Guerrilla Games has collaborated with Titan Books to present The Art of Horizon Zero Dawn. Based on their new PS4 exclusive game Horizon Zero Dawn, this art book goes in-depth with concept art and beautiful landscapes to examine the six tribes that inhabit the game along with the machines and the ruins.
The Art of Horizon Zero Dawn was put together by Paul Davies, who is known at Titan Books for many of their video game art books. In addition a forward was written by the Assistant Art Director of Guerrilla Games, Roland Ijzermans.
“From the onset, we wanted to make sure that we did justice to Horizon Zero Dawn’s unique vision for a post-post-apocalyptic future. Our concept designs had to feel like they belonged in that future, so we performed a great deal of research on what its environment,s inhabitants, cultures and surviving technology would look like, how they would interact, and how they could’ve evolved over time.” – Roland Ijzermans
Aloy, the lead character in Horizon Zero Dawn that you play as is from the Nora Tribe, but was originally cast as an outsider from the tribe at the start of the game. This leads into the Nora Tribe’s reclusive hunter-gatherer ideologies, along with their matriarchal society and religion based worship on motherhood and child-rearing.
Nora’s believe that the ruins from the ancient “Metal World” are taboo and should never be explored by their residents. For this society women are valued higher than men due to their physical and intellectual flexibility – which is why the tribe is run by a matriarch of women.
The location and sacred land for the Nora tribe is the Rocky Mountain National Park, which explains their mountainous environment and changing climates. Their technology is considered primitive and around the Bronze Age levels despite the rearing technology that the machines have.
Another tribe called Carja Sundom is more advanced in their culture and not hunting based, but more for trading with people.
“Extensive trade and the efforts of the Hunters Lodge provide Meridian tailors to a variety of exotic materials and rare machine dyes. Consequently, the garb of the Carja is the most refined and elaborate in the world; a riot of colors. Through ages of perfecting the techniques of machine plate-working, the Carja have developed the most sophisticated ways to apply the materials of mechanical fauna. While more primitive tribes would roughly affix more or less useful machine parts on their garments, Meridian artisans interweave fine fitted machine elements into comfortable and functional pieces.” – Ilya Golitsyn
The Carjas are located on both sides of the Colorado River, in present-day Monument Valley. As for their culture, they worship the Sun as a life-giving deity, and ruled over by the Sun-King. Due to historical problems, they have exiles from their civil war who live in Shadow Carja.
This tribe happens to be the most technologically advanced, who focuses on gathering large quantities of fuel for foundries and smithies. They are the only tribe who is able to work iron. Women are typically expected to be in the village while the men go out hunting, excavating, and trading.
The architecture for this tribe is much different than others, as they are made with metal anchors and some wood. By using metal they increase the structure of the wood. As for their culture, they are considered tinkerers who are always improving gear.
The Bandit tribe is exactly how you’d imagine bandits in a post-post-apocalyptic world. They raid villages and camps looting and claiming things for their own. Rules do not apply to them in their mind, and they have a much ragged appearance compared to the other tribes.
This tribe is considered nomadic and very hunter oriented. They have a Chief and Shaman who communicate with the spirits that they believe reside in the machines.
Their tribe’s environment is harsh and extend to how the culture emphasizes the ability to survive and persevere. They have domesticated certain mechanical animals, and are the only tribe to make this headway in Horizon Zero Dawn.
In my personal opinion, this tribe’s artwork reminds of Avatar The Last Airbender’s Water Tribe.
The Eclipse tribe could be closely compared to a cult, and are somehow connected with spreading corruption to the machines. They control destructive ancient war machines. Not much is revealed about them in the beginning of the game, nor a ton in this art book.
One of the more cooler and mysterious parts of Horizon Zero Dawn is the creation of the mechanical animals or machines that roam the lands. Aloy’s purpose throughout the game is partially solving the mysteries that surround these creatures. They have their own ecosystem and roles to fulfill. Some machines harvest and gather, defend, communicate, transport, and clean up.
By having a robotics professor consult with the art and story teams behind Horizon Zero Dawn, Guerrilla Games ensured that the machines would be constructed in a way that made sense to their movement and requirements.
Ruins make up a large part of the story for this game, as it’s evident nearly a thousand years have past since the Metal World, but still structures stand – as desolate and destroyed as they are.
These are underground facilities that are forbidden to explore by the Nora tribe, but are still explored by Aloy from the beginning of the game. It is in these places where Aloy got her Focus and learns information about the Old Ones. Technology is brimming in these bunkers, as Aloy investigates them further.
Conclusion and Thoughts
The Art of Horizon Zero Dawn is a beautiful book that depicts just how gorgeous this game truly is. For example, the concept art is great to see for progressionary changes in character development and landscape, while the video game images show how clearly Guerrilla Games thought out small details to large scale ones.
As someone who is also playing through Horizon Zero Dawn, I can say this book overall does the game justice. Spoilers are kept secret from readers, while also sharing information that isn’t given at the beginning of the game, like finding out there are six tribes to learn from.
The only drawback of this book is it’s missing one of the most important characters that is in the game, named Rost. Being a huge character in the beginning for Aloy and sort of motivating her – having him not included in this book does put a damper on covering the entire game.
I recommend this book to anyone who is playing through Horizon Zero Dawn, loves the game and story-line, and just enjoys viewing hard work over the course of seven years come to reality.
You can purchase your own hardcover copy of The Art of Horizon Zero Dawn by Paul Davies through Titan Books for $39.99 USD.