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Some spoilers and some wild speculation about Horizon Zero Dawn plots

Butch:

There are many, many reasons I don’t like it when you finish a game way before I do. Your memory fades (you should eat more fish, good for that), my pride gets hurt, as I have two and a half decades more gaming experience on you (all for naught)….

But really, it’s cuz I have these AMAZING theories that occur to me and I can’t run them by you because you’ll just go “huh” cuz you know the end.

And I had one last night! But…well… here:

“Huh.”

This pains me. I want to theorize!

Played some more. Got a flower. Did the quest for the flirty person. When you said “Kinda long,” I believe you meant “Fucking endless.” WHAT WAS THAT? I mean, I like me some Kevin waves, but that was absurd. I was OUT of healing before the final wave started. And hurt! I only managed to survive it by finding an exploit where I jumped back down a cliff and chucked bombs willy nilly at yellow exclamation points until everyone died.

Kinda long. Sheesh.

And my reward? Why…..ANOTHER QUEST!!!!!!!!

And I went from 70 to 71% complete.

This took an hour.

I’m gonna go cry.

Feminina:

My memory is sharp as a tack, thank you, young whippersnapper. I just…uh…pretend to forget things to make you feel better. Right.

Gaming experience is indeed for naught in the absence of gaming time! Nothing you can do about that.

And yeah, that quest. I know. It went on a bit. I think I wound up hurling a lot of bombs in the general direction of people I couldn’t actually see, too. And then you finally fight them off on the cliff, and have to go forward and fight them some more in the little flat space! Good to finally be done with that obnoxious priest, though.

On the bright side, now that you’ve saved the dude, there’s only one quest left. You know, on this side quest. So there’s that.

Dude, you can totally theorize for the benefit of our readers! They want to enjoy your brilliance!

I’ll say “huh” in a really appreciative way, too. Like, “huh!”

Butch:

Ok, I shall.

Aloy isn’t sobeck. She’s Gaia. Ergo, entity, ergo Hades wanting her dead.

And I was trying so hard to think if I saw any of the other project leaders from the holograms out in the world already, but I don’t remember. Maybe later? Other games?

Feminina:

Huh!

Well, Sobeck was the driving force behind Gaia, so in a way she was at least the beginning of Gaia. And if Aloy is sort of Sobeck (as, physically, she certainly appears to be), then she’s also sort of Gaia. Based on no more than what we have so far discussed.

I mean, she’s not Gaia as we saw Gaia depicted in the hologram (you saw that already, right?), where even though she was just green outlines she still had a different face, but that’s a trifling detail. Gaia, being a computer program, could pick any face she wanted to show the world. Maybe she liked Sobeck’s because Sobeck is…kind of her mother?

If not Gaia herself, Aloy is at least Gaia’s sister?

Family relationships! The endless theme of the game.

My question about Hades, which I never really got an answer for so this isn’t a spoiler, but you can see what you think: Hades is supposed to wipe out life on the newly enlivened earth if it’s not working out in some way, right? Which makes sense. If you try to make a nice world with a breathable atmosphere and you get a sulphur haze with a few extremophiles and no place to put your plants and rabbits and foxes, you clear it off and start over. (Sorry, microorganism civilizations!)

Hades has a perfectly valid purpose: watch to see if the earth is supporting life the way the team planned, and if it’s not, wipe the slate so Gaia can try again.

So…what is happening in the world we see that makes Hades conclude that it’s not working and the slate needs to be wiped?

Apparently it’s reading the thriving profusion of plant and animal life harmoniously coexisting with machines–which one would think would be a fairly successful outcome for Zero Dawn–as a horrible flaw.

Is that just a glitch in the software? Or did Travis Tate build it into the code for some antisocial reason (“you know what would be funny? let life take over the world again, and then wipe it out! Millennia after I’m too dead to enjoy it! Still hilarious”)?

Or did someone else, in the ‘current’ day, discover and get into the program and decide that he or she could make use of Hades to destroy enemies or fulfill a religious destiny (the Eclipse suggest something along these lines), and intentionally adjust the settings?

Which could tie in with your question about seeing other project leaders out in the world. I don’t remember seeing any, but that would be pretty interesting, and logically quite possible. If Aloy is a clone of Sobeck, there could very well be clones of the others out there. Possibly raised with more awareness of their heritage, and possibly now attempting to hack the system in some way and either intentionally or unintentionally unleashing Hades on the world as a result. (“Ooops.” “What’s up, Bob?” “Oh, I just accidentally told Hades to wipe out all life on earth.” “Damn it, I TOLD YOU not to drink coffee next to the keyboard!”)

Or is there, in fact, something seriously wrong with the world that we just don’t see yet…some sort of creeping disease that’s going to ruin everything, and Hades is actually doing its job correctly? Just because we’re here and we don’t want to die, doesn’t mean that everything’s going great with the overall program.

What is Hades’ deal? I still don’t know! Perhaps a sequel will one day reveal the truth, or perhaps there was a perfectly plain explanation that I missed because my HUD is too cluttered. Keep an eye out!

See, we need your brilliance. Even though I know what happened in the end of the game, there are many questions left unanswered (as one would expect, with sequels to plan), and I will happily join you in theorizing about them.

Butch:

I saw the “face” of Gaia in the first hologram, but in the ones where she’s talking to Sobeck, she (it?) was just a green ball thing.

I’m totally expecting to meet Apollo, Hephastus, Minerva, etc. in the real world. And the others. I forgot what the others were.

Shit, Apollo was the SUN god, for crissakes, and we see sun imagery all over the damn place.

But as for “She was the start of Gaia” this all began with Aloy being “99%” of…something. Sobeck? This is odd because when the door things read her voice, they said “Ah HA! That is Sobeck.” Face, too. But Genes? Damn close…but no. (By the way, humans all share 99% of the same genome, so, scientifically speaking, to a machine that just sees “life,” 99% doesn’t mean much.)

And, if I’m right, then Aloy is EVERYONE’S mother.

That is the purpose of Hades as I understand it, yes. Gaia is an AI, AIs have to learn, so they assume she (it?) won’t get it right the first time, or second, and would need do overs. But since Gaia CARES, she’s not going to WANT to scrap it all, so Hades has to take the controls and be the cold hearted SOB that says “This ain’t working.”

My theory is that Aloy is a physical manifestation of Gaia itself. Like, Gaia got so into life she wanted to try it out. And who better to pick as your “avatar” than Sobeck? After all, the last hologram there, Gaia is starting to tell Sobeck something like “You are all things…” like Gaia is praying to Sobeck before the thing cuts out.

As for someone hacking things, we certainly know that machines can be hacked, their code can be changed. Perhaps.

I TOLD you to fix your HUD! Dammit!

Well, I still don’t know what happened 15 years ago to make things go bad machinewise. We know that the machines, about 15 years ago, started making nasty, nasty machines. We know that Aloy, after Brin’s thunderjaw aside, said “Wait, they made thunderjaws because of…us?” So who? Gaia? Seems it would be Gaia, or, at least, some machine descendant of Gaia.

I think there’s a point the game is trying to make, and I hope it isn’t ham handed: Who wiped things out in the first place? Humans. War. Climate. Building combat robots cuz they weren’t very nice to each other or the planet. Now Hades is out there looking at the Carja civil war, and Gaia (or something) feeling the need to make combat robots (which kinda fucked things up in the first place), and bad humans getting into the very robots that fucked things up in the first place, maybe Hades is saying “Dudes, here we go again. Do over.”

Cuz we get the sense that everything was pretty much cool and the gang before the Carja went all nuts. So in the days when there were just rabbits and grazers, and tribes being all in harmony, and Oseram just drinking, and banuk chanting and shit, Hades was cool with that. But now? Wars? Guns? Firespitters? Combat Robots? That ain’t good.

Feminina:

Well, spoiler, I didn’t meet Apollo or Minerva or anyone as far as I know, but I could totally see them being all over a sequel.

ONGOING THEMES!

Hmm…definitely something major happened about 15-20 years ago. That thing fell from the sky, Aloy appeared, machines started getting meaner in general, nastier kinds of machines started appearing, drought (right?) made the Mad Sun King start sacrificing people, provoking the Red Raids and eventually the Carja civil war…something happened.

Something big. Something I don’t really know about even now. So, speculation is entirely appropriate.

Remember also your theory that the world is falling apart because the heavens (the satellite network) is falling apart. Maybe it’s just age and glitches. Or maybe it’s…ominous music…something more sinister.

Butch:

Well, you didn’t meet them that you know of. Or THEY know of. If I’m right, Aloy/Gaia/Sobeck doesn’t know she’s Gaia/Sobeck/both. Avad, or Erand, or Roth, or whoever could be Apollo for all they know, and not know it.

You don’t think it’s just a little teeny tiny bit interesting/convenient/ham handed that Apollo is such a big deal and so is the Sundom? The SUNdom for crissakes? The SUN king? The SUN priests? That can’t be an accident.

Something did happen. And I sorta doubt it was Hades. I think it was something that got Hades’ attention.

Something more sinister… Or something came back. Cuz right by Sobeck’s terminal was the news that the spaceship that was going off to save humanity failed. It never got out of the solar system. Which meant it, or chunks of it and what was aboard it, were still out there whirling around. That would be the only pre-Zero dawn organic stuff on earth, if it was that.

You know all the answers to all this, don’t you?

Feminina:

That’s the thing–I don’t know the answers! I mean, I know SOME answers, but not to these big questions.

I also wanted to mention the news about the spaceship failure, but wasn’t sure if you’d seen it yet. Interesting that they included that…there was a spaceship, another hope for humanity, and then they took that away.

They specifically tell us that there are no other humans out there in the universe.

I mean, maybe there are! Maybe a few people miraculously survived the ship’s destruction and built a tiny cryo-pod and froze themselves for a thousand years and only just woke up, or something, but as far as we’re specifically informed, other people did not survive, and are not responsible for anything that’s happening. They really want to stress that everything definitely died, and whatever’s here now is from Zero Dawn.

A clean slate. Is that just a nice break from a narrative standpoint, or do we feel there’s more going on there?

Because something about that all seemed rather pointed to me. There didn’t even have to BE a spaceship–a couple of the datapoints were people scoffing at the idea–but they put one in…and then made sure it didn’t go anywhere.

I may be reading more into it than is there, but then, that’s what we do.

Butch:

They did tell us no one made it….but then, they all stayed in the solar system, or parts of them did. They didn’t lose contact on Alpha Centauri or some shit. They stayed here. Sorta.

Maybe folks didn’t survive, per se, but we do know that the ship was laden with other pre-Zero stuff, too. I get the sense that not a lot of actual biological material was saved, if any, for Zero Dawn. I think it was data files, like “This is DNA, here’s what it does, here’s how you make it” more than actual DNA. The ACTUAL DNA was on the spaceship, which broke up. And something fell 15 years ago from space. Just sayin’.

Reading into things is what we do. But then, maybe we do it too much. After all, maybe it’s all just references to Kojima’s weirdassed unreleased game:

Ya never know.

Feminina:

I found some of those ‘stranded’ items! I thought “whaaa?” It all makes (sort of) sense now!

I never did find the merchant who wanted them, though.

Hm. True. The spaceship was “up there” in some sense, 1,000 years ago, and then something fell down. I had the sense the ship was too far away for things to actually fall to earth from it, but I guess…drifting in space…solar wind…could happen.

And sure, maybe actual DNA from pre-apocalypse life triggers Hades when it collides with…Gaia’s synthesized post-apocalypse DNA…because…minor irregularities not accounted for in the system…? Could be?

Oh, and I meant to say that I too kept sort of half expecting some connection between Apollo and the Sun King/Sundom. One was not explicitly drawn, but maybe in the next game it’ll turn out that Avad is the human avatar of the Apollo program or something.

I could see it!

Butch:

We missed out on warm socks.

I found one item in Sunfall. I saw this special item and was all POWER CELL wait the fuck is this?

Disappointed.

And yeah, let’s not get too bogged down in the details in a game about ROBOT DINOSAURS and the ability, in 40 years, to program and AI that is, basically, God. While I applaud the game for giving us some answers that make sense IN THE CONTEXT OF THE GAME, I think we still must suspend twelve metric tons of disbelief, here.

I still think Hades is mad about humans. And Aloy/Gaia.

“The entity.”

Or the kid could be the Apollo avatar. My next task is to save the kid.

It would be a wonderfully ironic twist is the bad, crazy assed priests were right. He IS the true king! Or, at the very least, the true…very interesting thing! How many games have we played where the savage, nutty cultists are so very delusional? I’d love to see the bad guys be all “Told ya so.”

Which, given how this game has played on overdone tropes, is something this game would totally do. Or the franchise.

Feminina:

So true! “Look, you bunch of do-gooders, the world DOES need to end, and this kid is why, and we’re RIGHT, jerks.”

The game ends with you having to write a letter of apology to the bad guys.

“Dear cultist thugs, I’m so sorry we got off on the wrong foot and I killed 800 of you. I see now that you were right, and regret the misunderstanding. I hope we can work things out and destroy life on earth together. Hail Hades!”

Butch:

HA! Like the threesome of shame, but the apologetic letter of shame.

But then, the good guys, or Sobeck, anyway, who we are led to believe is a good guy, kinda DID end the world once, or let it end. So ya never know.

Anyway, I don’t get that the shadow carja want to end the world. They just want to take over. They think their guy should be in charge. Who’s to say they’re wrong?

Feminina:

Yeah, I don’t think they really want to end the world. Or at least, if they do, they believe it will be reborn with them in charge or whatever. All that “sun in shadow” talk: they think it’s all part of their mythology, and believe that Hades is going to get rid of their enemies, which is true, but don’t realize it will also get rid of them at the same time.

Although even if they did realize it…if they believe Hades is their god, and their god wants to wipe out all life on earth, then that’s what they want too, right?

Butch:

But are they praying to Hades or do they just think it’s a really cool weapon? I read weapon.

Feminina:

They are definitely very into the weapons.

As who wouldn’t be? Corrupted machines and deathbringers, man, those things are awesome.

Crush your enemies, see them driven before you! Hear the lamentations of the…noncombatants. (Updating for a world full of woman fighters.)

Who wouldn’t want those weapons? Obviously, people wanted them back in the day, and that worked out well! Maybe it is like you said, Hades detects that humans are violent and repeating the same mistakes, and that’s why it’s trying to wipe them out.

Kind of a clever trick to use its own machines as both test and eventual planet-sweeper: “here, want some weapons? They’re pretty great! Oh, you do? All right, back to the drawing board.”

Butch:

There is much going on, that there is.

Only you could give us wild internet speculation on a game you finished.

I’m only bearing with you because I know that no game gives all the answers. Ergo, you do not have all the answers.

Of course, you could be lying that you finished. After all the game has no end.

In other news, I just bought another controller for the boys cuz one of my originals finally conked out.

Can we agree that the worlds best disclaimer in the history of legalese disclaimers is, in reference to the DS4 video game controller:

“To be used with the hands only?”

One just wonders what happened to necessitate that…..

A close second is “When using the motion sensor function be cautious….if the controller hits a person or object, this may cause accidental injury or damage.”

In other words, “Don’t bonk dudes with the controller.” Especially if you aren’t using it with your hands.

Feminina:

Oh man, ESPECIALLY if you aren’t using it with the hands. Because…dude. I don’t even want to get into the foot-operated controller injuries in the medical literature.

Ha.

Butch:

Were this Friday, you would not have said foot operated.

Thank God it’s Tuesday.

Feminina:

Yeah, I thought it, but I didn’t say it. The somber restraint of Tuesday prevailed.

Butch:

OK, I was going mad regarding the ‘undiscovered’ line, I so cheated.

Hunting grounds. Which is odd, cuz we found them. I guess you had to blaze them up. Cuz I got half suns at least at one, so maybe that’s the all blaze thing.

And, I think I speak for both of us when I say: Fuck that.

Feminina:

Seriously? Blazing suns in hunting grounds?

No thanks.

But thanks for cheating! Otherwise it would have haunted me too.

Butch:

It just, according to the screencap, just said “Hunting grounds.” That’s it.

Go figure.

At least we didn’t miss something cool.

Feminina:

Indeed. I think someone who worked on the hunting grounds was just mad because they knew people were going to ignore them, so they put that in to mess with us.

Whatever. Still not doing it.

Butch:

Nope. They shall remain undiscovered.

Feminina:

I discovered all I want to know about them. We’re good.

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