Horizon Zero Dawn: The story so far

Before braving the Forbidden West, catch up on machine hunter Aloy’s epic journey from Horizon Zero Dawn. Set in a post-apocalyptic world where nature has reclaimed the ruins of the Old World, colossal machines hold dominion over the lush wilderness.

Part I: The outcast

A gift from the past

Exiled at birth by a tribe of great hunters known as the Nora, Aloy never knew the warmth of a mother’s embrace or the support of a community. Growing up, her only companion was Rost, the stern but noble outcast who fostered her in the wilds of the tribe’s Sacred Lands. 

At the age of six, while escaping the torment of Nora children, Aloy fell into the cavernous ruins of an Old World facility. Inside this forbidden place, she found a Focus, an augmented-reality device that allows her to interact with Old World technology, read ancient data, and see any machine’s weaknesses.

Equipped with her Focus and under Rost’s tutelage, Aloy learned to survive harsh conditions and hunt deadly machines. But what she most wanted to know, Rost could not teach her: the identity of her parents and the reason she was cast out.

The Proving

The secret of Aloy’s birth was strictly held by the tribe’s High Matriarchs. And so, Aloy spent many years training for the Proving, a physically demanding Nora rite of passage. If she emerged victorious, the Matriarchs would be compelled by tradition to grant her a boon and tell her what they knew.

Aloy competed and won, but just as she grasped victory, the tournament was ambushed by a group of murderous cultists. Equipped with Focus devices and advanced weaponry, they massacred Aloy's competitors and fatally wounded Rost. With the last of his strength, Rost threw Aloy clear of a cultist bomb, saving her life and sacrificing himself.

The Womb of the Mountain

Aloy awoke within the Nora's sacred All-Mother Mountain, where she downloaded a message left behind on a dead cultist's Focus. It revealed that they had been dispatched to kill her because of her remarkable resemblance to an older Unknown Woman. Seeing the woman’s face, Aloy thought that this might be the mother she had longed for.

Teersa, a kindly Matriarch, led Aloy to where she was found alone as a baby, outside of the ancient metal hatch that embodies their Goddess, All-Mother. The door remained sealed, but its biosecurity system activated in Aloy’s presence. Taking this as an omen, the Matriarchs anointed Aloy a Seeker, allowing her the rare privilege of leaving their Sacred Lands in search of answers.

As Aloy was set to depart, an ancient Corruptor war robot attacked the Nora. Aloy rose to the defence of the tribe, defeating the machine. She then made use of her Focus and natural affinity for technology to reverse engineer a component from the machine’s remains. This allowed Aloy to override machines, turning them into ridable mounts or allies in combat.

Sun and Shadow

Following a lead uncovered through her Focus, Aloy journeyed to Meridian, the capital of the mighty Carja tribe. Through an informant, she learned the cultists belonged to a rebel faction of Carja in Shadow called the Eclipse. They were a group of loyalists to the deceased Mad Sun-King Jiran, who was deposed after he commanded the Carja on a bloody campaign of ritual human sacrifice against neighbouring tribes and even his own people.

Led by Jiran’s former champion Helis, the fanatical splinter tribe now served a mysterious shadow god called HADES. This unknown entity had promised to help them re-conquer Meridian in exchange for their fealty. It also initiated the kill order against Aloy at the Proving, fearing that she was somehow related to the Unknown Woman.

The machines

The world of Horizon is filled with increasingly deranged and deadly machines produced within subterranean automated foundries known as Cauldrons.

Part II: Deep Secrets of the Earth

The Faro Plague

Guided by a mysterious unknown voice through her Focus, Aloy scaled the towering ruins of Maker’s End, once the corporate headquarters of Faro Automated Solutions. She learned that from this building, one thousand years earlier, CEO Ted Faro developed a series of self-replicating war robots fuelled by consuming biological matter.

Eventually, a glitch caused a swarm of these machines to disregard human commands. With an insatiable hunger for biomass and no override to stop them, they began to multiply, spread, and kill uncontrollably. Dubbed the ‘Faro Plague,’ this catastrophic event was set to destroy all life. Chillingly, these same war robots were being resurrected by the Eclipse.

The Unknown Woman was revealed to be Elisabet Sobeck, a brilliant Old World environmental roboticist and former employee of Faro’s. He begged her to find a way to defeat the Swarm and save the world. Elisabet accepted, but the extremity of her proposed solution, codenamed ‘Zero Dawn,’ terrified him.

Enduring victory

The voice guiding Aloy revealed himself to be Sylens, an enigmatic wanderer who prized knowledge above all else. Realizing Aloy’s genetic signature allowed her access to precious Old World data, he directed her to follow Elisabet’s ancient trail into the ruins of US Robot Command.

After clearing the base of cultists, Aloy learned of Operation: Enduring Victory, an ancient war plan that mobilized the planet's civilian population to fight the Swarm. This would buy precious time for Elisabet and Project Zero Dawn, supposedly a highly confidential superweapon. More answers lay in the Zero Dawn Project Facility, but it was buried beneath the Shadow Carja stronghold, Sunfall.

With Sylens’ help, Aloy disabled the Eclipse's Focus network and accessed the facility undetected, but Sylens’ inside knowledge drew her suspicion. Perhaps a deeper connection existed between Sylens and the cultists? 

Project Zero Dawn

Inside the shattered remains of the Zero Dawn Facility, a centuries-old secret was laid bare: Project Zero Dawn was no superweapon, nor was there any hope of stopping the Faro Plague. Instead, Elisabet Sobeck led a team of the world’s top scientists as they laboured tirelessly to develop an artificially intelligent terraforming system called GAIA. 

Working autonomously, GAIA developed the machines that roam Aloy’s world. Long after the Faro Swarm had devoured the biosphere and been deactivated, GAIA’s machines repaired the land, skies, and seas. Then, it spawned a new generation of humans and wildlife using cryogenically preserved embryos. Life did see a new dawn: but only as a seed that grew from the ashes.

Amongst these shocking revelations, Aloy recovered the data file that would allow her entry into All-Mother Mountain, where the truth of her birth awaited her. However, as she was leaving the facility, she was ambushed by a group of Shadow Carja and knocked unconscious.

The Terror of the Sun

Aloy awoke in a cage above Sunfall’s gladiatorial arena, where the Eclipse pitted her against a colossal Behemoth. She defied their expectations by recovering her weapons and single-handedly defeating the fearsome machine.

Enraged, Helis commanded two Corruptors to attack, but as he did, an explosion rocked the stadium walls. Sylens appeared from the smoke, escaping with Aloy on the backs of two overridden Chargers because, without her, the secrets of Nora’s sacred mountain would have remained sealed forever.

As Aloy rode to All-Mother, she found the Sacred Lands under attack by the Eclipse. Together with many Nora warriors, she battled fiercely against a horde of deadly and corrupt machines. Their losses were many, but they repelled the invaders, and finally, the great metal doors of All-Mother finally opened for Aloy.

Characters

Aloy met many people on her journey. Some, like fellow Nora warrior Varl and Oseram Vanguard Erend, aided her quest, while others held ulterior motives and sought only to obstruct her progress.

Part III: The looming shadow

The Heart of the Nora

All-Mother Mountain was revealed to be one of GAIA’s Cradle facilities, which had spawned the first new generation of humans. Aloy, however, was truly special: she was a clone of Elisabet Sobeck. 

Twenty years earlier, a signal of unknown origin infiltrated GAIA, transforming its sub-functions into chaotic independent AI. One of these was the extinction protocol HADES, developed to wipe the Earth clean of life in case of an unsuccessful terraforming process. Fearing its systems would fall under the control of a malevolent and supercharged HADES and be used to destroy life rather than create it, GAIA set its Prime reactor to self-destruct.

The governing AI’s final act was to order Aloy’s birth as a ‘reincarnation’ of Elisabet, the only person it believed could defeat HADES. Aloy struggled with this revelation but resolved to fulfil the purpose GAIA had set out for her. She would search the wreckage of GAIA Prime for a Master Override and use it to vanquish the rogue AI.

 

The Face of Extinction

As she exited the Cradle, Aloy found the Nora, who once shunned her due to their blind faith, now bowed at her feet for the same reason. This angered Aloy, who called on them to cast aside tradition and join her in defeating the Eclipse.

After she reached the bone-chilling summit of the Bitter Climb and uncovered the Master Override, Sylens made a confession to Aloy. Years earlier, he’d struck a deal with HADES: In return for knowledge, Sylens aided in creating the Eclipse. The AI eventually turned on him, and now he sought to destroy it.

Together Aloy and Sylens deduced HADES’ endgame: to reawaken the Faro Swarm using the Spire of Meridian as a broadcast tower. The final battle was at hand.

 

The Battle for Meridian

Aloy and her allies rallied to Meridian, where an army of cultists and corrupted machines besieged the city. Atop its walls, Aloy confronted Helis, dispatching him and avenging Rost. Working in harmony, the tribes successfully pushed back the first assault but were eventually overcome.

The city had begun to fall, and so Aloy fought her way to the Spire, where HADES was waiting. It commanded a colossal Deathbringer to attack, and a fierce fight ensued. After defeating the machine, Aloy plunged Sylens' spear, equipped with the Master Override, into the metal skull enclosing HADES, interrupting the signal and seemingly destroying the AI.

Epilogue

After the dust of the battle settled, Aloy travelled to the final resting place of Elisabet Sobeck. By the ruins of Elisabet’s childhood home, Aloy listened to an audio log left behind by the closest person she’d ever know to a mother. In it, Elisabet shared with GAIA what she would have wanted in a daughter. Curiosity, wilfulness, and enough compassion to heal the world; everything Aloy turned out to be. 

Meanwhile, at the Spire of Meridian, a trail of red light burst forth from HADES’ shattered enclosure. Unknown to Aloy, the light streaked across the sky into a desolate desert, where Sylens stood waiting. Beside the wreckage of a great ancient war machine, he held a lantern-like cage aloft, absorbing the light and capturing HADES as his prisoner.

Weapons and tools

The tribes of Horizon have developed a wide range of weapons to battle the imposing and aggressive machines.

Part IV: Threats from the west

The Frozen Wilds

Having heard tales of fearsome new machines and a strange daemonic corruption, Aloy ventured into an icy northern territory known as the Cut. Together with the Banuk who dwell in these Frozen Wilds, she successfully discovered the Daemon to be another rogue AI, HEPHAESTUS, GAIA’s sub-function for constructing machines. Aloy stopped the corruption by destroying the facility HEPHAESTUS had subverted to create the deadly machines. However, the AI itself escaped.

New Horizons

While HADES may have been defeated, the world’s biosphere remains catastrophically unbalanced. Hoping to uncover a backup of GAIA, Aloy travels to the Forbidden West, where a mysterious and toxic blight is ravaging the environment, poisoning wildlife, and threatening the lives of those who dwell there. She will meet new tribes in these unfamiliar lands and encounter ever deadlier machines. Together with old friends and new companions, she must brave this unwelcoming new frontier to find the answers she needs to rebalance the biosphere and save the world.

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Editions

Standard Edition

PS4
  • Horizon Forbidden West™ (PS4™)
  • Digital upgrade to PS5 version

Standard Edition

PS4PS5
  • Horizon Forbidden West™ PS5 & PS4

Digital Deluxe Edition

PS4PS5
  • Horizon Forbidden West™ PS4 & PS5
  • Digital soundtrack + art book
  • Digital comic book
  • Two Carja Behemoth Elite items
  • Two Nora Thunder Elite items
  • Machine Strike piece
  • In-game resources pack
  • Extras in Photo Mode
Horizon Forbidden West™ ©2022 Sony Interactive Entertainment Europe. Published by Sony Interactive Entertainment Europe Ltd. Developed by Guerrilla. “Horizon Forbidden West” is a trademark of Sony Interactive Entertainment Europe. All rights reserved.