Listen, the apocalypse is going to suck. Whether it be due to global warming, Nazis on dinosaurs with punch-proof faces or somebody flicking the wrong switch on the Large Hadron Collider, it ain’t going to be pretty. You’ve got to prepare yourself for a life on the run, with no internet and roving gangs of bandits who have for some reason decided to adopt a uniform of leather and mohawk hair-styles because Mad Max 2 is my bible when it comes to such scenarios.
But what happens after the apocalypse? I’m kind of looking forward to it actually. While my main plan is to start a trek towards Hollywood to steal all the batsuits from the Warner Bros. museum, I’m looking forward to a mire rugged lifestyle that is utterly devoid of reality TV and social media. And that’s the world that Horizon: Zero Dawn has created. “We kept on calling it the post-post-apocalypse,” narrative director John Gonzalez explained to Glixel, detailing the mysteries of the world of Horizon: Zero Dawn.
There were a number of things that had to be answered and those answers had to be credible. We imagine this as being this kind of new world that’s grown on the grave of our world. Our future is actually the ancient world for this character. And that seemed like something really fresh and compelling to explore.
I think there’s a contract so to speak that we have with the player that we set up these big mysteries we have to pay off. We have to actually reveal a lot about what happened to this world. That’s not to say that we try to answer every single question. We don’t want to drain the universe of all of its mysteries.
But we tried to approach the design of the story so there would be huge moments of revelation. Sometimes those moments of revelation reveal an even bigger mystery. But we designed things to satisfy that, to actually give people the answers that they’re looking for, and also we actually worked out the details. We have all of the material, you know, back at the studio, about the timeline of everything that’s happened to make sure that we keep things consistent.
The world of Horizon: Zero Dawn isn’t just a savage reminder that death is mere minutes away when a rampaging mech finds you. It’s a world that the survivors of the future actively cherish and care for. “I was lead writer on Fallout: New Vegas, so it’s this other type of apocalypse – the apocalypse as a kind of dark satire of human savagery I guess you could say, filled with mordant humor. Love it. I love Fallout. This is a very different tonal piece,” Gonzalez said.
There are elements here that I think are more hopeful, less cynical about human nature. Does that mean that the apocalypse isn’t going to involve human folly on some level? I think that if we look around at the world that we live in right now, there is no reason to think there will be a shortage of human folly any time soon. But what is it that we have to place our greatest hope in? It’s our capacity to hopefully somehow transcend that, to care about the world that we’re in, care about each other, and so we tried to have characters who embody that full range of traits.
There’s a great deal of viciousness in this world. There’s savagery in this world, violence. There’s also a great deal of care.
I always find these ideas fascinating. Human civilisation can and will end. It’s only a matter of time after all. If our own sun doesn’t annihilate us when it goes supernova then the encroaching Andromeda galaxy will certainly have something to say in a few billion years. Although chances are, our species will have managed to to inflict some extinction on ourselves long before then.
My money is on a catspocalypse, according to Pacific Rim at least.