Horizon Zero Dawn Videos Look At Going From Killzone to Robot Dinosaurs

"How do we try get something that's even to 90% of Nathan Drake?"

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In a series of three videos released this weekend, Guerrilla Games discusses how the studio--known mostly for its first-person-shooter series Killzone--can pivot to make a high-end open world action game like Horizon Zero Dawn.

The first video is entitled "From Corridors to Mountains," and focuses on how the intensity of Killzone's first-person combat can translate to an open world action game that uses a third-person camera. Game director Mathijs De Jonge describes how the location-specific hit system from Killzone--that allowed players to shoot enemies in certain areas to make them more vulnerable--will be represented in Horizon Zero Dawn.

Players will be able to destroy enemies more by knocking off armor plating, or systematically take them down by exploiting weak spots. "That's one of the things that we've adopted for Horizon, when building the combat with the machines, De Jonge said. "We've tried to expand it further, because these machines way are more complicated than the Helghast."

The second video describes the studio's history, and what it had to change in order to make a game that was so different to its past works. An external group of experts were brought into the studio, including developers and engineers, as well as an entire narrative team.

Narrative director John Gonzalez said that the main pillars of the world already existed when he and his shiny new narrative team came on board, but it was up to them to work out how to fit it all together. "We had the lush verdant nature, we had these mechanical beasts that are like robotic dinosaurs, and also these human beings that are living in this more primitive or tribal state," he said. "At that point, how exactly those elements had come to exist in this world together hadn't really been worked out."

Once the primary story beats had been identified, it was time for lead quest designer David Ford and his team to turn that full narrative into something that would work with an open world quest system. "When I arrived, John and his team had written the overarching narrative for the game and had an understanding of where the story was going to go, but it was written as a story, not a series of quests," Ford said. "So the quest team had the opportunity to work with the writers to break that story apart into smaller chunks, figure out where the gameplay would be, where the cutscenes would be, how it would all fit together."

The third video looks at turning Aloy into someone the company believes will stand up alongside other iconic characters from PlayStation exclusives such as Uncharted. "I think it's really hard to design an iconic character, said studio art director Jan Bart Van Beek. "You can hope for it, but it's not something you can really put a stamp on it, like 'okay, it's iconic now.'" This caused concern for Guerrilla staff, according to Gonzalez, "There are people even within this building who were feeling like, 'How do we try get something that's even to 90% of Nathan Drake?'"

Managing director Herman Hulst believes they have it right with Aloy, learning that the company's previous work on Killzone may have gotten characterization backwards. "With Aloy, we had a protagonist now that is as strong, as iconic a character as the Helghast were as antagonists."

Watch the series for yourself above, check out how Horizon Zero Dawn mixes combat with exploration over at The Lobby, and see our unboxing video of the $120 Collector's Edition.

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