In comparison with most PlayStation exclusives, the Horizon sequence is politically loaded. Horizon Zero Daybreak affords up a agency critique of the US’ eagerness to militarize expertise. It imagines a future the place clever robots constructed to help the U.S. navy have introduced concerning the apocalypse. Weave in some environmental themes and also you’ve obtained a fairly pointed tackle our trendy world.
With Horizon Forbidden West, developer Guerilla Video games continues to not pull any punches. However relatively than restating its predecessor’s factors, it places one other goal in its sights. The dystopian motion sport is a searing critique of huge tech that takes jabs at billionaires like Jeff Bezos. It takes no prisoners in its future-ready takedown of techno-colonialism.
This text incorporates spoilers for Horizon Forbidden West, so be warned earlier than studying on.
Meet the Zeniths
Horizon Forbidden West begins merely sufficient. Coming off the occasions of the primary sport, Aloy is now hailed as a hero all through the U.S. after destroying a rogue A.I. named Hades. Her work isn’t completed, although. She units out on a journey to the West Coast so she will be able to proceed her quest to save lots of humanity.
Early on, the themes are easy. The sport as soon as once more emphasizes the significance of preserving the planet and never letting expertise destroy nature. Its path appears clear … after which the Zeniths present up.
In a weird midgame twist, Aloy comes nose to nose with a trio of people in high-tech spacesuits. The mysterious characters have seemingly impenetrable pressure fields and apparently nefarious plans for Earth. For a great chunk of the sport, it’s not clear who they’re or what they need. They’re only a bunch of flying weirdos that throw a wrench in Aloy’s heroic plans till a grand reveal cracks the sport extensive open.
It seems that the Zeniths have been Earth’s wealthiest tech elites previous to the planet falling to spoil. When issues went south, they piled right into a rocket and fled to security whereas the remainder of the human race died off. After floating round in area whereas humanity rebuilds itself, they return to Earth with the intention of creating it their very own. To try this, they plan to wipe the planet out and begin once more with a clean canvas.
There’s lots to unpack there.
Bezos in area
The Zenith story dovetails with some present occasions in our actual world. Whether or not or not it’s intentional, it reads like a commentary on the big-tech area race that’s seen controversial figures like Elon Musk reaching for the celebrities. One of many spacemen even bares a resemblance to Jeff Bezos, who efficiently launched into area final summer time.
Bezos’ foray into area tourism drew main criticism on the time, with some questioning why the tech mogul was so eager to put money into different planets as an alternative of utilizing his wealth to repair our personal.
“Poverty? Starvation? Homelessness? Illness? Paying your staff a good wage, or not less than giving them a toilet break? Paying taxes?” Esquire writes in an opinion piece from the time. “None of those appeared to happen to an American oligarch. As an alternative, he’s been promoting $1 billion in Amazon inventory per yr and pumping it into Blue Origin.”
Horizon Forbidden West shares these frustrations, lambasting its fictional billionaires for utilizing their wealth to flee Earth as an alternative of serving to it. That’s a stark distinction to Aloy, who’s dedicated to aiding each particular person she comes throughout (effectively, besides the “unhealthy guys” she routinely cuts down) and rebuilding the world.
The sport attracts a parallel between the fashionable obsession with area colonization and America’s darkish historical past with the idea. There’s no ambiguity a few story the place a ship filled with strangers land within the U.S. and plot to wipe out its indigenous folks to allow them to settle there. Horizon Forbidden West’s story doesn’t belief that figures like Jeff Bezos are accountable sufficient to guide an area colonization effort any higher.
Maybe Guerilla Video games is attempting to appropriate its personal previous by speaking about colonization. When Horizon Zero Daybreak launched, it was criticized for utilizing loaded phrases like “savages” to explain a few of its tribes. The sequence is actually responsible of utilizing traditionally oppressive language whereas appropriating imagery from varied cultures. The sequel raises the identical issues (it’s nonetheless a sport about indigenous tribes starring a white hero), although it feels extra keen to interact with the actual struggles indigenous folks face.
Horizon Forbidden West isn’t delicate about its politics (it includes a creepy antagonist named “Ceo”), and that’s for the perfect. Whereas studios like Ubisoft have tried to affirm its video games don’t have a political stance, Guerilla Video games goes for the jugular right here. In an period the place big-tech celebrities are funneling infinite reserves of money into self-importance initiatives, Horizon Forbidden West reveals us simply how harmful that may get once we cease paying consideration.
Horizon Forbidden West is on the market now on PS4 and PS5.