Horizon Zero Dawn Celebrates Second Anniversary, 10 Million Copies Sold Worldwide

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Horizon Zero Dawn Celebrates Second Anniversary, 10 Million Copies Sold Worldwide

Learn lesser-known details from the development of Horizon Zero Dawn, straight from Guerrilla.

It’s hard to believe that two whole years have passed since we released Horizon Zero Dawn. When the game launched on February 28, I was attending GDC and counting down the minutes with a group of fellow Guerrillas and Shuhei Yoshida. Early feedback suggested that we had something special on our hands, but we never suspected that we’d still be receiving daily messages of appreciation from our players in 2019.

And yet, here we are, already well over 10 million copies sold worldwide; the idea that we were able to bring Aloy’s journey to so many players is astounding. We’ve been deeply moved by the enormous amount of fan creations you’ve posted online, as well as the heartfelt letters you’ve sent sharing your favorite moments from Aloy’s journey.

Cosplay by Keyvei (photographer Rina_Nerina)

Cosplay by EvilCleverDog (photo credit to dtjaaaam)

Fan art by CritterOfHabit

Fan art by Maggie Rose

Brick sculpture by SteppedOnABrick

To celebrate both milestones, I’d like to share something as well: a list of peculiar details from the development of Horizon Zero Dawn that you may not have heard about before. Some of the items on this list were born of necessity, others came about through serendipity — but each proved instrumental in shaping the game.

Pilot Program

Prototyping on Horizon Zero Dawn’s gameplay elements began in 2010, at a time when most of the studio was still putting the finishing touches on Killzone 3. In the earliest prototypes, the team didn’t have an in-game model for Aloy because her character was still under development. Instead they used the model for Jammer, the Intruder pilot from Killzone 3.

About Face

It proved quite a challenge to find the right facial model for Aloy – until Conversation Director Jochen Willemsen came down with a bad case of the flu. While recovering at home he saw a movie starring Dutch actress Hannah Hoekstra on TV, and immediately knew he’d found the face of Aloy. Within minutes he was on the phone with the studio and the rest, as they say, is history.

Toy Brick Raptor

The first machine that the development team designed and finished was the Thunderjaw, a fierce Tyrannosaur-like monstrosity. However, during the gameplay prototyping phase the Thunderjaw looked like a children’s toy made from brightly colored plastic bricks. Each color-coded ‘brick’ represented a different part of the machine that could be targeted or shot off.

Easter Egg

An early prototype machine ended up as a holographic ‘easter egg’ in one of our other games, Killzone Shadow Fall, which came out in 2013. Dubbed the Predator, the design for the prototype machine ultimately didn’t make it into Horizon Zero Dawn. However, many of its behavioral routines were used to create the devastating Sawtooth.

Hey Walla Walla

Some of the ‘walla’ (sound imitating the murmur of a crowd in the background) recorded by the Audio Team consists of Guerrilla developers speaking in gibberish. Although these recordings were intended as placeholder, they turned out so well that our Sound Designers decided to keep them in the final version of the game.

A Star Is Born

The lines — or rather, the cooing and gurgling — for baby Aloy were performed by an actual baby: the three-month old daughter of Guerrilla’s Music Supervisor/Senior Sound Designer Lucas van Tol. Her performance was captured over a period of the days from the comfort of home, where her father had set up a little recording area near her playpen.

All The Moves

The composers for Horizon Zero Dawn were invited to the Guerrilla studio to ‘play’ on real-world facsimiles of the tribal instruments seen in the game. The resulting animations can be found at various points throughout the world of Horizon Zero Dawn, such as in the performance of the three-man band playing in Meridian City.


Every machine in Horizon Zero Dawn has hundreds of different sounds, from the creaking of mechanical limbs to the cries of alarm when it spots a threat. The Sound Designers mixed animal sounds together to give each machine a unique character; the sounds that the Watcher makes, for instance, contain Chihuahua barks to underscore its cute but ferocious nature.

Bird’s Eye View

Guerrilla’s Music Supervisor/Senior Sound Designer Lucas van Tol researched over 750 bird sounds. From these, only 30 made the cut to star in Horizon Zero Dawn; it was a comprehensive job to pick the birds that would naturally appear in the world of Horizon Zero Dawn. Not only does each bird sound differently based on the time of day, but weather also has an effect, as do biome location and height.

I hope you enjoyed these little details, and I hope you’ll continue to enjoy the world of Horizon Zero Dawn. On behalf of the entire Guerrilla studio here in Amsterdam, I want to thank you for making these last two years fly by.

Comments are closed.


  • Now that we can comment I just want to say happy 2nd birthday Horizon and congrats to the team on over 10 million sold. Can’t wait for Horizon 2!

    • I don’t think people understand what 10 million units is. HZD is arguably the best selling Sony exclusive ever. The only games that are close are Uncharted 4 and Spidey. HZD outsold The Last of Us (PS3).

      Horizon deserved GotY over BotW.

      If rumors are true Horizon 2 is still in pre, if so, i would hope Killzone is in full production ready for PS5 by March or Nov 2020.

      GG is expanding, but they always consisted of 2 teams. Please, reveal a new Killzone soon. Reboot or Helghast protagonist.

  • I loved Horizon Zero Dawn so much, I named my Tesla Model 3 Aloy. My most anticipated game now is whatever comes next from either Arrowhead Game Studios or Guerilla Games.

  • Awesome accomplishment how about a new killzone soon?

    • Killzone needs a shake up. I want a new entry desperately, but please give us a worthy protagonist.

  • What a great game! I had played half this game without an old sound bar then upgraded to a really nice one with a great sub and holy crap! Hearing those metal dinos stomping around was unreal and really brought this amazing game to life. I can’t wait for more and congrats on making such an incredible game.

  • Excellent news and game.

  • Glad I can comment on this.I knew that was an easter egg from Horizon on Shadow Fall from the moment I saw it…Horizon was only rumors back in the day but I knew it was an easter egg of it cuz it looked like a person riding a machine,shame we couldn’t post pics on PS4 activities back then.

    And Happy 2nd Birthday Horizon…2nd best PS4 game and one of the top 10 best games ever made,one of the few that can be called a masterpiece.Shame a lot of people don’t realize what you guys achieved with Horizon…reading all the effort y’all went through to bring us the wonder that is Horizon always makes me happy to admire Guerrilla.

    PS:That 1st cosplay is on point something rare to see and that 2nd fan art is really cool too.

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