Horizon Zero Dawn depicts a jaw-droppingly beautiful world. Tall reeds sway in the wind while shallow streams flow nearby. There are rugged mountains, bone-dry desert plains, and sparkling snowscapes that preserve footprints for meters. Inhabiting this world is a cornucopia of wildlife whose cries form the soundtrack of nature. When going on a casual stroll, it is quite easy to forget that the world of Horizon Zero Dawn is a dystopian one crafted from death and destruction. With Horizon Forbidden West, players will get to see more of this world.
Beneath the sublime beauty of Horizon Zero Dawn lies a cautionary tale that warns players about how wrong things can go when humans put technology over nature, and how doomed humanity is without a healthy planet. With Horizon Forbidden West on its way, Guerrilla Games has been drip-feeding players information about the game. It seems as though Horizon Zero Dawn's sequel will deliver yet another ecological message.
Horizon Zero Dawn Tells the Story of Man Versus Machine
In Horizon Zero Dawn, the large cities of modern-day are gone and humans live in primitive tribes. Many humans are trained warriors because, as gorgeous as the world is, it is populated by fearsome machines that look like robot dinosaurs. Aloy, who is an outcast, goes on an adventure to discover the secrets of her origins and to find out more about the old world. What she learns is far beyond what she could have ever imagined.
Hundreds of years before Aloy's birth, humans lived in prosperous societies. They were aided by robots who helped to make life easier. Ted Faro, who was the head of Faro Automated Solutions, released the Chariot range of robots which were supposed to be military robots that could be used for defensive purposes without putting human lives on the line. The robots were quite appealing because they could self-sustain by consuming biomass. Unfortunately, humans soon found themselves losing control of their creations as the Chariots became self-aware and began consuming any living thing in their path. To save Earth, Dr. Elisabeth Sobeck spearheaded Project Zero Dawn which served to preserve the seeds of life. An artificial intelligence system known as GAIA was created to deal with the Chariot swarms, terraform Earth, and repopulate the planet once again.
Horizon Zero Dawn illustrates how technology can both harm and hurt humans, and how humans can lose control of technology, leading to unintended consequences. It also demonstrates how technology can have deleterious effects on the environment if it is not properly managed. Despite this, the game does not have an entirely pessimistic view of technology. Gaia, in Greek mythology, is the personification of Earth. In Horizon Zero Dawn, GAIA is created through technology, demonstrating that technology and nature can co-exist in harmonious ways.
Nature Is in Trouble in Horizon Forbidden West
The evidence seems to suggest that Horizon Forbidden West will continue the exploration of the relationship between humans and nature. As trailers have revealed, Aloy will be journeying to new lands and experiencing new ecosystems. As she travels, remnants of the old world are visible, including a dilapidated version of the San Francisco bridge and building submerged underwater. These all serve as sobering reminders of the impermanence of human creations and the ridiculousness of humankind's arrogance towards nature.
Aloy is on a search to discover the source of a strange plague that is killing everything it infects and as she explores the Forbidden West, she also must contend with colossal storms. Whether the imbalance in nature is being caused by one of GAIA's subordinate functions or some new danger entirely has yet to be seen. Aloy must figure it out soon, however, because the fate of life on Earth depends on it.
The scenario Aloy is facing is not unlike the one faced by humans in the real world. As greenhouse gases accumulate and climate change accelerates, changing weather patterns will have a catastrophic effect on many human populations. A changing climate may also affect animal habitats and migratory patterns, leading to the death of ecosystems. However, unlike in the Horizon world, humans will not have Aloy or Dr. Elisabeth Sobeck to save the day.
The lush environments shown in both Horizon Zero Dawn and Horizon Forbidden West are gorgeous, but they are not just there for eye candy. The natural landscapes serve as poignant reminders of the delicate ecological balances that must be kept if life is to flourish, and though nature can be a friend with breathtaking beauty, it can also be a red-toothed monster when mistreated.
Horizon Forbidden West is scheduled to release on February 18, 2022 on PS4 and PS5.
MORE: Horizon Forbidden West Hopefully Reveals a Lot of the Old Ones' Secrets
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