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Some tactics and location-fight spoilers for Horizon Zero Dawn


I got nothing. Between giving all my money to a very nice Irish man to redo my driveway, the doctor being 45 minutes late at the pediatrician, and all three of my children being in a phase where they NEVER STOP TALKING by the time game time rolled around I was too tired to do much of anything except sit like a blob watching baseball hoping that I could stay awake to have dinner with Mrs. McP. It happens sometimes.

This WEEK man. Your renting, non materialistic, heathen lifestyle got it right. Driveway, gotta find a new car for Mrs. McP, gotta find a new grill…

You are doing none of that. You are playing video games.

And yet, society looks at me, with my split level ranch and my driveway and my sensible Toyotas and says I have it right and looks at you and says “Long haired hippie freak.” Society is wrong. Society does not want us to play video games. Society can go fuck itself.

I am kinda looking forward to the new grill.

But society can still go fuck itself.


Heathen renters FTW! Suck it, society!

That is just what a hippie weirdo would say, before playing some more video games.

So, yeah…level 11 your ass, all right. I mean, damn. Ravagers around every corner, longlegs jumping on you, swarms of watchers…level 11? I think not.

I did try the sneaky sneak, and I think it’s possible it COULD work, but I didn’t make it work. One time I accidentally slid off a ledge and landed right in front of a ravager, and another time I just could resist shooting at one to try to knock off its cannon (which, yeah, that’s pretty effective once you can get it aimed at the thing that’s attacking you). So I wasn’t very sneaky, and instead just killed everything in sight, leaving piles of sparking wreckage in my wake.

It wasn’t nearly as bad for me as for you, since I’m now level 30, but that final battle still wasn’t pretty.

Because what the hell?–at the end there, it was about time for bed but I thought “a snapmaw? I’ve exploded snapmaws before, I can do this,” and when the barrier went down another ravager came running in! This was not part of the plan!

I did manage to knock off its cannon and kill them both with it, but not without several wasted tearblast arrows and a lot of healing up while I ran around dodging the snapmaw’s ice clouds.

Still, here I am with new override codes, the better to ‘befriend’ snapmaws and ravagers in the future. And longlegs, and shellwalkers! A pretty good set of machines to control, really. I’ll take it for a night’s work.


I envy heathen renters.

But good, you did the cauldron. We have something to talk about.

I KNOW! Ravagers fucking EVERYWHERE!

Did like the turbine thing, though.

Oh man, you got the cannon? I never did get the cannon. I got to where I was almost dead and there was one watcher left and I was all “If that thing kills me and I have to do ALL THIS AGAIN I will destroy my PS4” but I managed to kill it. I wanted the cannon.

With the final fight…DUDE THE SAME THING HAPPENED TO ME! Not only did it happen to me, but I spent FOREVER putting down traps and wires and all sorts of God knows what all around said snapmaw before I let it out. I mean, I crafted every damn thing I could. Placed everything just so. Took forever. And then I freed it, rode the thing down ready to watch it walk into my ring of pain, and the damn ravager appears BEHIND ME on the OTHER SIDE of the ring of pain, indeed on the side of the ring of pain that I’M ON and I died.

And the load point? Not just before I laid down the ring of pain. Oh, no. Before I crafted all the stuff I needed to make the ring of pain. And that took forever.

And, to make matters worse, I had no idea where the damn ravager came from, so I didn’t know where to put ITS ring of pain.

I tried a bunch of places, craft craft craft place place place, override and….nope, I guess not from there. Or there. Or there. Or that other place, and I’m dead.


That’s how that went.

DAMN you got TWO cannons? I want a cannon!

I can’t wait to try the overrides. I hope I’m awake at some point.

But now…..

So it was drawing blaze like a beating heart? Whoa. That’s….whoa. Not exactly womb/mother imagery. Drawing blaze from…where? Can you say that without spoiling? And the beating heart of what exactly?

You’ve seen other cauldrons, and, I’m guessing, they might have some other body parts happening, so don’t spoil. But discuss the whole blaze as blood for a heart (and where does all that blaze come from?) if possible without spoiling.

And if whatever’s heart is HERE, then our sequel elsewhere thing is…what?

AIEE! The questions!


The cannon is pretty sweet. Maybe it comes off more easily on normal difficulty? Because I am certainly not a better shot than you. I mean, not having done side-by-side comparisons or anything, but I’m pretty much not a better shot than anyone.

I did like the turbine thing! It added an interesting bit of level puzzle to the thing…how do I get from here to there? Especially with the two turbines next to each other and you had to hop from one to the other. Not hard, really, but had the feel of something risky and interesting.

Spending forever putting down traps and wires and then dying and having to do it ALL OVER AGAIN is exactly what drove me out of the thunderjaw cauldron. I mean, I guess I get that they don’t want to save all your preparations, because what if you decide “OK, that preparation sucked, I should try this other thing instead?”

But when you’re basically happy with your preparations that you spent 20 minutes on, you really, REALLY wish it would save them for you. It should be an option, at least.

And dude…I know. Drawing blaze like a beating heart! What the hell is that about? I don’t know anything to spoil! I know nothing more than you do! It must be somewhere else in the story! Or I totally missed it in the other cauldrons I visited, but you’d think I would have noticed if she’d said “circulating chillwater vapor like a set of breathing lungs” or something.

So…I don’t know! Are the cauldrons alive? Is this one cauldron the heart of the entire cauldron system? Is this the cauldron that makes the machines that use a lot of blaze?

It’s all a mystery.


Maybe cannons do come off more easily on normal. Though I did knock one off. I couldn’t find it in the heat of battle, so that was pretty useless, but after the battle I did say “Ah, yes. There it is.” Which was sorta worse. It mocked me.

The turning wheels did feel risky! Nice mix up. It really wasn’t all that hard, but it felt hard.

So annoying having to redo preparations. Did you have to truck all the way back out? Or can you fast travel out? I had a plan, man! It was a good plan! Except for the ravager.

See, this is where I miss the ex. I don’t miss her that much anymore. The 4K thing sure helps. But she would just let me hit Q, or save wherever, thus saving both the traps and the pretrap part. PS4s are less forgiving.

What all the “circulating blaze” stuff reminded me of was the end of ME2, the heart of the collector ship there. Not only did it look the same, there were the same overtones of “machine thingy using life/the natural world to live.” There’s certainly the whole old story of “man making machines, who then become alive and do man better than man” sort of thing that we’ve seen before. We knew there’d be some of that. But what the hell IS blaze? Could it be the stuff is just oil or methane or something that is just there in the earth that we extract ourselves? I mean, a “primitive” society wouldn’t call it “Liquid Natural Gas,” would they? Maybe all this stuff is just normal stuff, and that thing is just a semi-intelligent fracking rig.

That WOULD be another neat play on what we expect from games. We expect when we see something with some cool name that it’s magical or supernatural or something. “Blaze!” “Chillwater!” Sounds like shit out of Dragon Age. But maybe it’s just oil and liquid nitrogen or something that we have plenty of here in the real world.

But then, she can make healing potions out of roots and rabbit meat, so maybe not.


So true…”blaze” probably is just what they call LNG. And sure, “chillwater” could totally be liquid nitrogen. Makes perfect sense, really. Of course they’d call it something that made sense to them, rather than using our technical terms, and if their words just happen to make the machines seem more magical and mysterious, well, that gets us into the frame of mind of the characters.

Although, as you say, she DOES make potions out of rabbit meat that instantly pull her back from the brink of death…but then, rich meat is very refreshing! Or something.

Also, as we noted at some point in the past, these machines seem to be way less polluting than our machines, so at the very least they’ve made a lot of major improvements to engines and/or power plants. The cauldrons are spooky and weird, but they’re not grimy with soot and engine grease. So it’s still KIND OF magical, even if they’re only doing cooler things with natural gas or tar sands than we can.


Yup. And we’ve seen, through the vantage points, the game pointing out that all this interesting shit….isn’t. That big, moss encrusted fascinating ruin? Yeah, that was a plain office building. The “Rings of death” or whatever? Stadium. You’ve been ones just like it. Those “ancient artifacts?” Mugs. Ugly ones, too.

Hardly “Mage Towers” and “Skyholds” and shit.

So what’s to say “Blaze” and “Shockers” aren’t just oil and batteries?

Like you’d know from meat! I find rich meat to be the very stuff of life! Shit, I’m off to a place called Blood Farm (real place, followers) to get a whole mess of rich meat in just a couple of days! And I WILL feel good after eating it!

Blood Farm so sounds like a place out of this game.

And, well, things apparently went to shit in our future, like, what, 2064 or something. Maybe we made some green improvements by then. Shit, Mrs. McP wants to buy something called a Prius Prime which is pretty damn green. And it has a sweet machine cannon. Well, the Premium model does. That doesn’t come standard.


Dude. Totally spring for the Prius cannon. Worth every penny when you really need to merge onto the highway in a timely fashion.

And yeah! What would shockers be except batteries? And machine hearts are…motherboards?

As you say, we already know that things have more interesting names/appearances in the far future than they do (to us) today. “Ancient chimes” are just keys on keyrings, “ancient toothpicks” are corkscrews, “ancient bracelets” are watches…

A side point: why did so many people wear watches and use keys in 2064 or whenever? Half of people don’t even wear watches today, and more and more locks are keycards. Everything is on phones and stuff! Unless these are all super-smart-watches that are also phones…and the keys are…a fashion statement of some kind… And don’t get me started on corkscrews and how in the future all wine will be in boxes.

But that’s not the point: the point is, we know that the people of the future have a lot of names for things that don’t reflect our names for things, so why wouldn’t this be true of all the machine parts as well?


That’s what I’m thinking. But the cannon does add to the monthly payment…

Now that you mention it, those parts do rather look like motherboards on the rather vague inventory screen. It would make sense….

YES! Ancient chimes are a good one. Probably what we’re doing now. Probably, ancient peoples would look at us and say “Dudes, did you REALLY think EVERYTHING we did was for the gods? That’s just a picture of my cousin Murray….”

Wine in BOXES?????

That’s no future I want to live in.

Though the screw cap ones are rather convenient.

They probably do have their own names for machine parts.

And they would cherish such stuff as valuable. Old keys? So worth it. Junky old microchips? Willing to trade for useful stuff like armor.

Now that I think on it, the whole “metal shard” thing is also a neat twist on games. Money is either rather neutral (like credits) or something we would consider valuable today (gold pieces). Here, money is something we’d consider absolutely worthless. It isn’t even “Nora forints” or something. It’s just metal shards. Junk. Garbage. It actually took me a while to even get that metal shards WERE money. I almost stopped looting in the early game. “Why would I want THOSE?”

But to a society that didn’t have mines and were in awe of machines?


“That cave painting was just my kid scribbling…I needed her out of my hair while I did the laundry, and then I never could get it off the wall.”

And you’re right, using shards from machines as money is an interesting way to show how people see machines…the shards are valuable because they’re pieces of machines, and pieces of machines are both kind of hard to get (if you’re not us) and perhaps represent a way that people can hold onto some of the fearsome power of machines.

What’s also kind of cool about the design of people’s clothes is that they incorporate pieces or machines both for decoration and function. Machines are made of hard stuff, so obviously you would use that hard stuff to make your own armor! Machines are a scary and powerful force in the world, so obviously we use parts of them to decorate our clothes and bodies!

When there are big scary animals, people use bear teeth and leopard skins and whatever…where none of those big animals seem to exist, people use the machine substitutes instead.


Exactly! 1000 years from now, they’ll think all sorts of things about my kids’ Darth Vader and Batman wall stickers.

I really did think all they were were worthless machine parts, the broken fishing poles of this game, if you will. (Now I can point out that another useless loot item in TW3 was “mug.”)

They seem to revere machines, moreso than actual animals. The actual animals are just there to be useful, satchels and the like. It shows where they are in the hierarchy.

And hey, yeah, where ARE the big animals? We’ve talked on how the machines leave the boars and rabbits and turkeys alone…where are the lynx and stuff? Wolves? Bears? There should be bears.


“This society worshipped at least two vast pantheons of muscular gods in tight, colorful clothing, many with special identifying symbols that could be displayed by followers. The complex relationships between the various deities are the subject of intense research.”

Yeah, it’s weird. There are no large animals, either predators or prey animals like deer. All we have is the machine versions.

I kind of wonder if maybe the machines started out as intentional replacements for large mammals that died out due to habitat loss or whatever? Maybe there were big animatronic zoos where people could see realistic mechanical deer and tigers, and then after the collapse of civilization the machines kept going somehow and over time they evolved along their own path, and stopped being realistic copies of biological species because fake fur or feathers and animal-looking eyes are of no use to them?

We don’t know, though. All we know is, there’s no animal here bigger than a boar, and that has to be intentional.