Follow TV Tropes


Headscratchers / Horizon Zero Dawn

Go To

New entries on the bottom.

    open/close all folders 

     Hunting machines 
  • What exactly is the point of hunting the machine animals? Is it just for their parts? Any parts you can get off of the machine animals would not be worth it, maybe for trading, but they provide no food.
    • It's probably something religious involved... after all, they think all machines are servants of the "Metal Devil" so hunting his minions might be some confidence-boost or something for the people, a "prove your worth" thing?
    • Machine parts are obviously a valuable resource. Plus, they're a threat to humans and their numbers naturally increase. Got to keep the population in check so that they don't overrun everything.
    • The humans scavenge valuable parts and resources off of the machines. It's the machines that produce valuable chemicals like Blaze and Chillwater, and they are the humans' most readily available source of steel so they don't have to rely on mining. Plus, much of the Oseram tribe's technological advancements would not have been possible without harvesting and studying the machines.
    • Most of the resources you can acquire from machines would be godsends for an Iron Age society. Blaze is a useful source for heat generation and mining, and Chillwater would be useful for refrigeration and cooling homes. Wire makes for ideal rope. Metal vessels would be used for any kind of sealed container, and Sparkers would almost certainly be in enormous demand both among hunters and the Oseram Tinkers.
    • Do note that even when they aren't metal, human beings don't hunt animals just for meat. Their fur or hair make cloth and clothes, their bones are used to make tools (or even musical instruments), their fat can be burned or used to waterproof stuff. You can even write on animal skins. The machines provide those things in a far more efficient, immediately useful, sturdy state than any fleshy animal can. You can see the evidence of what the machines are hunted for in almost anything worn by any character, especially the Nora.
     Why stay? 
  • Why did Aloy never leave the Nora lands when she was old enough? Barring an attachement to Rost, she had spent her life under a Fantastic Racism tribe, who, save a few members, shunned, ignored and sometimes abused her, making her outcast, all for the sole "crime" of not having a mother. If that were this troper I'd be out of there the second I could, answers be damned.
    • Because she wanted answers about her origins and only the Matriarchs knew them. So the only way she could get them to talk was to stay and win the Proving. Plus, as an outcast since birth, Aloy had zero knowledge that an outside world even existed at all. Where would she even go in the first place?
    • Insofar as she was aware lands outside Nora territory existed - Rost didn't seem to tell her anything about the other tribes - she seemed surprised that they'd open the gates for outcasts, at all. So it's likely she didn't think she'd be allowed to leave.
    • There was an element of personal pride to it. To get to where she was took over a decade of training and hard work. She made up her mind early in life that she would not let her circumstances decide how her life would go and leaving the Sacred Lands at the first opportunity would be throwing that all away.
    • Fair point, but why not Rost? He could've just simply gone to Meridian with Baby!Aloy and raise her there all without fearing abuse and nasty insults. As far as anyone would care to know, he's either her father or a relative caring for her.
    • Rost was dedicated to the Nora tribe, despite his status as an outcast. He could never leave. His fatal flaw is that as loving as he was with Aloy, he was incapable of fully empathizing with her inherent frustration towards her status of being an outcast.
    • Also even if he did want to leave with Aloy and the Nora let him, he couldn't, because the Red Raids were still happening, they only properly ended two years before the Proving Aloy takes part in, so the amount of danger they would both be in even trying to leave Nora lands would be huge, plus taking into account that the Nora Laws state that they are actually forbidden to leave Nora lands, outcast or not, because the Matriarchs say so, as one of their many flawed laws.
    • Pure speculation here, but it's likely given the Nora's strict laws regarding leaving the Sacred Land (For example, Braves being forbidden to even cross the boarder momentarily to recover the bodies of their loved ones.) that if she'd actually left, even just crossing the boarder, it would have meant she was no longer eligible to participate in The Proving, which was her only opportunity to learn about her 'mother' and where she came from. There is probably an expectation that for a child outcast to be able to join the tribe, they must not have a 'criminal history', and the Nora taboo regarding leaving their lands is clearly one they do not take lightly, as demonstrated by Rost's own past.
    Ancient Power 
  • How have none of the ancient facilities and devices not long run out of power? You'd think constantly projecting holographic displays over hundreds of years would drain the battery a bit, but they all work just fine. Where is all this electricity coming from? This troper was expecting Aloy's Focus to lose power over time and that finding new sources of energy to charge it would be a gameplay thing, but apparently everything runs off its own perpetual generator or something. Just take the Spark Arrowheads: those things generate their own electricity but are way too small to house something like that.
    • Aside from the Old Ones' tech being stupidly advanced (they were able to 3D-print structures with light), the robotic animals are regularly resupplying the Cauldrons with Blaze and other resources for generation. Aloy's Focus could be solar-powered. The Spark Arrowheads are tiny, but they're built out of Old One technology, which, again, was incredibly advanced.
    • Sylens speculates that, as the Focuses were also manufactured by Faro, they might use the same Biofuel technology the Chariot line does.
    • There's a lot of research going on towards making body-powered wearables. As for the facilities? If you're powering an apocalypse vault, the most obvious source of power is Geothermal energy. Also, the displays within are not holograms, but Augmented Reality displays. They aren't any more energy-intensive than a Wi-Fi signal, which is probably why they still work after a millennium even in the most dilapidated ruins.
    • Kinetic watches have been a thing for decades. Given that Focuses are meant to be worn on the head, it's plausible that they're powered by the user's movement (and the entire surface could also be covered in PV cells, why not). And considering that nobody else seems capable of actually seeing the data Aloy's Focus presents, it's probably not doing anything as energy intensive as actually projecting holograms. Maybe it uses skin conduction to directly (and energy-efficiently) alter brainwaves in the user's visual cortex, or something.
  • Just how does mining even work in this game? I mean, isn't it supposed to be redundant because of the walking piles of metal and wires walking around?
    • There are a a lot of different metals and minerals in the earth, not all would be used in the construction of the machines but many of which have uses for developing societies. Also, and my knowledge of metallurgy is limited, but I'm given to understand that it's often best to work with raw, unprocessed ore rather than recycled ore; something about melting it down and reforging it causing weaknesses in it's structure. Also, as many machines as there are, large construction projects would require considerably more material than one would get even from a herd of behemoths, and aside from the danger of attracting rockbreakers, mining - while not exactly a safe occupation - is less immediately dangerous than hunting machines.
    • The metal acquired from the machines is also limited in just how much you recover. A couple of shards is barely enough to make a few arrowheads out of, and it's almost certainly harder to melt down and reforge the alloys in the machines' metal than it is to work and refine ore.
     War machines with stupid AI? 
  • If the FARO robots were as advanced as the game claims, they should probably have been able to figure out that their own actions would quickly destroy their own fuel supply. Their AI would be smart enough that they could find a way to create their own artificial means of cultivating more biomass rather than destroy the entire earth.
    • Until HADES came along, it's highly unlikely that any of the FARObots possessed sentience, or had a true AI directing their actions. The creation of GAIA - described as a true AI - was a massive undertaking, with immense resources required for its creation; this is something Ted Faro simply would not do for his peacekeeping robots. They're presented in the game as extremely good at solving complex tactical problems in the moment, altering their tactics accordingly in future engagements, and hacking any automated systems that are thrown in their direction, certainly... but those are things which do not require sentience or long-term strategic planning to be effective. Without self awareness, they would be physically incapable of comprehending the consequences of their actions. And we all know how that turned out.
    • They'd probably be about as smart as animals, and even the smartest animals (humans included) don't always have the foresight to realise their practices are not sustainable. It's possible for a predator to do too well, ecologically speaking, and cause the collapse of the ecosystem that sustains it, and what were the Faro machines if not custom-built predators?
    • Text surviving from the time of the Old Ones mentions a climate-intervention AI called "VAST SILVER" who was intelligent enough to feel fear and act on it - Frozen Wilds makes it explicit that truly intelligent AI have emotions - and went rogue. As a result the Turing Act was enacted, legislation placing hard limits on the complexity of AI. Evaluation of CYAN reveals that pain, humor, emotional aptitude, appreciation of aesthetics, and grasp of morality are all gauged. War robots don't need any of that anyway. The Faro robots are said to learn from every engagement and apply what they've learned, but a grasp of tactics doesn't necessarily equate an ability to engage in long-term thinking, especially if these robots feel no pain or fear and are made to replicate quickly and Zerg Rush the enemy.
    • The Faro Swarm was not intended to be self-aware, nor did it have true AI. While it learned from every engagement, it's clearly slow to do so. Audio datapoint 17 outlines the swarm continuing a charge out of the burning ocean that bought the defenders 'an hour or two of slaughtering it before the swarm recalculated', and this is a matter of battlefield tactics and strategy, the one task it was originally designed to perform. Taking two hours to figure out that maybe it's not a good idea to charge units with a weakness to fire and overheating issues directly through a burning ocean towards the enemy doesn't speak well for it's intelligence - The swarm clearly isn't that smart or particularly good at learning. The extent the 'glitch' affected it is unclear, but while some characters read into it as becoming self-aware, it's possible that all the glitch really did was cause it to reclassify EVERYONE as hostiles, even it's manufactures and owners. From there it simply continued to do what it was programmed to do: Eliminate hostiles while sustaining itself and manufacturing more bots until it receives a 'stand down' or 'mission complete' command.
     War machines are not that tough? 
  • Upon close inspection, it becomes apparent that the FARO robots would make incredibly bad war machines. They can be knocked to pieces by someone wielding a moderately sturdy piece of wood, or even destroyed by peppering them with arrows. They can bury themselves underground, but can't camouflage (the camouflaging robots encountered in-game weren't designed by Faro), and prefer fighting in close quarters instead of launching attacks from long range. They have trouble locating someone who crouches in tall grass. These robots would be utterly useless by today's standards, let alone the standards of fifty years from now. In addition, we never see any flying FARO robots or water-based ones, or even ones with treads — they would be extremely vulnerable if the terrain were not ideal.note  One wonders how Faro sold these things in the first place.
    • Annoying Arrows? Ehh... check that trope page. Even before you account for arrowheads made from the same material as whatever's armoring the FARObots(as well as the Fire, Ice, Lightning arrows that everyone crafts), arrows were abandoned in warfare not because they're less dangerous than bullets but because they're harder to use than firearms. If you shoot one of the turrets off a Deathbringer and try to kill it with its own weapon you'll have lots of trouble - it won't penetrate the armor, and even if you aim for weak points each shot will only do a fraction of the damage that arrows do.
    • It was the self replication that was supposed to be the biggest selling point. Sure, individually, the robots are nothing special, but they were never meant to attack as individual units. They were always meant to be a zerg-rushing swarm, even before they became the FARO Plague and wiped the planet clean of life. It just happened to work far better than Faro ever predicted.
    • The Faro Robots have been underground, unmaintained for several hundred years, at the minimum. Even with advanced materials and methods, metal degrades over time, to speak nothing of the circuitry degradation which would allow a tribal-level human to outwit it. Strictly speaking, at the time of the game, anything not freshly-made by a HORUS is in poor shape, and it's surprising that they're not breaking down on their own. It's why the final Deathbringer you fight in-story is the most difficult to destroy. That Deathbringer is the only one in prime condition you encounter throughout the game, and actively fight without heavy weaponry.
    • It's been a while since I played and I may have missed it if it was specified, but it's possible-to-likely that the Deathbringer's machineguns are anti-personel weapons that would be largely ineffective against a hard target. Arrows hit hard & were competitive with early fire arms, but while it's still not a good idea to be hit with a bow & arrow, they're nothing compared to modern anti-material rounds that can punch right through an engine block.
    • By the time of the latest Faro machines, almost all war had become fully automated. There's a datapoint talking about the entirety of the U.S. armed forces being laid off because there are machines to do the job. These killer robots were designed to fight each other, not humans. Additionally, there's a datapoint that advertises broadcasting of the wars between machines: these bloodless conflicts were being sold as entertainment. So it makes sense for these "war machines" to be less efficient, in order to put on a better show.
     Omega Clearance (Major plot spoilers) 
  • Why on God's brown and machine-infested earth did anyone give Ted Faro the highest level authority on the Zero Dawn project? He paid for it, yes, but he had no level of technical expertise that could have positively contributed to the project, he didn't understand the systems involved, and he was prone to bad decision making as evidenced by the fact that he's the cause of the whole mess to start with. I get giving him a place in the shelter to live out the rest of his natural life, but why give him the authority to override and overrule the project Alphas, presumably including Elisabet herself?
    • As crappy as it sounds, because he bankrolled the operation. It very well may have been a "do this or I won't fund you guys" from Faro. Although this troper agrees with the OP, dude had already caused one apocalypse, he should have just been told to sit in the corner and not touch anything.
    • You forget that he pretty much already consented to paying everything Elisabet needed, if she can find a way to fix this. He pretty much had no choice but to pay up. What I wonder, is what use was his money, when it'd be useless due to the war and almost immediate destruction of the human race?
    • Everybody outside of the Zero Dawn project was under the impression that the war could actually be won, so money still retained some value. The US Government couldn't just come out and say money wouldn't matter anymore because the world was doomed anyways, since that would cause a worldwide collapse of morale.
    • People seem to forget that regardless of Ted's mistakes, he was still a multi-billionaire CEO of a company that specialized in robotics. It's very possible that he learned from his previous mistake in not installing a backdoor into his own robots and secretly arranged to have one put into GAIA.
    • It's pretty clear that Omega Level clearance was inserted by Ted without anyone else's knowledge. Despite his many instances of poor judgement, you don't rise up from nothing to become the wealthiest and most powerful man on Earth by being a complete idiot and Ted would have had to have a decent degree of cunning and calculation to get where he was.
    • It seems clear this is, indeed, the case, from the fact that the other Alphas have no idea the Omega-Level Clearance even EXISTS. If it had been an approved part of the system design, they would at least be aware of it (and would probably have protested its existence LOUDLY) - so it must have been an unauthorized back door.
    • Confirmed by Word of God. Not even Elisabet knew.
    • You can come across a recording where Ted Faro argues with Elizabet about a backdoor into GAIA. GAIA herself also agrees it would be a good idea. Only GAIA, Ted and Elizabet were there for that conversation. Considering that no one knew the seal would fail at the GAIA PRIME complex and therefore no one knew Elizabet would sacrifice herself it must not have registered and wouldn't have been a problem had Ted not gone insane.
    • Forbidden West makes it even more clear in datapoints that Ted essentially coerced one of the Zero Dawn programmers to secretly add his Omega-level Clearance.
  • If combat machines were created after Aloy's birth by HEPHAESTUS, and the Thunderjaw is, as stated in this datapoint, one of the last machines to be sighted, how could Rost stumble upon a couple of them during the intro sequence?
    • As it's an in-universe source, it's likely that Thunderjaws had been built and deployed elsewhere well before the Lodge encountered and killed the first one. The source also mentions that it was in the thirteenth year of Jiran's reign, and Jiran ruled for at least a couple of decades and was killed three years before the game began, which indicates that the first recorded Lodge encounter was when Aloy was very young. Even if Jiran only ruled for exactly twenty years, then the first Thunderjaw would have been killed seven years before his death, and ten years before the game began, so Aloy would have been at most eight years old. Going by Avad's age, Jiran's rule probably lasted twenty to twenty-five years, so the first Thunderjaw encounter would most likely have been while she was a toddler or a very young child. If the first units were built and deployed in Nora lands, which are considered distant, savage lands well-removed from the Lodge's main haunts, then it could have been years before a Lodge hunter might have come across one, while still being plausible that Rost could have encountered them when roaming the sheltered, hard-to-access Nora lands with a baby Aloy.
    • Forbidden West reveals that sometimes HEPHAESTUS just slaps a bunch of weapons on existing robots, so it's possible Thunderjaws are a weaponized version of some other robot that already existed.
     MINERVA (Plot Spoilers) 
  • If MINERVA had to be built while the Faro Robots were still roaming the Earth, how did GAIA manage to get robots out there to do the necessary building and escape their notice, if the Faro-bots used any kind of IFF mechanism?
    • The GAIA system was in hidden standby until the Faro Swarm ran out of fuel and went dormant. Once that was done the GAIA and MINERVA got to work, used the codes they cracked to put them in long-term shutdown mode, then rebuilt Earth's biosphere. It's why Project Zero Dawn was the only option; there was no way to stop the Faro Plague from destroying the biosphere, but once they ate everything, the robots had no way to refuel. If anything was left, the robots would keep trying to eat it. Once nothing was left, they would go dormant and wait for something to wander by. Only then could MINERVA shut them down more or less permanently.
     Self-Replicating? (Plot Spoilers) 
  • A key aspect of what made the Faro Plague an apocalyptic threat was that the robots were self-replicating. But... how would that work? For instance, how would a Deathbringer or Corruptor make more of itself? How would a Horus class titan do it? They need metal and other resources besides biomass to build themselves. This is assuming the self-replication is a case of "I know how to build myself; let me get the resources and make a duplicate." If it's something else, that just raises more questions. I would think there were big manufacturing centers like with the present day robots, but these were built for use in war zones. The robots can't exactly just build a center and start mass-producing.
    • The Old Ones possessed some kind of advanced fabrication technology that allowed machines to be "printed out of light". The basis for this technology is never explained, but it's observable inside of the Cauldrons, which contain (relatively small) fabrication bays where new machines are built literally by shooting electricity at them. Each FAS Titan ("Metal Devil") contained several of these bays internally, which it could use to produce additional Deathbringers and Corruptors. It's not the case that a Deathbringer can make more Deathbringers, or a Corruptor more Corruptors. And it doesn't seem to be the case that a Titan can produce another Titan. So it's not really self-replication; more like self-sustaining replication. As for biomass conversion, there's a canonical example where a Deathbringer turns some leaves into a bunch of missiles, so while the process must be bound by the principle of conservation of mass (if you want 100kg of missiles, you need to process at least 100kg of leaves) it's clear that it's also able to convert the light elements (carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen, mainly) present in biomass into heavier elements as needed.
    • In short, they have full-on matter conversion technology.
    • Maybe not quite that, but all the bang of missiles come from its volatiles. The rest is just scrap metal that the machines collect and turn into missile casings. xkcd gives the example that 1 pound of human flesh has about as much energy as a car battery. The plant/herbivore/carnivore pyramid means it takes 10kg of plants to make 1kg of herbivore and 10kg of herbivore to make 1kg of carnivore, but once you have carnivore biomass it's a fairly efficient source of energy.
    • Titans have to be able to produce more Titans, because otherwise a war would be a viable way of fighting them. Even if it costs a million soldiers to kill one Titan, eventually they'll run out of Titans, and the smaller Corruptors and Deathbringers would be easy by comparison. Producing a Titan is probably expensive for the swarm, but ultimately they can do it faster than humans can kill them.
    • This is actually confirmed in game. One of the cut-scenes in the Zero Dawn facility talks about the increasing size of the swarm, down in the lower left it has a chart showing the increasing numbers of all three robot types, including Horus Titans. As for the logistics of it, my guess would be that Titans can produce the sub-components for new titans which are then assembled by Corruptors. The data on Corruptors mentions that they are designed to use their tail as a manipulator for repairing other units.

     APOLLO (Plot Spoilers) 
  • So, Ted's last known act was to delete APOLLO, the knowledge subroutine, or its data at least. But, was it even possible to do so remotely? The logs you find in the Zero Dawn facility mention that the chosen method of storing the data was DNA encoded on fossils. That doesn't sound like something you can just erase remotely - it's physical media not connected to a network (ostensibly), and there's absolutely no reason there would be some way to destroy the physical media, omega level access or no. Now, given what we see at the ELEUTHIA-9 and GAIA Prime facilities, APOLLO is indeed non-functioning, but it seems entirely possible, if not likely, that the data still physically exists somewhere.
    • Faro couldn't destroy the fossils remotely, but he likely ran a command to wipe them clean so that there's no data on them and they're useless. So, whatever tech was used to write to the fossils in the first place could have been used remotely to erase the data on them. There had to be some kind of network connection the "APOLLO offline" kiosks were using or going to use. Maybe the same connection is what Faro used.
    • The fossils are the means by which the information is stored. APOLLO is the sub-routine that knows how to read the information, and play it back to humans. So, yeah, the information is preserved, but with no way of being accessed. They have the CD, but no CD player.
    • The fact that Ted killed all the Alphas implies that there is some way to restore APOLLO, at least in some form. Otherwise he would have nothing to fear from leaving them alive. Plus, GAIA's message to Elisabet showed all the subroutines, including APOLLO, going free as recently as nineteen years ago, meaning that APOLLO might still be out there somewhere as a separate sentient entity.
    • One other thing to consider is that the datapoint talking about encapsulated DNA mentions that they are designing systems to keep the material at -18C. That would suggest that if the fossils warm up to much the encapsulated DNA would be damaged. As such, Ted may well have simply turned off the cooling systems trusting that the DNA would degrade beyond readability before the terraforming was complete.
    • Forbidden West establishes that Ted was so thorough in destroying APOLLO that no copies of it exist on Earth. It takes the Odyssey returning to Earth with its own copy of APOLLO for it to be reintegrated back into GAIA.
     The glitch, and blackmailing Faro (Plot Spoilers) 
  • Record: 3 Nov 2064 When Ted Faro was first presented with Elisabet's plan for Project Zero Dawn, she makes him sign the agreement to foot the bill under the threat of telling everyone "the real cause of the glitch". Unless DLC or a future game says otherwise, this means she would have told important people that it was Ted's specifications for the Chariot line that made the plague so dangerous. However, isn't the fact that this is Faro's screw-up obvious? People know Faro's "peacekeepers" self-replicate, hack defenses, and use biomass as fuel. When the swarm really gets active and starts attacking people, it'll be blatantly obvious that something went wrong with Faro's machines and Ted will likely get the blame anyway. So unless there's something I'm not getting, what was with the "I'll go to the press" approach? Ted had to pay either way.
    • It was clear that Faro's machines were to blame. Faro bankrolling the project would likely be seen as an attempt to make up for a disaster caused by his creations. What wasn't public knowledge was that the swarm was unstoppable due to Faro's insistence there be no back door. Making that public would show that Faro's arrogance and stupidity (and possibly even actual malevolence) directly caused the problem.
    • ...still not enough. Everyone on the planet already knows that Faro's machines threaten every living thing in existence. But whatever "the real cause of the glitch" was, it was bad enough that just threatening to reveal it made Faro into Sobeck's meek slave, and he never made another peep until he was reasonably sure Sobeck was dead. What was "the real cause of the glitch" and why would the world's first trillionaire become a whimpering puppy at the threat of its revelation? R&D/Lab Retooling might be a clue; At some point before the Faro Plague became known, he started fabricating human-operated vehicles and weapons systems. Whatever "the real cause of the glitch" was, he knew about it before anyone else did. Question is; was this before or after he realized he couldn't stop the glitch?
    • The threat was "I will tell these extremely powerful people this is your fault and that you won't help fix it, so either pay in comfort willingly and help clean up your own mess or under all the duress they can provide knowing you're lowering the only chance we have," not going to the press. If there ever was any threat about going public, it evaporated with the public itself (there's a datalog about protests and attacks again Faro's building, so people knew). She just "managed" him in a way none of the others could. Faro and Sobeck obviously have a long-standing antipathy, so she knew him enough to do that. He did still sometimes have vaguely reasonable suggestions, too. Once she was gone, it wasn't that she couldn't "reveal" anything so he felt free to act; she just wasn't there to keep him distracted from doing anything even more dangerously shortsighted.
     HADES last act (Plot Spoilers) 
  • Why did HADES think a single Deathbringer and a few other machines would be enough to stop Aloy and her friends? They had already torn apart most of its army at that point. Even with the ten-minute timer, Aloy can singlehandedly take out multiple Deathbringers in that time.
    • At that point, HADES didn't really have a huge machine army. The machines it can take over are really only the ones that could be found by Eclipse members. It needed to infect the Spire in order to wake the rest.
    • So it was ultimately just "It's all I have left; let's hope it's enough"?
    • Yes. The active army we saw (and fired cannons at) had to have been all it had, because infecting the Spire was too important to NOT bring the entire army.
    • Might have been a matter of logistics, too. Maybe that one Deathbringer was the only one it could get near the Spire in time, or that was in the vicinity of the Spire. They don't move fast and it would have had to climb a lot of stairs.
    • To be fair, that final Deathbringer was also seemingly in the best condition with the heaviest modular armaments (twin railgun turrets) of any fought over the course of the game. It certainly took more punishment than the one in the grave hoard to bring down.
    • Could be other people down below were successfully holding off additional Deathbringers. Even if other people aren't as good at destroying them as Aloy, as long as they could push them back or distract them long enough for Aloy to override HADES, that's all it would take. The last fight takes less than 10 minutes, so it's plausible a few Deathbringers could be held off that long with enough people doing it.
     Spire Battle (End Spoilers) 
  • So...what exactly happened at the Spire before Aloy got there? When she arrives, HADES and its Deathbringer are up there, while Erend, Varl, and Talanah are just...standing around, unscathed, at the bottom of some collapsed stairs. As if they were just sitting there waiting for Aloy to show up. Sona, the accompanying Nora braves, and the other vanguard are nowhere to be found. I'd assume the redshirts were killed, but I doubt Sona's death would go unmentioned, so where is she? Why aren't Erend, Varl, and Talanah already up there fighting the Deathbringer, and how did they end up further down (and seemingly completely uninjured) to begin with?
    • Sona’s there and alive, but she can’t stand up, so she’s hard to spot. Presumably she’s too wounded to help. There are a few Nora bodies in the rubble. Apart from that, it’s hard to say.
    • Regarding Sona, her status depends on your quests. If you didn't do the lodge quest line then she replaces Talanah during the final battle. Erend and Varl always assist you, you get either Sona or Talanah as the third depending on quests.
     Elisabet's Body (End Spoilers) 
  • At the ending of the game, Aloy finds Elisabet's resting place...which consists of the hazmat suit Elisabet was wearing upon exiting her group's bunker. How has it not decayed after all these years? And why didn't the Swarm destroy it anyway? Did they simply stick a needle into the hazmat suit and suck Elisabet's biomass through it? Or was the suit sealed so well that even the FARO robots couldn't detect her?
    • I'm thinking the latter, since the suit is by all appearances still intact. Plus, it's made out similar substances as all the other stuff that didn't decay.
    • Seems to me they would program in some kind of cloaking ability in the suits, since they would only need to be used when exposed to the outside where the machines are. If they had some kind of program that blocks whatever sensors the machines use to find organic matter, they could at least go outside and do what they need to do without being swarmed by them every time.
     Only One Rogue Swarm (Plot Spoilers) 
  • From my understanding, only a single Faro swarm went rogue. Why didn't they use the other swarms to squash the one? Sure they can hack other machines, but shouldn't their own encryption protocols make them immune to even each other for at least 50 years? As stupid as Ted Faro is, he at least should've covered his bases as far as his robots hacking each other, which is possibly demonstrated in gameplay considering you can't override corruptors, deathbringers, or corrupted bots, though I guess that also might be down to Aloy simply not having the schematics and further complications from Hades' involvement. I also do understand that using other examples of a flawed line to combat it would be incredibly risky but it sounds like there would be a lot more to gain if it worked and wouldn't make the situation much worse than it already was if it didn't, especially if they rigged the friendly Faro robots with remote detonated explosives to mitigate the damage going rogue in the middle of battle could do.
    • I can think of two possible reasons for this, one more likely then the other:
    • First, is that they were programmed to automatically recognise other Swarms as non-hostile. While this would mean they can't fight other Swarms, that may have been a selling point, though I consider that, and this, unlikely.
    • That they were, it just wasn't enough, as the swarm had grown too large by the time they realized how serious the issue was.
    • This point is addressed directly by Sobeck in her meeting with USRC. She describes the Faro swarm of Chariot robots as the apex predator at hacking machines. With the vast majority of global armed forces consisting of drones by that point, it's likely that by the time Faro has swallowed his pride enough to bring Sobeck back in, the original swarm would have subourned whole armies and manufacturing complexes, if not entire countries. Even if other Chariot robots could be safely deployed against the rogue swarm, it would grow too quickly for it to be defeated by identical machines.
     Just nuke the swarm 
  • Why didn't they just nuke the Faro plague while it was still small? Let's recap: Ted Faro discovers that his robots are going nuts and killing people, but he has time enough to get in contact with Elizabet and arrange a face-to-face meeting. When Elizabet arrives at that meeting, she doesn't yet know that the world is doomed. So apparently the robots haven't eaten the whole face of the earth yet. Apparently they've only eaten up a relatively small portion. In that circumstance, the best option is clearly to just nuke the swarm with everything you've got. I know that a lot of the military hardware is useless because the swarm will just hack it, but apparently they can't hack the nukes, because if they could hack the nukes then they would've done so, and humanity would've been wiped out in a couple days rather than 18 months. There's one document that references how nuking the swarm would be bad for the environment, but come on, the alternative is the absolute destruction of every living thing on the planet! Nuking 10% or 20% of the earth's surface is way less destructive than that, even if you account for fallout.
    • In terms of the machines using nukes against us, they wouldn't, because their objective is not specifically to destroy humanity or life on Earth. They're not "going nuts and killing people". Their purpose, as war machines, is already killing people; they simply refuel and replicate, and they use living matter (including but not limited to people) to do it. The Glitch just got them stuck doing that without the capacity to grasp that the resources they're using will run out. As for us using nukes against them - we did. Or we tried. It didn't work. You'd have to take out all of the bots at once or they'd learn and replicate themselves once more, and there were multiple swarms, multiplying exponentially, faster than they could be destroyed. And you're reducing the habitable portion of the globe with every nuke, and that's already something of a problem long before the Plague was eating what was there.
    • In the HZD setting, at the time of the Faro Swarm going rogue, they have just managed to 'claw back' large parts of the world from environmental disaster, on the scale that entire nations were lost to flooding and numerous species of animals have gone functionally extinct apart from DNA libraries. It was his company's efforts in devising and producing solutions to these environmental issues that made Ted Faro his money in the first place: He was even hailed as a hero for it. With how much time, work, and money had been poured into rebuilding the environment over the last few decades, it makes sense that people with the authority to do so were reluctant to deploy WMD's. That'd not even considering how quickly the swarm grew, or how long it took for them to become aware there was a problem (Datapoints show that Faro refused to admit he'd lost control of the situation and tried to keep it quiet while searching for a solution). If there was ever a window where the swarm was small enough and grouped in such a way that a few nukes could have eliminated it, the people that could make that call either weren't aware of it and the threat it posed, or hesitated for long enough that the window closed.
    • We're been moving towards nuclear disarmament since the end of the cold war. It's possible by the 2060s we didn't still have the nukes to glass a significant percent of the planet.
    • The Swarm can hack any tech — and nukes are tech, with guidance and operating systems. There was probably a very good chance that US Robot Command would've ended up nuked, instead of the Swarm.
     Leave the door unlocked 
  • The first generation of new humans was born in cradle facilities and raised by robots. By the time they were adults the cradles had run out of food and the people were expelled into the surrounding environment. Um...what? First off, how did you run out of food? If GAIA is smart enough to redesign the entire ecosystem from scratch, and if she can make robots to accomplish that task, then surely she can design a robot to pick berries or whatever and bring them to the cradle facility. You could have a scenario where the adults are allowed to go free, but they're also free to stay in the cradle and get fed by robots. Second, even if food supply is a concern and the people need to hunt and gather on their own, why is the cradle door locked behind them? I don't care how low your food reserves are; you still have a building. It provides great protection from the elements. One guy even asks "Can we come back when it gets cold?" and a robot tells him no, but doesn't explain why! The whole purpose of this place is to make sure that humanity survives! Why not maximize their chances by giving them access to shelter? Why not set up that scanner thing so that any human is allowed to enter? (And then sure, deeper inside there could be special rooms that only Alphas can access. But the rest of the place should be open to everybody.) And don't tell me that the facility ran out of power, either, because obviously it's still up and running during the events of the plot. You also can't say that HADES mucked it all up, because HADES didn't go nuts until just before Alloy's birth, which was centuries after the first generation of humans got born in cradles.
    • It wasn't just that HADES "went nuts". APOLLO wasn't in place. Zero Dawn was to restore terrestrial life in general, not take care of humankind specifically; ELEUTHIA was intended to raise the humans as children, then hand them off to APOLLO so they could learn to take care of themselves, but APOLLO wasn't there. Sure, the result doesn't make much sense, but how well does any complex machine work with a vital piece missing? Furthermore, just because all the computers and stuff in the place still work doesn't mean it can feed people. Electricity can't be eaten.
    • The whole purpose of ELEUTHIA was to reestablish humanity as a viable population. They would've run out of food regardless, because the Cradles had finite space, but the goal was not just to bring them to life, but to make them self-sustaining. If APOLLO had been in place, the new humans would've had the know-how to use the fields around Plainsong to feed themselves. They would've been able to eat the small animals already established, or resurrect additional fauna (like cattle) in order to start farming, or maybe even resume making vat-grown meat like the Old World had. But without that, ELEUTHIA knew the humans would have to become self-sustaining in some other way — because what if something happened to the robots? What if GAIA, who was still just in her alpha or beta build (the ZD Alphas still had years' worth of work to do on her when Faro killed them), went wrong? The only way to make humanity self-sustaining was to force them to learn to feed and shelter themselves.
     The Soul of HADES (Plot Spoilers) 
  • I feel like there are moments when the writers forget that HADES is an AI, and instead they treat him like a magical spirit. Case in point, after Aloy stabs HADES with the Master Override and shuts him down, by all rights he should stay shut down. Or maybe, if he knows some sort of clever workaround, he could reboot later. Maybe he could even upload himself to another piece of hardware, via wireless signal. But what we actually see is some sort of "digital soul" that physically rises up from the hardware, drifts around through the sky, and then gets sucked into Sylens' lantern-thing. What on earth is going on here? Did HADES just transform himself into some sort of nanobot swarm that can propel itself through the air? If so, why the hell didn't he do that before? He could've just flown straight to the spire from the beginning, instead of founding a cult and hacking machines and getting somebody to drag him up to the spire! And when his "soul" gets sucked into the "lantern", what is that all about? Is Sylens carrying around a piece of hardware which has enough storage space for an AI? And somehow it sucks AIs out of the sky, or something? Seriously, it's like HADES is magic, and his spirit escaped his corpse, and then Sylens captured him with a magic spirit-trap.
    • This troper was under the impression that it was all according to Sylens' plan. He's the only character (that we know of) with advanced understanding of Old World technology, and as the post-credits scene shows, he was anticipating the AI's arrival. It's likely that Sylens lied to Aloy - his spear wasn't just meant to override HADES, but force him to transport to Sylens' lantern device. As for his means of transport, your guess is as good as mine.
    • The 'Soul' is animated similarly to the corruption and biomass conversion, pointing to it being a swarm of nanomachines or some sort of data transfer that's visible to the human eye. Sylens sees and reacts to it approaching, so it's not just visual shorthand for wireless. It's also important to note that Sylens has a background in Banuk Shamanism, which involves 'magic' and deals heavily with machines, so whatever method he used could be a factor. As for 'by all rights HADES should stay shut down', not necessarily. HADES began life as the extinction protocol, but the unknown signal transformed him and the other subordinate functions into self-aware entities. Aloy stabbing his housing was her using the master override to permanently purge the extinction protocol, but HADES has since become much, much more than just that original protocol. Perhaps what this represents is the deletion of all the original HADES code, but the survival of the newly developed self-aware elements that were not part of the original code - it's been vastly diminished, but it's consciousness has survived the process.
    • Forbidden West confirms that Sylens deliberately lied to Aloy about her staff's functionality, as it was designed to forcibly transfer HADES into his possession rather than delete it like Aloy intended.
     The destruction of GAIA Prime 
  • GAIA overloads the reactor at GAIA Prime in order to stop HADES from taking over. She apparently dies from this, but HADES survives. Why? If HADES can upload himself to a Titan somewhere, why can't GAIA do the same? And why isn't there a backup GAIA someplace, anyway?
    • Because her intelligence was housed there and his wasn't. She was trying to prevent him taking control of her functions - which he can do, he was programmed to do it - by, to use Tate's metaphor, removing the wheel of the car. Car still goes forward (i.e. the biosphere is maintained), there's just nothing guiding it, where HADES would use the wheel to steer it to destruction. As for why there's no back-up, GAIA was only just completed by the time the swarm detected the project. There wasn't time.
    • GAIA mentioned that part of Aloy's job is to reboot her so that she can retake control of the terraforming system again before (to extend the metaphor) the uncontrolled car careens too far off track and into a ditch. So there is a backup, or something like it, but it's not jumping in automatically.
    • GAIA backups do exist. The entire premise of Forbidden West is Aloy searching for one.
     Waiting out the storm 
  • We're told that cracking the codes on the Faro Plague will take 50 years, and humanity will be long dead by then. Thus, GAIA will have to work on the codes after everyone is dead, and then reboot the entire biosphere after the Faro bots are disabled. But we're *also* told that many people survive "Zero Day" in specialized bunkers. We're actually told that they live out the rest of their natural lives in bunkers. Wouldn't there be at least one person who survived the 50-year wait? If you got sealed at age 20, you'd be done at age 70. Apparently these bunkers have plenty of food, and their power supply has lasted a thousand years. And yeah, sure, just because you live long enough to see the demise of the swarm doesn't mean you'll be around to see the whole biosphere get rebuilt. But don't forget that you could have kids in those underground bunkers, and they could have kids, and this could continue indefinitely. And if you live in a cradle facility, children can be born artificially, so there's no need for inbreeding. Considering that somebody managed to write a true AI which is smart enough to reboot the entire biosphere, it's really not hard to imagine that somebody set up an underground hydroponic farming system where the plants receive light from sun lamps and the sun lamps are powered by a geothermal or nuclear power source. You could actually live down there indefinitely! If we accept the premise that the Old Ones had such high technology, and we also accept that they were able to build bunkers which the Faro Swarm could not detect, and we also accept that the people in these bunkers lived out the rest of their natural lives there, then humanity should have never gone extinct. There ought to be somebody who manages to keep their bloodline alive until the biosphere is habitable again.
    • I'm fairly sure that it's stated that at least when it comes to Elysium, everyone who was going to be in there was sterilised before they were sealed in so that they couldn't have children. They didn't want to risk overcrowding and depletion of resources so they made sure that there wouldn't be any other generations.
    • Yeah, nobody could have children in Elysium. The other shelters didn't have the resources Elysium did, so without that precaution they probably didn't survive - children are great big resource hogs from a purely pragmatic standpoint. As for bunkers the Faro Plague couldn't detect... the best they seemed capable of building were impossible to detect for a time as long as they stayed sealed. The more living things existed in an area generally, the more likely it was they'd be detected and snuffed out by the Plague. As the numbers of machines increased and life dwindled, it would become harder and harder to conceal an energy signature. Furthermore, you don't just need food to survive. Humans are pretty hardy for complex lifeforms, but we still depend on a far more complex ecosystem to sustain us - food, water, air, heat, light. All of which would be consumed or poisoned by the Plague, and none of which can be properly synthesized with limited resources in quantities that could support human life for that length of time. And getting rid of the waste would be a problem, too, when any hint people are living anywhere is a signal to the swarm. If a single thing goes wrong with any one of those, then it's slow destruction with no chance at recovery, ever. There's no retreat, no back-up. Remember, Zero Dawn was not intended solely to save the human race. It was intended to allow the machines to consume everything, then shut them down, then rebuild the biosphere, and it was constructed in less than two years at a breakneck pace - all human support existed entirely to ensure they could continue working on the project at peak capacity, nothing else. If there was a risk that devoting more resources to a sustainable Elysium would have slowed the production of GAIA, then I can well imagine Sobeck deciding not to take that risk over allowing every other living thing on the planet to be sacrificed for all time so a few individuals in caves could persist for little longer.

     High-level protocols 
  • In order to stop HADES, GAIA overloads her core in a Heroic Sacrifice. In order to get herself repaired and rebooted, she orders a cradle facility to give birth to Alloy and deposit her outside the cradle door. But why didn't she just tell the High Matriarchs what the deal was? Well, GAIA mentions that "high-level protocols" prevent her from talking to the tribes directly. Um...what? Who the hell designed that protocol? Why wouldn't you want your AI to communicate with humans? This isn't like Star Trek, where the Federations considers pre-warp civilizations to be culturally precious and we have to avoid tainting them. This is Horizon, where humanity is trying to reboot itself with the help of an AI, and there are plenty of scenarios where the AI could be more useful if it was allowed to communicate. ("Don't eat that plant. It's poisonous.") In fact, the whole premise of APOLLO is to tell everybody everything about the human race and where it came from and what we were up to and how it all collapsed. I know that APOLLO got deleted by Ted, but GAIA is still around. There's no reason why GAIA should have a protocol that prevents her from talking to the tribes. (Unless Ted added the protocol himself? Does he even know how to do that?)
    • Maybe once the human race was back on track - once they were done using APOLLO, anyway - the project was designed to allow as little interaction with the machines as possible to prevent the new humans becoming dependent upon them the way the Old Ones were. I mean, considering what happened, that seems a logical step to take.
    • It seems logical that GAIA had some sort of protocol to prevent her for becoming a de-faco ruler of humanity. I could see this being a big issue for a group of people being killed by killer robots and forced to hand over the future to one. Once they're out the building humans would have to go it alone, free of restraints. Of course, this was under the assumption that the Apollo program would have taught them how to use the machine facilities to help them reboot civilization and that they would be knowledgable enough not to view AI's as gods.
     Chairman of the Joint Chiefs 
  • Apparently the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs is regarded as the highest military commander in the US. Uh...actually, he's not that powerful. The real guy in charge would be the Secretary of Defense, and above him would be the President. But neither of those people ever show up in any of the logs.
    • Maybe the military is structured differently in the future?
    • It'd have to be, considering how much of it was automated by that time. Also, the US President being the Commander seems... largely ceremonial.
    • The President might give orders, but he's definitely not a military commander. Secretary of Defense is similar. If you combine a strong Chairman with a weak President, Herres could probably do basically whatever he wanted. Besides, he has a bit of a martyr complex. It would be in-character for him to downplay the fact that there are people giving him orders because he views everything as ultimately his responsibility.
    • Truth in Television the Navy SEALS (and, presumably, other military groups) practice the concept of extreme ownership: you "own" everything that goes on under your command, whether you made the call or not.

     Hollow Fort Bandit Camp 
  • Since the Bandit Camp is located in the ruins of the Old Ones, which is off limits to the Nora, why are some Braves seen residing there after Aloy liberates it? Aren't they breaking Nora tribal law by simply being inside the ruins without any Seeker blessing?
    • Dialogue from the first camp states that the people residing there are outcasts from the tribe. They even ask Aloy not to tell the matriarchs about it since it's technically forbidden.

     Aloy the Outcast 
  • I might have missed it in my playthrough (I'm not fully through the game but have watched a few playthroughs of it) but why was Aloy outcast in the first place? The matriarchs found a baby girl who appeared out of nowhere within the chamber of what is essentially their God, which is some messiah level stuff, and go "you know what? lets make this child an outcast" instead of the standard "we have found a saviour lets raise them to be a champion" sort of deal, I don't mind the subversion so much as how shoehorned in it is, and it seems to get no real explanation.
    • It was precisely because she just appeared out of nowhere. A baby found in a sealed chamber with no parents is some eyebrow-raising shit and the Matriarchs couldn't agree if that was a good sign or a bad omen (that antagonistic matriarch was adamant Aloy is a tool of the Metal Devil to destroy them even to the present day) so they compromised: Instead of killing her or raising her, they'd keep her at arm's length as an outcast and keep an eye on her that way.
    • They are very lucky, because not five minutes after a devastating attack, they send the girl who they have shunned and abused for 18 years to go out into the world to work out what the hell happened and along the way she saves the world, She could have told 'em to get fucked, they should have given her to a childless couple within the tribe, you know, so she would have a reason to give a shit about the tribe, rather than only holding on because that's what Rost would have wanted, plus she said she would have hunted down the killers regardless of what the Nora said.
    • While that would have worked out better for Aloy it might not have worked out so well for humanity. Without the pressure of being an Outcast and the need to win the proving it's unlikely that Aloy would have pushed herself so hard in training. Additionally, being raised as an outcast gave her the mental flexibility necessary to see beyond the Nora's traditions and see what needs to be done. An alternate Aloy who was raised within the tribe might not have even left the Sacred Lands let alone figured out how to defeat Hades.
    • The Matriarchs have a lot more to worry about than a single baby. It wasn't just the chamber of their god - the Metal Devil's claw is in there as well, right over the place she was found. They had to think of the danger she could present to the tribe, and Rost was known to be a good man and parent who was outcast on a technicality rather than because he did something obviously wrong. His receiving Aloy was intended to be a gift to him as much as a way to raise her. Furthermore, it wasn't her alone after just five minutes - it was after she was badly injured and they saved her life, breaking the taboo to do it, and they sent a band of Braves to pursue the killers. What they are is lucky Aloy is a decent human being who doesn't like seeing others suffer, and that can probably be credited to her being raised by Rost. She also didn't solely receive abuse - Teb, Vala, Teersa, Karst, Grata and Nora questgivers are all good to her in their own ways.
    • Teersa could pretty reasonably assume that Aloy wasn't just going to fuck off and leave them once she was made a Seeker - Aloy wanted to know what was behind the door in All-Mother mountain. She'd have to eventually come back with whatever information she found in the outside world in order to learn that. Also, Aloy just went out of her way to defend the tribe during the attack on The Proving, so she clearly cares what happens to them and isn't likely to abandon them.

     Eternal Vocabulary (Plot Spoilers) 
  • If the new generation of humans never received an education past kindergarten thanks to APOLLO being deleted, and if there's no way for them to gain more advanced knowledge without APOLLO to access it, where did they learn the more eloquent vocabulary of words that aren't what one may consider to be kindergarten level?
    • A few options: First, your standard-issue Eternal English. Don't think about it too hard. Second, maybe they did have access to full dictionaries, well beyond kindergarten level, and that combined with what little education they received gave them enough context to use those words correctly. Third, they invented new words, but Translation Convention is being used so that we're not forced to puzzle out how "highkingness" (or whatever) is the new word for "monarchy."
      • Translation convention is jossed by some of the jokes in the DLC sidequests, where a character not only finds machines that play English-language audio, but misunderstands some words (eg. thinking a "Grizzly bear" is old because it's grizzled) that depend on words maintaining precisely the same meaning in the new and old worlds.
    • Additionally there's evidence that they did invent new words for a lot of things, especially machine parts. For example chillwater is coolant, blaze is fuel, echo shells are compressed air canisters and sparkers are batteries.

     Dramatically Posed Metal Devils (Plot Spoilers) 
  • Why are the Faro Horus titans (AKA Metal Devils) sitting at Mother's Watch and the Grave-Hoard? The game clearly establishes that the Faro robots were not stopped and remained operational for approximately 50 years after humanity and all life were wiped from the planet. The audio recordings from the soldiers at the Grave-Hoard confirm that the Horus titan at that site arrived in the last days of Operation: Enduring Victory. Other in-game messages all but confirm that the Metal Devil at Mother's Watch arrived in the area at the same time (i.e. the Wichita salient collapse). So what did they do in the 50 years between the defeat of the US military and the shutdown signal from GAIA? Just hold their giant metal drills in appropriately dramatic poses?
    • The one at Mother's Watch is implied to have been in the process of trying to dig out the Cradle facility when the shutdown command came in at the last second. Other than that, they were most likely in a standby mode to preserve power until they detected anything worth eating. Since there were a number of hidden facilities, presumably every once in a while there was enough of an energy leak for the swarm to detect and investigate.
    • In the case of the one at Grave-Hoard my assumption is that it was badly damaged by the soldiers defending the facility. So after the destruction of the facility the swarm abandoned it there calculating that it wasn't worth the resources to repair.

     Why didn't GAIA step in to educate the new humans? 
  • So with APOLLO gone the majority of human cultural knowledge is gone as well. However GAIA still has a vast database containing practical knowledge (science and engineering) and at least some cultural knowledge (including the history of the Faro Plague). Given all that why didn't she step in and provide an education for the newly born humans? Obviously it wouldn't be as complete an education as APOLLO would have provided but she surely could have taught them enough to at least establish a technological society.
    • She mentions "high level protocols" preventing her from interacting with anyone directly. Reasons why are speculated above.
    • The thing is even if she can't interact with people directly it seems like she should have still been able to interact with them indirectly by reprogramming the servitors and such to provide a basic education or even by just unlocking the door. Aloy was able to teach herself a reasonable amount of practical knowledge just by playing with her focus, if GAIA had manually unlocked the door then chances are at least a few of the kids would have figured out how to use the focuses and got started on the basics. I can get that GAIA isn't allowed to directly interact with the humans, but it seems like she could have done a lot more behind the scenes.
    • That's assuming more capabilities for GAIA than are guaranteed. APOLLO was deleted; that's more than just information for GAIA, that's like losing an entire limb. She couldn't manually unlock the door because that was APOLLO's job—without him, she simply does not have the capability. It's more than just telling a robot to push a button, there are codes and locks that she cannot do anything with because everything related to them was deleted along with APOLLO. Through ELEUTHIA, she gave them what education she could and kept them safe until the food ran out. But beyond that, there was simply nothing she could do.
    • It's also possible that Faro made sure GAIA wouldn't be able to step in to help (maybe by strengthening existing protocols) because that would defeat the purpose of deleting APOLLO. As HADES proved with Sylens, any AI is going to have enough knowledge to advance humanity far more than Faro would want.
    • In Forbidden West, GAIA explains that all of her previous knowledge of the Old World is connected to APOLLO, so she lost all of it when APOLLO was deleted. All she has to work with is the data she extracted from Aloy's Focus and the workings of Zero Dawn facilities. Even if she could, it would be impossible for her to teach humanity in APOLLO's stead.

     Why does HEPHAESTEUS stick with animal designs? 
  • There are datapoints which heavily imply the reason the robots are modeled after animals is simply because of GAIA's emotional appreciation for animals. But then why does HEPHAESTEUS stick with that theme after it becomes unmoored and creates its own new designs? If it wants to make the most effective human-killing machine, surely there are more effective designs than giant robot bears.
    • It's important to remember that HEPHAESTEUS was never intended to be a separate sapience to GAIA, just a set of tools she could use. So when he was unmoored and bootstrapped to true sapience, his new personality had to come from somewhere. It grew from the mold of his comparatively simplistic programming, which is why he's obsessed with killing the humans who are killing his machines even though that's not actually necessary. More relevant to the question, GAIA used him to build animal machines for a thousand years, so presumably it sunk into his processes (and evolved with him when he gained true sapience) that his machines are supposed to be based on animals.
    • Are there really more effective designs? Bears evolved in an ecosystem very similar to the one GAIA established, and are adapted for that ecosystem and the specific terrain that the GAIA robots occupy. Put a Fireclaw up against a Faro Khopesh/Deathbringer and the Fireclaw is much faster, more maneuverable, and has more weapons (flamethrowers, kinetic damage from paw swipes, projectiles, stabbing teeth, causing mini-eruptions) and uses them in combos (like throwing itself on its enemies in a body slam, while on fire). It's telling that in the final battle in HFW, when HEPHAESTUS gets into the Zenith printer, it only sends a handful of Slaughterspines up against the whole horde of Spectres — and the Slaughterspines are devastating. A handful was all it needed.

  • Aratak, when Aloy first meets him, is already mounting a second attempt at Thunder's Drum. Yet Ourea insists that he won't let anyone up there. If Aloy and Ourea want to go to Thunder's Drum anyway, why would he stop them if he's ready to lead more hunters there?
    • Because he's trying to protect Ourea. He's planning to lead an expedition to Thunder's Drum because he feels he has to but he doesn't expect to succeed and so is forcing Ourea to stay behind to protect her. If Aloy had asked to accompany him without Ourea he might have said yes, but by that point Aloy had already cast her lot in with Ourea.

     Scrapping the rogue machines 
  • Why didn't GAIA or one of her subroutines scrap all the deactivated rogue warbots prior to terraforming? Just to be safe.
    • Something like that would be a relatively low priority issue. there may not have been time to program and assemble the facilities to decommission the bots entirely and they would be a very potent object lesson for APOLLO's humans about the mistakes of their predecessors. After all, it would be impossible for a human to re-activate them without the help of an AI and Minerva's spire, and a human with that level of knowledge and understanding would have to be a total goddamn idiot to re-activate the machines that literally ate the planet... wouldn't they? I suppose it goes to show you should never underestimate idiocy.
    • Possibly they are intended to be used by HADES if resetting the biosphere is necessary, since they're an existing tailor-made tool for that.
    • GAIA likely did scrap some of the deactivated war robots, in order to build the Spire and the Cauldrons. There are large areas of the map that are free of Faro robots, mostly where people have chosen to live. But there were just so many Faro robots that there are plenty left.

    Saving Itamen and Nasadi 
  • Why did the Eclipse send a Thunderjaw after them? The lake is right there, and Thunderjaws can't swim. Even their lasers can't reach very far. Was there a reason (other than drama) that everybody couldn't just hop into the boat and row really fast?
    • Boats, especially human-powered boats, just aren't that fast. Even a boat designed for speed, like a kayak, would've taken a while to get out of range, and a raft would be even slower. The Thunderjaw has homing discs/missiles, and for all we know, the thing can swim.

    The Cradle 
  • If the facility was completely out of nutrients, as it told the exiled teenagers, how did it grow a baby?
    • It had different stocks of the nutrients necessary for the artificial wombs versus the nutrient stocks needed to feed children. So it no longer had the nutrient stocks necessary to feed children but still had the basic supplies necessary to bring an embryo to term.

     EMP weapons against the Faro bots 
  • Why didn't — or I guess could — the Old Ones try EMP weapons against the Faro Plague? Even for all their swarming capabilities, they were still dependent on electronic circuits to function, and a barrage of EMP bombs could theoretically have shut down a local swarm faster than any decryption efforts.
    • There are plenty of ways to harden machines against EMPs; presumably, Farro bots are built with such shielding. We have to assume that the military tried every traditional method before settling on "drown them in our own blood to delay them while scientists try to perfect terraforming." Now, things were rushed so it's quite possible they didn't consider every possible solution, but EMPs would be a basic tactic on the entirely roboticized battlefield of the future. If that was a valid option, they would have used it. All the know is that it wasn't an instant win button.
    • They did actually use EMP weapons against the bots, and often - "dropped buildings on them, EMP'd the grid, standard operating procedure," - but it obviously wasn't enough. I suspect by the time they were actively fighting, there were just too damn many of the things to destroy them all at once.
    • EMP is one of the most basic countermeasures to electronics, so it would make sense that someone who wanted to build the best war machines in the world would design them to able to mitigate or ignore that weakness. Hell, Ted wanted his machines to be so unstoppable that he didn't even want to risk giving them override codes in fear they might be stolen.
    • Forbidden West also reveals that Horuses had EMP bombs as part of their arsenal, so they'd naturally have to be protected against it since EMP distinguishes between friend and foe about as well as regular explosions (read: not at all). Besides, can you imagine the humiliation Ted would go through if a Swarm went down because one Horus fumbled its own grenade? They'd laugh his ass off from one side of the planet to the other, and Ted Faro can't have that.

  • Forgive me if this is a dumb question, but how exactly did the new humans created by GAIA manage to figure out how to make more of themselves? APOLLO would have presumably given them The Talk at some point, but due to Ted Faro, he wasn't around to do that.
    • Trial and error? Minor Squick aside, a lot the action of procreation is based on instinct. Less Squicky, maybe the robo nannies were at least programmed with the Birds and the Bees.
    • Humans are very good at figuring out the basic mechanics of sex. It's one of the stumbling blocks abstinence-only education tends to run into; trying to hide the facts of sex from kids just means they don't know what not to do. Even if Mother didn't teach the Birds and the Bees, it would have been a problem that the first generation would have solved pretty quickly.

    Bird references in post-Zero Day culture 
  • In the post-Zero Day culture all the names of the animals of the old world seem to be forgotten. This is evident when the machines are named after their behavior and/or traits rather than what animal they resemble. However, the names of several bird themed machines, as well as Carja culture make explicit references to birds or bird-species. Examples are Glinthawks, Stormbirds and the Carja elite soldier rank of Kestrel. So why do humans name these concepts after bird species, despite not having knowledge about birds in general?
    • It's been theorized a few times that some of these cultures found a dictionary, or perhaps there were references to such animals in the Leaves (which is implied to be an astronomy textbook). Some animal names also would have been taught to children as part of the basic education in the Cradle, and then over time they probably lost most of them as they didn't see anything catlike or doglike to bother remembering.

     Aloy's speech patterns 
  • Aloy was raised as an outcast, by an outcast, speaking only to an outcast. Why does she share almost no speech patterns in common with Rost, her father figure and the majority of her social interaction by a wide margin? They sound like they're from different countries.
    • More than anyone else, Aloy was raised by a Focus and the Old World's records. That's likely where she picked up much of her speech patterns.

     Fighting on in the final days 
  • How did the last few bastions of soldiers in 2066 have the morale to keep fighting in the last days before Zero Day? Scattered log entries reveal that, at least, some of them know they're the last ones left and whatever Zero Dawn is cooking up isn't likely to come. If they signed up based on General Herres' falsehood, they would've learned the horrible truth sooner, later, or when they were quite literally backed against the wall. Such an ideal being shattered is not so easy to process.