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Fairly massive spoilers for the end of Horizon Zero Dawn

Butch:

Ok done. We’ll talk. Later.

Oh and another thing to warn your blog mate about? Timed fights.

Dude.

[Later]

A TIMED fight? Dude. DUDE. The whole point of that armor is “chip, chip, hide, recharge.” You can’t DO that if it’s timed. I didn’t die once. But I ran out of time twice.

But more, that fight, like SO many boss fights are, was a fight that missed what made all the other fights in the game so great. This game was so good at making you think fights through, planning fights, picking your tactics. This fight, with its “over the wall” start, cover that was really for getting out of the way more than hiding to plan, and it’s time limit led it to be a run and shoot and shoot and shoot and hope you get enough shot in fight. By the end, I was just pumping fire arrows in as fast as I could, with no other thought to it at all.

Which was SO disappointing. But it’s a disappointment that seems to present in every damn game. It’s either a bullet sponge fight or a QTE or something stupid that undermines all the cool fights from earlier.

Oh well.

So there’s that. Let’s do that. Then we can do the last scene BEFORE The credits, and then (if you saw the after credit scene what am I talking about of course you did) we can do the after credit scene.

Feminina:

Sorry, man. I didn’t realize timed fights were on the ‘warning’ list. I mean, I know they’re annoying, but just remember to shoot at its knees and pump those fire arrows and it wasn’t THAT bad. Plus I thought there was a little bit of tension/planning in the fact that you had to avoid the OTHER machines when they showed up, because as Erend would keep yelling at you “you focus on the deathbringer! let us handle these!”

But it’s so habitual to fight monsters that show up, that dodging them and running off was a bit of a switch. I mean, yeah, it wasn’t an enormous thoughtful strategic challenge, but I didn’t think it was that bad. By the end I’m just as happy to have something I can plow through and get done with.

Butch:

One of the reasons I lost time (and the game) on one attempt was my misguided attempt to pry a cannon off a ravager. ‘Twas for naught.

I dunno. Maybe I’m annoyed cuz I was looking through my list of games I’ve played (you don’t have one?) and, by my count, the last SIX (this, RotTR and all the Uncharteds) AAA games I’ve played have all ended either with a bullet sponge or a QTE fest or both.

You know how I feel about annoyed end game boss fights. Shit, games, at least make them interesting.

I’ll stop ranting.

So the last scene (Before the credits, you saw the after credit one of course you did):

I finished this Friday night and I’m still digesting.

Lot to unpack here. (Though, as a quick aside before we get to the deep stuff, seeing Avad hug some random guard who was obviously all awkward about it was so wonderfully wonderful.) First, ending on Sobeck’s voiceover. Hmm. I don’t know how I feel about that. This was Aloy’s game….or was it? WAS IT? Second, making it, explicitly, from GAIA’s log. Not Sobeck’s; GAIA’s. Third, having Sobeck’s body there found in a triangle like the metal flowers, which we know were “spreading life.”

The game was trying to say a lot, and there are metaphors all over the damn place (too many?) such that I’m still in ponder mode all this time after.

You’ve been done longer. You give me your take.

Feminina:

I did actually get a gun off a ravager once!–but it lost me more time than it gained me in damage.

My list of games I’ve played is this blog. Anything before the blog is lost to the sands of time.

So, yeah…the triangle of flowers we’ve seen around the metal flowers. Spreading life. Coded life. Did that all come from Dr. Sobeck somehow? I do not freakin’ know, man. It was definitely a “whoa…what the hell?” moment.

Obviously it Means Something, but I don’t know what.

As for ending on Sobeck’s/Gaia’s journal, I assumed that was the last of the materials Aloy picked up that her focus had been working on unscrambling, so not so much a literal Sobeck/Gaia voiceover, as a “here’s a final piece of the puzzle that explains the past.”

Sort of. What did it explain, exactly? The relationship between Sobeck and Gaia, Gaia’s developing ‘humanity,’ Sobeck’s potential relationship with Aloy herself, had she ever had the chance to meet her.

Her work (Gaia, the green robots, the whole new world) was her child. Her child (Gaia, Aloy, sort of) was her work, and continued her work when she was gone. A sort of circle-of-life message. Sobeck was human and created all these machines. Aloy is human even though she was created by these machines. Human created god to save humans, god created human to save god. Interdependency.

And for Aloy I think it was meant to be something concrete about where she came from and a connection with her ‘mother’ (older genetic twin), as well as HER mother (in Sobeck’s story)–who is in a sense actually Aloy’s mother as well (she finally found her!), and who in another sense is her grandmother (connecting Aloy to a human history of multiple generations).

From the beginning Aloy wanted to know who she was and where she came from and why her mother wasn’t there. This felt like a kind of capstone on the explanation she found in bits and pieces throughout the game. THIS is who her mother was, this is where she came from, and this is why her mother wasn’t there…and, crucially, it’s not because she didn’t care.

I dunno. It wasn’t super explicit, but I thought it held together in terms of mood. I was a LITTLE skeptical that Sobeck’s body would still have been there out in the open after 1,000 years, especially given that rampaging robots were eating everything in sight when she died, but…suit…fending off the elements…hiding her from the robots…whatever, I won’t question too much.

Butch:

I did not get the ravager gun. Indeed, I was trying like hell when she said something about time and I said “Hey, what now? Oh…oh my….”

Fair point about games. I keep a list. By year. Cuz I have no life.

As for the ending, there was certainly a whole mess of trinity imagery all over it. GAIA kept saying to Sobeck “In you, all things are possible,” we certainly get that GAIA, at least, would consider Aloy both Sobeck’s clone and child, and if that isn’t all Christian, what is?

For a game that we’ve talked on being so unreligious, that was a very religious ending, I must say.

Or maybe not. You’re the mother, here. Did you read it all motherly? There was a lot of motherhood going on there, too.

True, I read it that way as well, with the voiceover being a journal/data fragment. But it was an interesting narrative choice to have the final words we hear after 70 hours be between Sobeck and GAIA. They didn’t have to end it that way, but they did. Sobeck saying “see you tomorrow.” Not Aloy, not Sylens, or Rost, or Avad, or anyone. Sobeck, to GAIA, with Aloy just looking on.

True about it not being that Aloy’s mother didn’t care. WAAAAY back in the lantern scene before the proving (remember that?) I picked “For my mother,” and Aloy was all “If I had known you BEFORE YOU ABANDONED ME (emphasis added).” I guess Sobeck didn’t abandon anyone, and maybe Aloy is cool with that?

Certainly for a reason.

As for the well-preserved body, I don’t know, unless there was something special about Sobeck even then. We’re sorta taking on faith that in a game where all this was possible that Sobeck was just a really smart person. Remember the first time we hear GAIA says “In you all things are possible” Sobeck shuts it off midsentence.

GAIA is surrounded by all sorts of super smart people. But she has a special thing for Sobeck. Maybe Sobeck isn’t as normal as we think.

It did hold together in terms of mood. Though, if we’re questioning, how did Aloy know where to go?

And I STILL don’t know why Rost said “I’m sorry” in that post death montage.

But for all the questions, I think this game did a much better job than other games in tying up a lot of loose ends. No game is perfect at that (some very good games are fucking terrible at it), so I’m satisfied.

But still…how’d she know where home is? Why’d Rost apologize? Besides being all “Yippie, we’re not dead” what’s the state of humanity?

And, most importantly, what’s with the ROBOT DINOSAURS? Aloy fixing shit obviously turned a lot of bad things off. Did it turn all the sawteeth and ravagers off? It didn’t turn EVERYTHING off, cuz she’s riding a strider at the end. We saw the deathbringer that was going to kill that kid get turned off, but the strider is a-ok.

Questions.

I suppose we’ll have story DLC and a sequel that will answer so very many questions raise AFTER the credits, won’t we? You watched that?

Blog segue…….

Feminina:

Hm. It is true…maybe Sobeck (and hence Aloy, if it’s genetic) is super special in some way that we haven’t yet seen. Extremely high midichlorian count or something. Ha.

And yeah, there was a lot of religious-like imagery, which is interesting considering our recent discussion of how little patience Aloy has with unsubstantiated religious beliefs. The difference here being, of course, that this isn’t unsubstantiated.

As for the world and all the machines, my reading was that defeating Hades (FOR NOW…ominous music–of course I watched after the credits) reversed the ‘derangement’ s that, presumably, the machines would stop getting more hostile and building scarier robots, but that other than the deathbringer, it wouldn’t stop them.

The deathbringer, remember, was part of the original killer robot horde that wiped out life on the planet, while the other machines we see around were designed by Gaia, presumably to fill ecological niches that she didn’t have the animal DNA for (though a lot of this remains unclear, so I could be wrong). Hades didn’t need to corrupt the deathbringer to make it…you know, bring death…where the other machines had to be corrupted to make them really go out of their way to go after humans. Even the nasty ones, if not corrupted, seemed to mostly leave people alone if people didn’t go into their territory.

And they had a hell of a lot of territory, so this is not a “hey, no problem!” kind of situation, but there’s still a difference between “I hang out here, enter at your own risk” and “I hang out here being all roiling and poisonous and cultists can command me to do their bidding.”

So as I saw it, we’re basically back to the world the tribes are used to, with the machines there but not as likely to attack villages and such. Because, I mean, you can’t have a sequel with no ROBOT DINOSAURS.

I have no insight on Rost. I mean, maybe he just felt bad that he basically told her he was going to disappear and never be seen again, right before he died. Maybe he had some secret that will turn up in the sequel. I dunno…he certainly had a story, and we certainly never found out what it was, so I could see it coming up again.

This game was all about mothers, maybe the next will be about fathers, and Rost was her father, effectively, so maybe she’ll go investigating his story next.

Butch:

The thought crossed my mind, and please don’t go there, game. Don’t. Not with the midichlorians.

And, well, wait. Unsubstantiated how? We know STUFF happened, but is it divine sort of stuff or just sciencey stuff? You started all this by saying Sobeck’s body was spreading code or something. There could be all sorts of perfectly reasonable explanations for all of this (and, indeed, this game gave more reasonable explanations for its nonsense than most other games). Aloy and GAIA and Sobeck could be reading my analysis and being all “C’mon, MAN! Stop it!”

About the machines: Yup. Tramplers, say. Tramplers were bad news. But they didn’t try to go nuts.

As for the DNA, I thought that made game sense. We know Apollo got deleted (I think, more on that in a bit), but the DNA was in one of the other protocols, I thought. So GAIA knew enough to make animals, just not to give them the knowledge of the old ones (maybe. More on that in a bit).

You could have a sequel without ROBOT DINOSAURS. But there’d have to be a whole TON of romance to get me to play it. Ha. Sorta ha.

She did keep going back to Rost. We’re not done with Rost.

And we’ll certainly have more story cuz AFTER CREDIT SCENE!

Now, first, I’m gonna put an asterisk next to your (For NOW…dum bum DUM) characterization of HADES. I think HADES isn’t really the bad guy. Sure, his role to end all life is very inconvenient if you happen to BE a living thing, sure. But I read him more as a tool than as a bad guy. We see him getting pulled around by a robot, unable to move. He ends up in a lantern, being carried around. Bossed around, even. He was really just doing his job and it wasn’t necessarily an evil job (inconvenient, yes, but not evil). After all, HADES was just as much a part of Zero Dawn as GAIA or Apollo or Minerva or anything. He, too, was part of Sobeck’s grand master plan. He wasn’t something someone made to say “That Sobeck, being all goody goody, I’ll show her…..” He was part of the plan! Her plan! The good guy’s plan!

So I think we gotta cut him some slack. Even if he was trying to kill everything.

Sylens, however…..

Now, the big thing that bugs me is the whole “How is HADES teaching anyone anything if Apollo got deleted?” Wasn’t Apollo all human knowledge? How is Sylens learning anything?

So we know Calculus and physics and whatever else survived. But HOW, dammit, HOW? DLC/sequel city.

So it’s time for….you guessed it…WILD SPECULATION!!!!!!

You know who didn’t entirely like Sobeck? Faro. You know who was always a bit jealous of Sobeck? Faro. You know who SAID he deleted Apollo? Faro. You know who we know made his OWN shelter for himself for the end of the world? Faro.

I’m gonna bet that, at some point in this franchise, we’re gonna visit that shelter, and there’ll be answers there.

Feminina:

Totally with you on Faro! That dude had issues, and also lots of resources, and we can be damn sure he hid some good info somewhere. And we’re going to find it, eventually.

Not totally with you on Apollo being all knowledge and therefore without Apollo no one can know anything. I read Apollo as a teaching program designed to store and pass on all knowledge, not necessarily the only repository of any knowledge. So, info that’s in the focuses (foci?) or wherever would have been duplicated in Apollo, but deleting Apollo doesn’t wipe it off every other device where it was ever saved.

I think it’s quite likely there’s a version of Apollo out there somewhere, but I also think that even if there isn’t, it’s not logically inconsistent to have some devices out there that are capable of teaching people some things.

Hades knows some things, and can teach Sylens some things, maybe just because it needs to be able to compare existing conditions with its list of “kill” conditions. You probably need to understand a lot of basic math and physics and biology, human history maybe, and who knows what all to be able to assess a bustling, life-having world and determine whether or not it meets whatever parameters have been established for “Success: Do Not Delete.”

What I’m still wondering about is what ARE those parameters? What is it about Aloy’s world that makes Hades want to hit the reset button?

Could it be the robot dinosaurs themselves? We know Gaia liked ancient forms of life that didn’t exist anymore when she was built, there was that bit where she was musing about how sad it was that dinosaurs weren’t alive anymore, or whatever. Maybe the machines are not actually part of the program at all, but Gaia made them because she likes them (because they remind her of Sobeck, with her green robot technology?), and Hades sees them and sees that they aren’t supposed to be there and decides it’s time to start over?

It would be interesting if the defining feature of this world is what makes Hades implacably determined to destroy it.

And I do agree that Hades is not, in itself, the bad guy. It’s more a force of nature (or of the technology that plays the role of nature now) than an purposefully malevolent villain. And I don’t think Sylens was intentionally trying to wipe out life on earth, although we have to be very, very suspicious of him now that he’s…trapped Hades in a lantern…somehow…because a Hades-trapping-flashdrive in lantern form would totally have been lying around somewhere….

Perhaps we shouldn’t dig too deeply on that one either.

Butch:

When, in a game, a dude mentions a gold plated shelter for himself, you are GOING to that place eventually.

I dunno, though. In that last “everyone dies” hologram, when he mentions he wiped Apollo, their reaction was “Centuries…millennia…countless cultures…all gone. Gone!”

They were pretty emphatic about “gone.” They were not “Hey, whatever, man, we have other copies.”

Hmm, good point about pieces of knowledge, though. Travis does say that part of it is chemical balance of the atmosphere, etc. Basic “can this support life” stuff, but that doesn’t seem to be the whole thing. So it must know something. But how much? Sylens certainly seems to think “a whole fucking lot.”

That would be awesome if HADES hated the ROBOT DINOSAURS.

“MUST DESTROY. ROBOT DINOSAURS!”
“But then no one will buy the sequels!”
“Ummm…..MUST DESTROY ANYWAY!”

But I still hold that the problem is humanity. We are the problem! After all, Sylens DID say that the slaughter in the sun ring, all of that, predated HADES showing up. What did in humanity in the first place was war and hate and all that. Maybe HADES just chills when it’s all rabbits and foxes and boars, or even ROBOT DINOSAURS! but when humans show up and start killing each other, HADES goes all “Whoopsie, that’s what sucked the last time.”

Morals, man. Morals.

The end of the game there: “If I had a child, I’d hope she’d be good, kind, she’d make the world better.” The good guys save the world through kindness, unity, charity, etc. Too much of the other? Bad news, man. And, if you teach GAIA to feel that being good is fundamentally good, then, by extension, being evil is bad. And since the same person ran both programs….

Oh, I don’t think Sylens was trying to destroy the world, either. I think he wanted Aloy to save the world. I don’t think Sylens has any sort of death wish. I think he wants to be what Faro wasn’t: a genius, richer than hell, but able to deal with all of that in a way that doesn’t lead to him alone underground. He wants to be the Sun King and Elon Musk all rolled into one, and saving humanity is necessary for that.

Feminina:

Oh, I agree that Apollo is an enormous loss and people were hugely freaked out by it, but I think the loss was more cultural. People mentioned the great cultures, human history, art, literature. I think that’s probably all gone with Apollo. But I think a lot of basic scientific knowledge, stripped of this cultural context, could easily have survived in various devices that were designed to measure things, project patterns, etc. That’s why I’m saying Hades could still have plenty to teach Sylens (and Aloy’s focus could still have plenty to teach her). You don’t need to be programmed with the entirety of human cultural history to teach reading, or how to scan for the weak parts of a machine, or whatever.

And when your baseline of scientific education is “nothing,” then anything Hades could provide would count as a huge increase, even without Plato and Shakespeare and what-not.

I’m intrigued by your theory that humans themselves are the problem, though that seems like a pretty big flaw in a plan to protect the existence of humans on earth. Though this could be more of that religious aspect…

“We shall create this incomprehensibly vast technological marvel to preserve the remnants of humanity! Oh, and if these humans do any of the bad things humans are known for doing, they shall be destroyed.”

Very garden of Eden, sin and you shall be cast out (where ‘cast out’ = ‘utterly obliterated’).

And it’s possible this is at work, since Faro did erase Apollo with the logic that future humans, without the contamination of knowledge, would be innocent.

Maybe he was all “they’ll totally never do anything bad without this wicked, wicked knowledge, so it’s fine to set Hades to wipe them out as soon as they do.”

If this is true, then here’s yet another interfering god-figure, trying to shape the future. I could buy it.

Man, I want to be playing the sequel right now.

Oh, and what percent did you finish at? How many hours? We must compare!

Butch:

Ah but see, they had to rush on Zero Dawn. It IS a big flaw, but if they were rushing and cut corners and punched in “trigger hades if there’s a threat to humanity ” they might not have thought “oh wait…that could be humans.”

Faro will certainly be a contrary God figure.

I, too, eagerly await the sequel. Remember when we were all “should we play that? I dunno…looks odd…but there isn’t much else….”

Silly us.

70:45, 83.5%. Those cauldrons counted for a lot.

Feminina:

Wow, I did an entire day more than you? Yeah, those cauldrons…and tutorials…and corrupted zones…and hunting grounds…and…I dunno, you did all the major stuff. I just I must have just spent a lot of hours rambling around.

We exhibited a healthy skepticism, that’s all. We can’t automatically assume everything that has ROBOT DINOSAURS in it is going to be great. It could have been Dino-Trux: the Game! We weren’t wrong to be wary.

We were right to take the chance, however.

Butch:

You did all the cauldrons, got all the flowers, did the tutorials, the corrupted zones, etc. I did not. I missed some of each. And all the tutorials.

A whole day. That…puts things in perspective.

What’s wrong with Dino-Trux the game? You can poop cement everywhere!

Yes, readers, we’re parents.

Feminina:

Yeah, think of it–you could have completed as much as I did, if you wanted to spend 24 more hours playing! That’s only probably…another month…maybe…

You make a good point: the Dino-Trux game is going to be amazing and I can’t wait to get it! I’m sure it will be packed with themes and rich character development. And burping, and pooping cement.

Seriously, cannot wait.

Butch:

Another month.

You cut me deep. Cuz it’s true.

Feminina:

I was only trying to make you feel better by stressing how you made the right choice to forego all those things, and how nice it is to be done now instead of a month from now!

Sorry if if came across like gloating over the fact that I have sufficient additional free time that I can spend a month’s worth of extra game sessions on something and still be done first. I definitely would never express any unseemly glee about a thing like that. It would never even occur to me until right now.

But hey, you still have a Pro and a better TV.

Butch:

Even after lo these many, many years of friendship, I never really know….

Sylens got nothing on you, man.

Feminina:

I do have a copy of Hades in my nightlight.

Just in case.

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