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Some major plot and character spoilers in Horizon Zero Dawn


So I was thinking of something you said a while ago, like “not that many side quests, spent a lot of time looking for shit” (paraphrasing) and I’m starting to see what you meant.

Yesterday, my next thing was go back to Den and tell him that I found his friend, but I was right by an artifact or something so I thought “I shall find that artifact.” So I trucked it over to the white circle, killed the watchers that were watching whatever they were watching, and began to look for the artifact. Boy oh boy did I look for that artifact. I looked at every square inch of that white circle. Except, see, I didn’t look at every square inch because the one square inch I missed is the one with the artifact in it. I must’ve spent 20 minutes looking for places to climb, looking for nooks and crannies, swimming, everything. And I got nothing. NOTHING.

So I gave up. Waste of time.

Talked to Den, got my remarkable reward box (one of these days, we must talk about the mechanic of reward boxes). Trucked out to get longhorn parts or whatever and give signal arrows to a dude. One of my new favorite things is setting up a bunch of tripwires, then jumping up and down until grazers charge at me, into my tripwires.

Didn’t quite get to the signal arrow dude before I had to save.

But THEMES: Let’s do some themes.

When Aloy goes back to Den, he’s all worried that she’ll tell on them that they were in the ruins. She says “Don’t worry, they’re all singing the hymn of atonement.” He’s all religious “They will atone for us all!” and she, once again, with scorn, “Not what I meant…..” She’s STILL not down with the spirit, man. It’s such a twist that the “seeker,” the “chosen,” the “whatever,” is totally NOT down with her role. She could give a shit about being a seeker but for it’s a practical means to an end.

And that’s so cool.



There are actually rather few formal quests, but there’s oh so much magpieing to be done that one could stay busy for weeks anyway. I also bought the maps in Mother’s Heart or wherever, and it was like opening a giant to-do list of “you MUST gather all these things.”

Aloy’s relationship to the tribe, and to their customs and their expectations of her, is indeed pretty interesting.

They say “you are the Seeker!” and it’s clearly a big deal to them, but she just wants to know what good it does her: “so I can go wherever I want?”

She certainly seems to have little to no respect for their religious beliefs, possibly because she was raised an outcast (but she was raised by Rost, who obviously had the utmost respect for their/his religion), and possibly because having gotten that ancient focus at a young age, she’s used to “seeing through” things…? Is this an instance of science overcoming religion even when someone doesn’t actually understand anything about the science?

It’s a little odd, because there’s really no reason she shouldn’t assume the focus is a magical item that gives her the ability to see into the spirit world, or something (that would seem to fit with the beliefs of the tribe), but instead she seems to have an outlook that tends strongly towards materialism. She doesn’t appear to think of the focus as magic, but as some sort of purely material device that has some reasonable explanation (even if she doesn’t understand everything about it).

It’s as if we gave a Neanderthal a working cell phone, and they were totally chill with it being a human-made tool, rather than seeing it as some mysterious and probably cursed (it does access Facebook, after all) gem from another world.

We kind of saw the focus teaching her to read, though, right? When it scanned the bow and flashed the word “bow” over it?

So maybe it also taught her other things that influenced her perspective on the world. Basic biology, some engineering to demystify the machines (we already know it can display their weaknesses for her/us), physical explanations of the world, the stars, weather — blasphemous stuff like that. (Religious people are right: education does lead children astray.) She has had it since she was a kid, and has apparently been using it a lot all that time, so it could have steered her gradually right into the arms of science and atheism. No wonder the tribe thinks the ruins are cursed!

One wonders whether she really even wants to be part of the tribe, considering she seems to feel almost no connection to its customs, or if it was/is all just about finding out who her mother was.

I suppose it could also be a practicality. I mean, if you’re out in the hostile wilderness, you probably want to increase your odds of survival by banding together with whatever other people are around, even if they do believe a bunch of ridiculous stuff.


Makes you wonder: if every merchant HAS these maps, how come they aren’t off finding the shit? Either it’s worthless, or they’re all lies, like those “Find the homes of movie stars” maps sold by sketchy dudes in LA. Like, really, Johnny Depp does NOT live there. And, really, there’s no old mugs in that building.

Yes–her priorities are so different! Shit, even Evelyn who did not ASK to be Inquisitor took it seriously, like, “Oh, well, I guess since I AM the Inquisitor….” Aloy does not care.

She did get the focus young, and we did have scenes of her using it as Rost was just shaking his head, either because he thought it was silly or that he knew it would take her away from the spiritual. And remember, she used that for knowledge herself. We see her (as a kid) using it to “study,” I suppose, instead of studying the…whatever they study.

And it’s kind of as if we gave a Neanderthal a cell phone, except that, unlike a real caveman, she understands that there were dudes in the past that had fancy stuff, and it was, in fact, stuff, and she found this thing in a ruin with a bunch of other actual stuff. She could put two and two together and get to “This is old tech. I may not understand how it works, but I do get ‘old’ and ‘tech.'”

Whether or not she reads, that still isn’t fully explained. It did seem to be doing reading. Or maybe it just likes bows.

Hmm…good point about the ruins. We never really do get (or I haven’t gotten to the point where) why they give so much of a shit about the ruins and not going there. They’re just ruins, as far as I know. Without mugs. But if they know there’s “knowledge” there…and in ruins….

But I think it’s pretty clear she does NOT want to be a part of the tribe. Or she’s ambivalent.

I think she cares about helping the people. She gets “you lost a friend,” and wants to help out of empathy and decency, not because some sky talking mother told her to. I mean, we’re secular dudes, and we’re good people. Better people in some ways. So’s Aloy. So it can be more than practicality.


But DOES every merchant have these maps? I’ve only ever found one person I could buy them from, there in the ‘big city’ of Nora territory. Maybe only this one dude (or lady, I can’t remember) ever found them, and either didn’t realize what they were, or knew but couldn’t ever get anyone else to buy them (“what the hell do I want with a map to some old mug, silly merchant?”) or knew but refused to sell them to anyone else because he or she was saving them for the Seeker.

Or maybe always meant to go collect all those mugs and metal flowers, but finally accepted that he/she was never going to get around to it, and decided to sell them as part of spring cleaning.

I’m kind of leaning towards the “couldn’t ever get anyone else to buy them” explanation, to be honest. These are not people who are encouraged to be interested in ancient artifacts, so why would they care about maps to them? One does wonder who the hell ever MADE these maps, but, as always with maps to collectibles in games, it’s best not to ponder too deeply.

It’s true, she does seem to care about people, much more than she cares about “The Nora” as a group. She sympathizes with people and wants to help them, but not because they’re Nora, just because she’s a helpful person.

Which, as you say, is kind of a nod to us godless weirdos in real life. We can be nice and like to help people (why, just the other day I spent 17 hours fighting giant rat-goblin-machines in 12 different T stops to retrieve some dude’s uncle’s mother’s cousin’s family heirloom handaxe!) even though we don’t think a mysterious being in the mountain or the sky wants us to.

Dude: that family heirloom handaxe is just old tech, you know that, right?


But without heirlooms, there are no quests, and, without quests, why get out of bed?

(Too long for a T SHIRT!!!)

I’ve seen at least two or three with the maps. They can’t all be saving them for seeker.

HA! “The new spring line is coming in…everything must go!”

Don’t ponder. Never ponder. And they’re cheap! Like, ten shards! That’s a clearance price if I ever saw one.

She doesn’t seem to care much about Nora either way. She likes outcasts, was very flirty with the dude from Meridian, was even nice to the red bishop guy. She’s a people person.

Hey, the LA Times just reported a new study that shows that we godless weirdos seem to be raising far nicer kids than everyone else. AND we kick serious rat-goblin-machine ass.


Hm. I must be forgetting to check for maps with some of the merchants. Or–also likely–I may not have talked to all the merchants I’ve passed. A lot of times I’m not in the market for anything (still looking for those machine hearts for the better armor), so I don’t even bother to talk to them–although I should, if only for the free sample box. You can never have too much ridge-wood!


Dude, free samples are free samples. You ALWAYS get the samples. I’m convinced that if you went seomwhere and there were free samples of veal sausage you’d get a couple. Especially if they had those toothpicks with little colored ends.


I won’t lie, man, I am always tempted by the free samples, even of meat. I don’t actually take them, but I’m tempted.

“Surely free doesn’t count as non-vegetarian…” I think. “I mean, it’s not as if my own money is supporting the factory farm system…in fact, I’d be sticking it to the system by taking its products for free! I should have 12 of these samples!”

It’s true, though, I always stop to talk to merchants unless I forget about the free box. Sometimes I do forget. I’m in a hurry to get to a metal flower or something.

But now that I know more of them have maps (although, damn, I’m not sure I need any more maps considering I already have 700 things to track down), I’ll be more conscientious about it.


It shows your commitment to vegetarianism that it overrides your commitment to being cheap. Few things override that. I know you well.

I think, maybe, the maps are duplicates. Maybe. That’s why they’re so cheap.


You do know me. You understand my inner turmoil.

Duplicates!? Interesting. I suppose I’ll have to buy them anyway, just to be sure, but I have more shards than I know what to do with, so I’m not that worried about it.


We did get rich quick, didn’t we?


Yeah, we did. I think our earlier speculation that this is to allow us to buy better gear, because we don’t find gear as loot, is probably true.

You know what I want to be able to buy, though? Boar skins and fish bones. Why doesn’t anyone sell those?