Horizon Zero Dawn Vs Nier Automata: Feminism Vs Egalitarianism
(Last Updated On: March 2, 2017)

[Note: While major plot points and spoilers are avoided in this article, it’s probably best to have beaten either game, or both games, to get the full scope of this article’s content.]

Nier: Automata is out in Japan, but it contains the localized English version subtitles and voiceovers. Horizon: Zero Dawn recently launched at the end of February. They both have their pros and cons, but there were some similarities between the two that really can’t be ignored.

Both games involve worlds that have been made extinct by killer machines; both games involve a rampant AI corrupting the planet; both games feature AI terraforming, and both games feature unlikely heroes trying to discover the truth behind the extinctions. The similarities between Nier: Automata and Horizon: Zero Dawn are uncanny. However, apart from the narrative themes, sandbox gameplay, machine occupation, and human extinction, the two games couldn’t be further apart in how they convey their characters, story and lore.

Nier Automata - 2B Infected

Nier: Automata Character Portrayals

For starters, one is about the plurality, the other is about the singularity. Nier is about getting players to think about more than just the characters you play, Horizon is about getting people to think strongly about Aloy.

In this way, the way the characters are portrayed couldn’t be more starkly antipodes.

Gamers have an instant fascination with 2B and her willing sidekick 9S. 2B is curt, prompt, professional and dangerous, exactly the way a battle unit should be. 9S, the scanner unit, is inquisitive, curious, ambitious and… somewhat frail. We definitely want to see and learn more about 2B, but she’s very closed off from the audience (and with good reason due to the way the plot eventually unfolds), 9S works as the conduit between the player and 2B, asking the questions most people might ask and making observations most people might make. This approach creates a lot of intrigue around the characters in Nier: Automata.

Horizon Zero Dawn - Aloy The Seeker

Horizon: Zero Dawn Character Portrayal

Aloy is the complete opposite. She does majority of the talking in Horizon, she also does all the heavy lifting in the game when it comes to discovering aspects of the world and working as the conduit between the player and Horizon’s lore. She’s portrayed as being as dangerous and proficient as the Specters from Mass Effect, but with far less experience and at half their age. Everyone in Horizon’s world also projects their admiration and adoration onto Aloy as a savior. Nary a conversation goes by where we’re not reminded that she’s there as a messiah of sorts.

The portrayal of the main characters in both games changes how players view their plight and how players connect with them. And in the case of Horizon, Aloy is portrayed as indestructible, where-as in Nier the characters are portrayed expendable.

Aloy is rarely ever in danger, and even when she does end up in a pickle, we know she’s going to get out somehow… and she does! 2B and the other characters are the complete opposite… sometimes they don’t get out. Despite the androids being some of the most technically proficient fighters in gaming history, they are oftentimes faced with impossible odds, and sometimes those odds take their toll. There is a lot of abrasive tumult going on in Nier, and it forces players to stay engaged with everything that happens to the characters from start to finish.

It’s amazing how similar both Nier: Automata and Horizon are in terms of story and themes, and yet they couldn’t be more different in execution.

Horizon Zero Dawn - Avad

Horizon’s Feminist Perspective

For example, Nier: Automata doesn’t impose its world’s values on the player. The player is an observer of the things that have happened within the fictional world cooked up by Yoko Taro; purveying the events that unfold within that world.

In Horizon: Zero Dawn, the player is the recipient of the developer’s intentions to convey the values of Aloy in how she shapes the world of Horizon.

And this is where things begin to really separate between the two games. In Horizon, Aloy is portrayed as the only one who can get things done in the world. The only people she encounters who could be considered her equal… well, she never encounters an equal in the world. Everyone is portrayed as being beneath her due to a specific plot device. This carries through in the way the missions are conveyed in Horizon and how Aloy interacts with other characters.

Majority of the people you come across in peril will be incompetent or have servile personalities. If they don’t first act subservient to Aloy, they eventually become subservient by the time a mission ends. Only one character who aids Aloy stays somewhat independent and autonomous as far as the narrative is concerned, a character named Sylens.

Some people have noted that the men in Horizon are portrayed as emasculated and weak, and it’s mostly true. The most noteworthy warriors in the game are women. The most noteworthy men in the game are bumbling sidekicks or young admirers to Aloy. The men who are leaders are portrayed as being either incompetent or useless without a female protector, like the young and handsome leader of the Carja tribe, or the interim leader of another splinter group who is literally a little boy who spends his time crying in his mother’s arms.

In this way, the feminist perspective in Horizon is one where it worships female superiority. In fact, the world is thrown asunder due to (white) male greed and ambition, and only a woman is able to save the world… three times: The first time includes wiping out the evil white man’s machines, the second time is restoring the world’s ecosystem, and the third time involves Aloy saving the planet.

Nier Automata - YoHRa

Nier: Automata’s Egalitarianism

Instead of subverting its own plot for sociopolitical superiority, Nier: Automata‘s take on extinction, rampant killer robots and the ability to save the world is done in a much more honest way. This is funny because out of all the main characters there’s only one good humanoid male featured in the whole game, the android 9S. But they don’t make it a point to center on the fact that the saviors of the world are almost all female.

Throughout the journey of Nier players will encounter various other characters and robots who will need aid in one way or another, but the developers avoid needlessly making dudes and damsels in distress to convey a political message about gender superiority.

They even subvert the entire concept of gender by having a character named Pascal that talks with a female’s voice, refers to itself as “him”, and utilize feminine characteristics, all while being inside of a bulky robot’s body. There’s no lecture about sociopolitics, though; the character Pascal is a fully fleshed out character who has a story that unfolds in a way that is absolutely true to the philosophies and narrative elements portrayed throughout the game.

It’s for the above reason that a lot of Nier: Automata’s outcomes are tragic. It’s because it gets out of its own way to convey a world that doesn’t care about gender, race or religion; war and death are blind to identity politics and they make that very known throughout the game.

In this way, it’s easy to connect to the characters because their struggles rest on their abilities, not who they identify as or some hierarchical sociopolitical structure. Instead, it’s about these characters attempting to overcome the odds set against them in the face of complete annihilation.

Horizon Zero Dawn - Horus Titan

Horizon Sacrificing Danger For Politics

And this leads to one of the most important parts about the way the political messaging is conveyed in both games. Horizon: Zero Dawn has a very obvious agenda, conveying it even at the expense of the integrity of its world’s lore.

The machines are talked about as being extremely dangerous and unforgiving. They have foreboding designs that look similar in nature to James Cameron’s portrayal of the Terminators in the first two Terminator films. However, the way the robosaurs are depicted narratively in Horizon actually belie their design. The body count is extremely small when it comes to the robosaurs killing people, and the majority of the violent deaths happen at the hands of other humans.

The game’s focus on men being these violent aggressors while women have to clean up their messes is an obvious theme that does not go unnoticed, even when it comes to the detriment of what should have been the game’s biggest threat: the robosaurs!

Even the most deadly of the machines, known as Deathbringers, are only dangerous because an evil tribesman manages to make them so. The game’s hidden lore tucked away in audio logs and notes actually explains just how dangerous the machines are supposed to be, and some of the absolutely atrocious and gruesome things they did that led to the extinction of the human race. Yet, in the actual game the machines were portrayed as being less threatening than the other human tribes.

They’re still awesomely designed and look amazing in the game, featuring some of the best animated  physics for animals next to The Last Guardian, but it was obvious that they weren’t the biggest threat in Horizon’s world… men were.

Nier Automata - Secret Ending

Nier: Automata Puts Danger Before Politics

There’s no denying that Taro-san has a twisted sense of humor with the scenarios and characters he comes up with. It was also obvious that the artists seemed to have a field day with some of the goofy robot designs and characters in Nier: Automata. However, the sometimes odd designs didn’t detract from just how deadly and dangerous the machines were portrayed in the game.

Mutilation, limb loss, cannibalism and overt violence were the core foundations that permeated the behavior of the machines in Nier: Automata. 2B and the other androids were constantly on guard against the machines, and despite 2B being a proficient combat droid, she still maintained some element of caution when dealing with these deadly foes. In fact, throughout the game both 2B and 9S remind each other not to let their guard down around the machines.

Throughout Nier: Automata, the threat of the machine horde swelled as the game progressed. They became more violent, and the protagonists were put in more danger, thus the tension raised to peak levels by the time the final boss battle took place. What they never did, however, was strip away from how dangerous the machines could be. No matter what humans had done in the past, Nier: Automata‘s focus was on the immediate dangers of the present.

While the game starts kind of slow and the machines may seem kind of goofy at times, their autonomous rampancy shines through frequently as the game progresses; it eventually becomes easy to see how they could wipe out the humans. The developers don’t attempt to detract from the dangers they created in the game in order to push a specific political ideology.

Nier Automata - Adam and Eve

Caring About Characters Over Politics

By the time both games ended, it was obvious which characters pulled at the heartstrings more. Yes, Nier: Automata was obviously the more fantastical game with its odd line-up of characters such as Adam and Eve, the fetish-dressed androids and the comical side characters like Emil… but that comedy didn’t stand in the way of telling a compelling story that pulled absolutely zero punches.

The mental anguish the characters suffered in Nier: Automata was heartbreaking and understandable, and the impossible decisions they had to make with dire outcomes on all sides was something that made characters like 2B, 9S and A2  the kind of characters you rooted for from start to finish. Their strength was conveyed through their abilities, skills and combat prowess, not because everyone had to tell them that they were strong or because of their assigned gender. The characters nor their abilities were ever purposefully undermined in order to push a specific political agenda, and for that they were able tell a consistent but despondent story from start to finish.

The story of Nier: Automata resonates strongly well after the credits roll for the fourth or fifth time simply due to the fact that it’s hard not to root for those characters. You want them to win, to succeed, to live; especially after everything they go through.

Horizon Zero Dawn - Gaia

Caring About Politics Over Characters

In the case of Horizon: Zero Dawn, it was hard to find oneself rooting for Aloy since there was never a time throughout the story where she wasn’t capable of completing a task or couldn’t overcome the odds. Her struggles were about as prevalent and as difficult for her as they were for Rey in Star Wars: Episode VII.

Even when you compare Aloy to other characters like Venom Snake from Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, Lara Croft from the Tomb Raider reboot, Nathan Drake from Uncharted, Ezio from Assassin’s Creed, Samus from Metroid Prime, Niko from GTA IV, or Takkar from Far Cry: Primal, she doesn’t go through anywhere near the same kind of hardships or ordeals that they go through, nor does she have any particular difficulty in her journey. Granted, a lot of the difficulty from the gameplay perspective would be determined by player-skill, and they did a great job of offering players a lot of versatility in play-styles for combat and exploration.

Even still. it’s hard to feel much for a character when her journey was essentially mothering other less capable characters and simply becoming more powerful than everyone in the land. Heck, even the player-created character from Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2 suffered far more setbacks and near-death experiences than Aloy did, and they were a super-powered being!

By the time the credits rolled and Aloy was receiving more praise for being strong, independent and caring, it was hard to feel anything for the character. The sociopolitical narrative and character dialogue throughout the entire game had been telling us all along that Aloy was strong and unstoppable. And lo and behold, she was strong and unstoppable.

This doesn’t detract from Horizon: Zero Dawn’s great lighting system, amazing movement animations, robosaur physics and combat mechanics, but it does speak volumes about how the overall world was affected by the politics permeating throughout the game.

Ultimately, it will be interesting to see how gamers react to and embrace Aloy in years to come compared to how they’ll react to and embrace 2B.


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About

Billy has been rustling Jimmies for years covering video games, technology and digital trends within the electronics entertainment space. The GJP cried and their tears became his milkshake. Need to get in touch? Try the Contact Page.

  • Cherry Farm

    I personally can’t say I picked up on the feminist construction of horizon… I honestly though Aloy was a catalyst for the more interesting story, which of course was the game’s past (Let’s be honest now, the narrative of Aloy’s situation was somewhat bland and uninteresting, it was simply the way they told it, from an outsider’s perspective, that made it cool.) I mean, I don’t want to ridicule the vibe here, but I mean she wasn’t really meant to be the focus of the story here (Do you really think they would have put so much attention into the backstory if they wanted you to focus on her?) Now, I do agree with one thing: Aloy’s character was flat and this is one of like, two things I hate about the game – The lack of a dynamic character is idiotic, especially when she learns of this life-changing story of how modern humanity ended. She’s never even put into a situation that makes her sacrifice, either, and it’s super easy to observe once you start getting about halfway through the game. Honestly, the loss of a finger would probably do the story justice moreso than the entire resolution to the conflict did. I still love the game though, so I’m not gonna harp on it’s feminist issue as if it’s some threat to society; It was a nicely done game.

  • Gaspar

    Nice article! Another point that could be addressed about politics and how they are handled well in Nier’s narrative is how it makes a subtle point about prejudice without looking preachy in the least. The way 9S hates and initially thinks of the machines as inferior to the androids and the perspective that to us, humans, they are both the same thing (which also heavily reinforced by some revelations in the end) is a clear parallel to racism without resourcing to that obvious identity politics vernacular.
    Yoko Taro is a brilliant writer. He obviously has political opinions, but it’s notable how he refuses to weaken his writing by shoving in his agenda like other video game writers are so giddy to do nowadays.

    • Well spotted, and well said. It was also played out brilliantly how 9s’ prejudice was challenged when they finally met Pascal.

  • Ashley Carter

    HzD isn’t feminist at all and the fact that you are so utterly convinced that it is is sad. The claim that HzD “worships female superiority” is so absurd it almost felt like satire when I read it.

    Your statement that Aloy mever rxperiences set-backs or is never almost killd made it pretty obvious that you didnt play the game so I’ll clue you in. The female-run tribe is depicted consistently as a bunch of dumbasses, one of it’s matriarchs is a giant cunt, and the character who trained and loved Aloy when literally everyone else on earth ignored her existence was a man. Two of my favorite character in the game are men, and both of them were very consistently depicted as capable and intelligent and caring.

    I have played both games and find both to be incredibly rewarding and enjoyable. Maybe play Horizon instead of whining about it’s almost nonexistent political messaging and you’ll learn something.

    • The claim that HzD “worships female superiority” is so absurd it almost felt like satire when I read it.

      Did you get to the part with GAIA? Or the ending where Elizabet gives the speech?

      The female-run tribe is depicted consistently as a bunch of dumbasses, one of it’s matriarchs is a giant cunt, and the character who trained and loved Aloy when literally everyone else on earth ignored her existence was a man.

      The matriarchal tribe wasn’t the issue at all. It was handled decently… the issue arises later in the game. I don’t know if you’ve reached that point yet, but everyone jumps to the game’s defense based on the Nora tribe. When you get to Ted Faro, you’ll understand what the article is talking about.

      I have played both games and find both to be incredibly rewarding and enjoyable. Maybe play Horizon instead of whining about it’s almost nonexistent political messaging and you’ll learn something.

      So you’ve beaten it? Because it’s a pretty hard message to miss.

      Without the last third of the story content I would have agreed with you, but they made sure they lathered it on thick near the end.

  • Doctor Octobrist

    REE MUH SJWS IN GAMING

  • Uhhh… game journalists care, apparently.

    http://archive.is/D3vrC

    http://archive.is/Gy8XQ

    http://archive.is/SkmQE

  • I get the feeling a comment I wrote in a previous article somehow spawned this. :3 Or maybe I’m just tooting my own horn.

    Still, I think this is the best article you’ve written in a long time. I’ll be turning to this whenever I want to try explain to someone how you can tell a game is pushing a political agenda, and how to tell when it’s just telling a story.

  • Tristan alexander

    mary sue: the game

  • kirtanloorii

    That’s nice.

  • FiachSidhe

    I love the irony of a huge write up accepting the sexy waifu anime character as somehow being “egalitarian” and Aloy as being less valid while advertisements for hentai 3d breast mouse pads and squatting half naked soft core statues run on the side. As is the bias here is literally being advertised as its being written. And this coming from someone who has purchased both games and has enjoyed Horizon and plans to enjoy Nier even more.

    • advertisements for hentai 3d breast mouse pads and squatting half naked soft core statues run on the side.

      It’s amazing how capitalism works, isn’t it? People buy stuff, Amazon suggest stuff for people to buy, people buy more stuff, Amazon keeps suggesting more stuff for people to buy. Crazy times we live in.

      2B is sexy and gives gamerbros what you are used to. What you want. Alloy does not. That’s why the former is acceptable and the later isn’t.

      I have no idea how you came to that conclusion when sex appeal was never mentioned in the article. Characterization was, and Aloy was also compared to other male and females characters as well — many of whom were given more depth than she was in their respective games. But sure… strawman the argument into it being about sex, since it’s something you’re obviously insecure about.

      • FiachSidhe

        Ah speaking of strawmen. Love that old chestnut “this is how capitalism works” to explain why that site specifically advertises Jap porn. Thanks, I had no idea people buying things is how advertising works. Good call.

        As for sex appeal. My entire point is that it’s avoided. All of this BS about characterisation is a smokescreen. Pseudo-intellectual BS to avoid the real reason gamerbros are salivating over Nier and Horizon is being ragged on*.

        I also disagree that those characters are given more depth. And certainly she has more depth than 2B, an idealized gothic lolita battle android.

        and as for “sexual insecurity”, I’ll just leave this here. This is why the same fanboys talking trash about Horizon are giving Nier a free pass.
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v8DwSrHJtGE

        • Love that old chestnut “this is how capitalism works” to explain why that site specifically advertises Jap porn.

          No you moron, it explains that people bought stuff so Amazon suggested stuff, so they bought more stuff like it.
          http://i.imgur.com/NCp2dCS.png

          You see that? That’s what’s recommended for the site because people like to buy that stuff. If it shows up in the advertising section, it’s because that’s what people buy. That. Is. How. Capitalism. Works.

          As for sex appeal. My entire point is that it’s avoided. All of this BS about characterisation is a smokescreen. Pseudo-intellectual BS to avoid the real reason

          So what you’re saying is that the article belies itself and it’s actually about 2B’s butt and sexiness, even though that’s never mentioned once in the article at all?

          I also disagree that those characters are given more depth. And certainly she has more depth than 2B, an idealized gothic lolita battle android. (and this coming from someone with Nier on preorder who can’t wait to play it)

          What? You haven’t played the game but you’re already saying Aloy has more depth? That’s an idiotic statement to make. 2B has layers… Aloy doesn’t. By the end of the game Aloy is basically the same as she was when she started… just stronger. 2B… well, I’m not going to spoil anything, but she’s certainly NOT the same. How you come to that conclusion is beyond me, but you’ve got to be trolling using that kind of backwards logic.

          You’re a Gamergater. Your potential to approach HZD with even the slightest bit of objectivity went out the window the moment your echo chamber’s SJW signal went off.

          http://i.imgur.com/DhBLCrY.png

  • Vrenna

    A Clear example of the difference between someone who appropriates an industry to push values that are external to this industry, and someone who uses the same industry to push its own values.
    Games are about entertainment, not politics. Japan still knows it and that is why it is going to dominate the gaming market in the next years, I hope the west’s gaming companies who catered to the corruption of the gaming industry rot and die in their bankruptcy.

  • Migs

    >For example, Nier: Automata doesn’t impose its world’s values on the player. The player is an observer of the things that have happened within the fictional world cooked up by Yoko Taro; purveying the events that unfold within that world.

    This is true. Taro never imposes whatever themes or motifs he wants to say to the player. He lets the story and ACTUAL GAMEPLAY do it. When you finish the game and actually piece together what it is all about, you’ll see a whole lot of layered depth in his story.

    I honestly hope even with the hype behind the Switch and Zelda, Nier Automata will have great scores and sell. Taro deserves it.

    I think a lot of people will say the same thing after playing the game. “It was an experience.”

    It really was.

    • I think a lot of people will say the same thing after playing the game. “It was an experience.”

      It really was.

      I think that was the biggest difference between the two. Nier left you thinking at the end, Horizon left you going “meh”.

  • AR7777

    Agree 100% the first time I saw Horizon announced I think it was at e3 I noticed the pandering right away, you could smell the strong woman crap from miles

    I skipped the game because it looks really boring but will be getting Automata that looks really cool. I hope the music is as good as in the first Nier

  • Arbitrary

    And yet, these GamerGate-types still like to pretend Feminism was chased out of gaming.

    Is this really what victory looks like?

    • TheScienceEnthusiast1130

      Hm?

      • Arbitrary

        “Hm”-what? Haven’t you seen the common mantra that is “GamerGate beat the Feminists!”? They didn’t. This shit is proof.

        • TheScienceEnthusiast1130

          Hmm…perhaps tons more awareness and tons more practical action is required…

          • Arbitrary

            No shit.

          • That, and tons more need to cut out the gynocentrism crap.

          • TheScienceEnthusiast1130

            yup

  • Phasmatis75

    Horizon seems pretty dead right now. You don’t see the kind of buzz about it you did before launch. I equated the opinion on Horizon by it’s supporters to a simple joke: I don’t know what has more “buts” in it. Horizon Zero Dawn’s reviews or Pornhub search history.

    Even afterward he caught himself doing it again and again and again till he started to stop each time he began to do it. I see Horizon being like that. It will be discussed because it is relevant and then forgotten only to be looked back upon as an example of what brought upon the collapse of the gaming industry or as an example of conditions and mentality of society in the 21st century.

    Invariably Neir will be talked about for years to come. Once the shine wears off on Horizon like Fallout 4 before it, then it will just be considered a lack luster propaganda game.

  • atomtanned

    Very interesting article, thanks for the comparison. I’m interested in seeing how the message of the game changes as it progresses, since I’m only at about 15% completion in HZD. I actually had really been enjoying the storyline so far. The Nora are a matriarchal society, yes, but there are plenty of male warriors among them. I thought it was actually kind of nice because it made Aloy’s gender a non-issue. No one seems impressed with her because she’s a strong woman – they’re just impressed with her because she’s strong. It even makes sense that they’re sort of in awe of her – she’s got a definite advantage that nearly every other character in the game (so far, anyways) doesn’t have by using the Focus. And the portrayal of the Nora Matriarchs, with their strict adherence to religious rules that make no sense, isn’t particularly positive, so I certainly wasn’t getting this idea that men ruined civilization and women are here to fix it. The Nora tribe isn’t an ideal society by any stretch!

    I guess Aloy doesn’t really strike me as being all that different from most video game protagonists. It seemed to me to be more of a Western hero trope, this idea of a ridiculously overpowered hero coming to save civilization. I did see in your comments below that you felt the game gets more preachy as it progresses, so I’m interested to see if my feelings on it change as I keep going. While I do love getting to play as a woman character, it’s certainly not why I bought the game. I think a lot of people would assume I’m the target audience for this type of character, but I don’t want to play a game where everyone is obsessed with the fact that I’m a woman, either!

    On the flip side, one of the things that I HAVE found disappointing so far is that Aloy does take on everything alone. It would be more fun to have some of the NPCs participate – I mean, it does require suspension of belief that a single person would be able to defeat massive herds of robot dinosaurs alone. I was hoping for something along the lines of followers in Skyrim, where you could have companions for certain quests or missions. Doesn’t seem like that’s the case, though.

    • Thanks. I didn’t want to give away too many spoilers, but the majority of the criticisms for the comparison relate to the tail-end of Horizon. But again, this is just my observations in comparison to Nier Automata.

      I think some people think that the comments about “feminism” relate to the matriarchal elements portrayed in the beginning of Horizon… lol, no. Just no. All of that is fine.

      I’ll just say that you can make up your own mind about what you think about it when you finally get to the end. I suppose I should have said that the article is probably best read after completing Horizon, but it seems some people are using it to steer their interest towards Nier.

      • Yeah, I probably should wait to read commentary until after I finish the game! But any time a game gets really positive reviews nearly across the board, I’m always interested in other perspectives. No such thing as a perfect game, after all.

      • Arbitrary

        “‘ll just say that you can make up your own mind about what you think about it when you finally get to the end.”

        I do not have the faintest, fucking intention of ever playing that game. Do you think you could write what happens in a reply with “SPOILER”-warning so that the people (that visit this website, but for some fucking reason still play Horizon, apparently) can ignore it?

        • **SPOILERS**

          http://www.oneangrygamer.net/2017/03/horizon-zero-dawn-ending-explained/25013/

          TL;DR: A rich white guy builds killer robots that destroy the entire planet. A rich white woman builds the entirety of mother nature into a super AI that looks like a black woman cosplaying as the Statue of Libery, in order to fix the rich white guy’s mistake. It sort of works, but the rich white guy’s killer robots come back and ruin the benevolent black mother nature AI, so as a last ditch effort the mother nature AI creates a perfect being in Aloy, who is the only one who can stop the evil virus corruption, and restore the Earth to its former glory.

    • Arbitrary

      “I mean, it does require suspension of belief that a single person would be able to defeat massive herds of robot dinosaurs alone.”

      But it does NOT defy your suspension of disbelief that a person with less than half the physical strength of men can easily kill multiple men in a fight?

      Fuck off. Read up on human sexual dimorphism.

      • I understand what sexual dimorphism is. “Suspension of belief” was probably the wrong phrase to use, since most video games are fairly unrealistic. BJ Blazkowicz is the most macho protagonist in the world and he recovers health by eating dog food off the floor. I don’t expect strict realism out of any of the games I play, so personally stuff like that doesn’t bother me.

        I just think the game would be improved in general with more cooperation and collaboration with NPCs. It gets too repetitive to do it all by yourself. No one needs 40-60 hours of solo combat with little variance.

  • John Smith.

    Horizon, well, no. I gave up on that game when the mainstream “gaming media” started circle jerking each other over how woke and progressive it is in its feminist message.

    Call my cynical if you will, but if all that falls from the mouth of people who find a woman showing her bare ankles in a video game to be a problematic thing is praise, I know the game they’re talking about is designed solely to insult and belittle me.

    So, this is the tenth game in one year that has had every single red flag and alarm going off in my head. Gaming is doomed it seems, at least the mainstream western gaming market as it is choked to death by regressives who seek to do nothing but insult their consumer base at every turn.

  • Mr Snow

    This is a good read.

    I’m getting tired of games shoving their agenda in my face. Was also thinking about picking up one or both of these, sounds like now it’s just gonna be Nier.

  • Frenden

    Aloy could be replaced with a male character and no one would notice. I’m fine with this, i didn’t buy the game thinking about her gender. It’s kind of sad seeing people in the comments section writing this game off because of a perceived agenda with a character who is a typical fantasy rpg hero trope.

    These people clearly don’t put their money where their mouth is though, because this game has sold well just like any other major release

    • GodBowser

      Do you have any proof that it’s selling well?

    • Aloy could be replaced with a male character and no one would notice.

      If the dialogue stayed the same, then yes… people would definitely notice. If everyone constantly kept talking about how strong and powerful and independent the character was, constantly patronizing them and lauding them.

      I can’t think of an open-world game where a male hero was constantly told how great he is because of his gender, or how independent, strong and caring he is. They definitely did this in the first Tomb Raider reboot, where everyone keeps reminding Lara how strong she is and reinforcing to her that she can do it.

      It would be the same thing but reversed if it were a male, and it would be just as cringe-worthy, if not more-so.

      • LurkerJK

        A well written hero oozes badassery whatever gender it is (2b comes to mind while i write this, so does Cate Archer), players dont need to be told they are baddasses, they know it the second they walk into the room with their confident struts

        The constant reminders just point to the extreme insecurity of the writer while trying to make a with the only trait of being perfect in every way, “Is she strong enough?, will the player understand?, maybe i bash them over the head with a fanboy one more time”

        • Arbitrary

          “players dont need to be told they are baddasses, they know it the second they walk into the room with their confident struts”

          Unless they have the faintest concept of human sexual dimorphism, and thus does not for a second believe that the skinny woman smugly strutting around like an idiot has got the faintest bit of business fighting a man, to begin with.

          • LurkerJK

            And men can’t run on walls or shoot lasers through their eyes, this is fiction, I don’t care it’s not realistic, I just want to be entertained

    • EroBotan

      the article basically stated that Aloy is a Mary Sue. Guess what? I dropped Aldnoah Zero and Gundam Seed Destiny because the protagonists are a male version of Mary Sue.

  • Mike Campbell

    And What about games like Gravity Rush 2

    • Not much to say about it.

      The two main heroes were female, obviously, but it didn’t come at the expense of their male cast. They also didn’t treat Kat special… in fact, they treated her the opposite. She got a lot of crap early on in the game, and had to earn a lot of the people’s respect. She fought and clawed her way toward becoming a hero (again).

      Regardless of the quality of the gameplay and the story, it wasn’t one about gender superiority, despite the main heroine having to constantly save the day. She also had a lot of help from a variety of different characters with different motivations, and it wasn’t like they undermined their male characters to make Kat seem great. Had she been switched with a male, nothing much would have changed.

  • Sean Filkins

    Want a truly strong female character story? Play The Witcher 3. There are many. Can’t wait for Automata.

    • Arbitrary

      “Want a truly strong female character story?”

      Not really, no.

      • Sean Filkins

        How so? Besides Geralt being a big whore, most women in the game are the most powerful in the entire world.

  • Mike Campbell

    Hey Do I have to play the first Nier game to understand the second nier

    • Ehh…. not really. If you’re willing to read through some of the data logs and pay attention to the story most of it will make sense. Playing the first games will help to better understand certain plot points, though.

  • Kev Lew

    interesting read but the proof is in the playing, a shame only one of them will make it to PC.

  • Slartibartfast

    Now, I don’t mind the occasional servile male character (its my fetish), but when ALL of the male characters are either good & servile or evil & brutish? That’s just insulting.

    • Arbitrary

      Please be better at distinguishing between the things that fulfill your selfish sexual preferences from every other fucking aspect of your life.

      • Slartibartfast

        I’m disinclined to acquiesce to your request.

  • SevTheBear

    I had really hoped that feminist and SJW tones would be at a minimal in this game. It really sounds like an awful game if that is the tone you get all the way. Is it worth playing at all? 🙁

    I really liked the Nier demo so I was sold on the spot. good to hear good story telling 🙂

    • It really sounds like an awful game if that is the tone you get all the way. Is it worth playing at all? 🙁

      Well, it starts off light at the beginning — definitely noticeable, though. By the time you get to the end it’s clearly unavoidable. And they make sure through the entire end sequence the point is hammered home, repeatedly.

      The gameplay is solid enough if you enjoy the robosaur hunting aspect.

      I personally like Horizon’s world and premise more than Nier, but objectively speaking Nier offers you more replayability, a more consistently paced story and a lot more replayability.

      • SevTheBear

        Don’t most games use THE CHOICE ONE plot a lot?
        Of course I can’t disprove you what you have observed since you have played it and I haven’t. I just remember that the Killzone games had a boring or rather bad writing behind them. Just seems like GG does more of the same and have learned nothing. Most negative reviews on Metacritic beats the gameplay and story hard.

        • Yeah a lot of games rely on that, whether you’re male or female, especially JRPGs.

          Killzone never really interested me much, so I can’t say much about that.

    • Arbitrary

      “Is it worth playing at all? :(”

      At this point, you shouldn’t worry whether or not the game is “fun to play”. You should NOT give money to developers pandering to Feminists in this way, to begin with.

    • Steve Rudzinski

      There is really no feminist tone in my opinion. It’s a pretty standard story that shares many similarities with any other game with a male protagonist. I hate SWJs but I really feel this writer is absolutely exaggerating things to try to make a point. The tone that he complains about so much to me just is barely there, or not there at all.

      The game plays great, I love it.

      • You beat it?

      • SevTheBear

        I guess it can’t hurt giving it a try or else I might just enjoy the pretty world they have made. I have a weakness for pretty forests in games 😛

  • Meteor

    After reading this, definitely I’ll buy Nier day-one instead of this shit propaganda game.

    • Steve Rudzinski

      I mean you SHOULD buy Nier because it’s possibly the best Platinum game. But this game is not at all propaganda.

  • Uncle Joey

    Platinum gets my money. Reason? I don’t appreciate butch dyke looking mary sue “i don’t need no man” videogame characters trying to push some agenda on me, no matter how “subtle” it is. The current in vogue description/portrayal of the typical male being an useless moron doesn’t help either.

    Also I think the game looks horrible anyway.

    • Freesoul

      Forget about subtlety, it is blatant in your face feminism agenda that hinder any enjoyment you could get of the game. It is sad because beside this the game is great.

    • Doctor Octobrist

      The typical male has always been portrayed as a moron as far back as The Honeymooners (Jackie Gleason,Audrey Meadows) in the 1950s.

      REEE MUH SJWS IN GAMING

      • I guess it’s awesome that we have Japanese developers breaking trends and pushing the genre forward with actual progressive ideas then, eh?

        • Doctor Octobrist

          Idiot trolling aside I don’t disagree that its a tired trope but it’s not really because of SJW’s, this isn’t a Bioware game after all.

          • The influence from scam artists like Quinn and Sarkeesian has had far-reaching and very negative influences on games. We see it often in Western titles where they shape and mold the tropes of the game to the desires of the third-wave feminists.

            Look at the early concept art for Aloy. She looked a lot different from what they ended up with. She had softer features, more wild hair, and generally had a more iconic look. They settled for someone with a larger jaw (which actually messed up part of the rigging for her mouth movement, which now makes her look like her teeth are always clenched) and they opted for a less “attractive” style compared to what they had before.

            Also, feminist/SJWs like Jonathan McIntosh and Sarkeesian whined about guns.

            If you look at other early concept art for Horizon (back from 2011, before the SJW stuff really kicked off) she had a lot of guns attached to her design. Mostly flintlock style pistols. I imagine that was for mid to close-range combat with human enemies. But later on they scrapped it and said “no guns” during the height of media and SJWs complaining about protagonists using firearms in games.

            I really would have liked to have seen what the game would have been like without trying to conform to the standards of feminist ideology. Would her design have changed much from concept to final render? How would the guns have balanced out with the other weapons? Would the story have taken on the “ambitious males = destruction of the world” trope? All of it is pretty obvious when you critique it in comparison to Nier.

          • The influence from scam artists like Quinn and Sarkeesian has had far-reaching and very negative influences on games. We see it often in Western titles where they shape and mold the tropes of the game to the desires of the third-wave feminists.

            Look at the early concept art for Aloy. She looked a lot different from what they ended up with. She had softer features, more wild hair, and generally had a more iconic look. They settled for someone with a larger jaw (which actually messed up part of the rigging for her mouth movement, which now makes her look like her teeth are always clenched) and they opted for a less “attractive” style compared to what they had before.

            Also, feminist/SJWs like Jonathan McIntosh and Sarkeesian whined about guns.

            If you look at other early concept art for Horizon (back from 2011, before the SJW stuff really kicked off) she had a lot of guns attached to her design. Mostly flintlock style pistols. I imagine that was for mid to close-range combat with human enemies. But later on they scrapped it and said “no guns” during the height of media and SJWs complaining about protagonists using firearms in games.

            I really would have liked to have seen what the game would have been like without trying to conform to the standards of feminist ideology. Would her design have changed much from concept to final render? How would the guns have balanced out with the other weapons? Would the story have taken on the “ambitious males = destruction of the world” trope? All of it is pretty obvious when you critique it in comparison to Nier.

        • Doctor Octobrist

          Idiot trolling aside I don’t disagree that its a tired trope but it’s not really because of SJW’s, this isn’t a Bioware game after all.

  • Gorgon

    So, Aloy is a Mary Sue, basically.

    • I disagree on the design of robot dinosaurs in Horizon, they look like Bayformers to me.

      http://replygif.net/i/759.gif

    • EroBotan

      “There’s nothing more boring than a perfect heroine!” – Drosselmeyer

  • ItEotWaWKI

    Would honestly rather play the game that is intentionally retarded for the sake of entertainment, (I.E. Dead Rising, BulletStorm, ect…), than the game that is unintentionally retarded for the sake of preaching, (I.E. Dragon Age: Inquisition, Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate, ect…).

    One of bigger problems I have with “progressive” propaganda in entertainment is the sheer hypocrisy involved. In the 80s and throughout the 90s, entertainment media, especially games, was under attack by right-wing, religious fundamentalists. Gamers, gaming journalists, and developers all banded together and told them politely, but firmly, “No, we’re not devil worshipers or mass-murdering psychos, now fuck off”, and they eventually did.

    Fast forward to now and entertainment media is infected with regressive, left-wing, collectivist, authoritarian, ideologues shoving their personal beliefs into everything, either subtly or blatantly. The hypocrisy comes from alot of the very same journos and devs that stood against the moral authoritarianism of the right being more than okay with that very same moral authoritarianism when it comes from themselves, and labeling anyone and everyone that disagrees with them ‘bigots’…

    From what I’ve seen over the past several years, half the shit they believe is “REEEEEE MUH FEELS!!!” based, (and therefore entirely subjective), and the other half is outright false… Make no mistake, the “progressives”, the feminists, the social “justice” warriors, they are no different from those authoritarian religious fundamentalists of the 80s/90s. They are the exact same type of dickhead, and their shit stinks just as bad…

    • The Western video games industry has become complete cancer. Same can be said for the Tech industry as well.

      Everything in those sectors now have to be catered towards women and minorities at the expense of men, otherwise you’re sexist, misogynist, racist, homophobe and transphobe.

      • Phasmatis75

        It’s not sustainable, it won’t last long.Gaming companies are nearing their collapse and will experience investor flight. The Tech industry is nothing but a glorified bubble about to burst as well.

        Both have already started, it’s just that this is the slowest crash we’ve seen in our lifetimes, but it will speed up and we’ll remember it like the housing market, which heads up we have another one of those coming as well.

        • AR7777

          Can’t wait for it to burst, we need cheaper dev costs that encourage production of more interesting games instead of the generic super graphics broad audience appealing type of games.

        • Encouraging words, but I remember hearing this in 2015 and 2016 a lot.

          I’ll believe it when I actually see it happen.

    • Would honestly rather play the game that is intentionally retarded for the sake of entertainment, (I.E. Dead Rising, BulletStorm, ect…), than the game that is unintentionally retarded for the sake of preaching

      I kind of miss these games. Like, what happened to having a story just deep enough to make people care, but focusing mostly on the gameplay? I suppose Titanfall 2 fits that description, and it’s not bad for what it does… it just doesn’t feel very innovative compared to games that are a decade old.

      It’s one of the reasons I loved Lost Planet 2 so much. It was just such a generically fun game. I just had a lot of fun shooting big monsters and upgrading the character. I miss games like that.

      • Jazz Anarchist

        Hence why I am excited for Persona 5, Agents of Mayhem and Mass Effect Andromeda. ^^

    • Make no mistake, the “progressives”, the feminists, the social “justice”
      warriors, they are no different from those authoritarian religious
      fundamentalists of the 80s/90s. They are the exact same type of
      dickhead, and their shit stinks just as bad…

      Their shit actually stinks far worse and it’s much harder to clean up because it’s diarrhoea that has completely covered and soaked into the ground.

      Because back then in the 80s/90s, all the religious fundamentalists could do was whine and lecture, they weren’t really able to inject their religious ideas into games. Also, the mainstream Western games media stayed on the side with gamers and called out and mocked these religious Bible-thumping idiots. They were quite easy to dismiss. Another factor is that games were not mainstream nor taken seriously back then as well.

      With SJWs and feminists it’s different, this time the entire mainstream Western games media have sided with them instead, pushing, promoting and glorifying their propaganda and shitting on gamers and anyone who doesn’t comply. Also, another difference is that SJWs and feminists are infesting Western developers and actually injecting a lot of their agenda/ideology into the biggest games, something the religious lot from the 80s/90s wasn’t able to do. Now that video games have become mainstream, “cool”, and popular, it’s going to be under scrutiny at all times from ideologues and “culture critics”.

      Video games going mainstream was a mistake.

    • TheScienceEnthusiast1130

      It is because feminism was created by religious extremism. Feminism is a representation of religious insecurities towards sexuality/freedom/pleasure.

      Remember about Anita Sarkeesian? She was from a fundamentalist Christian family in Armenia, and she was indoctrinated to fear breasts.

      And not to mention that many of the loudest feminists are from USA, a quite religious nation (UK is supposedly “more secular”, yet religion is still dominant there).

      The parents enforce religious ideology onto the offspring…then the educational institution further indoctrinates the offspring with even more religious values…then the mainstream news media enforces even more religious values but also portrays it as “truth”.

      Fear of sexuality/sex/sexual intercourse, and ignorance of facts is what feminism believes in, and the fear and ignorance is because of religion.

      Video games represent creativity/freedom/pleasure. All of which challenge the status quo. That causes religitards to get angry, and therefore, the feminazis are trashing video games. Feminazis are religitards.

      • AR7777

        Modern feminism is the new religious puritanism, this time politicians and media are on their side which made it a more dangerous type of cancer

        • TheScienceEnthusiast1130

          Of course it is. However, the politicians and the mainstream news media have ALWAYS been on the side of religious puritanism

    • Arbitrary

      Absolutely not a single, fucking thing you said, hasn’t already been said a million times. And are you doing anything about it? Or just impotently bitching on the Internet?

      • TheScienceEnthusiast1130

        The original comment above, has a somewhat rarer recognised viewpoint.

        Oh, and in 2017, not many people are raising awareness as they were in 2014.

      • AR7777

        What do you want him to do other than post on the internet and skip sjw games? Want him to make a suicide attack at EA HQ or something?

        Whay are YOU doing btw?

      • ItEotWaWKI

        You seem angry. Bad day?

        First off, an argument only becomes invalid when it’s refuted, and I’ve yet to see those particular arguments succinctly refuted. To address the ‘beating a dead horse’ notion you’re putting forward, you’re projecting. You’re assuming that because you’ve seen it a million times, everyone has. On top of that, there are people new to the intrawebs every day. People that were either not alive during, or too young to remember, the satanic panic of the 80s, the “video games cause violence” scare of the 90s/early 2000s, and they need to be shown that the current moral outrage in regards to art is not only not new, it isn’t even unique. That it’s just as ridiculous now as it was back then. History is important.

        As for the last part of your post…

        *Glances at large, multi-national corporations capitulating to SJW social media outrage. Glances at all the disclosure code of conduct updates GamerGaters managed to get.*

        I believe you may be underestimating “bitching on the internet”.

        If you were having a bad day, I hope the next one goes better for you.

  • Good article, a very interesting comparison between the two games.

    Regarding Horizon Zero Dawn, based on what I read, Aloy just completely stinks of a feminist “independent strong woman who don’t need no man” Mary Sue type character. It’s 100% feminist agenda if you ask me.

    This trope is quite frankly f*cking tiresome and needs to die quickly. And it’s not just in video games you see this in. You see it everywhere in the Western media, such as TV, magazines, adverts, commercials, etc… basically if women are not depicted in this way, it’s automatically “sexist” and “misogyny”.

    It would not be as bad if the males/men were depicted as strong, powerful and in a more controlling role (to provide an equal footing to the Mary Sue), but they’re not. They’re just depicted as clumsy, bumbling, useless idiotic oafs (and in some cases just “sexually objectified”).

    That’s why Nier: Automata will get my money and Horizon SJW Dawn won’t. I do not wish to play a game to have SJW-feminism shoved into my face.

    • Disqusted

      I wonder how many feminists are refusing to touch Nier Automata because 2b hangs out with 9s, who helps her. That’s not strong and independent enough!

      • Well there’s A2… and she’s literally the definition of “I don’t need no man to help me”…. LOL, she even tells that to one of the service robots that tried to help her. It was hilarious, but it makes a lot of sense for the kind of character that she is.

        But since SJWs don’t play games, they will ignore A2.

      • I would’ve thought that the upskirt would’ve put them off already

        • Disqusted

          2b apparently actively dodges the camera, which is funny. The guy I was watching seemed to get a trophy for successfully managing to see her panties.

          • LurkerJK

            And that stupid detail just makes her 500% sexier, definitely a stroke of genius

            Its funny how 2b showed up in the demo and instantly got fans, Theyve been hyping Aloy for weeks and nothing

            I just googled “2b devianart” and got 1.8 million hits
            then i googled “aloy devianart” … 91k hits, ouch, yeah, nice mascot there Sony, she is blowing everyone away

      • AR7777

        Feminists don’t buy games but I can see a few white knights skipping it

  • GodBowser

    From what I’ve read Horizon Zero Dawn sounds like Fembusters with how men are portrayed in it and it being a Playstation exclusive made me wonder if Sony has adopted the feminazi ideology

  • Jeff

    Interesting article. But I wouldnt go on to say that its Horizon’s feminist perspective.
    If you take a look at games in the past and compare it, the games from the east and the games from the west, you could see the same things you’ve pointed out.
    Its no doubt that Japanese are far better story tellers and game developers than any one around. Their design ideologies is far different from what I’ve seen from any western studio. Also, the western devs plays it “safe” all the time. Horizon seems like “just any other game” . Imagine Far Cry but add more RPG and make it 3rd person with mech enemies. You get Horizon. A lot of work is put into making things flashy graphically but mediocre in design. With Japanese games its sort of the other way round.

    “Everyone is portrayed as being beneath her due to a specific plot device. This carries through in the way the missions are conveyed in Horizon and how Aloy interacts with other characters” — this point here. The same can be said for literally every game from any western dev. Its the same logic behind quest design, where the player is the only one capable of doing something right .. its just to fast forward into the gameplay and think not much about anything else. I havent played the game yet to comment on the men being emasculated part. But the game hasnt garnered my attention at all. Seems very “meh” and like another generic game.

    I had a chance to try Nier Automata at Sq Enix Booth earlier this month. Seems like there’s a lot of thought put into design logic with that game I should say with enemy and NPC deisgn. Enemy design in Horizon (from what I’ve seen – the animal like mechs) is something I really dont like. Its not seeling to me. It feels so out of place and not much thought put into it. Just made to look cool.

    So I dont think this is rather something about feminism with Horizon. Its about playing it more safe and using the same old and worked “formula” in game design. Well yeah one could argue that there is some political interests there (not to offend audience and what not) But the Japs gives no fuck about those.

    • Also, the western devs plays it “safe” all the time. Horizon seems like “just any other game” .

      I don’t know… can’t agree there. Look at the Max Payne trilogy, those games really don’t play it safe at all. In fact, Max Payne 3 was one of those games that left me a little unsettled a few days after playing it.

      The same can be said for literally every game from any western dev. Its the same logic behind quest design, where the player is the only one capable of doing something right .

      I don’t know if I can agree with this either. Even though Master Chief was always the star of Halo he had a lot of help from Halo 2 onward from a number of different characters. Same thing with Gears of War, especially Gears 2 and Gears 3, where they really focused on the whole team effort element.

      Even in the original Knights of the Old Republic, while it was the player character who was the main character (and the main villain, which was an awesome twist) there were still some really cool incorporation of other characters helping out at the end in an all out assault. The same thing could be said of Crackdown and even Mass Effect.

      Heck, even in GTA Vice City, San Andreas, IV and V it wasn’t all just a one-man effort, and each of the games focused on a sort of team-effort narrative.

      • Jeff

        There are quite some exceptions I should say. Rockstar’s games (developed and published titles) are one. GoW another. I only played till Halo2.. But those times have changed quite a bit, but even then it was all about gameplay and “how to produce more sequels” design goin about. Tragedy was often used to create holes for sequels. TBH though, Mass Effect sort of bored me and I didnt like it very much.

        But literally most of today’s devs are very un-original or rather not very interesting in what they bring to the table. From Japan I’ve only had one (maybe 4) game so far that sort of made me feel this “meh” – Evil Within. RE 5,6,7 .

        • But literally most of today’s devs are very un-original or rather not very interesting in what they bring to the table.

          Okay, well… yeah…. you’re right.

          In today’s climate I can’t remember the last major Western developed game that actually was original.

          • Disqusted

            Probably easy to find some in the indie scene. AAA scene, not so much. Especially if they’re so focused on story instead of gameplay.

          • Oh yeah…. indie games are wildly innovative. But Western AAA titles, they’re completely safe.

        • Disqusted

          Hah. Those games all made me feel “meh” too.

  • Gozu Tennoh

    The mindless unwash will no doubt make horizon a success.

    I’ll take Nier everyday of the week.

    • If Horizon was never released very close to Nintendo Switch and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, then yes, I would say Horizon is a success.

  • Dreiko

    I think if games as good as Horizon were the representatives of feminism, a whole lot more people would be open to the idea. I guess making your own games DOES pay off. More of them should heed this example.

    Honestly, I don’t really play games to analyze what underlying political philosophies they support but as long as whatever drives you results in the creation of good games, I will be fully behind you.

    Now we will have a game to point and show that as long as you make a good game, you will be fine.

    In the end, Nier is way more my cup of tea, as I am more of a fan of Japanese games, but Horizon looks pretty cool too and it deserves to be praised for what it does right.

    • Disqusted

      Well, I will give them credit for making something instead of bitching at someone else’s work to force changes, or changing stuff in localization.

    • Arbitrary

      “Honestly, I don’t really play games to analyze what underlying political philosophies they support but as long as whatever drives you results in the creation of good games, I will be fully behind you.”

      Because real-life issues are less important than your fucking video-games, even if the plot and characters end up suffering greatly for pandering to Feminists!

      • TheScienceEnthusiast1130

        Video games are not a bad thing, tho…

        • Arbitrary

          Of course not. But when you consider them more important than real-life -issues such as your game being full of SJW-pandering, then someone should confiscate your fucking wallet.

          • TheScienceEnthusiast1130

            o.o

          • Dreiko

            The question is weather the game is good or bad. If it’s good despite that pandering, then whatever the pandering did either is a good thing or failed to ruin the game. If the game is bad, then of course, feel free to criticize it.

            What one ought not do is act like the SJWs and just pre-judge a game based on presumed ideology or even worse, hearsay of presumed ideology.

            Play the game yourself, THINK, then opine about it. If you just hear or read about this or that message but don’t yourself try and see how it actually works out then you’re no better than them.

      • Dreiko

        No, if the plot and chars suffer, then I will mind it, obviously. I just won’t dislike a game which is good just because if you analyze the deeper meaning of certain plot elements have this or that feminist or whatever inclination.

        This is the same thing that feminists do when they try to claim games are sexist by overly focusing on minor aspects, in the process ignoring the majority of the game’s other elements in the process. It’s bullshit when they do it and it would be if I did it too. Now, if the game is intended to be about the politics or the story and the focus is clearly on that stuff, sure, but this game is mainly an action game about shooting robot dinosaurs with a bow, the story isn’t that big of a deal. As someone who mainly plays games for the story, trust me, I care a lot about game stories and where they go, I just also know when a story is there cause you need to have something to string the cool action scenes together.

        Finally, my fucking videogames are a real life issue. Why would you even think they aren’t? Everything you do in real life, even if it is fictional, affects you in real ways and the experience you derive from it is a real experience. You know Batman, right? If asked about him you could list a bunch of his traits off the top of your head, right? Well, can you do the same about every single real human that really exists? Can you even do that about every single human that really exists in your city? Neighborhood?

        Fiction can affect you more than real people, it’s plenty real, just, the way it does it is indirect.

    • Steve Rudzinski

      I think Horizon is a really fantastic game, so neatly put together and cool to play that I am honestly finishing it before I even start Zelda.

      And I gotta say as someone that really hates SJWs/The Regressive Left, I have no idea what this article is talking about. I don’t at all think this is a game pushing a political agenda, it seems like a very straight forward plot where the main character just so happens to be female. She could have been male and I don’t think anyone would be complaining about Male-Aloy being a Mary Sue, she does nothing that most other main characters do.

      Again, I hate SJWs but I really feel like this article is looking for things to get annoyed with. I’m about halfway through the game and I don’t at all feel what people are complaining about here. If you think Horizon looks cool, play it. Because it’s super cool.

      • Again, I hate SJWs but I really feel like this article is looking for things to get annoyed with. I’m about halfway through the game and I don’t at all feel what people are complaining about here. If you think Horizon looks cool, play it. Because it’s super cool.

        Well there-in lies your problem. I’m considering all the story, including the ending. Get back to me when you beat the game and we’ll see if you still have the same feelings.

        • Steve Rudzinski

          I beat the game. I think the article is still reaching and looking for stuff to get mad about like Anita Sarkeesian does. Nothing in Horizon Zero Dawn feels like a SJW game.

  • Disqusted

    Very good insightful and analytical writeup.

    I really hate characters like Aloy who are always number one. There’s no character depth or development in that. It’s like how Westerners wanted Samus to always be perfect. When they started to show her weak side, they got upset. Although, they did a really bad job showing Samus’ weak side, in my opinion. The baby, the baby, the baby!

    I think a truly strong character is one that, despite their shortcomings, is able to triumph against tremendous odds. A character like Aloy cannot fit into that kind of situation. It’s like how in Tomb Raider, when Lara suddenly magically recovers from fatal injuries like impalement, falling a great height onto her neck, getting her leg caught in a metal trap, etc. There’s no struggle in that, and so the character becomes less believable as a regular human being.

    Real people are weak. It’s overcoming their weakness that makes them strong. And even the weak are important because they define the strong, by being there for comparison, and to give the strong motivation.

    It also sounds like these games are another example of that thing how Western heroes are one-man-armies, and Eastern heroes tend to rely more on those around them.

    A friend just told me that one of the things they like about Nier is that it’s not a story revolving around one character, it’s more like you’re following a story in a world, to the point that you realize how insignificant the characters are in comparison to what’s happening.

    Horizon Dawn really sounds like they wanted to create a situation to portray a woman as ridiculously powerful, and the entire story is built around that. You can see that in how emasculated or evil the male characters are. That’s more political propaganda than story.

    • it’s not a story revolving around one character, it’s more like you’re following a story in a world, to the point that you realize how insignificant the characters are in comparison to what’s happening.

      Perfect summary.

      The game doesn’t hesitate to sweep the rug right out from under the player.

      They basically made an infallible powerhouse with a vagina.

      Pretty much.

      If any of her villains were actually made formidable it would have completely changed how she could have been viewed, but her villains were as weak as her allies.

      • Disqusted

        That doesn’t sound very challenging. Were there any parts in Horizon Dawn that felt like a real challenge? Did you ever get a game over or die?

        How about for Nier Automata? Any parts where you died?

        • You will die a lot in Nier.

          That’s the funny part about it, 2B, 9S and A2 are these super badasses but those machines are no pushover. Also the AI is relentless. It’s not a musou game where you’re fighting 10 guys at once who stand there and let you wail on them. EVERY enemy attacks you at the same time and you WILL die a lot in Nier. It’s just how the game is. Unforgiving and relentless.

          That doesn’t sound very challenging. Were there any parts in Horizon Dawn that felt like a real challenge?

          Oh, don’t get me wrong… Aloy may be super-powered but you can still die if you play stupidly . It’s just not as hard as Nier. Also, Aloy has recharging health, so you just have to dodge until your HP refills.

          The challenge in Horizon is that the robosaurs have unorthodox attacks, and will sometimes retreat and reassess their attacks. I love how they’ll see a trap, stop back up and move around. But it’s definitely not as hard or as challenging as Nier.

          • Disqusted

            Hmm, okay. Thanks. I was just skimming through Metacritic reviews that aren’t 9-10. A lot of people seemed to complain about these issues:
            – Generic story with no twist, very generic open world, boring quests.
            – Nothing to do outside of following the story or doing same old kill dino quests.
            – Outside of the dinos, animation in general is bad, weightless.
            – Voice acting is bad.
            – Loading is really long.
            – Bow feels like a sniper rifle instead of a bow (I really hate that) and you’ll be using bow 90% of the time.
            – Lots of invincibility frames, little reason to use traps.
            – Some basic effects and animations missing here and there.

            Doesn’t sound great.

          • Generic story with no twist, very generic open world, boring quests.

            Yeah… that’s pretty much correct.

            Nothing to do outside of following the story or doing same old kill dino quests.

            Yeah… that’s also correct. Though, to be fair, this could have been rectified if they put more focus on the dino battles and creating some interesting scenarios combat scenarios like Monster Hunter, but… they opted not to.

            Outside of the dinos, animation in general is bad, weightless.

            Ehhh… Aloy’s swimming animations are good. Almost everyone’s facial animations look like Mass Effect 1, save for this one chick in Meridian who has like the most perfect lip synching animations I’ve ever seen. They did a fantastic job with that woman… but she’s just a no-nothing NPC. I suspect Aloy’s lip-synch looks off because they widened her jaw too much and it looks like she’s talking through a retainer.

            – Loading is really long.

            Meh.

            – Bow feels like a sniper rifle instead of a bow (I really hate that) and you’ll be using bow 90% of the time.

            Bows just aren’t that impressive. The ropecasters are cool, and the physics are spot-on, but the bows just don’t feel very impactful. And it’s true, they are basically sniper rifles. You can literally snipe from like 200 meters out.

            – Lots of invincibility frames, little reason to use traps.

            Yes, this is true… but to be fair, sometimes the robosaurs will do an attack you dodge but then do a follow-up attack that you can’t. Nier gets around this by having the perfect-dodge that you have to time just right so you can dodge multiple attacks. Aloy is a lot slower so by the time she finishes the roll she’s susceptible to another attack. To get around this they just made those frames invincible and let you dodge-spam, which is kind of cheap and lame.

            They should have made it where you got different rolls depending on how you press the button. A lot tap is a quick roll. Hold back while rolling and she does a quick back step. Hold down the button and she does a dive. Would have made it a lot more dynamic and progressive for the combat mechanics based on the way the dinos behave.

          • Disqusted

            “They did a fantastic job with that woman… but she’s just a no-nothing NPC.” <- ahahahaaha

            Thanks for the detailed explanations. It does sound like they didn't really do much with the gameplay. Like, it doesn't sound like they started out by prototyping the gameplay to see if it was fun to play.

            They probably started out with "let's make a super strong independent woman and build the story around her!" and tacked the gameplay on as an afterthought.

            Nier Automata probably started out similar to how Bayonetta did. They probably tested the combat first.

          • Derf

            Going to have to strongly disagree with the sentiment that ” it doesn’t sound like they started out by prototyping the gameplay to see if it was fun to play.”

            I am having a great time with it specifically because of the gameplay compared to that of some other sandboxes I’ve played. YMMV, but I think you’re selling it very short without even trying it by taking the word of those who did the same at face value.

          • Laytonaster

            Sounds like a Platinum Game, alright. And I wouldn’t have it any other way! 😀

          • barney klingenberg

            Aloy does NOT have recharging health.

            you can and will die when your outnumbered or don’t know how to deal with the threat effectively.

            Clearly you have not played horizon or you would know that she doesn’t regen health. Not even outside combat

            You have 2 options pick up herbs and activate your regen manually.

            Or drink potions that you can either buy or craft These come in 2 potencies.

          • Aloy does NOT have recharging health. you can and will die when your outnumbered or don’t know how to deal with the threat effectively.

            Yes, you’re right… you can quick-slot health to recharge it quickly but you do need health potions.

          • Ashley Carter

            Did you play on Hard or Very Hard? Because Normal felt like a kingdom hearts game in terms of how ridiculously easy it was.

        • Ashley Carter

          I have 4 deaths logged in Nier and have died at least a dozen times in Horizon.

          Nier is like a game for babies on normal mode, it’s violently easy and you can instantly dodge everything in game by just present a button. No timing or skill necessary, it’s very easy to button-mash through as log as you don’t get a 1hko (which are extremely rare on normal)

          That all said it’s still a ton of fun, but if you want a challenging game “normal” will dissapoint you.

          Horizon requires a much more conscientious approach, Aloy feels much frailer and more vulnerable, the machines to a ton of damage. It’s really easy to get overwhelmed or fuck up in HzD and die.

    • Horizon Dawn really sounds like they wanted to create a situation to
      portray a woman as ridiculously powerful, and the entire story is built
      around that. You can see that in how emasculated or evil the male
      characters are. That’s more political propaganda than story.

      She’s basically an obnoxious Mary Sue. And the male characters are evil, oafs, useless, idiots, retards, etc. etc. etc.

      It’s designed to appeal to SJWs/feminists and teach those evil patriarchal straight male gamers that women are not sex objects.

      I doubt it will happen but I hope the game flops.

      • Disqusted

        Speaking of which, Aloy does sound a lot like that overpowered woman from that recent Star Wars. Rey or whatever her name is.

        • That’s exactly what came into my mind when reading Billy’s article.

          Star Wars fanboys, SJWs and feminists denied it of course, but anyone with a brain could see that Rey was clearly a Mary Sue.

          • Ethan42

            Most definitely.

          • Laytonaster

            That lightsaber fight between her and pussy-Ren was honestly one of the worst fights I’ve ever seen. Her movements were so slow, you’d thing she’s using a club. She had so many openings, even a stormtrooper could’ve landed a shot on her.

          • Jonathan Alexander

            i would have been more convinced if in the future rey uses a lightsaber staff. because at least she has shown capability in using that type of weapon. and know that using a one handed sword and a two handed staff are two different fighting styles.

          • Rey is indeed a Mary Sue because of the goddamn writers.

      • Phasmatis75

        It’ll probably fail internal projections and there will be some restructuring at Guerrilla which is corporate code for a purge. Thank fully the advertisement budget on this game probably will be it’s killing blow.

      • AR7777

        Same, I hope it flops hard

    • MONAD

      I’m avoiding shit like ReCore and Horizon for this very reason. People want to shoehorn “MUH STRONG INDEPENDENT WOMAN” in for the Social Justice narrative brownie points. Gamers don’t like games like this. Gamers DESPISE games like this. Make me care about the character instead of what gender they are or who they’re currently fucking. That’s superficial shit that only the most brain dead narcissist would care about.

      • I actually don’t understand ReCore on this.

        • MONAD

          ReCore was just fucking terrible, but they made it a point to mention that the protag was female every fucking time they talked about it.

      • FiachSidhe

        You literally avoid games because the character is female? Can you even process how ironically weak that makes you sound?

        • Michael P

          That’s not what he said, AT ALL. Work on your reading comprehension.

          Personally I’m enjoying Horizon, purely from a gameplay/graphical aspect though. Aloy and how she is perceived by NPC’s is borderline insufferable. Whenever the narrative intrudes, it’s generally there to just waffle on about how great she is.

          Dick or vag, that shit is boring.

          • FiachSidhe

            I’m sorry I tend to zone out when people type in all caps shit like “MUH STRONG INDEPENDENT WOMAN” as a negative.

            I guess you’re right. My reading comprehension does needs work. Or rather my ability to wade through manbaby rage to find the one part where he wasn’t writing paranoid desperate nonsense about agendas and what “gamers despise” (literally outsold Zelda).

            To find that part where he eloquently pretends she’s any different than 90% of the other heroes you never complained about this much.

          • To find that part where he eloquently pretends she’s any different than 90% of the other heroes you never complained about this much.

            I see this thrown around a lot, and I used a bunch of examples in the article who weren’t part of that 90%. Can you name for me these heroes who Mary Sue/Gary Stu’d their way through a game that people absolutely adored? Because people really didn’t like Kirito from Sword Art Online, and he’s basically a male version of Aloy, so you’re already wrong, but hopefully there’s some other examples I missed.

          • Derf

            I see people comparing her to Kirito, but for the life of me I don’t see it.

            Please explain.

          • Both are infallible.

          • Derf

            Apparently abandoning friends who you think might slow you down, getting your party killed, falling into a trap which results in someone else getting killed and frankly screwing up the fight with the antagonist in the first season, twice mind you (though the second time he got bailed out by BS) makes you infallible.

            Aloy? First major opportunity to be infallible resulted in the deaths of her father and several fellow braves at the proving, including the only 2 named in the story. Past that, it’s basic sandbox stuff that was no more infallible when any other sandbox protagonist did it.

          • Past that, it’s basic sandbox stuff that was no more infallible when any other sandbox protagonist did it.

            You sure about that? Venom Snake had plenty of near-death experiences throughout MGS5.

            Luis and Tony were constantly on the brink of being killed or losing everything throughout the Ballad of Gay Tony.

            Johnny and the rest of the Lost spent the whole game losing everything in the Lost and Damned (probably one of the few stories where you start with more than what you end up with).

            Wei Shen’s friend is mutilated beyond recognition and Shen is mutilated as well, after undergoing plenty of violent encounters throughout Sleeping Dogs.

            Velvet nearly recklessly throws her life away multiple times throughout Tales of Berseria, putting the team in jeopardy on multiple occasions.

            2B and 9S… well, lol… I’ll just say death is no stranger knocking at their door.

            Vito and Joe from Mafia 2 have an extremely bumpy and violent ride up and down their sad journey toward trying to hit it big.

            Ezio, Connor and Altair lose pretty much everything by the time the credits roll in each of their respective journeys (though for Ezio it happens multiple times).

            The only character who is infallible from start to finish in an open-world game is Rico from Just Cause. According to Avalanche they wanted him to be a walking, talking “action figure”. Mission accomplished, I guess?

          • Derf

            Yes, I’m sure about that. Aloy exposed herself to an individual who fed info to the group that killed most of those at the proving, failed to fight off the boss which cause Rost to become involved and get stabbed then blown up. Those are the major story points for quite a while in game if you spend a great deal of time doing side quests.

            Which are indeed standard sandbox fare. Let me ask, what extent of experience are you speaking from here? Have you played it? Do you know the plot points? Because you’ve said the character doesn’t struggle, but nearly gets killed story wise near the very beginning. Also gameplay wise it’s pretty easy to screw up and die. They did not make her terribly durable (unless maybe playing on easy).

          • you’ve said the character doesn’t struggle, but nearly gets killed story wise near the very beginning.

            Sure she had that moment with Helis at the beginning, and gets captured near the end (again by Helis) but she manages to save herself with a little bit of aid from Sylens (though she probably would have fared decently had he not shown up based on the fact she challenged Helis to a fight and he was too afraid to go head to head against a teenager).

            Beyond that, Aloy kind of coasts through the story.

            As you mentioned, the only real struggles is when the player messes up and gets killed during combat, but narratively there isn’t much there as far as character growth compared to the other open-world games I mentioned.

          • Derf

            The Narrative itself is, or rather feels, sparse to begin with. Most of it is the random running around rather than the true story so far. That doesn’t leave much room for what you’re looking for, but that’s not really the character’s fault.

          • Most of it is the random running around rather than the true story so far. That doesn’t leave much room for what you’re looking for, but that’s not really the character’s fault.

            That’s an interesting point, because it’s exactly like that in Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, yet they managed to give Zelda way more character depth and range than Aloy, even though she’s in the game for like less than half an hour.

            The game is told through a series of flashbacks, though. Through the flashbacks we see how Zelda’s actions, choices and determination literally shape the events that transpire and the events that Link are supposed to carry out.

            Even with a narrative told in as sparse a fashion as Breath of the Wild, they still managed to show Zelda struggle waaaaaay more than Aloy. It’s an interesting juxtaposition between the two games and the impetus for players to literally fight towards the end in Breath of the Wild.

          • Derf

            That’s basically HZD’s few cut scenes and early story here. The games narrative starts out dense for character shaping then lets loose as the character’s development to that point is what creates the impetus for the story.

            As far as struggle, sure, not arguing some don’t struggle more, what I’m saying is that the opportunities don’t come up in this story for it to happen as often, and when they don things do have moments where they go south.

            That said it can’t be every moment because at that point the protag becomes incompetent and the character’s believably tanks further since the rest of the gameplay is dependent on the concept of a capable protag. That said I don’t prescribe deep flaws to necessarily be the evidence of believably to begin with. Not when it doesn’t fit the narrative.

          • Derf

            BTW, I haven’t played BOTW, so I can’t really compare the 2, I’m just addressing the claim regarding Aloy not having depth and contrasting that with the idea of depth equaling crippling flaws.

          • I don’t think it’s necessary to have “crippling flaws” but relatable flaws.

            Marcus Fenix may have been a badass but he and Dom had a rough go of it in Gears of War 1. He didn’t come across as incompetent at any one point, but the character did struggle a lot throughout the campaign. It was easy to root for the duo because they were out-gunned, out-manned and out-numbered most times. They won some, lost some, and mostly spent a large portion of the campaign on the run.

            It doesn’t mean a protagonist/deuteragonist is incompetent, it just means that they have something to overcome.

            At the beginning of Horizon, sure Aloy has the Proving challenge to deal with, but as the game’s narrative ramps up and the world and its layered politics and more dangerous robosaurs begin to come into the picture, they aren’t necessarily posed as much of a problem for Aloy, compared to games like Metal Gear, GTA, Mass Effect or The Witcher.

          • Derf

            I think we’re going to have to agree to disagree as far as GoW 1 is concerned. The narrative danger is exactly whet I’d classify as manufactured in a way. It wasn’t ever a real danger to the player beyond the same “failure to perform” danger that you dismissed here. Rarely were they put in story engineered situations in the first game that suggested fragility or vulnerability. Rather every situation they got into was gotten out of through their guns.

            The only real exceptions were some cool moment that ultimately worked to cement the badassitude of the cast.

            No one was really broken among them is a way that amounted to anything, and somehow we were fine with that.

            It was also the nature of the game. That wasn’t an open world, but a level based shooter, which means all gameplay impetus comes from the reason to be right there, right then, for a specific reason. An open world game on the other hand has to rely on the idea that the protagonist has the ability and reason to be out and exploring the world, which HZD does through several encounters if you spin the dialogue wheel enough.

          • I think we’re going to have to agree to disagree as far as GoW 1 is concerned.

            Fair enough, but that’s why I also mentioned Turok, Dino Crisis, Mafia 2 and GTA… GTA in particular because despite being open-world, each of the protagonists were put into very precarious situations where they were struggling through their peril.

            Of course it’s always going to be manufactured, but the suspension of disbelief (when written and executed correctly) allows us to empathize with the character through that manufactured struggle.

            It’s the reason why a lot of people didn’t like the characters or narrative of GTA V all that much. The struggle was barely there, the characters weren’t very likable and it was generally just a generic open-world action title. Opposite of characters like Tommy, Johnny, Luis, CJ and Niko, there wasn’t much room for growth for Michael, Trevor and Franklin.

            An open world game on the other hand has to rely on the idea that the protagonist has the ability and reason to be out and exploring the world, which HZD does through several encounters if you spin the dialogue wheel enough.

            Sure, but you can still come up with creative ways to weave in a narrative that makes you care about the character’s journey and their peril, which is why I really liked how in Breath of the Wild the peril was actually a retrospective that shaped the events that the player was playing through. It was more like “Don’t make the same mistakes twice”. I thought that was very inventive.

            I think there’s like 101 different ways Guerrilla could have taken the story to really help shape Aloy as a character and her growth through the challenges she faced, similar to Venom Snake, Lincoln Clay or Connor Kenway.

          • Derf

            The thing is I and several others do care about the journey. We care because the world is set up to make us ask questions and the character has reasons t seek them. Those WERE shaped specifically and tangibly.

            Turok, in the older games, never really came through with any personality to me, and the reboot wasn’t worth playing through IMHO. Having played the reboot as much as I did, the only defining characteristic of the character was that he was worse at fighting than his hardass trainer.

            Even your description of breath of the wild, which as I stated I haven’t played, doesn’t tell me the game or characters are better, but rather that they end up on narrative peril more, which may make me care or not care, but probably not as much as gameplay peril in setting the mode and tone of the game. Sneaking by a thunderjaw is something I feel more than most cut-scenes.

            Which I think is the more fundamental difference here. You’re looking for character development by way of narrative for an experience focused more on gameplay being the narrative and dismissing those elements as simply the danger of “failure to execute.” Some of us on the other hand love that stuff. The Dark souls series for instance was to me one of the most atmospheric and enthralling worlds I’ve ever been in while being completely non-character driven. The chosen undead/unkindled ask didn’t even have a name the NPCs recognized.

            You’re selling short the ability to create narratives through gameplay rather than explicit story, or more specifically the ability to allow the player to shape those narratives. And in that type of game the story isn’t going to spur the growth of the character in the way you want because the focus is on involving the player to determine who the character is to a degree. You’re basically comparing narrative driven characters to gameplay driven ones.

            Most interesting character ever? No, but not an explicitly bad one by the majority of opinions out there.

            There’s also the issue of the Master chief/Doom guy/Marcus Fenix characters getting a pass on their lack of dimentionality upon introduction of their respective franchises without nearly the same criticism. Doom guy (2016) even got praise for the defining feature of being wholly a vessel for the destruction of everything hell related without a scrap of weakness, doubt or conflict even remotely evident in any way.

          • Whoa, you’re comparing two completely different types of storytelling vehicles here.

            Yes, you’re right insofar that Dark Souls, Doom and the first Halo were basically shells of characters so players could experience the narrative through their actions. Horizon is not that kind of game at all. Aloy has a clearly defined persona, clearly defined goals, a clearly defined motivation, a clearly defined nemesis who she specifically calls out and seeks out to kill, a specifically designed role in the game (as outlined by GAIA) and a narrative thread that unfolds regardless of player input. There is no alternate path or ending depending on player actions like Dark Souls, Aloy and the Horizon story is wholly character driven by a set, linear narrative.

            Horizon is closer to the likes of Mass Effect or Dragon Age in its storytelling setup, and both of those other games most certainly use narrative cinematics to setup the dangers of their world for the player-character(s).

            There’s also the issue of the Master chief/Doom guy/Marcus Fenix characters getting a pass on their lack of dimentionality upon introduction of their respective franchises without nearly the same criticism.

            You’re making a huge mistake here comparing purposefully empty character vessels (which Fenix is not by the way) to Aloy, who is not a one-dimensional killing machine. She doesn’t just murder everything in sight like the other characters. Murder-sims aren’t character driven, and that was the whole point of subverting the narrative with 2016 Doom Guy who was literally identical to 1992 Doom Guy: they just killed. He wasn’t supposed to have character and he wasn’t supposed to develop. That was his whole character dynamic and character arc, that’s why he gets a pass. If Aloy was a silent, killing murder machine, that would be a whole different story.

            Obviously, by your own admission, Aloy is not a senseless killing machine. Why would we compare her narrative arc to Doom Guy’s when they’re polar opposites? She has a defined set of goals on who she wants to kill (Helis) and a specific set of people who are aiding him that she wants to kill (the bandits). Beyond that, she’s friendly, helpful, inquisitive and caring toward all manner of people and their plight. So that comparison is waaaay off in left field to someone like the Doom Guy.

            Also Marcus Fenix has a very long character arc explained over the course of four games, and it’s a depressing one. He wasn’t just an empty shell to move the narrative forward, both him and Dom experience some tragic events in life and they do take their toll on both of them over the course of all three/four games, literally resulting in Dom’s mental breakdown in the third game. It was a constant struggle throughout Gears 2 for Marcus to help keep Dom mentally focused because he was literally losing it over his wife. Losing Dom in Gears 3 did send Marcus down a dark hole as well, which was apparent in Gears 4. So no, Marcus and Aloy are nothing alike.

            You’re looking for character development by way of narrative for an experience focused more on gameplay being the narrative and dismissing those elements as simply the danger of “failure to execute.”

            And it’s possible for games to do both. That’s why I mentioned Wei Shen from Sleeping Dogs, who not only has a compelling narrative arc over the course of the game, but also relies on player skill and the “failure to execute” as well. And that’s also why I mentioned the GTA series, which relies both on narrative peril and in-game skill to help coincide with telling its stories, too. Especially GTA IV, which you conveniently seem to ignore.

            that they end up on narrative peril more, which may make me care or not care, but probably not as much as gameplay peril

            And again, in Breath of the Wild there’s both. It’s possible to put the characters in narrative peril so you grasp an understanding of how dangerous the world is from an outsider’s perspective, which helps tie into how dangerous the world is while actually playing the game from a player’s perspective. Many games have managed to do both to convey how dangerous their worlds are, especially games like Max Payne 3 or Metal Gear Solid.

            Essentially your defense of Horizon could very well be used for Monster Hunter, since both games do have a reliance on player skill to convey the dangers of their worlds. The big difference is that no one would say that Monster Hunter’s narrative makes the world dangerous, it’s wholly based on progressive player skill. It doesn’t have a set narrative or character arc like Horizon. Horizon conveys its world far different, especially after the Ted Faro thread is introduced, which literally is a narrative plot device to explain away the world’s dangers. But even then, through the narrative, it’s not like Aloy is ever really afraid or put in much peril following this information.

          • Derf

            Again, I’m going to disagree here. I see the spectacle of the world as part of the storytelling in HZD. Not to the point of the souls games mind you, but at the same time Master Chief in halo 2-3 as well as Doom guy aren’t empty vessels the same as the chosen undead. Doom guy we know from his actions, he’s a full vessel with it’s own personality articulated through gameplay with snippets of object interaction (breaking the argent filters/general disregard for Haden’s instructions when not directly ordered to break things).

            Master Chief additionally is not an empty vessel but given a terse, 1 dimensional personality in which the gameplay reinforces the content of the vessel.

            Both of them have as clearly defined a goal over the course of the story as Aloy, and with less explicit characterization time. She’s certainly not a low point here. The point is that you’re viewing one method of characterization as decidedly inferior because another has both and using that to call the character poorly developed. BOTW having both doesn’t mean HZD didn’t, or that the balance between the 2 they struck is wrong.

            Further, with Felix you’re giving the benefit of development through iterations of the series. Some others you don’t need to be as generous, granted, but also it should be granted that most of Aloy’s “suffering” was background and shaping material rather than main story related as far as the bulk of the game.

            As far as monster hunter, we’re talking about a different style of game entirely where my arguments DON’T work. At least not as I see them. The world in MH is significantly civilized in presentation between selected missions, not free roaming, which does add something in terms of atmosphere IMHO, and takes a much less mundane presentation of the characters, including their heritage which enables their proficiency in monster hunting with larger than life tools.

          • I see the spectacle of the world as part of the storytelling in HZD

            I think that’s fine… but the same also applies to Nier, which they did an excellent job of, while also still keeping character progression through narrative and gameplay a poignant aspect of the way the game unfolds its worlds and characters.

            Master Chief in halo 2-3 as well as Doom guy aren’t empty vessels the same as the chosen undead. Master Chief additionally is not an empty vessel but given a terse, 1 dimensional personality in which the gameplay reinforces the content of the vessel.

            Sure, he’s oftentimes referred to as “Robocop in space”. In the novels John’s personality is largely the same, he basically lives for duty and his duty is his life. His peril is usually the predicaments he ends up in or the lives of the more personable humans who are at stake. Let’s not also ignore that Master Chief is oftentimes criticized for his lack of personality, but it’s through this that he’s able to stay relevant in the series to just “shoot things”, because once he has a personal arc the series will need to end, sort of like what happened with Marcus and Dom in Gears of War.

            Both of them have as clearly defined a goal over the course of the story as Aloy, and with less explicit characterization time. She’s certainly not a low point here. The point is that you’re viewing one method of characterization as decidedly inferior because another has both and using that to call the character poorly developed.

            Sure, but “poorly developed” here applies to the fact that Horizon uses the story structure of games like Mass Effect, Baldur’s Gate and Dragon Age for world building. You could fit all three Halo game campaigns into the play-time of Horizon, same thing with Gears. So they’re telling their stories across multiple games and showing growth (or lack thereof) across multiple entries.

            In Mass Effect there was still a lot of growth for Shepard between the start of ME1 and the end and the start and end of ME2 based on player decisions. It changed how the world responded to, reacted to and interacted with Shepard and was reinforced with narrative cinematics to back up that character growth.

            This is not to say Horizon is terrible, or the story is awful, but that you essentially have this game that’s entirely character driven in its story, but the character doesn’t actually develop much over the course of that story.

          • you’ve said the character doesn’t struggle, but nearly gets killed story wise near the very beginning.

            Sure she had that moment with Helis at the beginning, and gets captured near the end (again by Helis) but she manages to save herself with a little bit of aid from Sylens (though she probably would have fared decently had he not shown up based on the fact she challenged Helis to a fight and he was too afraid to go head to head against a teenager).

            Beyond that, Aloy kind of coasts through the story.

            As you mentioned, the only real struggles is when the player messes up and gets killed during combat, but narratively there isn’t much there as far as character growth compared to the other open-world games I mentioned.

          • Michael P

            Wade through? It was 5 lines of text mate, you might wanna work on your attention span too.

            The “strong independent woman” angle IS a negative, if that’s all there is to the character and to suggest it is likely agenda driven in this current climate isn’t tinfoil hat shit when radfems won’t shut the fuck up about how every female in videogames needs to be a flawless, constantly respected, independent womyn.

            Btw gamers have complained about this sort of shallow character/world arc numerous times. Kratos’ constant rage over the GoW games. Delsin’s “edgy dude” shtick in Infamous. “You’re the boss of everything an hour later” in Elder Scrolls. Aiden Pierce’s flavourless personality in Watch Dogs or the gutting of the complexity in Dragon Age’s world/lore after Origins.

            Gamers complain, A LOT. We are known for it. What in your world makes the bland and almost cold/emotionless Aloy above criticism?

          • Derf

            So basically it sounds like we can’t have a strong female character because such a character must inherently be agenda driven?

            I personally like the idea of avoiding manufactured flaws in characters. Too often it creates characters that couldn’t believably function where the need arises. A weak Aloy effectively can’t function is this world in the place the narrative puts her. the whole thing dies without a strong sense of personal drive, and the character dies without being capable.

            As such it comes across as the character being written for the role. You can try to argue that the entire plot was written with the point of creating a mary-sue in mind, but at about level 20 and maybe some 30 intentionally slow paced hours in I’m not seeing the issue.

            Further, we’re not talking about a character that’s even respected out of being a woman. She actually starts the game reviled and still is by one of the matriarchs and finds camaraderie among outcasts and occasionally scorn from fellow Nora as well as the occasional Carja. It’s through the deeds of the story that she becomes respected by those that do so.

          • So basically it sounds like we can’t have a strong female character because such a character must inherently be agenda driven?

            How did you get there? Kate Walker from the Longest Journey was strong without being a Mary Sue. Laura Bow was competent and intelligent (while obviously being physically weak when it came to action theatrics) but still managed to save the day. Nancy drew isn’t strong?

            Why is it that we can’t have strong female characters who aren’t agenda driven? Like 2B, or Velvet from Tales of Berseria, or Setsuna from I Am Setsuna? Why is it that in order to be considered “strong” she has to fit the ideals of a certain sociopolitical sect?

          • Derf

            Problematically you’re ignoring the setting when looking at these other characters. The one needed HERE has to be capable of hunting robot dinosaurs and have the individual motivation to do so. To answer your question in relevance to the discussion at hand, no, those characters in your first paragraph do NOT have the strength needed for this role, but we’ve seen many that do as male counterparts without having this conversation. Thus the point boils back down to “So basically it sounds like we can’t have a strong female character because such a character must inherently be agenda driven?”

            You not liking how the character is written and it coming off as a “mary-sue” is another matter entirely (and one I disagree with, but whatever). That’s just writing preference, not feminism.

            As for the latter paragraph, we need a driven character because WITHOUT ONE THE PLOT OF THE GAME DOESN’T HAPPEN. This goes back to the issue I pointed out about believably. You’re turned off because you think of the character as a mary-sue, I’d be turned off without a character with a strong sense of purpose because we’re not talking about a purpose built individual who acts on orders, but someone taking a journey on of their free will.

            But the biggest issue with you argument is that why nots as a form of offense against a single character are irrelevant. If the character fit the game, and this one does, then that’s a success. If the goal is to just insert flaws that don’t work towards the premise then they’re superfluous.

            Sure, you could make a physically flawed and witty protagonist, but that has jack all to do with an action game about hunting robot dinosaurs.

          • The one needed HERE has to be capable of hunting robot dinosaurs and have the individual motivation to do so.

            Sure, but then we would end up with Turok… who was a great hunter but not a Gary Stu. Even in the male role opposite of Aloy, Turok had A LOT of flaws, which became more apparent in the (terrible) second and third games, and even in the reboot. The idea was that you’re portraying a character who people can root for through growth and struggle, which is precisely why when I asked who the male equivalent is to Aloy (since it’s brought up so much) no one has been able to answer, since as far as I know that kind of character doesn’t exist who hasn’t already been criticized to the high heavens by the community.

            As for the latter paragraph, we need a driven character because WITHOUT ONE THE PLOT OF THE GAME DOESN’T HAPPEN.

            Sure, but it doesn’t mean they have to be a Mary Sue, which is why I mentioned Wet and Oni.

            You’re turned off because you think of the character as a mary-sue, I’d be turned off without a character with a strong sense of purpose because we’re not talking about a purpose built individual who acts on orders, but someone taking a journey on of their free will.

            And Mona Sax from Max Payne 2 also had a strong sense of purpose (heck, she was the reason the plot moved anywhere at all) but even when you played her she wasn’t infallible. She was not a Mary Sue, far from it.

            If the character fit the game, and this one does, then that’s a success. If the goal is to just insert flaws that don’t work towards the premise then they’re superfluous.

            Not necessarily. It was Niko’s flaws that helped bring drama to GTA IV’s story, and it was Marston’s past life (and flaws) that helped captivate the audience in Red Dead Redemption.

            Sure, you could make a physically flawed and witty protagonist, but that has jack all to do with an action game about hunting robot dinosaurs.

            And Aloy could have been physically strong and still have her flaws, like Regina from Dino Crisis or Danielle from Turok 3, both of whom everyone seems to ignore when conversations like this pop up (again, not saying Turok 3 is good, just that a flawed but competent and strong female protagonist fighting dinosaurs has been done in the past).

          • Derf

            Sure, Turok is one possibility, but not the only one and from your own description of the games certainly not the specifically “right” one. The common theme here seems to be not that Aloy doesn’t struggle so much as that there was no specific decision to introduce a specific flaw for you to point to and therefore the character is “infallible.” That’s very limiting and oversimplistic. Struggle and failure aren’t just the hallmarks of random or even structured imperfections. They’re the result of trying something and failing regardless of the surrounding individuals.

            Your stance seems more and more to boil down to the character not having demons of a sort making them invalid as a potential person, which fundamentally doesn’t seem to be the case when speaking as a person who’s playing the game rather than dismissing it off hand.

          • Dreadnought

            2 hours later, Ive read your arguments! Billy makes the best points hands down. He states his opinions knowing what they are(opinions), and backs up his statements with examples from other games.

            Derf, you lost as soon as you made the statement about the gaming community never getting over a female protag. (Actually a good bit sooner)

            I know im late to the party with a month between your last correspondence, but I bought this heep of a game with excitement, looking forward to downing giant robo-dinos. And after setting down a game like the witcher3 i was hoping for some story as well. I was let down hard when I found myself behind the controls of Maximum Over-loy! (Aloy). The worst part is that its not necessarily the facked that she is a demi-god but more so the fact that everyone else in the game was an incompetent weakling. There were no characters more badass then Aloy. A teen with witcher sense.(totally was witcher sense). There was just not enough believable evidence to support her hadass-ery. No super armor, no years of training and honing of skills(guestimating her age to be about 18ish) so from the first cut seen with the berrys and the tumble shes probably 8 or 9? So 10 or 9 years of training and a child becomes Aloy. Hard to swallow for ANYone else? Is she related to Sitama?(reference bober)and i hasten to add, have any of you ever raised a 10yo? To command the kind of commitment required for a child to go from 0 to shooting 200lb pull bows through the steel(or whatever future metal they are made of) hide of angry robo dinosaurs while bouncing around the battle like an olympian is, and im prepaired for flaq, Unbelievable. And has anyone ever met an 18yo female who is anywhere as confident as they make her out to be? Not to mention as socially adept as she is being that she has grown up from birth only knowing the quiet father figure rost. Where did she get her quick wit and snappy retorts with no practace whatsoever? There is no continuity for the character or how she became what she is. Nothing made sense to me. Therefor i say bad story telling.

            And even tho i believe the gender garbage played a big part in it ruining the story(not the game, the story and protag). I made arguments without mentioning any of that. At least in the paragraph above. 🙂

          • Tomo

            I’m going to be honest here dreadnought, your argument that Aloy shouldn’t be confident because you think real life 18 year olds who are female aren’t confident is a bit biased. Anyone can be confident, as she has no reason not to be. She has a goal in mind, and she spent 13 years training for it. (6 year old girl to 19 year old woman)
            Quick wit and retorts are a personality trait not something you practice. Most of your arguments that it is bad storytelling are based on your ideal that because it doesn’t seem possible in real life it can’t happen in a game. She didn’t go from shooting 0 to 200 lb in one instant she spent her life training, as for fighting robot dinosaurs she spent 13 years fighting them, she grew up in an environment where she had to learn, or she wouldn’t be able to survive being an outcast. She probably gained her snappy personality from her dislike of how the tribe treated her as an outcast. There is plenty of storytelling on how she became what she is. It’s almost as if you didn’t play the game or pay very good attention. So I disagree with how you view aloy and how her back story didn’t make sense. The rest of the story is average it isn’t good or bad, which is a shame since the game has such an amazing concept.

          • Derf

            So basically you don’t like being set up as the protagonist? Or did you omit the entirety of the conversation surrounding the common convention of enhancing the protagonist in many games to maje the gameplay functional?

            As far as confidence, yes, I have, of both genders actually. This isn’t as uncommon as you seem to think (which furthet makes you claim of not mentioning gender really odd).

            So we’re still left with the fact that confidence and capability are an issue here and not elsewhere, even when the same issues show up. But not because she’s female, but because some people need to make it about her being female. That the charater is less legitimate because of it, since this character can only exist in their eyes as an agenda frontpiece.

            So yes, that’s what it came down to in the argument above. Now as to your objections, apparently ~8 years of training isn’t years of training? I’m confused. Yes, she has witcher sense, which makes sense in the story. Comes from a society not fond of ruins or outsiders but doesn’t hold their values as an outcast, perfect set up, but they usually are.

          • Michael P

            Of course we can have strong female leads, there’s numerous examples of them that don’t in any way feel agenda driven and are both capable, yet realistically human (with flaws, doubts etc).

            Look at Ripley from Alien, not once have I heard anyone deny what a kickass lead she is. She didn’t have to be a cold, emotionless “grlpower” woman to show the boys how it’s done and she retained her femininity whilst being a strong female lead.

            And Fem Shep from ME is of the same mold, strong, capable yet none of it is forced or without nuance like Aloy and the world of Horizon.

            And the men (for the most part) around both these women are strong/capable/likable but both ladies just edge them out, which is why they lead and no one has a problem with it.

            On the other hand, Aloy is just a boring, one dimensional protag and frankly indifferent to virtually everyone around her and it comes off as being agenda driven when you take how the devs have described their thoughts on her, the vast majority of males in the game being either bad guys or weak morons and how she pretty much follows to the letter how radfems like Sarky have demanded females be represented in games.

          • Derf

            I don’t see Aloy as cold and emotionless, nor any specific desire to show males how anything is done. The only 2 males I’ve seen her have issues with both had issues with outcasts, people who were for one reason or another removed from the tribe, rather than her specifically. And more than one have been males painted in a positive light, especially her own father figure.

            Also not sure where the observation of indifference is from. It doesn’t show in any of the main or secondary interactions thus far. Rather there is an inquisitiveness and nuance in responses that surprised me in that it echoed my own thoughts better than some of the snippets on the dialogue trees suggested they would.

            Teb, Rost, Varl, The carja commander at the border outpost, the outcast that “robbed” Jun, the commander of the downed caravan, basically the simple majority of the males with more than passing barks, were decent people if not strait up good people in their interactions with you.

            In fact, to this point the greatest pat of the content has come from the opposite of protagonist indifference. It kind of has to in a manner of speaking, but that makes the point all that much more glaring when it’s somehow missed.

          • FiachSidhe

            You couldn’t have possibly proven me right with any less enthusiasm, thank you.

    • Phasmatis75

      >Although, they did a really bad job showing Samus’ weak side, in my opinion. The baby, the baby, the baby!

      No, what we were irate about was that they turned her into what feminist considered a strong struggling women to be. When her lore had well detailed and covered her struggles both physically and emotionally to a degree where her behavior at the academy was simply cringe worthy.

      There is a reason we say: Either Other M is canon or the rest of the series is. Other M butchered so much of Metroid’s lore and turned Samus not into a struggling warrior with emotional issues (which happened in the earlier parts of her history) but instead into a millennial weak willed douche.

      It isn’t that we Samus fans don’t want all her sides shown it is that we know her other sides, have seen her through her tough times, and see this new rendition as an abomination and insult to the character herself.

    • Jim

      No, it wasn’t about Samus being weak, but she was just this whiny annoying little girl from what most people envisioned her to be a proper space alien bounty hunter. There’s a severe disconnect between the previous games settings, what she had to overcome, and what that… woman in that Wii game was.

    • Jonathan Alexander

      mayuri said it best when it comes to the concept of perfection.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NY1I8roynqM

  • jlenoconel

    I’d still play Horizon Zero Dawn if I had a PS4. I don’t wanna be a reverse Anita Sarkeesian, even if I don’t necessarily like a specific message shoved down my throat.

    • That’s cool. The article isn’t warning people away from the game, just examining the differences in how two similar games handled similar themes in very different ways.

      • Disqusted

        You can imagine the rage if any part of Horizon Dawn showed Aloy faltering, failing or showing any weakness.

        • Jeff

          http://i.imgur.com/GsU3zCA.png — no one cares if she falls or not xD ..

          • Disqusted

            Interesting. From afar, I think Nier Automata is probably more appealing because it’s got a nice style instead of being realistic, more attractive characters, generally seems more mysterious, and is made by a trusted name in action games, Platinum. It also has a nice post-apocalyptic setting without borrowing from cultures like Indian tribes or whatever.

            A friend was telling me Horizon Dawn came out at the worst possible time (going up against Zelda and Nier) and will probably be forgotten. That would be amusing.

    • EroBotan

      preachy games is the worst for me whatever their agenda is, especially if it’s an RPG or VN where story plays a big important role.

      • jlenoconel

        Yeah. Not sure what to think really. I have an Xbox One and a PC. I’ve played “SJW” games before, and they’re OK, I guess. I thought Dragon Age Inquisition was pretty good, for example. I think PS4 exclusives, if they’re AAA, will pretty much sell no matter what. It is what it is.

        • Disqusted

          I’m sure part of the reason for that is AAA games are designed to sell, because they don’t want to take risks. Can’t think of a recent AAA game that failed so hard that the devs went bust.

          • ExhaustedSquid

            The only thing of a RECENT date that I can think of that fits that situation is Lair but that was 10 YEARS AGO and at the time I did not own the system to play it so I never got a chance to play it myself. I just remember people talking about how long the developers worked on it and what they wanted to accomplish with it. It sounded admirable but in the end, the game did not save Factor 5 and it shut down. Granted, this is me going off the top of my head through memory and not looking on Wiki for examples. The game itself looked good and had I been able to play it first run I think I would have.

            While this doesn’t count in the whole ‘studio comes up with an original concept that would have worked but still died’ realm, Fireforge, the people who developed the Ghostbusters (2016) game folded after the title came out and it seemed more like a reskin of a basic co-opt but with the GB brand on it and even less playable and engaging for FIFTY FUCKING DOLLARS.

        • EroBotan

          and this one is a mary sue protagonist too. So double big no!

    • Disqusted

      So far the only game I’ve really enjoyed on PS4 is Bloodborne. Kinda feels like I wasted my money buying a PS4, but I liked Bloodborne enough to clear it 9 times… not sure if that was worth it.

      The other games I’m interested in are taking forever to be released, or ended up being disappointing.

      • Well, I really want to like Horizon… but it’s not a game you can really replay like GTA, Uncharted 2 and 3 or Dark Souls. I feel like if the gameplay was a bit more challenging and the hunts were more of the focus instead of the character stories, Horizon would be an instant GOTY.

        But yeah, you’re right about the PS4 having a sparse library of worthwhile titles.

        • Disqusted

          Yeah, I mean, I would be interested in Horizon if it didn’t suck in so many ways. I think a big part of it is, the things I’m interested in Horizon for, like archery, or the female protagonist, I can experience much better from similar, older games. Skyrim with mods, for example.

          Just wait for someone to put the dinos in Skyrim, and Horizon will be completely dead. Haha.

          • Just wait for someone to put the dinos in Skyrim, and Horizon will be completely dead. Haha.

            Sadly, this is true.

          • Arbitrary

            I have zero respect for anyone who considers playing as female character to be interesting, in itself.

            Fuck off with that low-key Feminist-shit.

    • MusouTensei

      A reverse Anita would amke videos demonizing this type of game, calling for bans and such. Simply voting with your wallet, something we always tell SJWs to do if they don’t like something, for whatever reason, is perfectly fine.

    • ItEotWaWKI

      “I don’t wanna be a reverse Anita Sarkeesian”

      I think you’re looking at this the wrong way. The Anitas of the industry have influence and are attempting to use that influence to impose their ideological beliefs on everyone and everything. They are trying to propagandize entertainment media and use it to proselytize.

      They are the ones that initiated force, it is not being a “reverse Anita Sarkeesian” to vehemently resist and oppose that force. It would only be a reverse Anita if you gained power and influence and started using them to push your own personal beliefs on everyone else.

      Another way to look at it is… Would you be okay with it if the vast majority of entertainment media was constantly quoting Biblical scripture, even were it the tolerable New Testament rather than the vile Old Testament? ‘Cause that’s exactly what regressives and SJWs that have the ability to do so are doing. They are using their positions of power and influence to push their subjective world views into everything.

      I personally didn’t put up with it in the 90s, and I’m not about to tolerate it now.

    • Arbitrary

      “I don’t wanna be a reverse Anita Sarkeesian, even if I don’t necessarily like a specific message shoved down my throat.”

      You fucking retard.

      “Any kind of activism is JUST AS BAD as being a SJW! The only moral thing for a good person to do, is lie down and let them win!”

      Your kind is every bit as bad, dangerous and cancerous as the SJWs, themselves. You are the ones letting this happen. You are the ones who HAVE let all this happen.

      You should be fucking ashamed.

    • AR7777

      “I don’t want to be a reverse Anita” dude your comment sounds almost like this https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/f41eaa9605b8065d880252e94615abb1ad524be840472b31270883cc202557b6.jpg

      • jlenoconel

        I didn’t accuse anyone of being sexist.

        • Smug

          that would imply women were equal anyways