Two years ago marked the start of Aloy’s journey, as Guerilla Games’ Horizon Zero Dawn swept in and took the gaming community by storm. An impressive third-person RPG debut by the team, its well-strung narrative, fleshed-out characterisations, breathtaking visuals, and finely-tuned mechanics have placed the game among some of the most phenomenal gaming masterpieces.
It comes as little surprise that this exceptional title has now amassed 10 million copies sold worldwide – just in time for its second anniversary.
Taking to the official PlayStation Blog on February 28, 2019, managing director Herman Hulst expressed gratitude to fans everywhere for their continued support, sharing that the team would still receive daily messages of appreciation even after two years:
“…the idea that we were able to bring Aloy’s jouney to so many players is astounding. We’ve been deeply moved by the enormous amount of fan creations you’ve posted online, as well as the heartfelt letters you’ve sent sharing your favourite moments from Aloy’s journey.”
In celebration of both milestones, Hulst has brought to light some lesser-known factoids about the game that hadn’t surfaced before, starting from details of its pilot programme. While the studio was working to polish up Killzone 3, prototyping on Horizon Zero Dawn‘s gameplay elements took place concurrently, but Aloy then lacked an in-game model, since her character was still under development. Instead, the model for Jammer – the Intruder pilot from Killzone 3 – was utilised in her stead as a stand-in.
Aloy herself was revealed to have caused some problems for the team. Finding the ideal face model for the badass protagonist proved to be a challenge – until a funny turn of events led Conversation Director Jochen Willemsen to discover the talents of one Hannah Hoekstra. Inflicted with a bad case of the flu, he was recovering at home when he came across a movie starring the Dutch actress, who he thought would be the perfect fit for Aloy. The rest, as the saying goes, is history.
Fitting in the lines for baby Aloy, in contrast, was a much easier affair. The cooing and gurgling were performed by an actual baby – the three-year-old daughter of Guerrilla Music’s Supervisor and Senior Sound Designer Lucas van Tol – who executed the deed in the comfort of her playpen.
Audio in Zero Horizon Dawn is an art in itself, one that’s birthed from the gruelling process of immense dedication, experimentation, and improvement. The Watcher, for example, uses Chihuahua barks for a balance of its cute but ferocious nature, whereas bird sounds in the game were narrowed to 30 choices, down from the original 750 researched picks – and catch this: each bird is programmed to sound differently based on the time of day, weather effects, and biome location. That’s a hella lot of effort involved, indeed. #Respect
More of these trivia bits can be found in the original blog post, which has been quite a delightful, interesting read. The celebratory content may not be the grand DLC some are wishing for, but it does help us to better appreciate the beauty that is Horizon Zero Dawn, and understand just how it grew to become the RPG gem we all know today. The journey, as Aloy has shown in the game, is extremely important, and that’s something we should learn to embrace.
Si Jia is a casual geek at heart – or as casual as someone with Sephiroth’s theme on her Spotify playlist can get. A fan of movies, games, and Japanese culture, Si Jia’s greatest weakness is the Steam Summer Sale. Or any Steam sale, really.