How Guerrilla Games’ Horizon Franchise Is Undermining the Science Fiction Genre


The Horizon series of games from Guerrilla has captured the imagination of gamers around the world, partly due to how many unique elements were able to combine at their core. The first game, Horizon Zero Dawn, introduced gamers to a future version of Earth, where life is teetering on the brink of extinction, and ferocious robots known as machines roam the earth. Among the few survivors living in primitive settlements, an outcast warrior named Eloy discovers the epic nature of her origin and realizes that saving the planet may be her destiny. It was followed by Horizon Forbidden West 2022, in which Eloy travels to foreign lands when he discovers new threats to nature.

Horizon Forbidden West and the rest of the Horizon series belong to the genre of soft science fiction, although they differ from the typical sci-fi adventure. In particular, it combines futuristic elements with primitive ones, creating a unique new aesthetic. In addition, instead of looking at the stars and imagining a future in which humanity’s problems are solved by going to the stars, he instead stands firmly on the Ground and imagines a future in which people instead try to solve the environmental problems of the planet.

Science Fiction and the Last Frontier

The genre of science fiction is usually associated with the representation of human capabilities and the mysteries of the universe. Although science fiction works try to explain their worlds to varying degrees using scientific concepts of the real world, the goal is to represent what lies beyond the current reality. One of the most common ways in which science fiction does this is to imagine people going to the stars, colonizing other planets and expanding their influence throughout the cosmos.

The appeal of this dream is easy to understand, because the Earth, no matter how beautiful it is, has limited resources that would seem incapable of constantly supporting a growing population. In addition, the time spent by mankind on Earth has led to environmental disasters due to deforestation, military operations, commercial agriculture and mining, and these are just some of the harmful types of human activity. Consequently, humanity’s home planet is becoming more and more unattractive, and hopes for a brilliant new place to live are much more attractive.

The image of conquering the last frontier can be found throughout science fiction, especially in such space adventures as “Star Trek”, “2001: A Space Odyssey” and “WALL-I”. It also appears in sci-fi games like The Outer Worlds, which takes place in the Halcyon system, and in the upcoming Bethesda Starfield game, which takes place in a corner of the Milky Way that people have named The Settled Systems. Instead of following the trend, the Horizon franchise goes in a different direction and thus carries a powerful environmental message.

The Fallen Land of the Horizon

In the Horizon franchise, the Earth is damaged by humans due to greed and wars. When Faro Automated Solutions produces the Chariot line of robots, they are initially popular because they can work together in an unstoppable swarm of chariots. However, when a glitch makes them aware of themselves, they stop reacting to their hosts and instead consume all the biomass they can, and it quickly becomes apparent that they will soon lead to the extinction of all life on Earth.

Fortunately, Dr. Elizabeth Sobek is starting the Zero Dawn project, which involves storing the seeds of life in underground bunkers and entrusting an artificial intelligence system known as GAIA with the work of populating the planet as soon as it becomes safe. This is the world in which Eloy was born. He is fragile, and life has been given a second chance, but even the slightest interruption can lead to everything starting to collapse again. Horizon Zero Dawn warns of the dangers when technology is put above the ecological health of the planet, as the technology of Faro Automated Solutions almost leads to the death of humanity. However, in the sequel, the series suggests that this planet, no matter how battered it may be, is still worth fighting for.

How “Hope Eloy” Subverts Sci-fi Images

In Horizon Forbidden West, some people from outer space visit Eloy. These are the Distant Zeniths, and they left Earth a long time ago when the disasters became too strong. They were also able to extend their lives, and they enjoyed life in their colony on Sirius until it collapsed, prompting them to return to Earth to take GAIA and use her to repair their new home. In many ways, the Distant Zeniths resemble the characters of typical science fiction.

Eloy confronts all the Distant Zeniths except Tilda van der Meer, with whom she is friends at first. Tilda betrays the rest of the Distant Zeniths and helps Eloy and her friends save GAIA. However, she eventually discovers that she has no hope for the future of Earth, and tries to convince Eloy to join her in using GAIA to restore life on Sirius.