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Some spoilers for Horizon Zero Dawn Frozen Wilds DLC

Butch:

See, this is blogging for you. Friday, I didn’t play much, but I was awake and the kids were quiet and we wrote wonderful things. Now? I played. Did a bunch, actually. But I didn’t sleep well, haven’t had coffee, a busy couple of days loom ahead and I’m all “So…what did I do?”

Sigh.

Well, what did I do?

The bit with the shaman and the spirit. Still figuring on what the picture meant. Wanted to say to Aloy “Girlfriend? You kill shit daily, and you’re just gonna let her get away with ‘I can’t tell you about Sylens?'” Then I ran like hell from a daemonic thunderjaw and a daemonic frostclaw. Decided to go up to get the rail part for my spear (which I did…did you? We can talk on that), picked up a side quest about missing hunters who don’t want to be found (that is promising bloggage), then went and took my spear thingy back to the dude, upgraded my spear, talked to Bergerand or whoever and got the OTHER missing dudes quest, called it a day.

I didn’t get so much contempt from Aloy about the shaman’s obviously wrong beliefs as you did. Sure, she wasn’t all “The spirit SPEAKS!” and we didn’t expect her to be. I thought her real incredulity was about being chief, like “DUDE first the Nora want me to be a savior, and the Carja wanted me to be queen, and you want me to be CHIEF???”

What’s weird is that she’s so very sick of people wanting her to be the answer to all their problems, and yet we have no way for her to say no to a quest. She plops down at a campfire and is all

Aloy: GRRRRRAAAAH! I can’t fucking BELIEVE they want me to be chief! Can’t ANYONE do ANYTHING themselves? I’m just a girl, here! I mean first it’s the Nora and then it’s-
Kevin: Excuse me? Sorry to interrupt.
Aloy: Yes?
Kevin: Could you go way the fuck up on that glacier and fight 27 evil beasts to get the mug I left up there?
Aloy: Yeah, sure! Love to!

Feminina:

Nice! We can work with this!

I actually was talking about the “search for people who don’t want to be found,” rather than the main-quest shaman bit, when I mentioned Aloy’s lack of damns to give about cultural relativism.

Because I agree, she was pretty considerate of Ourea’s interpretation of the “spirit” — there was a bit of an eyeroll when she said the word, but she was basically polite.

Whereas I got a strong sense of “dude, I’ve got zero respect for your stupid ancient traditions” when she was talking to the chieftan guy about the hunters who went missing during this ordeal.

Short paraphrase:

“So, you’re just going to leave them to die?!”

“It is our way: they have undertaken this ritual and would not want us to interfere. They must survive alone, or not at all, for even so has it ever been done by our people, since the days of–”

“Yeah, well, that’s stupid. I’m going to go look for them.”

And see, me myself, as a player, I was thinking “OK, well, we do need to respect their customs, and if this is something these hunters chose to do, we should respect their choice, because they are autonomous adults who knew the risks and have the right to undertake them,” etc. etc. I’m being all sensitive and liberal and respectful of other cultures, right? The Prime Directive, man!

But Aloy will have none of that.

Which is interesting to compare to her slightly sarcastic but polite tolerance of the shaman’s beliefs. We could ask, why is she all “fine, call it a spirit even though it’s a machine, whatever, what do we do about it?” in one instance, and “no way man, your beliefs are flat wrong and I won’t stand for it” in the other?

I think probably we could answer “because human lives are directly at stake in one case.”

It doesn’t actively harm anyone at the moment if the shaman believes that the AI that talked to her is a spirit, and has placed it into her understanding of Banuk mythology in a certain way. (I mean, depending on how you define ‘spirit,’ it’s not even wrong. Ourea doesn’t have the historical context Aloy has, but she correctly perceives that she’s communicating with an entity that is not bound to the physical world in the same way she is, but that nevertheless has limitations.)

Whereas the werak leader’s insistence on holding to his tradition means that people are going to die, right here in the general area, very soon. Aloy doesn’t like people dying! Unless she’s killing them, I mean.

I think it’s also likely that if in the future Aloy thinks there’s something to be gained by telling Ourea more of the truth as she understands it, with her more extensive grasp of the history involved, she will totally do it. Honestly she seems to accept Ourea’s interpretation of the ‘spirit’ as much out of convenience as anything: there’s no real reason to argue theology at that point, and she knows it’s complicated, so she doesn’t bother.

Butch:

Ah, yes. She was a bit tougher on that guy.

Not to derail this, but did you think she was polite cuz polite or polite just because she needed/wanted something from Ourea? She didn’t need anything from the hunter dude, so she had nothing to lose by saying “oh, fuck off.” She really, really needed something from Ourea, so it could be manipulative politeness.

But I digress.

I was with you on this, but not because of sensitivity. I have a feeling (haven’t done it yet) that this isn’t gonna end well. We’ll save them, which will get them exiled or stripped of rank or something. Worse, they’re probably just fine, or don’t want to come back, or whatever. This is more than likely a “Aloy should’ve left the fuck alone” quest.

Re: the religion discussion being complicated, yup, yup, see above. Though I agree with the practical bit more than the lives are on the line bit. The most perturbed we’ve seen her with old traditions was with the Nora themselves, and no lives were on the line there. In fact, she could have thought “Well, this is bullshit, but I can use it to whip them into a zealousness that will cause them to fight with the might of twelve armies, thus helping me save the world!” Could’ve saved lives by feeding into what she believed was their delusion. But she didn’t.

Which, if you take that she put up with Ourea because she needed something, all this makes her look a tad selfish….

Feminina:

Ah, but what is ‘selfishness,’ anyway? Is it ‘selfish’ to deprive 40 bandit Kevins of potentially long, happy lives so we can collect some loot they happened to be in the way of?

Ha. But really, it’s true that a lot of what we do in the main quest is arguably kind of selfish, in that we’re doing things in order to achieve our own ends, more than to benefit other people.

We certainly take on a lot of sidequests to help people (though, of course, in a larger sense…are we really retrieving that lost mug to make that guy happy, or because we personally want the adventure/XP?), but in the main quest, it’s often kind of about “I’ll do/say whatever it takes to get what I need.”

In our defense, our goals in main-quest-related stories ARE pretty important, so is it selfish of Aloy to be politer to Ourea than she might normally because she wants something, or is it actually selfLESS because she’s putting her own truth-speaking inclinatations aside in service to the greater good (of, in this case, finding out what’s going on with the machines, which given what we know about the pending machine takeover attempt, is potentially kind of a big deal)?

Also, I forgot to answer your other question–I did get the rail for the spear, but haven’t been back to have the guy do anything with it yet. I was quite amused by that twist…you’re all “yeah yeah, metal birds, it’s probably another glinthawk nest,” and then you get there and see that “oh, it’s ‘metal birds’ in a more figurative sense!”

Although one does kind of wonder why the shaman chose to call airplanes metal birds, given that ACTUAL metal birds are extremely common, and don’t look that much like planes. And also he presumably has never seen the planes fly, so in what sense even ARE they like birds to him? But no matter. It’s probably a mystical Banuk thing. And it was funny.

And I found a Montana Recreations figurine down there, which was good. Have you talked to the Montana Recreations guy?

Butch:

Re: Kevin: Not at all. That’s what Kevins are for. Shall we deprive Kevin of his destiny? I think not.

About Aloy’s goals being important, thing is…I think another way this game differs from other games is that the whole “saving the world” thing is sort of secondary to her motivations. Yeah, sure, end of the world, bad, that sort of thing, but she gets sucked into saving the world not because SOMEONE MUST AND THAT SOMEONE WILL BE ME! but because she wants her own answers about herself. This isn’t Shepard, sterling hero who shall conquer evil just because. It isn’t even Evelyn the Inquisitor, who didn’t really ask for the the mark thingy, but felt “Well, shit, since I have it, might as well save the world!” Even Sylens’ snarky comment as we climb up “Well you have fun playing in the snow….why worry about saving the world?” and her “Yup.” plays into that. The world can wait. I have my own problems. And wants.

And yeah, sure, lord knows everyone else gets distracted by side quests and nudity, but Aloy is so unrepentant about it, and that’s a difference.

The closest, I think, we saw in this was TW3. Geralt was motivated by finding and protecting Siri. The rest of the world was a nice benefit, but his primary goal was Siri. You got the sense that, but for Siri, he’d be all “yeah…let someone else deal with the hunt. I’m gonna play gwent.”

The ‘metal birds’ being planes was amusing. But also rather sinister. Did you find the audio log at the end there? That Blevins, man….getting less funny.

Go to the guy about the spear. Actual helpful loot.

I have not talked to the Montana Recreations guy, though I did find that figure and a couple others. Just hanging on to them. Because, you know, one does. Where’s the dude that wants them?

Feminina:

Yeah, Blevins…he keeps turning up, doesn’t he? And you’re right, it only keeps getting more sinister. At first, with the Last Girls on Earth, I was sort of giving him a bit of benefit of the doubt. Yeah, they both hated him and thought he was a creep, and his messages were certainly obnoxious, but it could have been a garden variety obnoxious boss thing. But the more you learn about him, the more he starts to seem actively malicious.

Maybe his will be one old story that DOES end with “aaaaaaaaah, I’m being torn apart by robots!!!” and we’ll feel that he deserved it.

Montana Recreations is by Old Faithful. Which is totally on this map! So apparently we’re in what used to be Wyoming. Aloy gets around. Anyway, the building is over by a couple of those brightly colored pools on the map, sort of in the middle. There’s a guy there who wants those figurines. You must selflessly take them to him!

Speaking of which, it’s true, Aloy on main quest has always seemed to be motivated as much by her own curiosity and thirst for knowledge as by any kind of generalized do-gooder urge to help the world. She wanted to know where she came from, and what all this stuff meant.

But the point about the side quests remains, I guess. As we’ve discussed, there’s not even an option for refusing them, so Aloy is in fact just inherently motivated by a desire to help people with whatever. Maybe this goes back to the “people’s lives are at risk so screw your traditions” vs. “yeah, believe whatever you want” thing.

Maybe we could say that she’s driven by two things.

First, she wants to help people, in immediate, measurable ways — but she’s not completely convinced that they need or want to know everything she knows, so if it doesn’t have an immediate, measurable impact on their well-being, she’s not going to say much about what they believe and whether it matches up with the reality she perceives. That’s essentially unselfish. She will go (far) out of her way to make people feel better, physically and/or mentally. And she learns stuff as she goes, plus people give her things, so it’s not unrewarding for her, but she never ASKS for compensation, and plenty of times she doesn’t find any new datapoints or anything, so that’s not what it’s about.

Second, she really wants to know things, about herself, the past, basically everything (she is the clone of a brilliant scientist) — and she will pursue that knowledge regardless of what anyone else thinks about it or what they say about her priorities. That is arguably selfish, though I personally am sypathetically inclined towards the idea that the pursuit of knowledge is a worthy one, even if it isn’t always about saving the world. But again, even though knowledge is such a huge motivator for her, she doesn’t assume that everyone else is equally interested (or really ANYone else, which is why her relationship with Sylens works so well as a complicated, possibly treacherous but still rewarding one), and so unless the information has some direct bearing on their well being, she doesn’t go around pushing it on other people.

Which could be seen as selfish, if we think of her as hoarding this knowledge, or maybe patronizing/condescending if she’s hoarding it out of a feeling that “these puny-brained people can’t handle the truth, not like me,” but I don’t really get that sense from her.

It really seems like she refrains from telling everyone “hey guys, did you know that machines were a runaway invention of the Old Ones that destroyed all life on Earth, and we’re only here because someone designed an artificial intelligence to reseed the planet, and that’s what we sometimes talk to in the mountains?” because it’s a long, complicated story that most people probably won’t believe even if they care enough to listen. She’s not an evangelist: she doesn’t feel it’s her sacred duty to enlighten anyone. You go ahead and believe what you believe, true or not, and she’s basically fine with that as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone.

In that way, maybe she DOES actually give a damn about cultural relativism, since she has a pretty modern take on religion. “Your religion isn’t my business, as long as you don’t expect me to follow your rules, and as long as you’re not hurting anybody.”

She’s a humanist, I guess. “Your religion isn’t my business, but people are.”

Butch:

Blevins does seem more and more sinister. Arming the drones? The dude asking “Why does Faro need armed drones out this far?” Creepy.

I shall! I shall selflessly take the figurines to the dude! I noticed those pools! I figured they’d have something good near them. No game map has such a distinct feature without something happening there.

And, as for geography, I was torturing myself trying to make it work that that was the Hoover dam. Not that it really mattered, but it would’ve been cool. But slightly odd, because, with the exception of “Denver,” we haven’t seen anything “real,” until Old Faithful, I guess. We’ve talked on how this game stays away from that.

(As an aside, in my last sentence, I originally typed “These games” instead of “this game,” which is quite the Freudian slip. We want what we want.)

As for Aloy, well, if you combine those two things, selfish and helpful, we get what we sometimes forget she is: a teenager. We’re so used to heroes being at least adults, if not old adults (such as Geralt and Joel). World wise, our heroes. Aloy is not. She is, in many ways, a kid. Curious, yet self centered. Willing to charge headlong into danger without thought, scared of flirting. We’re not used to that in games, and she isn’t obviously depicted or voiced as young, so it’s easy to forget, but she is a kid.

And she’s motivated like a kid is.

So, humanist, or, again, she’s young and self centered and naive, all at the same time. Take my kids, who are older than yours (mostly). Junior has no patience whatsoever for big, complicated reasons for deep, meaningful things (that don’t involve physics, or quantum mechanics…..fuck it you know what I mean), and he can go from fighting his brothers because they played with a toy he hasn’t cared about in two years, to being moved to tears if he thinks a bird has lost its flock. That swing from total selfishness to almost unreasonable empathy is just part of kidness.

Feminina:

It’s true, she is young, which makes her passions and possible inconsistencies unsurprising. “I’m just going to do exactly what I want because obviously that is the most important thing in the world, but also, aww, someone is sad, let me help!”

We also can’t forget that she was raised an outcast, so she has limited experience with human society, and is ‘socially’ even younger than she is chronologically. Maybe a certain reticence is just part of that…maybe she’s going to start telling everyone all about the AIs and the Old Ones once she gets her social footing, but she’s still in ‘watch and learn’ mode.

Watch and learn, and help people when they’re sad, because she hasn’t all the practice ignoring sad people that she’d get growing up surrounded by customs and traditions.

Other than the ones that said “don’t talk to outcasts.”

Butch:

The outcast thing does add to it, it does.

And the game reinforces the “growing up” aspect of things. Remember, it starts with her as a baby, then you play as a child. The more I ponder, the more I’m convinced these inconsistencies were intentional.

Especially considering the very well done awkward flirting.

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