Building the Towering Machines of Horizon Zero Dawn

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Building the Towering Machines of Horizon Zero Dawn

With every glimpse of the far-future world of Horizon Zero Dawn that we’re given, the version of Earth that Guerrilla Games is busily creating becomes ever more intriguing. It’s a world where human evolution has been thrown back into a pre-historic era, while simultaneously thrust into a distant future where humans are no longer the dominant species.

Instead, a society of machines has risen up, at once both terrifyingly alien and strikingly familiar, mixing robotic, mechanized power with recognizably natural, organic animal features.

During a recent visit to Guerrilla HQ, we were treated to a behind-the-scenes look at the machines that included a deep-dive into the very real evolution of the Shellwalker and an exclusive reveal of the Snapmaw — a huge, water based machine that bears more than a striking resembles to a giant crocodile.

Building the Towering Machines of Horizon Zero Dawn

In this exclusive new video, studio boss Hermen Hulst, Game Director Mathijs de Jonge, and Art Director Jan-Bart van Beek talk us through how the machines evolved from initial concepts to become the apex predators in their forthcoming action RPG.

Hard at work at their desks ahead of the game’s release date on February 28, 2017, members of Guerrilla’s legion of artists, animators, sound designers, and VFX whizz-kids showed us this evolution in action.

Taking the Shellwalker as an example — the busy, cantankerous workers of the machine’s ecosystem who protect their cargo with fearsome determination — we saw the creative process from the very beginning; taking a rudimentary sketch of a crate-carrying walking platform and going back to nature to see how the real world would deal with the task.

Using photographs of fiddler crabs and pistol shrimp for inspiration, the artists then adapted how these creatures gather food, carry their shells, and protect themselves against predators in a series of sketches that gradually began to take on more of the Horizon Zero Dawn aesthetic.

Horizon Zero Dawn, PS4

Armor plating is added, then the back-and-forth between artist and animator begins to ensure natural movement balances with the game design and that the Shellwalker moves, attacks, and defends itself in a way that makes it a useful worker for the machines and a challenging foe for Aloy.

Earlier, in a play session that saw Aloy take on a savage Thunderjaw, override and mount a roaming Broadhead and pick up quests from the inhabitants of the vast, post-historic world, Mathijs gave us the first glimpse of the Snapmaw in its natural habitat.

Horizon Zero Dawn, PS4

Lurking on the banks of an idyllic river valley, these mechanised crocodiles live in packs and, as Aloy approached them, move with terrifying speed and ferocity, using their vast jaws and thrashing tails to devastating results.

As with the other machines of Horizon Zero Dawn, they have weaknesses that Aloy can tactically exploit — but they’re a brutal reminder than nowhere in this world, whether in water, on land, or in the air, is a safe haven for humans.

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  • Awesome video,must be tense to face a Snapmaw…I can’t wait to get ma hands on this baby,ma most anticipated game since UC4’s release.Day 1 buy and I’m already saying…GOTY 2017.

  • ugh…. pre-hype
    Game’s is a minimum 4 months away. This is too early, especially considering we have the Christmas rush to come first.

  • This, Watch Dogs 2, The Last Guardian, and work? I’m going to be very busy, and EXTREMELY happy for many months to come. The landscapes and machines look INCREDIBLY AWESOME!

  • what college you go to what name is it its for my homework in college.

  • Man… I just read the title of this article and thought “we can build mechs in this too!?” Man still cant wait for this tho

  • The robot animals and their animations look great, and 4k support is looking very nice too. But now having a VR, I’m finding my lust for 4k dwindling a little – it’s so awesome to really be in the world. I tried Bound for instance, and that really felt fantastic, you look around you and you are just there. It would probably be very tough for this game to hit the 60fps minimum that is required for VR, but perhaps just something like a simple space that you could look at all the animals you’ve discovered in full VR would already be very awesome.

  • just take all my money already…

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