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Spoilers for the intro to Horizon Zero Dawn

Butch:

So what did you think?

I played up to where the guy is starting to teach you about healing (if you haven’t gotten there SPOILER! There’s a healing mechanic in this game!).

And I’m pretty much hooked.

I don’t think I have nearly enough to get all themey, but hey! We have a game to talk about!

It’s good, right? I’m not just hooked because I haven’t had a good open world game in ages?

Feminina:

Yes! That is exactly where I played up to. Nice. I would have played more, but I had to spend half an hour deleting stuff before I could actually load it, so I ran out of time. Serves us right for never clearing out our saved data.

It looks good. Lots of detail, very interesting-looking beasts with the ROBOT DINOSAURS. Intriguing technological interface with that earclip thingie.

Some of the usual sad notes from people who died in the apocalypse or whatever. I obviously can’t tell yet whether finding out what happened is going to be a part of the game, or if it’s just this vague thousand-year-old mystery (which would honestly make more sense, because expecting most people to really care about what happened a thousand years ago seems implausible).

I don’t know if it’s in comparison to the meditative, slow games I’ve played lately, but the movement seemed a bit jumpy to me. Looking around in the cave, it was almost disorienting how fast it jumped from one thing to the next when I’d turn or move. But I probably just need to get used to it.

Anyhow, so far so good. Next we learn to hunt ROBOT DINOSAURS!

Butch:

Ah, see, yet another reason I’m glad I got the pro. Wide open terrabyte of space. Boom.

I like that the super-perception mechanic has a reason in this one. Lara, Edward Kenway, Joel….they could just do things. At least Aloy has a legit reason for being able to do that sort of thing.

And I LOVE the visual of it. The ball of this hypertechnical colorful purple against the backdrop of devastation. Even seeing the cavewoman in the technical ball is really cool. Jarring, in a good way.

I’m guessing we’ll find out what happened. Too much exposition there not to.

And yeah, I think you’ve just been strolling too long. I didn’t find it all that jumpy. Pretty fluid, I thought. But then, I haven’t fought any ROBOT DINOSAURS yet and a big test of controls is the combat.

WHOO HOO hunting!

Here’s a question: This is a very extended sequence in which we are playing as a six year old kid. Granted, it’s a tutorial, so that makes sense. But it’s a LONG tutorial and there’s a significant amount of plot in here, too. Or at least set up. I don’t know if I have anything really analytical to say about this, yet, but there’s no doubt the game is letting us get to know young Aloy quite a bit. I think this is one of these thoughts we have to talk about. Later.

Feminina:

I’ll get a Pro someday! Probably.

I did definitely note that we’re playing as a kid here. Obviously she’s going to be a grown-up for the main game, we can see it on the box cover, but it’s kind of fun that they let us be a six-year-old for a while. I also like that they gave her the technological thing as a kid, so that she has time to learn to use it, rather than her just stumbling across it as a grown-up in the main game, like finding your magic sword or whatever, and instantly being all “oh, this will help me target my enemies, this is great!” which a person who’d never heard of such a thing before would be unlikely to do.

But yeah, you’re probably right that the pre-apocalypse will play some role. I mean, the earclip thing promises to be useful in general, but as we saw, it also helps open locks in ancient locations, and poking around in ancient locations probably means some sort of story about what went on there.

Butch:

Good point about learning to use ones power. The Witcher did a good job establishing that Geralt had learned from birth, even if we never saw it, but games all too often just say “oh you can because you can.” See TR. Lara shoots one dude and boom, she’s a superhero.

The old times are so gonna matter. Did you find it interesting that that place was pretty damn close to the berry patch? And folks seemed to know, if not what it was, that it was there. Roost wasn’t all “What is this?” He was more “yup, that’s an old place, don’t go there.” This doesn’t read as “young person stumbles on truth that no one has ever imagined” stuff. This shit is known.

I mean, he didn’t even seem all that troubled by Aloy using the thing. He’s annoyed that she’s distracted by it, but he isn’t all “do not touch the powerful, confusing, holy thingy!” He’s more “she found some stupid sparkly thing in the old place. Kids these days.”

Which is unusual in a post apocalyptic story.

Feminina:

Yeah, it does seem that this is known. Known and forbidden to children, but not “this is an evil mystery and you will surely die!” forbidden, just “there’s dangerous old crap down there so don’t go poking around” forbidden.

And, true, Rost is annoyed by the ear thingie, but not horrified…he’s not saying “you are inviting the ancient evil into your soul and will surely be possessed!” just “that’s a stupid thing to waste time on.”

He even calls it a plaything: it’s a silly toy to him, not a threat.

Another question that will surely be answered: why are they Outcast? (I felt bad for her in that scene with the other children and the woman…poor little kid trying to get approval. Effective, if blatantly heartstring-tugging.)

Butch:

Yup. All so often, our hero is the one who discovers stuff, or at least rediscovers long lost stuff that no one else knows about/believes in. This is more like when a kid stumbles across some old rusty car in the woods, runs back to tell his parents and they’re all “Oh, that? Yeah, we know. It’s rusty. Stay away from it or you’ll cut yourself.”

Which is less heroic.

Also, on the “what is known” front, this has a different thrust than most end of the world games. Usually, we have people pining for the good old days before everything got blown up/infected/whatever. The underlying thought in all those games is that things were better THEN, and rather shitty NOW. This game….not so much. We see in the intro Rost saying “They were done in by their wickedness, and they left us the beasts of the land, the sea, the air, the steel.” (You can kinda have the steel, thanks.) But I took from that the idea of “The old people (us) kinda fucked everything up, and now we have berries and fish and lovely landscapes to stroll through that look fanTAStic in 4K and why would we want to go back to those days?” Which is unusual. You don’t usually see people so HAPPY to be living after the end of the world.

Already playing with tropes. Nice job, game.

And Rost calling the ear thing a plaything makes one wonder: has he, or someone else, used it?

That was a well done scene. And yes, the “Why?” thing will most certainly be a thing. Because he used the thingy?

Also from that scene with her outcast-ness: it seems the not-outcasts were well fed enough that they didn’t take Aloy’s berries. It wasn’t a “We’re starving! Give us those! We deserve them more than you do!” It was a “Mmmph. Keep your silly outcast berries. We don’t want them.”

These are not outwardly unhappy people.

Feminina:

The take on the ancients was interesting. It made me think of the elven ruins in DAI, or the dwarven ones in Skyrim. You can poke around in them, and there are some kind of cool old things that still sort of work, but no one’s wistfully pining for the old days when the elves and dwarves were actually in them.

Which is probably pretty much how people will in fact approach the remnants of our civilization in 1,000 years, because that’s a lot of time and people will have moved on.

And that’s pretty much how you could imagine parents treating the elf and dwarf ruins, too…”yeah, we all know it’s there, and it’s a collapsing ruin, so leave it alone, you’ll probably get bitten by rats.”

Butch:

I still get the sense that those ruins were a mystery to the present. These dudes seem to know quite a bit about the past. Well, some, anyway. If these head doohickeys are known, then we can assume that the recordings are known. The ruins in fantasy games are all cryptic and shit.

Feminina:

I dunno…people knew about those ruins. One could find dwarven metal items out in Skyrim, made of dwarven metal plundered from the ruins. Someone besides us must have occasionally gone into them.

But yeah, we’ll have to see how it develops, and what the attitude of current people is to the ruins as it is demonstrated over more than the 15 minutes we both played.

Butch:

Hey I played like 40. Had to look in every corner after all.

Totally in character, of course.

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