February 18 marks the end of a long wait for fans of Horizon Zero Dawn. The PlayStation game’s sequel, Horizon Forbidden West, is finally being released into the wild after five years, and if the reviews are anything to go by, it was worth the wait. Before you journey to the Forbidden West, you might want to brush up on a few things from Horizon Zero Dawn.
This article contains spoilers for Horizon Zero Dawn.
Things to know before Playing Horizon Forbidden West
Story recap: What is Project Zero Dawn?
Horizon Zero Dawn is one of the most unique story-rich games in recent memory. The action takes place in a lush post-apocalyptic world where dangerous animalistic machines roam the land and humanity has returned to living in tribes.
So how did things get this way?
Basically, 1,000 years before Horizon Zero Dawn takes place, the world as we know it was destroyed by rogue AI robots created by the Faro company. These military bots could self-replicate and consumed biomass, eventually destroying life on Earth.
To counteract this a project called Zero Dawn was activated. The idea was that a terraforming system would be put in place to dismantle the robots and restore life to Earth. A new artificial intelligence system known as GAIA was put in charge of ensuring this terraforming project went ahead after humanity was gone.
Things went according to plan and GAIA began using special machines to repopulate the Earth with human clones, until things went wrong. For starters, the APOLLO system that stored all knowledge of life on Earth was destroyed by Faro’s CEO, meaning humans had no way of re-learning the history of their past.
There’s also the HADES system, a backup protocol that was designed to enact a controlled extinction if Zero Dawn didn’t go to plan. Because things always go wrong, an unknown signal corrupted HADES and caused it to seize control of the system and kickstarts its extinction plan.
In an attempt to stop it, GAIA self-destructed. Hence there’s trouble on Earth when we come into the game.
Yeah, it’s complicated. But in between all that you get to fight giant monster robots.
Who is Horizon Zero Dawn’s protagonist Aloy?
During your time in Horizon Zero Dawn and Horizon Forbidden West, you’ll play as Aloy, an orphan of mysterious birth who grew up as an outcast from the tribes.
As the game goes on you learn that Aloy is actually GAIA’s last-minute plan to stop HADES. She is a genetic clone of Project Zero Dawn’s founder, Elisabet Sobeck.
GAIA hoped that using Elisabet’s DNA Aloy would be able to restore the AI’s backup and put a stop to HADES. By the end of HZD Aloy has achieved at least one of those things, having obtained the master override to HADES systems and ending its extinction plan. For now.
In Horizon Forbidden West it looks like Aloy will be out to complete her other mission – restoring GAIA’s backup.
What are the different tribes?
Because the APOLLO system was destroyed before the new wave of humanity could learn how to progress, Horizon Zero Dawn is populated with clusters of tribes.
The main ones you encounter in the first game are the Nora, the Oseram and the Carja.
The Nora is a religious hunter-gatherer group that worships a deity known as All-Mother (which we learn later is actually GAIA). They are quite isolated from the other tribes and cling to ideals like matriarch leadership and the concept of outcasts. This is the tribe that Aloy becomes a part of early in the game after years of being shunned.
The Carja developed quickly and built long-lasting human settlements like Meridian using their advanced construction skills. After a civil war, the Carja fractured and a splinter group known as the Shadow Carja were formed.
The Oseram are known for their skill in metalworks and crafting and are much more technologically advanced than other tribes. Their government structure is quite loose with many different family clans posted around the lands.
There’s also the Eclipse, which is a militaristic cult that secretly serves HADES. The Eclipse was enacting HADES’ plans by unearthing the Faro robots during the first game.
What’s with all these machines?
The machines are some of the biggest wonders and dangers in the Horizon series. There are 26 different types of machines in the first game ranging from the animalistic Broadheads and Glinthawks to the dinosaur-like (and terrifying) Thunderjaws.
Many of these machines were designed by GAIA to help terraform the Earth and are content to live in harmony with humans. However, thanks to HADES, the Eclipse has corrupted many of these machines for their own use and they will attack you without a second thought.
Luckily, Aloy has a few toys in her arsenal like her trusty bow and arrow, tripcasters, sling bombs and ropecasters to fight them off.
What’s the Forbidden West?
Now that you’re all up to speed on Horizon Zero Dawn, what can we expect from Horizon Forbidden West?
The sequel picks up six months after the events of the original with Aloy setting out to stop a mysterious red blight that is corrupting her home.
To do that she’ll need to venture to the Forbidden West, a land that was once the West coast of the U.S.A. This opens up a world of opportunities and dangers for Aloy with even more machines to fight, more beautiful lands to explore and new tribes to interact with.
Horizon Forbidden West looks set to be another stunning and immersive journey that you can finally dive into on PS4 and PS5 from February 18.