Spoilers for Horizon Zero Dawn DLC, Frozen Wilds
So I played until I said “Security measures engaged? That’s gotta be the daemonic thunderjaw Femmy hinted at yup there it is fuck that not tonight.”
Which is a lot!
So some thoughts:
So do you think Sylens IS a shaman or was just fooling them, too? If he’s not, who the hell is he? If he’s not Banuk, why did he have those blue lines? What ARE those blue lines anyway? SO MANY QUESTIONS!!!!!
Thank God Ourea and Aratuk kick ass.
But here’s something: The Yellowstone Caldera. This is a real thing, yes? Yes. A very real threat to the world, in real life, right here, today. We’ve talked on how this game doesn’t (generally) use real things from real life the way, say, Fallout does. We didn’t go through the game being all “Hey! That’s that thing! And that thing!” the way we tromped through Boston seeing everything from Fenway Park to fucking CONCORD (which I do believe is real).
Not only that, unlike Fallout, the thing that ended the world in Horizon isn’t real. There are nuclear weapons. There are not ROBOT DINOSAURS. Or deathbringers or whatever that eat dolphins. Horizon did a very thorough job at keeping real life, 2017 things OUT of the game.
Except now. Yellowstone is a real place. And, like nuclear weapons, the Caldera is a very real, very scary threat to us all, here in 2017.
And I’m not sure I like the switch. Not because I find it too upsetting or whatever, but it’s a big tonal shift. Either have a post modern world that has all sorts of reminders or don’t.
But I haven’t finished. One thing I DO like is that THIS threat to humanity (that is, the Yellowstone Caldera) is a NATURAL threat. We’ve played games that end the world with real human based threats (nuclear weapons) and things that don’t exist (TLOU), but this is the first time I’ve played anything that’s evokes a real life, natural threat. Which, contrasted to the very much man made thing that ended Horizon’s world, is neat. I do want to finish and talk on that, cuz I hope they’re making a point here that isn’t so jarring.
That is a lot!
The daemonic thunderjaw is gonna be great. As you say, at least Aratak and Ourea can hold their own in a fight. Even as a badass, lean, mean machine-fighting machine, I appreciated some help in that cauldron.
Which…hm. I see your point about the real-world threat seeming a bit out of place in a game heavily focused on unreal (or at least highly theoretical) threats, but I don’t know if I completely agree that this is the first time it’s come up, and as a result, I didn’t personally find it distracting.
I mean, a LOT of the data fragments you find out in the world reference pretty catastophic climate change, which is a real-world threat (in the sense that it’s a very convincing Chinese hoax, I mean–damn it, even trying to joke about our insanely stupid politics makes me want to punch something). Anyway, since present-day Wyoming is not a land of perpetual arctic chill, at least not last time I was there, I assume we actually see some of the aftermath of that change in the game world. (Presumably the destruction and reseeding of life on the planet would not by itself have altered climate patterns so dramatically, although undoubtedly it would have an atmospheric effect: the oxygen cycle and all.)
My point being, even if Aloy has not personally had to confront a lot of real-world threats in her story, the world of the game has incorporated them as a fundamental part of the backdrop from the beginning. Pollution, climate change, the Claw-back (from the brink of annihilation, presumably), the development of the ‘green’ machines that eventually led to the machines that destroyed everything: a very serious real-world environmental issue, and how humans dealt with it and wound up creating the fictional technological issue that is more immediate to our ‘day-to-day’ experience of the game, is at the heart of the story.
So it didn’t really bother me that the Yellowstone Caldera and how humans had dealt with it turned up in this side-story now. It felt more like “here’s another example of human ingenuity back in the day, that has been adapted in unexpected ways in the present.” It was also interesting to me that in this case the adapting was done by another AI, rather than by humans: it was a nice parallel to the way that the dam is now basically seen as a big mysterious musical instrument. Humans find old stuff and make use of it in ways that they value, and similarly an AI found this old facility and is making use of it in a way it values.
I guess it kind of stresses that we can’t know or control who’s going to find the things we leave behind, or what they’re going to do with them.
This is exactly why I believe in keeping boxes of spider-infested rags around the house for future generations to discover.
Oh, and re: Sylens, that’s such a good question! I don’t know–it certainly seems plausible that he was never Banuk, and just learned enough about them to fake being a shaman in order to get at their hidden knowledge. He’s dedicated enough to thread glowing blue wires through his skin to make the lie convincing, no doubt.
It seems also possible that he was originally Banuk, the way Aloy was Nora, but abandoned them when he realized he needed to go farther to find out what he wanted to know.
Sylens remains a mystery. Perhaps we will find out more in the sequel.
I see…in my future….turning down the difficulty….
Which shouldn’t be all that bad. I did manage to chip away about a third of its health on regular difficulty, and I only died because I fell into lava, not because IT killed me. I’ll be fine. I think. I hope. Now I jinxed it.
I am VERY glad that I upgraded the storm stick thingy. That thing is awesome. That made that scorcher before in the battle previous just go away.
Though I knew I was getting tired and didn’t have a thunderjaw fight in me when I died three times on the watchers/scorcher. I learned, three times, that it’s never, ever a good idea to miss that first watcher. Take out the first watcher with one shot. Always. Three misses? Bad.
Though, on that, my companions here are good in fights. I’ll give them that. But in that watcher/scorcher fight, I FINALLY took out the first watcher all stealthy and stuff, and they must’ve thought that me firing meant “Oh it’s ON!” cuz then they just fucking charged. I was all “No! No! oh, you’re drawing fire and nothing sees me. Carry on.”
At least those two didn’t fuck up the part where we had to sneak by, like, everything.
There was a lot about climate change, that there was. But there was also a lot about how catastrophic climate change got FIXED. They made a point of mentioning real world threats (well, 2017 real world threats) only to say “Don’t worry, by the time this game gets around to destroying the world, it’ll be a whole different set of threats.” It would be like Fallout being “Well, everyone destroyed all their nuclear weapons, and there was peace and love and joy, until the twinkies mutated and wiped out civilization.” It was almost like the game was intentionally telling us to ignore current threats entirely. And now this.
But hey, yeah, why IS Yellowstone so damn cold? Hmm.
Boy, they better do more on Sylens.
Though…this also bugged me: He’s supposed to see all with her focus, right? So how come he’s not chiming in here? Like all “Knock it off, Aloy, don’t question me. I’m Lance Reddick.”
Well, yeah, “we totally solved that climate change thing!”, but also “we totally solved that Yellowstone thing!” So in both cases things were great(-ish) until other things happened.
I dunno, I kind of liked the reminder that the entire planet is still there doing its thing on a geologic timescale, regardless of the presence or absence of life scurrying around on the surface. Plate tectonics don’t cease to exist. Magma is still roiling around under the Earth’s mantle. That’s bigger than the machines.
And yeah, why ISN’T Sylens chiming in? I guess he was so peeved at her for heading off on this sidequest right before HADES tries to destroy the world that he’s giving her the cold shoulder. “I won’t dignify these questions about me with a comment.”
Plus, I mean, he knows perfectly well she’d ignore him if he tried to stop her from asking. “Do what you want, like you always do.” He probably doesn’t want to start an argument he can’t possibly win.
There is that. And maybe it’ll transition into a bigger theme in a sequel that was sorta touched on in this one, which is the planet is bigger and more important than humanity. The GAIA/HADES dynamic is to save humanity, sure, but only if they get it right in a larger context, not at all costs. There are things that won’t/can’t be sacrificed for humanity. Humanity isn’t the be all end all.
The Sylens bit is another thing that makes me think that this was supposed to be after the main story concluded. Like, the battle’s over, Sylens has gone his own way (we can only assume that he isn’t getting into Aloy’s head now that he has what he wants), Aloy is off trying to get more answers, tromping off into the wilds. It just feels “after main game” to me, but maybe the powers that be figured they wouldn’t sell as many copies if it was a “you had to have finished” type of deal.
Yeah, you don’t want to lose the “I liked it but haven’t finished it, but this could be fun, might get me back into it” crowd.
But seriously, as we’ve discussed, this would be BRUTAL without the high tech armor, and you really don’t have the armor until quite near the end because you can’t collect all the power cells. So, in practice, people, if you want to play this, finish the main game or AT LEAST get the armor first.
I mean, they do keep throwing in load screen tips like “wear fire-resistant armor when fighting scorchers!” or whatever, so I’m sure one COULD do it with normal gear. The Carja Blazons armor is a thing.
Just not a thing I want to wear instead of this awesome high tech armor which saves my butt on a very regular basis. I am never taking it off. I’m pretty sure Aloy actually bathes in it, because you can’t be too careful.
Blazon armor is a thing, as are resistance potions, which I always forget about until I’ve died three times. Like, I CANNOT beat a scorcher without a fire potion. THAT’S why I saved 32759578 fire kiln roots over the course of the game. Last night I was out of the potions, so I said “Oh, man, can I make one?” to find I could make, by my math, 120 of them. Seriously.
I DO remember the fire resistance potions! I have actually used so many of them that I ran out of fire kiln roots, despite collecting them for pretty much the entire main game. And of course they aren’t quite so common in the Frozen Wilds, now that I’m desperate for them.
Potions are good. Very good.
Ah, see, there ya go. I NEVER remember them. I don’t think I’ve taken an “antidote” the whole game. I have some, but whatever.
And I remember, too! After I die three times.
But on the topic of combat and dying….
I don’t like it when this game does a “sudden onslaught of machines in a small space” fight. Not only are they tricky, they ignore the best parts of combat in this game, which are the thinking and the planning and the scanning for weakness and tracking tracks and HUNTING and stuff. The whole “AIEE! THUNDERJAW!” whack whack shoot shoot thing doesn’t have any of that, and this is two times in two sessions (cuz the rockbreaker was like that, too).
It’s true, they did throw a few of those at you in a short time. I mean, they were always part of the game (see: the first time we met a rockbreaker, all the cauldron end fights, etc.), and they’re fine once in a while, but it is nice to mix it up.
Maybe if we didn’t insist on doing every single thing before proceding to the end, it wouldn’t have been in such quick succession.
Oh, indeed. It was the way I played it that brought it to mind. It was the worst thing about cauldrons, for sure. Very lame.
I remember being particularly annoyed because in one cauldron I spent about 10 minutes setting up traps and tripwires in advance, and then when I did the overload that let out the big machine, it ERASED THEM ALL.
Just run and shoot and whack. That’s all you can do.
Sigh. But I want to do more!
Like change it to easy. Not proud.
But I’m getting Mrs. McP’s awful flu. Getting a fever. So it’s ok.
Oh, dude, yeah. Change it to easy. We have lives.
If this fever/tired thing gets worse, might even stoop to “story.”
Hey, the game even says, “switch to story if you just want to focus on exploration and narrative” or whatever.
Exploration and narrative is our thing. There’s no shame in it. Especially not if playing while sick.
What’s worse: not playing because it’s too hard while sick and thus wasting precious game time, or setting it on story and continuing to play?
I know how I vote.
Thanks, man. I knew you’d have my back.
I’m here for you, man. Just like you supported me when I turned down the final battle in that Witcher 3 expansion.
Friends don’t let friends miss out on enjoying precious game time.
I’ll try to get through it. Chloe awaits.