.

EDIT: One more thing that crossed my mind playing through the story, I'm seeing it more and more in culture that we are looking at AI's/robots as the cause and saviors of doom. The hopelessness is so total, humanity having relinquished their hope, but realising they need hope and so they pass it on to their sovereign creations. The "wirtschaftswunder" is alive, a tainted new modernism.

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#27 Posted by Green (27 posts) -

@humanity I don't think that Aloy is so much smarter than everyone else because she is a clone. Rather, it's because she found her focus at such a young age. Aloy is one of the only literate people in the game, and through the focus she perceives the world differently than everyone else. She isn't superstitious because the focus gives her the ability to analyze and investigate the things she doesn't understand. To be fair, the Shadow Carja also had access to focuses, but I doubt they had access to anything HADES didn't want them to see.

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#28 Posted by Whitestripes09 (788 posts) -

@batavist: I think we're supposed to believe that the children did indeed make it out of their bunker. The only bodies we saw were the android parents and one recording told them that they had run out of food in the bunker and would have to go outside to survive. We never really get a sense for how many people there were in that bunker and how many bunkers there were, but I could see after a millenia or more that population getting to the size of the Nora tribe. I can also assume that they weren't the only bunker like that in the world or in that area.

The tubes in people's bodies seems to be linked to some sort of tradition/cultural ornamentation with the Banuk tribe. Unfortunately, they never really dug deep into the Banuk tribe's backstory or culture aside from a couple side quests. The side quests and clothing seems to indicate that they revolve very closely around machines and well... there's nothing closer than running machine innards and tubing through your own skin.

Overall, I really enjoyed the story of this game and the world building of it. I'm pretty excited for the next game or even story DLC if they go that route. I would love DLC about Rost during his time as a Death-Seeker or Sylens when he first discovered Hades. Some problems I had with the story is how varied the quality of the writing can be and how little time we actually get to hang around with side characters. This mostly happens with side quests where we are introduced to a unique character with a well thought out story and then we're turned around to deal with a groan inducing fetch quest with a character that seems to only exist for giving out this quest. It just seems like poor quality control or like there's more fluff content than there needs to be. Some characters were also given waay too much time while other more interesting ones were not. I understand that this is the first game in the series, but I really hope they give other "fan favorite" characters more time in the next game.

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#29 Posted by CJduke (918 posts) -

Just finished it. Really loved the world they created, the reveal of what Zero Dawn was felt really original in terms of apocalypse story telling, the reveal that the machines were actually there to terraform the land was really cool. The whole idea of it felt novel and interesting. I also loved how they built all these different tribes with different religious beliefs around the technology. It was some cool low tech mixed with high tech stuff that felt really well brought together and written.

I liked Aloy as a character, particularly when they made her be sorta a jerk sometimes. It felt original, rather than her just being this 24/7 I'm nice to everyone type character. I particularly loved when she tells Helis to turn his face toward the sun before she kills him, pretty awesome moment. I also really loved the end reveal of why all the metal flowers were blooming, that was a very nice touch.

One thing I wanted to see was Aloy going back to restore Gaia and interact with her and then maybe get little snippets of the machines going about their actual work and not being hostile, maybe some quick scenes of how life and technology progresses. Felt like it ended a bit to quick for me.

It was unfortunate that the Old world story and characters were so much more interesting than the present day ones and that a lot of the really good writing was stuck in audio logs and text files. I read most of them, which I don't usually do in games, but I wish either the new world stuff/characters had been just as interesting or that they had presented the old world back story in a different way. I loved that they dedicated so much time to discovery during main story missions, but having to stand still to listen to audio logs always sucks.

Also, I didn't mind the post credits reveal, because Sylens was a very selfish character, he only helped Aloy because allowing Hades to destroy everything would ruin any chance he had of gaining power/knowledge and I'm glad they confirmed that with the ending. Also they never did answer who woke up Hades so that's interesting. I agree though that the robot spirit floating into his future lamp was really stupid. When Hades was shooting out the red corruption, I just assumed it was just a design choice to show that Hades was hacking something/interacting with something. At first I just assumed Hades AI was being transferred into something and they were just using the red bolt to show its traveling, but the way Sylens stumbles backwards when it enters his lamp means it had a physical presence which is super dumb and disappointing. For a game to be based on "science" having magical AI souls out of nowhere is super lame. They very easily could have shown Hades light up and then cut to Sylens punching in a code or something and Hades being uploaded to his device.

Overall, I really liked it. It felt like they were able to take an idea that's been done to death and make a new story out of it. Also I really enjoyed the gameplay, I felt like they actually did a good job of encouraging you to use all your tools/weapons/outfits and focus on the enemies weaknesses. I actually felt like it played like the E3 preview videos, which I generally never think of games. While it has a ton of issues and is nowhere near perfect I thought it was a really great game and will look forward to a sequel (but if the sequel involves robot magic that will be lame).

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#30 Posted by burncoat (241 posts) -

@ll_exile_ll: I feel like she also tried to stop Hades because as we can see from the logs in the Cradle, power and food reserves were completely gone. The servitor that made sure Aloy was born and delivered her outside was running on fumes. Hades original purpose was to make sure Gaia could have a clean slate when shit goes bad, but it looks like nobody actually planned or prepared for multiple takes. Unless Hades had some original subroutines that would direct the Faro robots and animal robots to restock the Cradles, I really don't know how Gaia could go for Take 2. I'm guessing that Cradles would never be activated if Gaia fucked up the atmosphere and biosphere to the point of no return, but in case that did happen I think humanity would have been screwed.

Like the deal with Apollo, I think everything about Project Zero Dawn could have gone very badly.

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#31 Posted by McHampton (139 posts) -

I rarely get invested in video game stories any more, but this one really pulled me in after the trip through Maker's End and the introduction of Ted Faro. It's been a long time since a fictional character has caught my attention and evoked such feelings of a disgust. And it built as the plot progressed.

Fuck that guy too much.

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#32 Posted by Sackmanjones (5544 posts) -

@burncoat: this was my thought as well and why I assumed she wanted to stop HADES somewhat based on an emotional response. From what I gathered, humans and other organisms were supposed to be introduced into the newly terraformed world Last simply because there is no unlimited supply of the zygotes of these animals. Once that is expended that's it, there can't be a restart button and if there is then it's over. Gaia and reform the world over and over again but there will be nothing form the old world to repopulate it.

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#33 Posted by Shadow (5331 posts) -

I loved the narrative of this game. One of the coolest sci-fi mystery stories I've ever experienced. Especially Sylens. He's kind of a dick, but I really enjoyed having my own thoughts about her emotionally driven bullshit overriding the fact that she's unearthing the lost secrets of humanity and invalidating their entire belief system, be voiced by a character in the game.

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#34 Posted by Batavist (66 posts) -

@whitestripes09: Yeah, I suppose we are to believe that. Now that you mentioned it, I indeed don't remember any bodies there and the servitor did say in a hologram that they had to go outside. Still a little flimsy though.

Didn't notice the tubing on other Banuk at the time, but yes it seems like it's their thing. I should've payed more attention at times it seems!

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#35 Posted by Humanity (16486 posts) -

@sackmanjones: wouldn't that go at odds with the whole system of "well she's not gonna get it right the first time so let's just burn it all to the ground and start over!" Everything they say makes it appear that Zero Dawn is basically laying down the foundation, and GAIA along with the remaining cores/subroutines whatever will in time evolve to the point of being self sufficient. They talk about them being able to simply produce anything they'll need at will once the system is fully up and running and all the creators are done.

Also GAIA is stopping Hades because sustaining life is her primary purpose. They even have a log somewhere about having to build Hades in such a way as to somehow subvert GAIA because otherwise she would actively try to rebuild as he's trying to tear things down as thats how strong her programming is. Also parts of it are vague so it's hard to tell. Like there is that part where GAIA speaks about dedicating X amount of memory cycles for contemplating the death of her creator, which is kinda like uhh what? It's a good sci-fi story that you really can't think too hard about, or at least I personally don't think it survives closer scrutiny; especially since it doesn't give that many answer and raises a whole ton of questions.

GameSpot mentioned in one of their anemic news articles that Guerrilla is already working on story based DLC content so I'm really curious where they'll go with it and if we'll get more answers that way and if you'll possibly play as Sylens in it.

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#36 Edited by LawGamer (1427 posts) -

@humanity said:

@sackmanjones: wouldn't that go at odds with the whole system of "well she's not gonna get it right the first time so let's just burn it all to the ground and start over!" Everything they say makes it appear that Zero Dawn is basically laying down the foundation, and GAIA along with the remaining cores/subroutines whatever will in time evolve to the point of being self sufficient. They talk about them being able to simply produce anything they'll need at will once the system is fully up and running and all the creators are done.

Also GAIA is stopping Hades because sustaining life is her primary purpose. They even have a log somewhere about having to build Hades in such a way as to somehow subvert GAIA because otherwise she would actively try to rebuild as he's trying to tear things down as thats how strong her programming is. Also parts of it are vague so it's hard to tell. Like there is that part where GAIA speaks about dedicating X amount of memory cycles for contemplating the death of her creator, which is kinda like uhh what? It's a good sci-fi story that you really can't think too hard about, or at least I personally don't think it survives closer scrutiny; especially since it doesn't give that many answer and raises a whole ton of questions.

GameSpot mentioned in one of their anemic news articles that Guerrilla is already working on story based DLC content so I'm really curious where they'll go with it and if we'll get more answers that way and if you'll possibly play as Sylens in it.

I think the problem with this part of the plot is that they open the possibility of a lot of things going wrong, but never clearly explain which one is actually happening. Maybe that was intentionally left a mystery, but it frequently felt like they were trying hedge their bets by making it seem like it was more than one at a time which just ended up being confusing.

As you mention, there's the audio log about having to thread the needle in terms of HADES being strong enough to actually take over when it's needed, but also being willing to give control back once it's job is complete. So it's possible that the ZD people just miscalculated and what's going on is that they made HADES too strong.

On the other hand, there's the whole holographic GAIA bit where it's implied that everything was working fine until some sort of virus/red lightning/alien shit was introduced into the system and she lost control of HADES. And then they seem to want a third possibility that HADES actually became truly self-aware and wants to wipe out life for the hell of it. They'd have been better off just picking one and running with it.

Specifically to the part about GAIA dedicating memory cycles, I gathered that was her attempting to describe the mourning process. It happens when she's talking to the new head scientist dude about whether he is depressed about Sobek dying, and she mentions by saying she spent a ton of memory cycles on it. I think the player was supposed to infer that this was an unusual amount of processing power for her to expend contemplating the death of one person and that it was her way of trying to express grief.

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#37 Posted by Sackmanjones (5544 posts) -

@humanity: I guess I had assumed, I don't know if there is any proof of it, that when the planet itself is considered stable that Gaia would introduce life to it. So HADES is tearing the earth apart over and over again but when they get it juuuuust right is when Gaia finally says "okay humans and handful of animals, welcome to earth V.2.0"

I guess it is possible that life was introduced and destroyed multiple times but if you go through the some of the storage area for essentially growing humans, it states that there are zero zygotes remaining. Which basically entails that if HADES were to destroy the Earth again, there is no possible way to reintroduce at least humans to the world again, I can't speak for the likes of the boars, foxes and bunnies you see though....

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#38 Posted by Humanity (16486 posts) -

@lawgamer: yah I get that the cycles thing was meant to emphasize that GAIA has emotions which is somehow supposed to be a good thing for an AI to have, and thats the part I had a problem with. Everything up to that point seems like some decent hard science with some loopholes here and there that I can ignore, but this whole idea of making an AI with feelings made me roll my eyes a bit. The entire system is bonkers but it works within the confines of the story, like how no one knows why that one core decided to model robots against dinosaurs, it just did, which I think is an incredibly lame explanation for such a pivotal aspect of the game. I mean I don't know about others, but when I first saw the E3 reveals the question of "why are these dinos all robots" was the first thing that popped into my head.

Overall I always thought the story would go in a completely different place. I rewatched some of the original trailers recently and the voice over narration talks a lot about "the old ones" about the cities they let to rot etc etc. Somehow I always envisioned this would be about going into the old ruined cities and discovering a whole bunch of cool things, when in fact the entire game is this odd retrospective. Before I played Horizon I thought that maybe it would have a lot of similarities to Enslaved which is very similar in setting. Now after having finished the game, I think Enslaved probably had the more interesting story with a much better "wait what..??" ending reveal.

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#39 Posted by FLStyle (6284 posts) -

@cjduke said:

One thing I wanted to see was Aloy going back to restore Gaia and interact with her and then maybe get little snippets of the machines going about their actual work and not being hostile, maybe some quick scenes of how life and technology progresses. Felt like it ended a bit to quick for me.

That's exactly what I popped in here to post, just completed the main story today and was puzzled as to why this wasn't shown.

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#40 Posted by avyshue (69 posts) -

I thought there was a lot to like about the story here, although most of the major plot points fell flat for me. Given how telegraphed Aloy being a clone of Sobeck was, that couldn't be a major moment in the plot, and I also felt that Faro destroying Apollo was forced. Why would anybody give the asshole that killed the world any access whatsoever? It is mentioned that they need his company to finance some aspects of Zero Dawn, but governments have the ability to seize assets by eminent domain, and also it's the end of the world.

I also felt like their was a lost opportunity to discuss people's belief systems in the light of a definitive disproving of the Nora's machine myths, but I get that Sony is making a product, and most people are not interested in thinking about why they believe things. Also, the story was pushing right along at that point, so I'm fine with characters not gazing at their navels while a magic AI monster is burninating their people.

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#41 Posted by Jesus_Phish (3209 posts) -
@humanity said:

@sackmanjones: wouldn't that go at odds with the whole system of "well she's not gonna get it right the first time so let's just burn it all to the ground and start over!" Everything they say makes it appear that Zero Dawn is basically laying down the foundation, and GAIA along with the remaining cores/subroutines whatever will in time evolve to the point of being self sufficient. They talk about them being able to simply produce anything they'll need at will once the system is fully up and running and all the creators are done.

My understanding of it, and I think there's an audio log or a hologram to back it up, is that Hades is meant to kick in to bring the world back to it's "dead rock" state before Gaia ever gets to the phase where she gives the go ahead for the Zygotes to be "manufactured". Travis mentions specifically something like "You wouldn't want to go ahead and release humanity back into a world without the right conditions". I think the whole point was that this was a one shot bullet, and that it was Hades responsibility to not allow that to be triggered before the conditions are 100% ok. I don't think it was meant to be a case that humans are made, they start fucking up again, so Hades comes along and kills everyone.

I also believe that the Apollo/focus would also instruct everyone on how to keep this project going in the event of another catastrophic event, how to "refill" the zygote and supply storage etc. But then that was lost because Ted had a crisis moment.

@ll_exile_ll - the only part I don't get about Hades was why he hated and feared Aloy (or Elizabeth) so much that he would single her out to be killed. If he's following his programming, why would he have that logic? Part of me expected that Travis was as big of a dick as he sounded and went too far with Hades because "that's so metal dude!" or that he slacked off and overlooked something, since there's audio that once he thought he was finished he was just going to clock off and live out the remainder of his life watching porn and snuff movies.


Overall I really enjoyed the game, I thought it's plot was very clever and a neat twist. When I originally saw the big blast doors I figured this would just be a Vault 13 kind of thing, with people from the Old World still being in there, and Aloy was just cast out because she was born and it messed with their capacity or whatever. Then I started putting the pieces that humanity died, that the Earth died and then when they reveal it I thought it was very cool.

I liked the audio logs, I liked the reveal that they're being edited and that the whole world is being lied to through Enduring Victory that there's actually a hope. As others mentioned, I wish the game didn't use position to trigger events so much because a few times I ended up listening to multiple conversations at once because of it.

The side stories were interesting, but yeah they got a bit in the way. I was getting a little fatigued with the game because I focused on them so much and then I pressed on with the main story. Having said that I'll go back and finish them out. I've not many left and the only reason I didn't do them before the end was I just really wanted to see this wrap up. I thought it was nice that the people you help show up and fight with you. I It felt like a good little reward and story point.

The post credits was fine with me too. I wanted to see more of that character. I thought it was a little goofy that nobody is guarding the stick that's keeping Hades trapped. As for him "manifesting" I just took that to be symbolic of him transmitting himself to a receiver that Sylens had either manufactured or had been searching for. It's just a video game thing they had to do to get that across. Like when the blue and red waves come out of the Spire to deactivate and activate the robots. You have to do something in video games to visualize an invisible signal.


One thing that wasn't rewarding was the collectibles. I got all the "vessels" and turned them in, got some mods and some sticks - and not even amazing mods. I felt like I got better ones from fighting the robots.

I really enjoyed the combat, the best ones being the fights against the Thunderjaws in chasms where you have time to set up and kite him threw traps.

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#42 Edited by xenocrat (38 posts) -

@jesus_phish said:

Travis mentions specifically something like "You wouldn't want to go ahead and release humanity back into a world without the right conditions". I think the whole point was that this was a one shot bullet, and that it was Hades responsibility to not allow that to be triggered before the conditions are 100% ok. I don't think it was meant to be a case that humans are made, they start fucking up again, so Hades comes along and kills everyone.

Yes, there is an audio log in which Travis says that the first step is returning the atmosphere to a state that can support life, and if the atmosphere doesn't stabilise to ideal conditions then the best thing to do is reboot the whole process rather than crash on and hope for the best. Hades was to perform the reboot.

I think the logs and holograms do a great job of making it clear what a desperate effort it was to complete Zero Dawn in time, and when the final hours came nothing was quite ready but they had to proceed anyway. In one of Elizabeth's logs she mentions a Lightkeeper program that was planned to keep human custodians on duty in the bunkers to oversee the terraforming process; the program was abandoned as unworkable but in the end the Alpha teams used the living quarters that had been built into the bunkers for this program because they had to keep working on Zero Dawn after the atmosphere had collapsed.

I was surprised and impressed that the game went all-in on the human extinction narrative. I found some of those audio logs unexpectedly gut wrenching – the interviews with the Alpha recruits in particular are extremely well written and acted.

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