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Some minor spoilers for Horizon Zero Dawn


Can’t talk long. There’s a beta of Gwent on the PS4. Was nice knowing you. Tell my family I love them.


But I played last night. Just mopped up some side quests. Got some dreamwillow for a dude, gave signal arrows to a young dude, as one does. Once again, the level thing lies. That dream willow was a level seven. It had a sawtooth in a place with no cover. I died three times. I’m level 15. I died three times. It wasn’t seven, cuz I died three times. Three times.


But got themes: Once again, in the dream willow quests, we see outcasts as rather practical, decent guys. They just needed something, they left shards, etc. We see the braves as..well..kinda assholes. That dude who was locked in the lodge there was an asshole. They’re haughty, they believe in weird stories, they have very draconian laws, they’re difficult to like. And they’re the religious, or at least the spiritual ones. Those who have been “outcast from the mother” are far nicer and far more practical. They take care of each other. They’re fair.

Now do I feel this way because I’m a godless secular pinko liberal? Or is the game really trying to make a point here? Or both?


We had a good run. Gwent comes for us all in the end.

That’s a good question…is the game making a point about outcasts vs. the religious ‘insiders,’ or are we just reading into it because we’re godless pinko liberals desperately seeking the validation we don’t get from God?

I dunno, man. I do wonder if it might be that the ‘religion’ aspect is less what they’re trying to make a point about than the ‘hidebound smalltown society’ aspect in general…there’s a long (almost inescapable, really) tradition of the conventional rule-followers in a story being less appealing than the bold, freethinking loners who just don’t fit in, and it’s not always as much about religion (although religion arguably underlies much of the moralizing) as it is about wanting to do your own thing.

Also, of course, it could be both!


It’s always tough with our biases.

But this isn’t the “rule followers” and the “free thinkers.” I mean, we ALWAYS have the option to ask an outcast “So why are you outcast?” and it’s never “Well, I asked during the atonement hymn if it was worth it cuz the all mother doesn’t exist.” It’s always stealing, assault, murder, etc. They’re always what even we’d call criminals in our society. They’re not breaking some weird future/primitive law/creed. They’re breaking the same laws we have here in 21st century America, laws that even we pinko liberals are ok with.

I mean, in the dreamwillow bit, the outcast admits that he beat a man almost to death over a dispute over who had rights to a killed animal. That isn’t nice at all. That’s not some poor free thinker. That’s a criminal. We have no reason to believe that the brave who was in the lodge was a criminal. He seemed to be an upstanding member of society, but for being an asshole.

And yet the dude who beats people over property disputes (not the hippy dippy thinker who is just so misunderstood cuz religion) is the appealing one. Or the more appealing one.

And he’s ALSO the one that isn’t pious.


It’s true, outcasts (aside from Aloy herself, and maybe Rost because who even knows about Rost) seem to be outcast for legitimate reasons. It’s also not usually a permanent state, as we noted before, but seems to be more of a limited sentence: beat up a guy over a hunt, outcast for 10 years. Which even without the backup judgement of God, I am basically OK with.

So here’s a thought: maybe the game is showing that this system actually works.

The entirety of Nora society, including the outcasts (who for the most part are expected to one day fully rejoin the group), basically functions well: the fact that criminals are presented as essentially sympathetic may be saying that criminals can be rehabilitated and welcomed back into society, and that’s good. (Meanwhile, law-abiding citizens can be jerks, reminding us that nobody’s perfect.)

Which means, maybe, that however silly we and Aloy find their religion, the Nora do in fact have a perfectly good thing going, and maybe we should cut them some slack because they’re doing something that works for them in the world.


Exactly. This isn’t some arbitrary “throw the mages into a tower/burn them just cuz they’re different” thing. Nora society is being fairly reasonable. Hell, as you say, some sentences are finite. This isn’t some witcher society where you do one thing wrong they’re likely to hang you.

Perhaps we’re meant to notice the Nora are doing OK….but then, you have seen a variable I have not: Other societies in this world. Sure, I met friendly flirty guy, and the dude with the focus who was a bad guy, and the killers, of course, but I want to see Meridian/whatever else the game has in store. Always easier to judge a story’s dynamic with three data points.


Well, even in DA mages aren’t in towers because they’re different, they’re in towers because they’re freaking dangerous.

True, though. Comparing this society to others will be instructive. Pretty much all we know about the Carja early on is that they raided the Nora for sacrifices for years because their previous king thought that would appease the machine gods, or something.

Speaking of religion.

And then there are the Oseram, who scavenge in the ruins (my kind of people!), and one of whom was a bad guy who did bad things.

I may have only just gotten to Meridian last night. So many things to see on the way! So much to magpie!


Yeah I don’t know a whole lot about other folks, and what I do know comes from Nora folks who are understandably biased, what with that whole being captured for slaves and slaughtered business. That can affect your opinions of folks.

Dude, I thought you got to Meridian two weeks ago. That’s A LOT of magpie!


Yes, it is. A LOT of magpie. I can’t help myself! I tried, but I was constitutionally incapable of not magpieing.

Thanks for nothing, game that didn’t cut me off for my own good after all.

Well, I guess thanks for all the magpie trinkets. I enjoyed those.


Dude I TRIED to magpie and couldn’t find the damn mug! At least you have mugs to commemorate your magpieing! I have nothing! NOTHING!

The side quests, on the other hand, are impossible to resist.


Oh, I found the mug. Helpful tip: it was in a pile of ancient debris.

Another helpful tip: it turns out if you infiltrate a glinthawk nesting area to get a metal flower, and snatch it and then promptly die, you will still have the flower when you respawn back at the campfire. That was a relief.

Grab the loot! You CAN take it with you!



And very good to know.

But dude, I refuse to accept there was debris. I scanned every damn inch of that white circle and nothing, I mean nothing, popped. Not even a damn turkey. Debris shows up on focus.

But now, of course, I’ll go back and check. I have to go there to helpfully find some dude’s ring anyway. It’s a level 10 quest, I believe, so I’ll either have to kill a turkey or 27 sawtooths (sawteeth? We REALLY have to figure that out) but, obviously, nothing in between.


Ah yes, the ring. I remember the ring.

And that white circle, that’s another way this game messes with you. Because half the time, whatever you’re looking for is pretty much exactly where it shows up on the map, so you just walk there and oh, hey, there it is! And the other half of the time it’s just randomly somewhere inside the white circle, probably, but not by the map icon!

I like to imagine it’s because half the time the map-maker was drunk. “I sheem to recall it was around thish area shomewhere…” [passes out]

We should really be showing a little more sympathy for this poor dude or lady, who probably has some serious personal issues driving this excessive self-medication.


Yes, the ring.

What can I say? I can’t say no. No, I mean, the game does not give me the option to say no. So I either have to be mute, have a cluttered quest list (which I HATE) or find the damn rings.

Drunkenness…So true of so many map makers. Shit, they can’t even FILL IN the map half the time. I have all these useless white circles that are in places where the map is still clouds.

“Go there.” Uh, where’s there? “Fuck if I know. I have no idea of where the roads are, the topography, or the hazards you will face. But I am CERTAIN about the mug. Well, it’s SOMEWHERE in that circle….”

And they’re probably very upset that all they want is a damn drink and they seem to have lost all their damn mugs.


It’s true! You literally cannot say no! (Though I wonder if maybe you could just hit circle to get out of the conversation without committing? I haven’t tried.)

I mean, it’s not as if you were going to anyway…but you CAN’T!

The game is saying “Aloy is nice and helpful, damn it. Don’t you even try to argue with us on this.”

In so many games you have that “I don’t have time for this” dialogue option. Not here. Aloy ALWAYS has time for this.

Which, when you think about it, as good as tells us that Aloy also always has time to magpie all over creation. Because clearly, she is just not in a big hurry. And why would she be? She’s achieved what she spent most of her life training for, and won the proving. She’s been given rare permission to go wherever she wants. Her beloved parent is dead, so it’s not as if she has anything to go back to. Why wouldn’t she take every opportunity to find rings, seek out mugs, visit campfires…it’s all just a chance to see the world!


I kinda want to ignore a side quest in this one, just to do it. I don’t mind choosing to do everything, but DAMN game. I have enough things I have to do in real life. Sheesh.

She really does always have time. She really does. But then, there isn’t a big, imminent threat right now. Sure, the killers are bad. Bad bad bad. But they aren’t attacking all the time, there isn’t a rush to get a thing before they do (that I know of), there aren’t holes in the sky or ice dogs showing up everydamnwhere. We CAN chill. We’ll get around to the killers, I’m sure.

A chance to see the world, and find meaning. Which is easier to find than mugs.


Yes. Find meaning. Meaning is almost as cool as mugs. Man, now that I’m finally in Meridian, I can’t wait to exchange a set of mugs for a reward! Which will probably be a treasure box full of ridge-wood, but whatever.


I’m sure it will be remarkable.


Ooh, do you think it could be? That would be SWELL!

Have you ever bought any ‘shard gambler’ boxes or anything? I’ve never bought a box, though I seem to accumulate plenty. I wonder if some of them have fish bones in them. I could use that.


No but I found one last night! By the lodge with the asshole! Sort of like finding an unscratched lotto ticket in the parking lot!

Only had shards. But 32 of them!

Now I want a “swell reward box.”


Damn it, so do I.

But ooh, 32 shards! Not too shabby.

Maybe the guy in the lodge was being such a jerk because he was upset at having misplaced that box! Serves him right.