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Due to its nature as a sequel, spoilers for Horizon Zero Dawn and The Frozen Wilds DLC will be left unmarked. You Have Been Warned.

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"There's nothing I wouldn't do to save this world; no depth I won't explore, no secret I won't unlock, no barrier I won't cross. This mission is mine alone. If I falter, if I fail, there won't be anyone left to stop what's coming."
Aloy

Announced during the PlayStation 5 reveal event on June 11, 2020, Horizon Forbidden West is the sequel to 2017's Horizon Zero Dawn, and the second game in the Horizon series. The game sees the return of its original protagonist, Aloy, as she strikes out into the Forbidden West, the mysterious land far beyond the world she knows, from which none have returned before.

In the six months following the events of Zero Dawn, the Derangement has continued, freak storms are appearing with greater frequency, and a mysterious blight is spreading across the land, killing flora and fauna alike. Aloy continues to scour the world for a backup of GAIA to fix the terraforming system and save the world, but with no success.

When confronted with the betrayal of a former ally, Aloy realises that to find the answers she needs, she must journey into the Forbidden West: a harsh and lawless land, ruled by the violent Tenakth tribes and new, more dangerous machines. Her journey uncovers new secrets, new technologies and new enemies, and will challenge everything Aloy believes about her mission — and herself.

Initially set to come out in 2021, the game was delayed and instead came out on February 18, 2022 on both the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5. The announcement trailer can be seen here, and a developer message - here. The State of Play Gameplay Reveal can be found here. The Story Trailer can be found here

A DLC expansion called Burning Shores was released on April 19, 2023, exclusively for the PlayStation 5 version. The announcement trailer can be seen here. A complete edition including both the base game and the DLC was released for the PlayStation 5 on October 6, 2023 and is scheduled for release on Steam in early 2024.


Provides examples of:

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  • 20 Bear Asses: Like the first game, you can create a job in your quest list to retrieve parts for armor and weapon upgrades. If you want to get the most out of your equipment, you will be doing a LOT of fetch quests. And yes, this includes harvesting the game's giant mechanical bears. One notable change with this game is that when you override a Cauldron, there will be a few corrupted files for some of the machines, so you need to hunt them in the wild and recover their parts to complete the override.
  • Absence Makes the Heart Go Yonder: Talanah's questline concerns Aloy helping her track down Amadis, a man she fell in love with some time after Aloy left Meridian. Together they track him all over the Forbidden West to Thornmarsh, where they learn that he was tracking down a Carja woman named Nessa, whom he believed to have been killed during their time together in the Red Raids. When he rejoins with her, she has become a Tenakth named Ritakka who wants nothing to do with him, and Talanah also doesn't want to be his (or anyone's) second choice. Ultimately, both Talanah and Amadis return to the Sundom separately, and Talanah remarks that taking down a Thunderjaw is easier than finding love.
  • Absurdly Low Level Cap:
    • The maximum level is 50, which can be reached 70% of the way through the game. (Maxing out all skill trees, however, will take a lot longer.) Especially strong machines like the Apex Fireclaw will always be higher-leveled than the player.
    • New Game+ has ghost levels that allow the player to continue accumulating XP and level up after every 100,000 XP gained, but provide no further benefits.
  • Abusive Precursors: The main antagonists are revealed to be the members of Far Zenith, who were mentioned in the previous game as a group of the world's wealthiest individuals who fled an increasingly unstable 21st-century Earth in an interstellar spaceship prior to the outbreak of the Faro Plague. Having perfected the immortality technology that was already in development at the time, they are over a thousand years old and essentially the last living Old Ones, with the Sufficiently Advanced Alien technology to match. Being a group of immortal megalomaniacs, they also slaughter the new Earth's indigenous people without a second thought in pursuit of their goals.
  • A.I. Breaker: Aloy getting into a location where a highly aggressive machine like an Apex Thunderjaw or Tremortusk can't reach her (such as a high cliff) seems to confuse them. Whereas most machines will retreat if they can't get to Aloy, these two tend to mostly flail randomly, firing their weapons in random directions in apparent frustration. (Note that this absolutely does not work on Shellsnappers, who have auto-targeting projectiles that fire independently of their sight.)
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Zig-zagged. GAIA is pretty cool and is actually doing what she's supposed to, but her now-sentient sub-functions, lacking the prerogative to actually care for and love humanity, are not. Especially HEPHAESTUS, since its only purpose now is to travel from Cauldron to Cauldron, making them spit out deadlier and deadlier machines, all in service to its own self-preservation. Aloy and Beta actually exploit this trope by releasing it into the Far Zenith compound, instantly giving them an army of machines to fight off the Zeniths' spectres.
  • Air-Vent Passageway: Played straight, and very handy for exploring ancient bunkers and other ruins.
  • Alien Kudzu: A strange plant called the Red Blight is infesting the terrain Aloy travels. It's choking and starving out the more ordinary wildlife; Aloy sees a dead fox surrounded by it, and an unnamed tribeswoman pulls a half-rotten carrot out of its tangle. The Red Blight is caused by DEMETER, one of GAIA's former subordinate functions now acting as an independent AI.
  • An Aesop:
    • Even if you feel you can do everything to finish an essential task or mission, that doesn’t mean you can do that mission yourself. Your friends will always be there for you to get the job done.
    • Don't think a person is based on someone who came before them. They are their own person no matter what.
  • And Your Reward Is Interior Decorating: After reclaiming the Base, it will be increasingly furnished and inhabited in between main quests. Some additions are functional (a workbench, a stash box, etc), but most are cosmetic decorations that unlock flavor text and hint at characterization.
  • Angry, Angry Hippos: Widemaws are hippo-like machines that have a dangerous Vacuum Mouth and absolutely love to spew Purgewater-infused rocks at Aloy from forty meters away like a sentient mortar cannon the second they notice her.
  • Animation Bump: In the Poseidon quest, the facial animation is notably smoother and more expressive than other cutscenes.
  • Anti-Frustration Feature:
    • A critique of the first game was that Aloy's pouches could only be so large, meaning you could finally get a rare item drop only to be unable to pick it up because your pouches were full. Forbidden West added the Stash, a box found in settlements that items are sent to if their pouch is full. Importantly, it has infinite space, and it can be used for completionists who want to trim down their Weapon and Armor options without throwing their equipment away forever.
    • A post-launch patch then reduced the frequency Aloy would verbally mention she's sending stuff to her Stash because of how quickly your pouches can fill up.
    • A new addition to the game is the ability to customize difficulty. One option this unlocks is Easy Looting, which lets you loot parts from the machine's corpse that normally have to be shot off first, provided that part is still intact when the machine dies. Given how many high-level upgrades require you to bring in a lot of hard-to-get parts that are normally destroyed when a machine dies if they weren't broken off, this is extremely helpful.
    • The Shieldwing is this for many players of Zero Dawn because it lets you safely descend from practically anywhere, or break Aloy's fall. This helps getting down from high places such as towers and cliffs, something every player wished they could do in The Jewel's jungle cliffs in the first game (it also means less conspicuous yellow ziplines that fulfill the same task). It becomes a de facto necessity once the Sunwing Mount Override is acquired for dismount landings from any flight altitude above skirting the ground.
    • A post-launch update added the ability to disable loot pickup animations for everything except containers and enemies. This allows the player to vacuum up Medicinal Berries and Ridgewood without stopping once, making things more efficient and thus more likely the player will bother gathering them in the place. A later update added an option for Aloy to automatically pick up any resource lying on the ground that she isn't currently maxed out on (in which case, manually picking it up will send it to the stash).
    • While not all of them fall into this category, several abilities that had to be unlocked in the first game are available right off the bat in the second, including Overriding machine mounts and picking up items while on a mount. New players don't get overwhelmed because the game still waits a bit to tell you that these are things you can do.
    • Campfires can now be used to fast travel from for free, greatly adding to their functionality and making up for the lack of a Golden Fast Travel Pack.
    • Many high-level armor and weapon upgrades require you to harvest the toughest enemies in the game, which can get really tedious after the 10th Slaughterspine, especially if you're playing on Very or Ultra Hard. But there's no penalty for dropping the difficulty in the settings while you farm them, then raising it again when you're done. This includes an option for "easy looting," which makes components less sensitive about needing to be removed while the machine is alive/need to be left intact until the machine is dead.
    • The game has a comprehensive list of accessibility settings. These allow everything from the usual motion sickness reduction, setting Aloy or her mount to run by default, visual filters to counter thalassophobia (fear of deep water) while swimming, and even a "copilot," mode where the second controller can also control Aloy.
  • Armor Is Useless: Played straight in multiple cutscenes. When the rebel Tenakth ambush the peace delegation, for example, rebel arrows are shown punching through the breastplates of Tenakth and Carja warriors. Averted in gameplay, as Aloy's armor can have substantial protective value (particularly if she's wearing a fully-upgraded Legendary armor) and enemy armor will substantially reduce the amount of damage Aloy's weapons deal until she knocks the piece off.
  • Arc Words:
    • "When it looks impossible, look deeper, and fight like you can win." A word of advice from Rost, Aloy's father figure, she falls back upon it when confronting problems like the Far Zeniths, who seem so powerful that they're unstoppable.
    • "May the Wings of the Ten carry you to victory." The Tenakth venerate the Ten's ability to fly through the air on great metal mounts (which are probably supposed to be jet fighters) the most out of all their qualities, and replicating this feat is considered to be a truly awesome deed. When Aloy gains the ability to override a Sunwing and actually flies through the air, most of the Tenakth she talks to afterward can't stop gushing about it, giving her the somewhat unwieldy title "She Who Flies on the Wings of the Ten".
  • Armor-Piercing Attack: Some models of Boltblasters and Sharpshot Bows have "Strikethrough" ammo types, allowing for piercing through armor plate to deal damage beneath without having to remove the armor with tear damage first.
  • The Artifact: The icon for the Call Mount action uses the same image of the Strider from the previous game. Which would be fine, except the Strider machine is nowhere to be found in Forbidden West.
  • Artistic License – Botany: The Utaru are a farming culture who are given pouches of flower seeds at birth that they carry with them at all times. When the Utaru dies, that pouch is procured and brought to their tribe's orchard as a funerary right where the seeds grow into flowers. Under regular conditions, seeds can last as long as two years before they could be considered dead, ten years if under a controlled environment (which is unlikely given they're a primitive tribe that don't even practice smithing). Unless the Utaru swap out their seeds on a regular basis, their flower-beds should be deader than the people they belonged to.
  • Artistic License – Physics:
    • GAIA's logical deduction of the extinction signal's origin. She notes the curiously long duration of the signal's transmission, and interprets that duration as an expression of the lightyears of distance that the signal would have needed to travel. GAIA states that the signal was received for 8.611 years, and makes the logical conclusion that it came from Far Zenith given their prior goal to establish a colony on a star at that precise distance. She even mentions that it would have taken another 8.611 years for Zenith to confirm that the signal had been received and enacted successfully, which accounts for the twenty-year gap between the initial transmission and the Zenith's arrival. However, this doesn't actually add up. The game acts as though the moment the off-switch gets flipped, any residual transmission would be erased from the vacuum of space instantaneously. In the scenario that GAIA posits, Earth would have received the transmission for 17.222 years.
      • Additionally, GAIA starts out by saying how the signal was 8.611 years old by the time it reached Earth. She states this as though it was a known fact, rather than an inference from the signal's duration. Unless the signal included some sort of timestamp in its contents, there would be no way to directly measure how old the signal was.
      • Finally, while Sirius, the star Far Zenith journeyed to, is indeed 8.611 light-years away from Earth at present, it is moving closer to our solar system at a rate of 5.5 km/s. Given the Horizon series takes place 1000 years in the future, Sirius would have moved approximately .018 light-years closer to Earth in that time. Thus the signal would have traveled s slightly shorter distance of 8.593 light-years.
    • Ruins of the Modern Age are much more common in this game than in Horizon Zero Dawn. This is most likely the result of storytelling concerns, where Aloy and the player discovering the nature of the game world was intentionally a slow burn. This time, it's known going in. While the scattered cars and buildings of the first game wouldn't survive a thousand years of weathering, Forbidden West plants a great deal more signs of the Old Ones that further strain suspension of disbelief. These include a school bus with a recognizable paint job, computer terminals still functional (and receiving power) in places exposed to the elements, leather couches with sea water washing across them, and San Francisco having multiple standing skyscrapers beside most of the Golden Gate Bridge. The last two are especially egregious, as these would succumb to gravity even in an environment without microbes.
  • Asskicking Leads to Leadership: The Tenakth value strength, so Hekarro thinks that Aloy has the best chance of persuading Tekotteh to join the Kulrut because she defeated Regalla's champion.
  • As You Know: Uttered literally by Avad if you ask him about the Red Raids. Subverted however in that he's referring broadly to the Carja raiding neighboring tribes: this pretense is used to lead into their exact relationship with the Tenakth, which is genuinely new information to Aloy as well as the player.
  • Audible Gleam: Greenshine crystals make a constant crystalline chime sound.
  • Audible Sharpness: Overdrawing any ranged weapon capable of overdraw will let out a "ching!" coinciding with the tip of the projectile (if visible) glinting to indicate overdraw state has been reached. At that point, it will do extra damage and have extra narrow precision.
  • Augmented Reality: The Focus once again is an instrumental tool in Aloy's equipment. She has acquired several of them from ELEUTHIA-9, which she hands out to trustworthy allies she meets so they too can have the "Second Sight".
  • Automatic Crossbows: The Boltblaster class of ranged weapon is this. You can see multiple crossbow limbs on the front, and at full draw it will let loose a volley of six rapid-fire bolts. A special technique called Sustained Burst will have Aloy stand her ground and empty the magazine in rapid fire.
  • Bag of Spilling:
    • At the beginning of the game, Aloy mentions that she had lost all of her stuff between the six months from Zero Dawn to the beginning of Forbidden West due to a mix of harrowing life-or-death situations and just bad luck. Special mention goes to the Shield-Weaver outfit, the starter outfit in Forbidden West, having been repurposed from the Shield-Weaver's parts after its battery ran out.
    • While Aloy retains several of the moves and abilities she could unlock in the first game, such as calling a mount, or taking control of machines from the first game, when Varl catches up to Aloy in the game's beginning, he notes that she's 'traveling light' and she states that she ran into some trouble along the way and lost most of her gear and high-quality weapons, using only a common-rarity bow, as well as also apparently having banged up enough that she only has about 200 Health points after she fixes some scrapes and bruises she got. She also didn't bother removing Sylens' spear from HADES' shell, and when she does so it ends up crumbling to dust, but in the interim she fashioned herself a new Nora-styled spear, and upon returning to Meridian she's gifted the Champion's Spear for her role in the battle of the Alight.
    • Aloy is initially unable to override any of the machines that return from the previous game (except for Chargers). This is explained as the machines in the West having been constructed in different Cauldrons from the ones in the previous game (as well as HEPHAESTUS upgrading their security), so she needs new override codes to take control of them.
  • Bait-and-Switch:
    • The Stinger of Zero Dawn had Sylens ominously approaching the inert husk of a Metal Devil with a captured HADES after his lance transmitted the Rogue AI to him, implying bad things were in store. It turns out that he only wanted to use the larger processing components from the Horus to download HADES into a container that he could communicate through, after first removing it from the machine entirely to render HADES still helpless and incapable of further harm.
    • Said stinger also heavily implies that Sylens and/or HADES will be the primary villains of the sequel. While this thread is the main thrust of the game in the early hours, neither end up happening: Sylens is yet again a sly but ultimately neutral character in the background like the first game, while HADES is killed before the first act of the game is even over, since Sylens only needed it for information, not power. Replacing HADES is HEPHAESTUS from the Frozen Wilds DLC, and that's not getting into the reveal of the Zeniths shortly after HADES' death.
    • For much of the game, it's assumed that Far Zenith are the ones that sent the extinction signal that self-actualised HADES and the rest of the GAIA sub functions and caused the gradual collapse of the biosphere, and they're coming to Earth to finish the job personally now that that's failed out of a selfish desire to rebuild the planet in their image. However, right after killing off every member of the group bar Tilda, it's revealed that Far Zenith were actually planning escape vectors away from Earth and were planning to leave once they'd gained a copy of the full GAIA terraforming AI. The Zeniths don't care about rebuilding Earth: the planet was merely a waypoint on their attempts to flee from the real threat—Nemesis, a malevolent AI bent on their destruction, which sent the signal to destroy the planet before Far Zenith could arrive to deny them a safe haven, and is relentlessly following them to finish the job. Earth and the devastation that's been wrought from the derangement of the machines is merely collateral damage in the feud between these two forces.
    • When interrogating the captive and damaged AI HADES shortly before deleting him for good, Aloy questions him about the mysterious signal that self-actualised him and he states it was sent to him by his 'Masters'. Initially this leads into the belief that Far Zenith are the ones that sent the signal, but upon the reveal of Nemesis' true identity, it becomes clear that HADES was referring to the fact that the insane AI is a Hive Mind achieved through Brain Uploading.
    • When Aloy is exploring the abandoned Thebes bunker that Ted retreated to after killing the Alphas and deleting APOLLO, she discovered evidence and logs that he brought along a doctor who conducted experimental gene treatments on him to halt his ageing, desiring to live long enough to meet the Zero Dawn humans who would emerge eventually and guide them as to the follies of their ancestors. Does this mean Aloy is about to meet a still-living Ted faro and give him some long-overdue comeuppance? Nope, because it turns out Ted's gene experiments were incomplete, and ended up mutating him into a Genetic Abomination trapped in the bunker's power room for centuries. Does this mean we're about to have a boss fight with the Meat Moss that Ted's devolved into? Nope, because the Ceo, leader of the Quen and who fancies himself Ted's Reincarnation, does not take it well discovering what became of his 'past self' and orders his followers to burn the whole bunker down along with any witnesses, starting with Ted's twisted body. This triggers the Dead Man's Switch Ted installed in the Thebes bunker to prevent any of his fellow survivors turning on him for his role in destroying the world, leading to Aloy having to battle her way out of the collapsing ruin and the Ceo's soldiers instead.
    • The first game (and the beginnings of the second) may lead one to believe that Aloy would be wading through a whole land full of hostile warlike Tenakth tribals, but it turns out that they respect martial prowess (which Aloy has plenty of), she got an early reprieve by being granted passage from one of their Marshals, and her deeds done for the good of their tribe end up ingratiating her to everyone in the tribe short of Regalla's Rebels. First, she blunts Regalla's Embassy massacre by winning in a Trial By Champion, then she ensures the Kulrut trial to replenish Chief Hekarro's cadre of Marshals (and saves Hekarro's butt from a one-on-one fight with Regalla going bad), does a litany of minor quests for locals across the territory, and then she Flies upon the Wings of the Ten to finally thwart Regalla's rebellion for good.
      • The one Tenakth character in the first game is a Carja fugitive who is portrayed as not only utterly ruthless, but also allegedly drinks the blood of those she kills. As you progress through this game, several Tenakth characters go out of their way to dismiss this blood-drinking claim. Collectible lore establishes that blooddrinking is an archaic ritual that was banned decades ago, and was done with a reverence lost in translation.
  • Bare Midriffs Are Feminine: Averted. This is the current fashion among the Tenakth, male and female, though it's a little hard to tell because of all the body paint and tattoos. However, there are a number of outfits Aloy can don that heavily feature it despite being unisex in theory, most prominently the Carja Blazon armor.
  • Batman Gambit: Sylens's whole plan relies on stirring up a Tenakth rebellion by giving them override technology by proxy in exchange for them assaulting the Zenith's Specter army and the two of them wiping each other out. He also planned for the Zeniths to capture Aloy and use her to rebuild GAIA since she has Elisabet Sobeck's DNA. His plan starts falling apart when he finds out the Zeniths already have a clone, so they just try to kill Aloy instead since she's interfering with their own plans.
  • The Beastmaster: The Tenakth rebels ride overridden animal-like machines into battle, particularly the Clawstrider and Tremortusks. They actually get their overridden machines from the Sons of Prometheus, who were given the override tech by Sylens, much like the Shadow Carja.
  • BFG: Like the first game, Aloy can lug around considerably cumbersome but powerful weapons, often pried off of a machine. A number of old standbys (like the Ravager cannon or the Thunderjaw Disk Launcher) return, and a whole slew of new ones are introduced as well. Aloy can also lug around a smaller semi-BFG that she can holster and reload: the Boltblaster, a rapid-fire multi-armed crossbow that fires simplified metal shards as its bolts. It encumbers Aloy while unholstered, but not to the degree of the true heavy weapons. Perk tiers also now exist to boost (true) heavy weapons' damage and movement speed while carried.
  • Big Bad Ensemble: The game has five Big Bads acting autonomously that Aloy has to face, in contrast to HADES in Zero Dawn and HEPHAESTUS in The Frozen Wilds.
    • Gerard Bieri and Tilda van der Meer act as the game's main antagonists in the form of a Big Bad Duumvirate, who both want GAIA for their own reasons, with Gerard wanting it to remake Earth to his image for the Zeniths' comfort and with Tilda also using it to kidnap Aloy in her twisted plans for companionship by forcing her to betray her True Companions and leave Earth to Nemesis.
    • On the other side of the conflict there's Regalla, HEPHAESTUS and the Ceo. Regalla wants to wage war against the Carja, Ceo and the Quen want to mine data and attempt to locate GAIA's routines, while routinely targetting outsiders (whom they call "barbarians") and HEPHAESTUS attempting to upgrade the machines to make them much worse and more dangerous for humans.
  • Big Bad Duumvirate: Gerard and Tilda. Both want to take GAIA and leave Earth at the hands of Nemesis, though it borders to Teeth-Clenched Teamwork due to them having very different goals on leaving Earth to Nemesis. Gerard wants to steal it to remake Earth in his image, while Tilda wants to take Aloy and do the same thing with Gerard by forcing her to betray her own allies. However, it is clear that Tilda is the one who spearheaded this plan in the first place after Nemesis' terror in Sirius and Gerard was the one who led the Zeniths to Earth to take the working GAIA and her runaway functions. Both of them are equally important for Aloy to stop, albeit it was Tilda that Aloy needs to defeat at the end.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Regalla's rebellion has been quelched, ensuring the treaty between the Tenakth and the Carja. The Zeniths have been defeated once and for all and with their copy of APOLLO recovered, the Old Ones' knowledge is now freely accessible to those who know of it, GAIA having enough processing power to rein in the runaway terraforming system and push back the planet's collapse. However, HEPHAESTUS is still on the loose and was given a temporary power-boost from being in the Odyssey's systems, allowing the derangement to persist and more deadly hunter-killer machines to be built. A colonialist empire known as the Quen has access to the knowledge that Aloy gave Alva, including the existence of Aloy herself, GAIA, and the Zenith's technology. Not only that, but a newer, infinitely more deadly AI is on its way to Earth, Aloy and her team having very little time to prepare for it.
  • Blood Knight: Downplayed. The identity of Red Teeth, the legendarily good Tenakth gauntlet racer, is revealed to be Nil, the guy with whom Aloy cleared out bandit camps together in Zero Dawn. After they cleared all the bandits in the Sundom, Nil found out he had nothing left to direct his violence toward, disguised himself as a Tenakth, and headed West. Aloy is glad that he's using gauntlet racing to vent in a healthy way without killing people.
  • Boisterous Bruiser: Erend, as in the first game, only now as Aloy progresses the main quest he gets other people to be boisterous with, including stoking a friendly sparring rivalry with Zo and chumming up to resident Proud Warrior Race Guy Kotallo (to the point of trying to arm-wrestle his mechanical arm). He also bring a couple of kegs of Oseram ale from Chainscrape to share with the gang.
  • Book Ends: The game begins and ends with Aloy ascending a tower at a Far Zenith spaceport before fighting a powerful boss.
  • Both Sides Have a Point: The dispute in the Desert clan between Drakka and Yarra when their water supply is threatened. Yarra isn't wrong in her decision to ration water after their primary source is briefly cut off (she does have the whole clan to think about, after all), and Drakka's constant undermining of her and her authority isn't helping things. However, Drakka isn't wrong either, in that her lack of transparency about the problem, also not helped by her accusing Drakka of sabotage with little more than circumstantial evidence, calls into question her trustworthiness, and thus her qualification to command. In the end, it's left up to the player to decide who's ultimately right.
  • Boss Banter: Tilda does a bit of this during the fight with Specter Prime, though it mostly consists of her pleading that Aloy can't defeat her and for her to listen to reason.
  • Boss in Mook Clothing: The Focus states that Shellsnapper machines are level 27. The Focus lies. Shellsnappers are big enough to crush Aloy, (somehow) agile enough to jump on her, have very thick and extensive armor, a lot of health, and can shoot ice projectiles that either damage Aloy or create permanent spires of ice obstacles, in a game where mobility is paramount. Not to mention the fact that several relatively early-game quests have Shellsnappers as mandatory battles in situations where Aloy is practically guaranteed to be underleveled and underprepared to fight one. There is a strong argument to be made that Thunderjaws (level 30) are less dangerous than Shellsnappers.
  • Bragging Rights Reward: Fully upgrading a legendary weapon or suit of armor requires that Aloy track down dozens of Apex machines and harvest their parts, some of which do not always drop or can be destroyed during the fight. And that's just for one legendary item, trying to fully upgrade all of them requires killing so many Apex machines that you're left without anything worth using the weapons on—the final boss is tough but if you've already killed multiple Apex Fireclaws and Apex Slaughterspines they won't be a serious challenge.
  • Break Out the Museum Piece:
    • You do this a few times in the game pulling out resources and datafiles, and the Quen use an earlier model of Focus that takes up more of the side of the head compared to the most recent models.
    • Far Zenith aren't only the same people who departed earth a thousand years ago; they arrive in the same ship they left in. Even parked in space all that time, micrometeorite impacts and solar radiation would have been incredibly damaging to it. This is acknowledged in-story and part of their stop on Earth is refitting it for the long haul.
  • Brick Joke:
    • Early in the opening Far Zenith level, Aloy can make a grappling hook device that she names the Pullcaster, but she's audibly unsure about the name as she names it off the top of her head. Five minutes later you can find a Datapoint from an Oseram whose boss tried to make one himself and named it the "Hook and Pull". The writer says the name needs work.
    • At the beginning of the "Signals of the Sun" side quest, a Carja guard dragging a body brushes off a woman in peril by saying her death will be "self-inflicted". After Aloy saves the woman and mentions that her partner is dead because of her, she brushes off his death as "self-inflicted".
  • Broken Pedestal: Downplayed with Alva. The Quen are a culture of Precursor Worshippers that acknowledge their ancestors as humans with advanced technology, yet they still revere them as though they were prophets and saints. When Aloy invites her to the Base, she learns from their data about the truth behind Ted Faro and Far Zenith and realizes how inaccurate their culture was on the matter. Downplayed later on when Aloy and Alva recover the Leviathan data, and Alva learns about Eileen Sasaki and the efforts she took to undo the mistakes of her father. Eventually she comes to the conclusion that the Ancestors were neither flawless paragons nor evil demons; they were complicated human beings doing the best they could, just like her.
  • Build Like an Egyptian: Reflecting both his namesake and his ego, Ted Faro's apocalypse bunker Thebes was designed like an Ancient Egyptian temple (built underneath the Transamerica Pyramid, no less), complete with a giant statue of himself and a pair of Corruptors as a security system.
  • Call a Rabbit a "Smeerp":
    • Due to the history of this world, a lot of things we have in present day are given new names. Metalbite is acid, Blaze is biofuel, etc.
    • The description of some of the foods available for purchase from the various settlements indicates that they're real-world foods with new names. For example, Salted Haunch is pastrami while Meat-In-The-Middle is a hamburger.
  • Call-Back: When you visit your first Hunting Grounds in The Daunt, Thurlis mentions that the Tenakth claim they perfected the Carja's Hunting Grounds. This refers back to the Frozen Wilds DLC of Zero Dawn where Lauvuk of the Snowchants Hunting Grounds says that every tribe (Nora, Oseram, Banuk, etc) claims the Carja stole the Hunting Grounds idea from them.
  • Canned Orders over Loudspeaker: The leader of the Eclipse remnant, Vezreh, blasts a continuous loop of talking about how they will rise again, destroy Meridian, how he's transcended death, he's the greatest ruler of all time, etc inside his fortress. Aloy comments that he's obviously in love with the sound of his own voice.
  • Central Theme:
    • You can't do everything alone. This game hammers home that Aloy needs people around her to get things done as she is dealing with much higher stakes than in Zero Dawn.
    • Legacy is key to the main plot. Aloy is still struggling to live up to Elisabet's legacy (and it's even worse for Beta), the Tenakth are trying to follow a legacy of soldiers that they aren't even sure they learned correctly, a trio of Oseram delvers are unknowingly following in the legacy of Las Vegas and the dream to entertain, and of course the Quen literally call recovered data "the Legacy." Meanwhile, the villains have no legacy because they are immortals who never bothered making children or any other society, meaning they're the exact same selfish assholes who left Earth a thousand years ago—in fact made even more sociopathic by their apparent immortality.
    • Family. Many, many sidequests are about families. Family members reconciling from estrangement, family members asking Aloy to help them look out for each other, and carrying on your family's legacy. Aloy slowly builds up her own family, people she trusts and always comes back to, where before she only ever had Rost (who is brought up several times, and not forgotten). It turns out that she actually has biological family as well - Beta, another clone of Elisabet Sobeck, who was raised in complete isolation and sharply contrasts with Aloy, who was at least raised by a loving father figure. They, too, fight, struggle to understand each other, and eventually reconcile.
    • Originals and Forgeries. Aloy and Beta are both clones of Elisabet Sobeck and they both struggle with living up to her legacy. When Aloy's allies discover the truth behind her birth, they briefly marvel at their similarities, but otherwise acknowledge that they are their own individual people regardless of genetics. Far Zenith on the other hand sees them as nothing more than xerox copies of Elisabet, with Tilda seeing Beta as an "inferior copy" and Aloy a better replacement. At the end, it's revealed that the true threat to Earth is Nemesis, a "failed" digitized copy of Far Zenith's collective minds that festered into a Digital Abomination who turned against its creators. This theme is best illustrated in two of the paintings in Tilda's art collection; Woman Reading a Letter by Johannes Vermeer and Woman Reading Music by Han van Meegeren. The latter was made as a forgery to Vermeer that gained acclaim in the artists's lifetime, while the original was not acknowledged until after Vermeer died in obscurity. Tilda claims that its deception inspired her to create software that helped identify forgeries.
  • Chekhov's Boomerang: Aloy mentions to Varl about the prudence about keeping a spare Focus and maintaining backups in its data stores, considering how fragile the little things are. After learning that Sylens was spying on her, Aloy destroyed her focus and started using a new one. it's revealed later in the plot that Tilda found and repaired the original, using it to view Aloy's life experiences and leads to Tilda developing an obsession with her.
  • Chekhov's Gun: In the prologue, Aloy explains to the newly Focus-equipped Varl that he can back up his data to spare Foci. Later on, after a moment of being fed up with Sylens' machinations and his spying through her Focus, she tosses the Spyware-infested Focus on the ground, stomps it, and puts on a new Focus.
  • Cherry Tapping: Throwing rocks is usually used to distract enemies who aren't aware of Aloy's presence, but hitting an enemy with a rock will deal 1 point of damage to them. It's actually possible to kill enemies this way.
  • Civil War:
    • When Aloy ventures into the Forbidden West, she finds that the Tenakth tribe is in the midst of a civil war between the main tribe led by Hekarro and a rebel faction led by Regalla, as both sides disagree over whether to open peaceful relations with the Carja.
    • Aloy comes across numerous historical references to the "Hot Zone Crisis", which was an event in the 2030's where the American southwest experienced a massive heatwave. The government attempted to force a region-wide evacuation of the area, sparking an armed conflict where residents of California, Nevada, and Arizona resisted relocation. The crisis apparently ended once methods of lowering the extreme temperatures in the area were discovered.
  • Clipped-Wing Angel: One of the Slitherfangs that Aloy drops a rusted space shuttle on is Not Quite Dead, and she must finish it off.
  • Clone Angst: Aloy does experience some angst from having to 'live up to' Elisabet's high bar example as the woman who saved the world and her own lack of success on the front ever since the scope of the task was made apparent to her. She's also shocked by the appearance of another clone of Elisabet Sobeck, under the control of Far Zenith, who turns out to have an even more severe case of this for being deemed not close enough to Elisabet in character and personality by one of the Zeniths who knew her. Aloy holding the second clone, Beta, to the same impossibly-high standard as herself is the cause of much of their initial conflict, and Beta holding herself to that standard and knowing painfully well how she falls short of it is the source of much of her anxiety. However, in the end they learn to see each other as sisters and distinct people separate from both each other and Elisabet.
  • Color Motif: Red. The Blight is red, the falling stars Sylens sees at one point are red, the overridden robots are red, the ominous storm is crackling with red lightning, and Aloy is, of course, a Red-Headed Hero.
  • Common Tongue: This trope gets examined in a Datapoint that explains why everyone speaks the same language even across different continents: after the APOLLO program was erased by Ted Faro, the Zero Dawn programs were only able to teach their default language as part of basic education, and the extra-curricular languages from later on were never taught. Cleverly, the Datapoint never says which language (English, Arabic, French, etc) was the default one, meaning that whatever language the player set in the console's system menu is the one that Zero Dawn taught.
  • Conservation of Detail:
    • While the opening Far Zenith level could be excused as a really cool expansion of the Zero Dawn Datapoints, several more Datapoints after that continue to mention them and the Odyssey. Naturally, the Death's Door mission reveals them to be the major antagonists of the game.
    • Similarly, the fact that Carrie-Anne Moss, a major celebrity, voices one of the Zeniths is a giveaway that she'll be far more important than any of the others, who don't have such star power behind them.
  • Convection, Schmonvection: Aloy has to escape from a bunker after its geothermal power core melts down and starts flooding it with magma. She only takes damage from the magma when touching it.
  • Cool and Unusual Punishment: What kind of torture does Sylens subject an AI bent on world destruction like HADES to? Forcing it to watch holographic imagery of plants and animals thriving; the more vivid, the better. According to his notes, a loop depicting rabbits hopping through a field of flowers "produced paroxysms of agony." It's enough to corrupt the AI's internal data structures and render it an almost mindless husk.
  • Cool Versus Awesome: Even moreso than the first game, given the focus on a "cavemen" (Aloy and crew) vs. astronauts battle.
  • Crate Expectations: Crates can float, stack on each other, be climbed, and be pulled by the Pullcaster. All of these traits are important in the relic puzzles incorporating them.
  • Creator Provincialism: There is a lengthy section where Tilda van der Meer gives a detailed explanation of her collection of Dutch art to Aloy, explaining her fascination with the art of her own culture and giving each work a bit of historical context. Guerrilla Games is based in the Netherlands, so a lot of this information was probably already known to the developers.
  • Cross-Referenced Titles: The second level of the main quest is titled "The Point of the Lance", in reference to the third main quest of the first game, "The Point of the Spear."
  • Cruel Elephant: The mammoth-esque Tremortusks are extremely dangerous even in the wild, being both heavily armed and heavily armored.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Far Zenith gets on the receiving end of this once Beta unleashes HEPHAESTUS into the Zenith base systems on Aloy's direction. Upon accessing the Zeniths' industrial-scale machine printer, it cranks out an army of Slaughterspines and Thunderjaws, each being built in seconds, that make short work of their army of Specters.
  • Curb Stomp Cushion: Regalla's attack at the Embassy results in all but one Marshall killed, including Fashav, who was returning home to Carja territory to become an intermediary between the Carja and the Tenakth. Several high-ranked Carja civilian and military members are also slaughtered. However, Aloy has become sterner stuff in the face of the Dynamic Entry of the enemy tribal faction since Eclipse attacked the Nora Proving, and kills Regalla's overconfident Champion in a duel. Aloy still has plenty of fight left in her when Regalla retreats, her job done.
  • Cutscene Incompetence: Aloy just stands by not reacting during the cutscene when Regalla's forces attack the Embassy. It isn't until she and Varl are the only ones left that she starts to actually fight.
  • Darkness Equals Death: Apex machines appear more commonly at night, making combat encounters especially ruthless on higher difficulties.
  • Darkest Hour: The immediate aftermath of the quest GEMINI saw the Far Zeniths utterly ruining Aloy and her team's plan to capture HEPHEASTUS, resulting in Varl being killed by Erik, Beta, GAIA, and HEPHAESTUS getting captured by the Far Zeniths, and Aloy being presumed dead by her friends. The only saving grace is that Tilda, one of the Zeniths, defected and saved Aloy from certain death, and even then it's apparent that she has ulterior motives for doing so.
  • Damage-Increasing Debuff:
    • Acid reduces the protection of machine armor by 80%, causes armor to fall off, and causes a minor damage over time effect.
    • The Frozen/Brittle state slows machines and humans down, negates armor, and increases physical damage received by up to 300%.
    • Purgewater buildup causes the drenched condition, which increases all elemental damage. Naturally, many of the machines that have Purgewater attacks also have additional elemental attacks. When machines become drenched, in addition to becoming more vulnerable to elemental damage, their attacks will do no elemental damage. The Drenched state also makes targets more vulnerable to Shock and Frost buildup, even if they're normally resistant to it.
  • Damage-Sponge Boss: Erik Visser is essentially an incredibly strong human enemy with some deadly laser attacks, and it'll take a while for him to go down.
  • Dead-Hand Shot: The last we see any of Tilda herself is her limp hand dropping out of a breach in the wreckage of the Specter Prime mecha-suit after Aloy defeats her in the final boss fight.
  • Decapitated Army: A new mechanic added for this game: some Rebel Outposts (Forbidden West's equivalent of the first game's Bandit Camps) are instantly cleared as soon as Aloy finds and kills the Rebel Leader. Subverted in that the rebels don't immediately become any less threatening after their leader dies, but they'll abandon their outpost as soon as Aloy leaves. If she returns to the outpost later, she'll find it occupied by friendly Tenakth.
  • Degraded Boss: Most of the large machines in the game appear as a boss fight during a main or side quest and is sometimes given a large, empty arena to fight in, meaning that any large machine encountered in the overworld is one of these.
  • Destructive Saviour: Aloy Lampshades her tendency to wreak ancient ruins in the process of navigating them when tearing down multiple walls with her Pullcaster in order to climb an ancient and derelict Carja signal tower to scavenge the valuable lenses located at the top on a side quest.
    Aloy: I am really busting up this place.
  • Determinator: Aloy claims the title once again with her mission statement. Forbidden West deconstructs this outlook since she does so at the neglect of her friendships.
    Aloy: There's nothing I wouldn't do to save this world; no depth I won't explore, no secret I won't unlock, no barrier I won't cross.
  • Developer's Foresight: A great many of the conversations you can have with characters will account for where they and Aloy are in their stories. Certain conversation wheel options will light up white again to reflect this if you want to go through the scene a second time, and can often only be seen if you intentionally check up on involved characters even though the game never tells you to:
    • For an early example, talking with Petra in Chainscrape's tavern about Ulvund will change depending on whether you've started the Bristleback investigation yet, or completed it and ran Ulvund out of town, where she's promoted to Mayor in his place.
    • After gaining a new ability, Aloy will directly call out that she can now bypass related obstacles she saw earlier, but in the unlikely event the player didn't find any, she doesn't mention it.
    • Certain early side quests in The Daunt will have characters call out if Aloy uses the Sunwing mount to fly, even though the player would have had to ignore them for almost the entire game in order for that to happen.
    • In the side quest "Breaking Even," if you clear out the Rockbreaker in the tunnel before speaking to Porguf, you can identify it as the cause of the tunnel collapse. And if you complete the quest before completing Talanah's first quest, there will be a memorial set up in the eastern end of the tunnel which Aloy will remark on.
    • Aloy will be very harsh when conversing with Beta if you speak to her before they bond prior to going to Cauldron GEMINI. Afterwards, Aloy becomes much more friendly while speaking to her sister.
    • In the side quest "Boom or Bust," Aloy's answer to Delah's question about whether she has any siblings will differ depending on whether she's bonded with Beta.
  • Difficult, but Awesome:
    • The new Shredder Gauntlet class of weapons qualifies. It acts like a high-tech boomerang that you launch with a jai alai mitt, which only returns if you hit your target. Each time you catch a returning shredder, its damage increases on the next throw, and if you manage to catch it three times in a row it explodes on the fourth throw, doing massive damage. That said, the count resets if you miss either the throw or the catch, and the return trajectory is unpredictable, so you need a keen eye and quick reflexes to get the most out of it. Especially since you're dodging enemy attacks while simultaneously trying to get in the path of the returning shredder, and if you get hit, you have to start all over again.
    • As far as elemental damage, you have the new Plasma type. After you build up enough to trigger the elemental state, you then need to do enough damage to fill up the detonation bar before the timer runs out. The resulting explosion can do a ton of damage if done right, but it takes a very specific playstyle with a somewhat niche application.
  • Dig Attack: Both Rockbreakers and Slitherfangs can tunnel under the ground at a moment's notice, but Rockbreakers have this as their primary attack, either doing a series of bursts from directly underneath Aloy or a huge sliding lunge that exposes their digging claw weak points. Shellsnappers can do this as well, but are much slower with tunneling underground.
  • Disc-One Nuke:
    • From a fast travel perspective, this is what happens when you get access to The Base at the end of the game's first act. Normally you have to use either a Fast Travel Pack or get to a Campfire to Fast Travel. However, fast travel via The Base is free from anywhere on the map, and it drops you off right next to a Campfire. Thus you can fast travel anywhere for free by going to The Base first and then using the Campfires there to zip to where you really wanted to go. This is even better on the PlayStation 5 thanks to the system's extremely short load times.
    • Several Legendary Weapons are available at the Arena about halfway into the game and are among the best in the game, but require fighting through some incredibly difficult challenges to afford even one of them (they also cost cash to enter, but some Save Scumming solves that issue). This is also mitigated by the fact that upgrading these weapons requires killing rare machines you probably haven't found yet, mostly of the rare Apex variety.
  • Disguised in Drag: Apparently, this was how Ersa managed to sneak out from the Mad Sun-King's palace; by dressing up as a Carja Noblewoman, which she hated doing and only agreed to if Avad did it as well.
  • Distressed Dude: One mission has Aloy saving Erend from Tenakth rebels. Another has her rescuing Morlund from a Stormbird after his "Elevating Orb" test flight goes awry.
  • Do Well, But Not Perfect: Like in Zero Dawn, acquiring certain machine resources requires this, in particular Sac Webbing. Elemental Sacs are often the largest and most appealing targets because hitting them will deal a massive elemental explosion and deal tons of damage... but if you do that, you can't get the Sac Webbing when you eventually do kill the machine. Not helping is that these are often the single largest and easiest-to-hit parts!
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: The Quen are a thriving Empire who send an expedition to the North American continent — the people sent there suffering from sickness, starvation and their pompous, aristocratic benefactor — on a religious mission under the assumption that they themselves are The Chosen People destined to colonize the land and claim its resources for their own, believing the native inhabitants to be nothing but mindless savages. The only meaningful difference between this and the colonization of America in the 16th century (aside from the obvious) is that while the Spanish and the British went West on the Atlantic Ocean, the Quen went East on the Pacific Ocean.
    • Sylens giving advanced weaponry to a partisan group in exchange for loyalty mirrors many real life proxy wars.
  • Doing In the Wizard: Invoked. While examples done In-Universe are all Internal Reveals since both Aloy and the player would already know the origins of their strictly technological world, Aloy's various allies who are given Focuses and become familiar with the Base and GAIA are given a hefty plate of this trope.
    • It starts with Varl, who compares GAIA to the Goddess the Nora worship and humor the idea that they are the same, eventually growing out of this mindset the more familiar he becomes with the concept of AI and the Old One's ways.
    • Zo in turn gets a bitter dose of it when she, Aloy, and Varl end up having to kill one of the Plowhorns that the Utaru revere as "Land-Gods" after HEPHAESTUS perverted it into the prototype Grimhorn. She eventually gets a grip on it, and hatches a plan with GAIA to manually reprogram the remaining Land-Gods without needing the utility of HEPHAESTUS, stopping them from sowing Red Blight in Plainsong's fields and go back to sowing crops.
  • Domesticated Dinosaurs: Dinosaur machines, to be exact but it counts.
    • The Tenakth rebels have the ability to ride the raptor-esque Clawstriders.
    • The Utaru have their "Land Gods": non-hostile Plowhorns (mechanical Triceratops) who till the soil and plant seeds behind them.
    • Eventually, Aloy gains the ability to Override the pterodactyl-like Sunwings and mount them to fly across the Forbidden West.
  • Dumb Muscle: Erend. He worries that he's not helping Aloy that much because their mission requires technical, historical and scientific know-how and all he can do is hit the bad guys with his hammer. Luckily, he plays a crucial part in the final battle by using his brawn to carry Sylens's secret weapon on his back.
  • Dungeon Bypass: New Game Plus starts Aloy off with all the special tools she acquired over the course of the game, letting her bypass some of the early puzzle and exploration sequences by using the Shieldwing, Igniter, Diving Mask, or Vine Cutter.
    • Averted in the quests where the Igniter and Vine Cutter are obtained. Those tools are temporarily disabled until the appropriate part of the quest where those tools are used to clear the obstacle. While the Diving Mask still has to be reassembled during the POSEIDON quest, its use is not disabled at any point.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: The opening Far Zenith facility has two Datapoints that discuss the Ninmah facility and Thebes, both of which are story-important levels later in the game.
  • Early Game Hell: On Ultra Hard. Basically, everything will One-Hit Kill you and all of the weapons you find deal piddling damage. Plus, several early-game quests have large machines that are relatively overleveled for their location, turning a decent challenge on Normal into a constant struggle for survival. The "Toughened" Valor Surge is invaluable in this regard, since it means you will stop getting one-shot and have passively regenerating health for a decently long amount of time. Justified, as Ultra Hard difficulty was intended as a challenge for players starting a New Game Plus with all of their fully upgraded legendary weapons and armor they earned in a previous playthrough.
  • Eiffel Tower Effect: A shot in the reveal trailer recreates the iconic Tunnel View of the Yosemite Valley with Aloy climbing on a rock formation that doesn't exist in real life.
    • Literally with the ruins of the Paris Las Vegas Casino Hotel.
  • The Elites Jump Ship: Despite Project Far Zenith being billed as the first step into humanity's future, it was hijacked so that the rich and powerful could escape what they saw as a dying world. Even though they caused most of those problems they were running from.
  • Elite Mook: Apex machines are more powerful versions of standard machines: stronger, tougher, have altered elemental strengths and weaknesses, different elemental canisters, and are immune to Aloy's override ability. They spawn randomly in place of standard versions of machines, with higher chances of spawning based on how many of the regular ones Aloy has destroyed. These are analogous to the Daemonic machines in the first game's Frozen Wilds DLC, as machines with purple highlights that HEPHAESTUS has augmented to combat human predation.
  • Embarrassing Statue: When Aloy returns to Meridian in the first part of the game, she finds the Sun King there with gifts in honor of her service, a War Memorial to those who fell in the Final Battle of Horizon Zero Dawn, and a statue of herself. This turns out to be a downplayed example In-Universe, as the sculptor wanted to embellish it with gold and jewels, but Sun King Avad talked him out of it. Aloy is still clearly embarrassed by the thing regardless.
  • Equipment-Hiding Fashion: Patch 1.14 added the ability to swap armor appearances, allowing players to reap the benefits of one armor while retaining the appearance of another.
  • Evil Versus Evil:
    • It's eventually revealed that Sylens taught Regalla how to hack machines and build her army (albeit through an Oseram proxy) to use them as cannon-fodder against Far Zenith.
    • While HEPHAESTUS and Far Zenith do cross paths, it's under entirely antagonistic terms. Far Zenith hope to merge HEPHAESTUS with their version of GAIA to gain control of the Mechanical Lifeforms populating the planet, while Aloy unleashes HEPHAESTUS onto Far Zenith to cripple their technological advantage not unlike a Computer Virus.
  • Exact Words:
    • When Aloy confronts Sylens over his deception of her regarding his rigged lance after deleting HADES for good, he states that he's been spending the intervening months since the battle of the Alight devoted to researching the information he gained from HADES, claiming it's critical to 'the fate of this planet'. Aloy sarcastically quips that he just wants to save the world like her and Elisabet. Sylens notably looks aside whilst saying she's correct, and it turns out in the conclusion that he was actually trying to find a way off-planet so he could preserve Earth's existing culture and use the GAIA terraforming system to create a new Earth on a different planet, once Nemesis had arrived and scoured the old one bare in its twisted pursuit of Far Zenith. Sylens was trying to find an option that allowed him to preserve Earth's history without actually saving the planet itself, as he considers it a lost cause against something like Nemesis.
    • Tekotteh says that the Sky Clan will not aid Hekarro so long as they, personally, are safe behind the Bulwark. So Aloy blows it up, now making the Bulwark unsafe for them to hide behind.

    F-J 
  • Feed the Mole: Far Zenith's stolen copy of GAIA is a fake. Their mole in Project Zero Dawn got found out, and HADES team Alpha Travis Tate fed them a logic bomb instead, wrapped in his own juvenile tell-off message, topped off with a vulgar salute.
  • Fertile Feet: Plowhorns are essentially walking tractors; tilling the soil and planting fast-growing seeds behind them. There's even a common Utaru blessing: "May the land bloom in your steps."
  • Flawed Prototype: Sylens's prototype anti-Zenith shield disruptor exploded shortly after use, killing its operators, though it did succeed in nullifying Verbena Sutter's shield and rendering her vulnerable to a Tenakth Rebel's machete into the gut.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • The game's main key artwork shown above has a Sunwing flying above Aloy, with at least one of them visible in all the other promotional art pieces. A significant plot point is Aloy being gifted the override codes for the machine line by Beta, giving her the ability to control them, and through them, the power of Flight, enabling her to thwart Regalla's final assault on the Tenakth.
    • When doing the recap of Zero Dawn when playing the game for the first time, Sylens says that he's made a new discovery, that 'heralds both destruction and opportunity'. He reveals at the end of the game that through HADES, he learned about Nemesis, the crazed AI that transmitted the extinction signal that started the Derangement, and is heading to Earth in pursuit of its creators, Far Zenith, the remnants of the Old Ones who accidentally twisted it into insanity. Sylens considers the machine intelligence that devastated a highly-advanced colony world in a matter of hours to be a Hopeless War with Earth's current technological levels, but is aware that Far Zenith are heading to Earth to secure the GAIA terraforming system to enable them to terraform other worlds far away from the doomed planet. Thus his overarching goal throughout the game is to secure their ship to flee Earth before they find what they need and leave.
    • The Announcement trailer has Sylens looking contemplatively at some Flaming Meteors burning in the atmosphere as they approach Earth before turning his attention to some Tenakth rebels successfully overriding a machine under his supervision. This foreshadows Sylens' goals and motivations for his actions throughout Forbidden West. He's aware that a threat from the stars is coming to Earth—first Far Zenith, then the crazed AI Nemesis that's chasing them, looking to destroy its masters regardless of the collateral damage it inflicts along its way. To that end, Sylens hopes to flee what he believes is a doomed planet, aware that Far Zenith's ship is his only option with Earth's current technology, and they won't be willing to offer him a spot on board. Therefore, he's arming and bolstering the forces of the rebels to make an army capable of killing or distracting Far Zenith long enough for for him to steal their ship, the working copy of the GAIA terraforming system they've been assembling, and basically hijacking their plan to flee the planet before Nemesis arrives.
    • Though it won't be obvious what exactly it is on a first look, the game's main menu has the silhouette of the Far Zenith base in the background, hinting at the arrival of beings with greater technology than can be created on Earth.
    • When finding Sylens' workshop underneath the Horus Titan where he interrogated HADES, Aloy can find a Datapoint where he catalogs his gradual torturing of his captive over the course of several days, seeking the answers to what caused HADES to go rogue and who his masters are. Upon finally getting the answers, Sylens noted that they were 'terrifying' even for somebody as detached as him. Learning that there's a Digital Abomination on its way to Earth and prepared to scour it barren just to catch up to its few remaining targets is a sobering prospect to consider, even for Sylens. Sylens considers fighting Nemesis to be such a non-option his ultimate goal throughout the game is simply fleeing the planet outright, as difficult as that would be to the inhabitant of a world made up of primitive tribal structures, because he sincerely believes that it's the only option Earth's history and culture has to survive at all.
    • When she confronts Sylens over his deception of her with his rigged lance after deleting HADES for good, he reveals the location he lured her to is a HADES testing facility that perfected his extinction protocols using backups of GAIA, sealed away from outside remote contact so there's no chance that Ted Faro could have damaged the data held within. When Aloy shows reluctance to venture inside in case she exposes the GAIA backup to the extinction signal that started the derangement and the A.I.s self-actualisation, Sylens confidently states that the signal stopped transmitting years ago and there's no chance of it starting up again, only reluctantly admitting that the details are 'complicated' beyond the fact that the Signal needed HADES to work properly. Sylens knows that Nemesis is on its way to the planet to finish the job it started personally and has no reason to send another signal, but he cannot afford to inform Aloy of this before she reassembles the GAIA terraforming system.
    • While fighting against Erik, he whistles Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. This foreshadows that he and the other Zeniths Aloy just met aren't from Earth, and are in fact from another star system.
    • While exploring through the Ninmah Research Lab, you can find a Datapoint discussing the Far Zenith's abandonment of digital transcendance, as this would be "decades" away, with several more Datapoints on the Isle of Spires further hitting on this topic closer to the end of the game. This foreshadows the existence of Nemesis, the digital Hive Mind of the rest of the Zeniths and the ultimate Big Bad of the series.
    • When Aloy first meets Tilda, Tilda mentions how she and Elisabet broke up because Tilda wanted a closer relationship, and Elisabet didn't. This is, ultimately, what starts the final battle between Tilda and Aloy - Tilda wants to flee Earth with Aloy by her side, while Aloy wants to save the planet. Furthermore, when examinining Tilda's art collection, her explanations of why she loves them give the player an idea of what kind of person she really is, and casts a lot of doubt into what her relationship to Elisabet truly was.
    • Kotallo's commentary as he grouses about Sky Clan Commander Tekkoteh's conniving stubbornness foreshadows how the commander's arm will be figuratively twisted into compliance. Kotallo mentions how the Bulwark gives many in the Sky Clan a false sense of security, and how he'd sooner be able to move mountains than break Tekkoteh's prideful stubbornness. In the end, Aloy breaks the Bulwark, a pile of boulders on the side of a mountain, breaking the Bulwark's air of invincibility.
    • Aloy and GAIA discuss the plan on confronting the Zeniths once they have HEPHAESTUS reintegrated: sic a horde of combat machines churned out of all the local Cauldrons at them. Though the details of how that came to fruition are different, a horde of Slaughterspines, Thunderjaws, and Dreadwings were brought down upon the Zeniths' host of Specter drones in the end. Out of the Zeniths' own machine printer facility.
    • Talanah mentions that being in love with someone is more complicated and frightening than fighting a Thunderjaw. This is the same game where Aloy meets Seyka. While dealing with a Horus is no big deal to her, her feelings for Seyka leave her nervous and tongue-tied.
  • Flaming Meteor: Downplayed; at one point of the announcement trailer, Sylens watches a group of burning red meteors fall towards the Earth in the distance. This is actually Foreshadowing about the threat that comes from the stars that he's preparing for— first Far Zenith, then Nemesis.
  • Flight Is the Final Power: Gaining the Sunwing override is near the end of the game, and is instrumental in the penultimate main story mission where Aloy decisively thwarts Regalla's final assault on the Memorial Grove by air-bombing them with a Horus EMP bomb dropped via Sunwing. The Tenakth have an impossible spiritual aspiration to "Fly on the Wings of the Ten", and Aloy's achievement of this cements her place in Tenakth legend much as her defeating the Buried Shadow (aka HADES) has for the Carja, or becoming Anointed has for the Nora. From then on this is reflected on Aloy's new mouthful of a title, "She Who Flies on the Wings of the Ten."
  • Foreign Culture Fetish: Morlund is obsessed with the ancient light shows of old Las Vegas. His grandfather had managed to find an intact hologram while delving and used it to put together a theatric light show, and now Morlund's dream is to reclaim the secrets of the city to once again dazzle the world. By the time Aloy has finished helping him, the lights of the city have been turned back on, and Morlund is well on his way to making Hidden Ember into a tourist attraction just as famous as Vegas.
  • Foreshadowing: When Aloy asks Bohai and the Ceo about why they're so obsessed with getting into Thebes when they already have the data they were after, Bohai explains in an awkward stilted manner while casting nervous glances at the Ceo. We later learn that the Ceo considers himself the reincarnation of Ted Faro, and that the obsession is part of his mania.
  • Freudian Trio: The Oseram trio Aloy encounters in Vegas line up with this nicely. Morlund is the Id, seeking to amaze and dazzle people with his light shows and acting very emotional and flamboyant. Abadund is the Superego, being cold, serious and constantly worrying about the group's finances (especially how Morlund is using them). Finally, Stemmur is aloof and distant to both of them, preferring to comment on a situation by waxing lyrical than directly confronting either.
  • From Bad to Worse: This game somehow makes Ted Faro even worse. Exploring the Thebes base crushes any doubt that killing the Alphas and deleting APOLLO was done more to protect his image than protecting the newly minted humanity from the mistakes of the past.
  • Gameplay and Story Integration: HEPHAESTUS makes deadlier Apex versions of existing machines because humans become adept at killing them. This is reflected in-game: racking up kills for a specific machine will cause their Apex versions to show up and become more common.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation:
    • When Aloy first meets Hekarro, she responds to his request for assistance against Regalla that she isn't here to fight his civil war for him. By the time Aloy gets to the Memorial Grove to meet Hekarro, the typical player is likely to have found several of Regalla's bases and destroyed them for the sidequest rewards. Though, that could be the reason why Hekarro wants Aloy's assistance against her and Aloy wants to clarify that robbing those bases of their supplies for was her own purposes, not his.
    • Aloy can have her bones broken by every single giant machine she encounters and dispel the effect with the chug of a single potion, but when she gets caught in the destruction of the HADES proving lab, it takes her weeks to recover from a couple of broken ribs after getting washed downstream.
    • In the final battle against Regalla's rebels, Aloy drops a Horus power cell on Regalla's army that instantly kills all of their machines, including at least three Tremortusks. Outside of this cutscene, Horus power cells only put any machine into an instantaneous shocked state, similar to rappelling off a Tallneck.note 
    • There is a Machine Strike table in Legacy's Landfall, the Quen settlement on the Isle of Spires. Machine Strike is a Tenakth game, and the Quen regard everyone from the North American continent as barbarians, so there is no explanation for how the Quen know how to play Machine Strike.
  • Get a Room!: In one convo Erend gets annoyed with Varl and Zo's flirting in the Base and tells them to leave him alone:
    Zo: The Old Ones liked to dance.
    Varl: Well, they didn't have two left feet, like I do.
    Zo: I could teach you.
    Varl: Don't tempt me.
    Erend: (sitting nearby) By the forge, find an inn and leave me alone.
  • Giant Enemy Crab: Shell-Walkers return, re-fulfilling their purpose as transport machines with huge capsules of goodies on their backs which you can loot if you don't destroy it.
  • Giant Space Flea from Nowhere: Sometimes the game will make you fight a giant machine just for fighting a giant machine's sake. Egregious examples include two times in Talanah's questline, where a Shellsnapper appears in the way of the objective for no reason and Aloy finds Amadis in the process of fighting a Fireclaw.
  • Godzilla Threshold: In order to defeat Far Zenith's small army of Specters without the massive casualties that Sylens' plan would have caused, Aloy attacks the base with a handful of allies and instructs Beta to install the captured HEPHAESTUS into the base's printing technology from within (instead of reintegrating into GAIA for which they have no time to do) to have it instantly create an army of machines to overwhelm Far Zenith's superior technology with numbers. Aloy is aware that the crazed AI will escape again into the digital network after they finally succeeded in containing it, needing its functions particularly to permanently halt the gradual destruction of Earth and repeating the feat might not be possible in the remaining time they have left before Earth's biosphere crosses the point of no return, not to mention the derangement of the machines will continue worse than ever before. However, she has no other way to defeat Far Zenith that wouldn't require mass sacrifices from the tribes and no time to stop Far Zenith from leaving the planet.
  • Gotta Catch Them All: Early on Aloy finds that the last surviving backup of GAIA doesn't have clean copies of the subordinate AIs, so she goes on a quest to track down the rogue copies in the hopes that she can rebuild GAIA from the pieces. It's also Subverted, as moments before she found said copy, she found and permanently deleted HADES from the container Sylens trapped him inside, meaning she can't assemble all the sub-functions anymore. That said, since the biosphere is functioning perfectly well for human life, with the ecological collapse being more due to the lack of oversight from GAIA's governing intelligence, HADES' purpose to reset the failed biosphere had become obsolete, and since he's been heavily altered by the Extinction signal that caused the whole mess, plugging HADES back into a 'clean' copy of GAIA was arguably too great a risk to take. By the end of the game, she has successfully captured, repaired and reintegrated all of the subordinate AIs apart from HEPHAESTUS (which she was forced to release after capturing in order to fight Zenith) and the now-extinct HADES back into GAIA.
  • Grappling-Hook Pistol: When investigating the Far Zenith facility in the prologue, Aloy comes across a group of scavenging Oseram that were attacked and killed by a new breed of machine called the Slitherfang. Scavenging parts from their devastated camp, Aloy is able to build a prototype creation called the Pullcaster, a wrist-mounted grappling device that allows her to pull objects towards her or vice-versa, cross gaps and climb upwards more easily.
  • The Great Flood: The description of blue dye flowers notes that Utaru tell stories of an ancient flood, after which the flowers grew where the waters had reached their highest.
  • The Great Serpent: A machine called a Slitherfang, a giant mechanical cobra so big it can wrap around the ruins.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Aloy's plan to defeat Far Zenith when her allies invade their base is to have Beta upload HEPHAESTUS to FZ's servers/machine printers. This creates an army of machines that kills most of the Far Zenith crew.
  • Hidden Agenda Villain: Even though Far Zenith seem to be the types to purge the current Earth and build another, that plan doesn't make much sense with how much work it would take. It isn't until later we find out their real goal: running from Nemesis, a Hive Mind made up of the rest of the Zeniths.
  • Hijacked by Ganon: Regalla's rebel army, the game's secondary antagonists who serve as The Usual Adversaries for most of the game similar to Eclipse, turn out to be yet another violent uprising movement secretly created by Sylens, just like Eclipse, for his own purposes; in this case to take over the Tenakth tribe in order to form an army large enough to defeat Far Zenith.
  • Historical Hero Upgrade: In-Universe. The Quen believe that Ted Faro was the one responsible for Project Zero Dawn (Elisabet downgraded to someone who "helped" him achieve this) and Far Zenith were a group of exceptional people who singlehandedly founded all areas of Quen culture, unaware that Ted Faro was the one who destroyed the Earth and nearly destroyed Zero Dawn out of pride and despair, and Far Zenith were all self-serving cowards who fled from a mess they helped create.
  • History Repeats: We find out late in the game that Far Zenith is running from Nemesis, a failed experimental A.I of their own creation that destroyed their colony and wants them dead for how it was treated by them. Far Zenith ran from Earth to avoid a rogue A.I that was destroying the planet (the Faro Plague), and ended up losing their home to another rogue A.I that destroyed their planet. Also, both the Plague and Nemesis could have been stopped with just a lick of common sense, in the form of a master override for the Plague and hitting the delete button on Nemesis.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Once again, some enemy machines may have forcibly detachable weapons that Aloy can then swipe up and turn on their former wielders. A wider array of weapons are now available, even from some returning foes; for example, the Stalker's insta-hit dart gun atop its shoulders can now be detached and used against it.
  • Hopeless Boss Fight: Aloy has handled machines the size of small hills, insane cultists out for her blood, and destroyed hundreds of mechanical and organic enemies in her way throughout her adventures thus far, but she finds herself hopelessly outmatched against Erik Visser, The Brute of Far Zenith: the mysterious masters that apparently sent the signal that caused GAIA's sub-functions to become self-aware and caused the derangement. Not only is he clad in a full-body forcefield that she can't even scratch, his strength and speed is enhanced by technology that is so advanced it borders on magic. Erik can leap around the arena in a single bound, use Spontaneous Weapon Creation as well as levitate and generate electric explosions. Aloy ultimately has to find a way to collapse the arena to flee rather than beat him, and she's only able to do so because Erik is clearly not taking their 'fight' seriously in the slightest, childishly taunting her to focus on hitting him rather than their surroundings.
  • Hostile Weather: Per the developer message, the Earth's AI-controlled weather system is spinning out of control, creating massive supercell storms and causing destructive floods. An enormous whirlwind of brown clouds and red lightning seen in the announcement trailer is one example of what results from that. The cause of it is later revealed to be AETHER, one of GAIA's subordinate functions, who is now a completely sentient AI.
  • I Did What I Had to Do:
    • Sylens unapologetically states this almost verbatim when Aloy confronts him over his ruse with his lance to download HADES into a container under Sylens' control rather than destroying the genocidal AI outright, noting that Aloy would never have agreed to it if she'd known he still wanted to preserve the AI and he couldn't let the valuable and, by the current timeframe, irreplaceable data about the GAIA system it held be destroyed, even with the threat of HADES continuing its extinction protocols. Compounding this, one of the first things he does once Aloy enters the Forbidden West is lead her to where HADES is stored, inert and helpless, so she can finally destroy it and its genocidal threat for good. Sylens had no problem with destroying HADES—he just wanted to do so after they'd gotten everything they could from it, and Aloy wasn't in a mood to comply with that wish beforehand. Despite her anger towards him, it's clear that Aloy's aware that Sylens does make a good point.
    • This also turns out to be the reason for his apparent betrayal of Aloy in the HADES proving ground and actions behind arming and encouraging the Tenakth Civil War. Sylens is aware of Far Zenith's existence, their arrival on Earth and, more importantly, the fact that the Nemesis AI they created is the cause of the current environmental collapse and HADES's attempts to reboot the biosphere, all in an attempt to destroy the Earth before its creators can take refuge on it. The AI is so powerful and single-minded in its pursuit of Far Zenith that attempting to fight it off with Earth's technological levels is a fool's errand. Sylens therefore aims to hijack Far Zenith's plans to rebuild the GAIA terraforming system and then flee Earth, first by luring Far Zenith to the proving grounds whilst Aloy's inside, counting on them needing her to access the gene-locked facilities housing the scattered A.I.s, whilst also working on weaponry that can bypass Far Zenith's shields and aiding Regalla in performing a Hostile Takeover of the Tenakth clans, creating an army of machine-riders he can equip with his experimental weaponry and send against Far Zenith once they've assembled GAIA again, which will result in mass casualties. In his ideal scenario, Sylens can successfully rescue Aloy from her captivity, steal the complete GAIA system and then flee Earth on Far Zenith's ship to a distant planet that can be used to re-create humanity. It's a fairly selfish plan, all things considered, but as Sylens sees it, there's no hope of successfully fighting off Nemesis even if the world unites, and if he stays then Earth and all its people will be wiped out, so he's acting in favor of trying to preserve human existence, even going out of his way to manipulate Aloy into a position where she'd have a chance to escape the oncoming destruction as well, despite her survival ultimately being optional for his end-goal. Aloy doesn't even ultimately hold it against him when she finds out the truth and just bids him farewell, accepting that Sylens' decisions were brutally pragmatic, but ultimately have humanity's best interests at heart overall.
  • Idiot Ball: The creation of Nemesis. The Far Zenith crew digitized their own mind, giving it their memories - including that of their own access codes. They then seal the project when it fails, but don't turn it off or delete it. Despite their Earth having been wiped out by AI going rogue. None of them consider that a digital construct made from the literal minds of several humans (who hate each other) might do the same thing and turn sentient and hostile. When it inevitably does and it breaks free, Nemesis handily uses the access codes they never bothered to change to take over their fabrication facility to build machines to wipe out their colony in record time.
  • Immediate Sequel: Downplayed. The game starts six months after the final battle at Meridian, now known as the battle of the Alight, but various comments from Aloy's friends and allies make it clear that she disappeared the same night they were holding a celebration party in her honor after defeating HADES, running from ruin to ruin in hopes of finding a back-up copy of GAIA she could use to restore the broken terraforming system, pushing herself so relentlessly that Varl, who left shortly after she did, hasn't even had time to shave in order to pick up her trail long enough to catch up to her. Sylens even notes that he's surprised it took Aloy so long to find out about his ruse with the lance, because Aloy left immediately and didn't return to Meridian until all her other options had been exhausted.
  • Inexplicably Preserved Dungeon Meat: In Ted Faro's bunker you can find stocks of Rich Meat and Medicinal Berries for making healing potions, despite it having explicitly been sealed tight for the last 1000 years. This is actually quite common across many ruins of the Old Ones.
  • In Medias Res: As the game begins, Aloy is already on the hunt to find GAIA’s back up and stop the blight that’s choking the land.
  • Irony:
    • As Aloy observes, it's strange that POSEIDON, whose purpose was to purify the ocean, is located in the ruins of Las Vegas, in the middle of a desert.
    • For much of the game, it's assumed that Far Zenith are the ones that sent the extinction signal that Self-actualised HADES and the rest of the subordinate functions of GAIA. At the end, it's revealed that this is Metaphorically True—they didn't send the signal themselves, but the insane AI made up on digital copies of their minds amalgamated into a Hive Mind did.
  • Insurmountable Waist-High Fence: Some of the collectable Embers (read: holoprojector modules) are behind such barriers. The one on the Isle of Spires, for instance, is behind a wall framework with staggered gaps that Aloy could fit through without too much contortive effort.
  • Interface Spoiler:
    • In the Machine Catalogue, it says Sunwings require GEMINI overrides. This basically spoils the fact that despite Cauldron GEMINI being inactive on the map, something is going to happen there.
    • Several side quests Aloy picks up can only be completed after completing the Main quest "The Wings Of The Ten", where she gains the ability to ride Sunwings, and all of them have to do with getting up someplace high above or otherwise inaccessible. One of them even has an NPC ask, "Can you fly?" point blank. This may lead the player to pre-emptively be able to guess that Aloy will gain the ability to fly at some point if they start these quests before that one.
  • I Was Just Passing Through: Aloy's most common response to request that she encounters on her way to a main quest marker. The quest giver will ask if she was sent by one of the tribe leaders to help with their problem. She'll reply that she was just passing through but she'll see what she can do.
  • I Work Alone: Aloy repeatedly finds ways to dodge her own allies; at the start of the game we find that she's been alone for six months after running away from the party after the first game, when Varl catches up to her she leaves him behind in Meridian again, and even when she does have gameplay companions she finds every excuse to scout out ahead without them. It comes across as her Fatal Flaw; even Sylens comes off as having better social skills than her most of the time.
    Fashav: Word of advice? Everybody needs help sometimes. You're going to need allies.
  • Jack of All Stats: Of all the new more diverse array of weapon classes in Forbidden West, the Hunter Bow sits right in the middle as the most generally useful. Many other weapon classes may be a better choice in specific contexts, but a Hunter bow firing regular or advanced Hunter Arrows is the ol' reliable for any situation: Medium range, damage, rate of fire, no mobility impairments, and a fairly long-lasting ammo pouch. This is emphasized by the point that you can't get a Hunter Bow capable of firing shock arrows of any kind until a fair ways into the game, leaving you resorting to less-universally-versatile weapons to inflict shock effects on targets until then.
  • Jerkass Has a Point:
    • He might be a highly condescending bastard about it, but Sylens defends himself eloquently when Aloy discovers his ruse with the lance he gave her, rigged to transmit HADES to him, noting that despite the risk that the rogue AI poses to humanity, Aloy destroying HADES would have erased knowledge about the GAIA system and the location of potential backups to it, as well as information about the mysterious signal that caused the whole mess that they need to fix the problem, and fast. The combination of Ted Faro having destroyed the APOLLO archives and Zero Dawn being such a tightly-guarded secret means that HADES, as a piece of the system, is simply the best remaining source of information left by the present time. Aloy having spent six months fruitlessly searching for that exact information elsewhere in other forgotten ruins of the Old Ones and finding nothing only underscores the point.
      Sylens: I've been having problems of my own these past six months Aloy. The difference is, I've made progress.
    • He does it again when he leads Aloy to an Old Ones facility that HADES indicated once held GAIA backups for testing. Still pissed over his earlier deception Aloy starts threatening Sylens that if he was leading her into a trap she'd make him regret it, only for Sylens to somewhat bemusedly point out that the facility has a Gene-locked door coded to open 'only' for Aloy—he can't have gotten inside to lay any traps for her. Turns out he is sending Aloy into a trap - but one he honestly thought would be nonlethal and stop a war with Abusive Precursors, he just underestimated how egomanical Far Zenith was, or that they made their own clone of Sobeck.
  • Jump Scare: Numerous hand-hold rails will partially or fully break when Aloy grabs ahold of them, triggering one's acrophobia since all the hand holds are high up or over other lethally hazardous surfaces.
  • Justified Tutorial: The game reminds players of mechanics such as gathering medicinal plants by Aloy teaching Varl how to use his new Focus. It's however very Downplayed, as the game only covers a few basic mechanics needed to handle combat, stealth and exploration, since Varl and Aloy already know how to do the majority of them from their brave training, and the majority of the game's mechanics—including skills Aloy unlocked in the prior game— are covered more in-depth in the tutorials section of the pause menu to anybody who wants a larger explanation of what she can do.

    K-O 
  • Legendary in the Sequel: Mostly present in the game's beginning and amongst the Oseram and Carja characters Aloy interacts with in the Daunt. Aloy's feats of overcoming and defeating Dervahl, killing Helis in single combat and thwarting HADES' assault on Meridian and near-extinction of humanity have earned her the reputation both as the 'Anointed of the Nora' and the 'Saviour of Meridian', and many people in the Daunt offer her side-quests upon recognising her on sight, trusting in her skills and capabilities to resolve the problems that otherwise stymie them. Aloy even has a heroic statue of herself posing in the area where she had the Final Boss fight against HADES' death bringer and small army of corrupted machines, which Avad teasingly notes the original sculptor wanted decorated in gold and jewels before he talked him down. Aloy doesn't really like the titles, even if they do aid her with progressing through the Forbidden West, and once she actually makes it past Barren Light, wherein Carja territory ends and the Tenakth lands begin, her reputation as such isn't brought up amongst the frontier tribes at all. That said, Aloy quickly begins building her reputation with them anew in the process of resolving the Region's crises and finding the pieces necessary to rebuild GAIA, starting with killing Regalla's champion in a Duel to the Death during her attack on the Embassy peace talks.
  • Leitmotif: The second half of the trailer music is an slightly slower, more orchestral variation of Aloy's Theme from the first game.
  • Lensman Arms Race:
    • After GAIA is (partially) restored, she reassures Aloy about the problem of the Far Zenith members' personal Deflector Shields that render them effectively invulnerable by discussing the nature of this trope; that every defensive measure eventually prompts an offensive measure that overcomes it, even if it is just a brute-force Zerg Rush with GAIA back in command of HEPHAESTUS.
    • Nemesis was the victor of such a race against Far Zenith; with security override codes, it gained access to their printer facilities and destroyed their hyper-advanced colony in a matter of hours. At the end of the game, Earth has APOLLO again, so they'll have to advance very quickly in order to stand a chance.
  • LOL, 69: In a bit of Five-Second Foreshadowing, the Version Number for the "Copy of Gaia" that Far Zenith stole (in actuality a Trojan Virus created by Travis Tate to spite Far Zenith if they tried) is 6.9.
  • Look on My Works, Ye Mighty, and Despair: Ted Faro's seemingly abandoned Thebes bunker fits this to a tee. Even after several centuries, it remains largely intact, whether it's the luxurious living quarters or imposing, Egyptian-esque aesthetics. On the other hand, its structural integrity has decayed considerably, with parts having caved in, and much of its grandeur having faded into a decrepit husk of its former glory. Ultimately, like Faro himself, it's destroyed, leaving little trace of its existence.
  • Mid-Season Upgrade: Erend, Varl, Zo, and the rest of Aloy's crew have their own Focuses, granting the ability of "second sight" (as others called it in Zero Dawn) and data exchange capabilities with Aloy and her Focus — even including long-distance conversation.
  • Mini-Game: Machine Strike, a strategic wargame played with machine figurines on grid boards. It's optional, but winning can reward Aloy with shards or skill points.
    • Gauntlet Racing, in which Aloy can compete with some Tenakth ex-rebels by riding chargers through a perilous racetrack where there are no holds barred, meaning she can use her bow and spear (and other additional abilities) to gain the lead.
  • Mix-and-Match Critters: Rollerbacks are what you'd get if you crossed an Ankylosaur with a pillbug.
  • Monumental Damage:
    • Over the course of the announcement trailer Aloy visits the remnants of San Francisco's Ferry Building, Palace of Fine Arts, Transamerica Pyramid, City Hall, and, of course, the Golden Gate Bridge, all of which are in ruins after a thousand years of being exposed to the elements. She's also seen exploring the ruins of what seems to be a Chinese-themed Las Vegas casino.
    • The remnants of the Far Zenith Launch Facility is also in complete shambles, with a scene of a decommissioned, rusted-out ancient space shuttle later breaking apart. One of the shuttle's rocket boosters is seen falling down towards the platform where Aloy is, causing the worn-out platform to break apart in an instant, with Aloy jumping out of it.
  • Mook Horror Show: When the Far Zeniths lose their shields in the climactic battle they start getting their asses handed to them. A Dreadwing drops down and starts to tear into them.
  • Motif: Floods recur in the game's theme song, the Bleeding Mark and Hidden Ember sidequests, and Alva and Tilda's backstories. Utaru lore also speaks of a great flood, with the Azure Bloom dye flowers marking the high point in the story.
  • Multinational Team: After Aloy sets up shop at The Base, she begins to gather allies from various tribes and even another planet: Aloy herself and Varl (Nora), Zo (Utaru), Erend (Oseram), Kotallo and potentially Regalla (Tenakth), Alva (Quen), Sylens (Banuk... maybe), Tilda and Beta (Far Zenith/Old Ones).
  • Mysterious Stranger: The game's main antagonists are outright referred to as the mysterious strangers until Aloy learns the real name of their organization.
  • Mythical Motifs: In contrast to the Zero Dawn project's Greco-Roman theme and Ted Fero's Egyptian theme, Far Zenith occasionally uses names associated with Mesopotamian Mythology; "Project Anzu", their plan to steal a copy of GAIA, is named for a monstrous bird that stole a sacred tablet from the sky god Enlil, and "Ninmah Research Lab" is named after an alternate name for the fertility goddess Ninhursag.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Even more so than in the last game, heavyweight-class machines are given terror-inducing epithets, indicating that you do not want to come face to face with a Tremortusk, Slitherfang or Dreadwing, and especially not something called a Slaughterspine.
  • Neck Snap: One of Aloy's new Silent Strike animations for killing human targets is a neck snap. Noteably, she rolls over the target's back, then throws them over her shoulder and uses the momentum of their body to break their neck rather than trying to rely on her own strength for it.
  • Nerf:
    • Heavy weapons broken off of machines have fewer shots and deal less damage per shot.
    • Fast travel can now only be initiated from a campfire, and the unlimited-use Golden Fast Travel Pack is gone.
    • Lure Call has been removed entirely, leaving rocks as the only option to attract machines while in stealth.
    • If your mount is killed, you can no longer simply summon another; you have to override a new one.
    • Coils (weapon mods) and Weaves (armor mods) are now locked behind upgrade walls, with most not even available until you max out that piece of gear.
    • Zero Dawn's Bows (which typically gave the player access to three distinct weapon types) are now restricted to two (which often overlap, so it's not unusual to have two or more bows equipped which have Acid Arrows as a second type), which makes the player have to manage a larger collection of weapons.
    • Tear (formerly Tearblast) Arrows aren't available until after rebooting GAIA and heading into the Tenakth Clan Lands, around Level 20. In Zero Dawn, you could get them as soon as you found a vendor selling the Carja Sharpshot Bow.
  • Never Mess with Granny: Chaplain Dekka is Hekarro's top advisor, and she fiercely leads the defense of the Kulrut. She's also old enough to remember the Clan Wars, which gives her quite a bit of experience and wisdom as well.
    • The Enduring is legendarily this to the Tenakth. Not only did she train Hekarro and Regalla, but she also puts up a terrific fight against Aloy in her training pit.
  • Never Smile at a Crocodile: Snapmaws, crocodile-like robots, return, this time becoming even more dangerous as they are seen patrolling deep waters as well in addition to near the surface. Aloy has absolutely no means of fighting them underwater and so can only try to avoid them as she explores an underwater area infested with them.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: The trailer shows Aloy fighting an overridden Rebel Tremortusk on the shores of the Lowland Clan territory. The only Rebel Tremortusk (outfitted with a howdah for Rebel sharpshooters to stand in as seen in the trailer) in the game is fought in the valley of the Sky Clan, nowhere near the shoreline. It's not even possible for Aloy to fight normal Tremortusks on a beachnote , as their hunting locations are predominantly in the mountains with at least one in the Nevada desert.
  • New Game Plus: Initially not available, but update 1.015 added the option. By interacting with an item in the Base after beating the final boss, Aloy can restart the game (skipping the tutorial if you desire) at her current level with all weapons, armor, and even the special tools she had available from the get-go. It also adds new Legendary weapons and new armor dyes and facepaints only available in New Game Plus mode as well as a new difficulty level, Ultra Hard that's available in both new game and new game plus modes.
  • Nice Day, Deadly Night: Among others, a major factor on whether or not any given machine spawn point will be an Apex variant is whether it is night time or not.
  • Nipple and Dimed: Shortly after the game was released, a Spanish streamer uploaded a video showing that in Photo mode, when Aloy wore the Tenakth Scout armor, she had fully modeled nipples and areolas. Sony quickly issued a copyright claim and had the video taken down from most major hosting sites, and Guerilla later issued a game update which removed the textures from her model.
  • Nominal Importance: Aloy helps a tribe member earn their adult name in one side quest. The fact that Beta is just named after a Greek letter shows how "highly" her "benefactors" hold her.
  • Nonstandard Character Design: Non-cartoon example. Far Zenith have high-tech Space Clothes, contrasting from the primitive technology and outfits of the tribes. Additionally, their Specter machines are a stark contrast in design compared to the Zero Dawn and Faro Swarm machines.
  • Not Quite Flight: Aloy can use the Shieldwing, a Hard Light glider, to slow down her falls and sneak up on enemies.
  • Obvious Rule Patch: Explosive ammunition now has to be crafted using Blastpaste instead of Blaze. This is because in Zero Dawn, Blaze is carried by numerous machines and Aloy can carry a lot of it, making it possible to cheese through many encounters with just the Blast Sling. Blastpaste on the other hand is much less common, and while Aloy's Stash has infinite room, she herself can only carry a handful, rendering explosive ammo an arsenal's specialty rather than a backbone.
  • Oh, Crap!: Aloy has a quite noticeable one in the seemingly-abandoned Thebes bunker where Ted Faro spent his final days. Finding Ted's last data log, she listens to his final message wherein he bemoans how everybody else in the bunker has perished, the last few from taking poison rather than spend the rest of their lives trapped with him. As Aloy bemoans Ted's never-changing attitude she hears banging coming from the sealed power door at the back, as Ted's voice-over states that the only thing left to do now is waiting the time out so he can 'meet Liz's kids'. He reveals the experimental gene surgery he had performed on himself did manage to stop his aging, but his body has been undergoing severe side-effects, reasoning that he just needs time and energy from the bunker's reactor to stabilize his condition. As Aloy holo-scans the room, she sees a giant red growth covering the reactor room... and then realizes to her disgust that not only is Ted Faro still alive, he's mutated over the years into a cancerous Meat Moss and he's in the next room. Notably, Aloy actually backs away in absolute horror upon making the connection. She's handled machine monstrosities, insane cultists and small armies all on her own, but something like that is almost too much for her. Somewhat as a nod to this, the game never shows you exactly what Ted has become.
  • Old Master: Beating all three melee pits allows Aloy to challenge the Enduring, a legendary Tenakth trainer. She's a slightly kooky old woman who enjoys a fried lizard, but she will whoop your ass with exceptional speed, more health than the average Ravager and attacks that can one-shot you, in addition to technically being a melee pit boss and therefore cutting off your access to healing, explosive spikes, etc. Beating her gives Aloy a hefty spear damage upgrade. And if you fight her before Regalla, you essentially get a glimpse of her melee attack patterns and combos, which helps in the final phase of the duel.
  • One-Woman Wail: The music used in marketing so far features it prominently, in line with the Zero Dawn soundtrack - the unnamed track playing during the gameplay reveal stream opens with a solid half-minute of just a one-woman wail before introducing any other instruments.
  • Our Nudity Is Different: When Aloy peruses Tilda's art collection, she sarcastically asks if the various nudes in the paintings were "cold", having outlived a culture that used nudity in works of art.
  • Outside-Context Problem: The Far Zeniths are this for Aloy and the other inhabitants of Earth, since all they've had to deal with so far are local Earth-based threats like HADES, the Eclipse, and Faro robots. Much of the story is just Aloy and her team trying to figure out how to even launch an assault on the Zenith base.

    P-T 
  • Panthera Awesome: Many of the Forbidden West's machines resemble big cats; Ravagers are like lions/tigers with a BFG on their back, Scorchers are fire-spitting lynxes, and Stalkers are like actual panthers if they could turn invisible, had a sniper dart gun, and could lay down mines and audio tripwires.
  • Patrolling Mook:
    • Watchers from the first game are replaced with Burrowers, ferret(?)-like machines with a macelike tail that sometimes carry crafting materials in canisters on their back. They like to hang around groups of larger machines and alert them to Aloy's presence if she's spotted. Luckily, they're one of the few machines in the game with a health bar low enough that she can reliably stealth kill them.
    • Skydrifters are a new aerial version of this that are much harder to evade and are also surprisingly dangerous, with a fire blast and nasty razor tail.
  • Permanently Missable Content:
    • While all other machines can be fought again in respawning sites and arenas just in case the player did not get the opportunity to scan them during their fight, the Final Boss is the only machine of its type encountered in the game and unlike the first game, you cannot replay the final mission after it is done so if you did not scan it during the battle, the machine catalogue and subsequently the trophy will be permanently locked out of the game. This can also apply to the regular Spectres themselves as they never spawn outside of their respective quest if the player did not scan the machine at any point during the game. A patch fixed this, making the final boss no longer necessary for the trophy and putting a lone Spectre that spawns in a distant corner of the map for you to scan.
    • The errand quest "Sons of Prometheus Data" can't be completed conventionally if you clear the third Rebel Camp before completing the main quest "The Wings of the Ten." The next time Aloy goes to her room, instead of the recoverd Focus pointing you to the secret cache, a hologram of Sylens will pop up warning Aloy not to interfere with the rebels, and the quest is marked as complete afterwards. If you go to location of the cache anyway, it won't be present.
  • Pet the Dog:
    • Despite being nothing but an annoying ass most of the time, Sylens is surprisingly compassionate when Aloy finds only a limited, and seemingly useless, GAIA backup.
      Sylens: Aloy, you did everything you could.
    • And then at the end of the game, he offers to let Aloy escape Earth with him (explicitly not forcing her like Tilda tried to), and when she declines but lets him leave, he stays behind anyway.
      Sylens: You people are going to need all the help you can get.
  • The Power of Friendship: A strong, strong theme and lesson of the story is that despite all her skills and experience, Aloy can only truly succeed by embracing the people in her life who care about her and accepting their help.
    Aloy: What lies ahead will be harder than anything we’ve faced before. But I know I can put the fear aside, because for the first time in my life... I feel like I’m not alone.
  • Power Up Letdown: The new Plasma elemental effect. Once triggered, hitting the target with Impact attacks builds up a meter. Once the Elemental Status timer runs out, there will be a Plasma explosion on the target, dealing damage based on how full the meter is. Unfortunately, it takes a very long time to run out (meaning that you'll have to be dodging the angry machine's attacks the whole time), and the explosion is fairly weak even if it's been fully charged. It's just not nearly as good as any of the other status effects you could be inflicting on the target instead, even if the target is vulnerable to Plasma damage. If anything, it's a bigger threat against you than against any enemy; if you're hit with it and fail to use a Cleanse Potion to undo the debuff, the ensuing blast has a high chance of killing you.
  • Pre-Final Boss: The final battle against Erik is just before the real final boss fight against Tilda and her Specter Prime.
  • Precision-Guided Boomerang: The new Shredder Gauntlet class of weapons let Aloy throw out discs that spin into a machine for a short time, potentially damaging multiple components, before they come flying back toward Aloy. If she intercepts their path she can catch them and throw the same disc out again for more damage. Should she catch the same disc three times, it explodes on the fourth throw. Its ability to return to Aloy is justified due to the discs obviously being made with high-tech components scavenged off machines that include a limited guidance system.
  • Properly Paranoid: Even after Tilda betrays Far Zenith and saves Aloy after they kill Varl and take Beta/GAIA, Aloy is suspicious of her. She doesn't let Tilda in on the plan she whispers to Beta in the private channel Tilda establishes. Even while Tilda's helping to wreck the Far Zenith base, Aloy tells Alva to look through their data to find out whatever Tilda's not telling them. Turns out Tilda planned on leaving Earth with Aloy and with GAIA fully intact to avoid Nemesis, and as such would have objected to the secret plan to plug HEPHAESTUS into FZ's machine printer.
  • Psycho Lesbian: Tilda van der Meer is not helping Aloy out of a desire to fulfill Elisabet Sobeck's vision like she claims; she's helping her because Aloy is a clone of Elisabet, with whom she had a romantic relationship that ended poorly, and has become obsessed with because she is a paragon of all of Elisabet's good qualities. The reveal that her plan was really to escape from Nemesis off-world with Aloy after wiping out the rest of the Zeniths is what makes Aloy decide to fight her to the death.
  • Puzzle Boss: Tallnecks become much more like this than in Zero Dawn, where they were much closer to Crow's Nest Cartography. Each Tallneck has a unique situation that usually involves lateral thinking and a fair bit of puzzle platforming to actually climb and override the Tallneck. Prominent examples include the Tallneck that has to be weighted down with ballast from Oseram ballistas before it can be climbed, the Tallneck requiring the rotation of a huge radar dish and the Tallneck that is in the process of being built inside a Cauldron.
  • Raptor Attack: One of the new machines, known as Clawstriders, closely resemble Hollywood dromaeosaurs even more so than the established Watchers, to the point of being twice as tall as a human and even having pronated wrists, although they also have metal plates that give them a "feathered" appearance. They can be ridden by Aloy, as well as by the Raiders.
  • Really 700 Years Old:
    • The game's main antagonists, the mysterious strangers, are members of Far Zenith, who fled Earth to establish an interstellar colony shortly before the outbreak of the Faro Plague a thousand years ago. In that time they developed the technology to achieve physical immortality and are essentially the last living Old Ones, who have had the time to advance their technology to a level beyond even what the Old Ones had.
    • Ted Faro is revealed to still be alive, having used gene-alteration technology similar to that used by Far Zenith to achieve immortality. Unfortunately for him, his version of the tech is considerably flawed and results in him mutating into a horrific flesh pile stuck in his bunker for a thousand years.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Chief Hekarro. Compared to all the stubborn Nora and patriarchal Carja leaders from Zero Dawn that Aloy had to contend with, Hekarro is a pretty chill guy who cares about the safety and unity of his people over all else, and is willing to let Aloy recover AETHER if she assists him in forming the Kulrut.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: Once again, enemy machines that appear to have been corrupted have red eyes even when not in combat.
  • Regional Redecoration: Aloy and Erend inspect a map near the end of the State of Play trailer that shows coastlines have been dramatically altered since the early 21st century. Most obviously, the Florida peninsula and much of the Antilles are gone, the Gulf of Mexico extends up the lower Mississippi, and the California Central Valley is flooded. These alterations are a more-or-less accurate reflection of various predictions made about the effect that a complete melting of the world's polar ice caps would have on the world's coastlines. It does seem to be the current state of the world, as the map appears to be pulling satellite weather data in real-time.
    • Oddly, the maps displayed in the game itself, including ones displayed during conversations with GAIA, which would presumably be up-to-date, show coastlines much closer to their present-day, real life configurations. There's still at least been local redecoration, as San Francisco is on an island. The Central Valley may also still be flooded, as there's water between San Francisco and the Sierra Nevadas, though that may just a combination of San Francisco Bay and the game's compressed map.
  • The Remnant: There are a small band of Shadow Carja zealots that are in a bad way and have fled into the Daunt, and Petra eventually takes them under her care in Chainscrape. Additionally, there are leftover Eclipse cultists that Aloy can encounter while they try to flee into No Man's Land and take point on cleaning up.
  • The Reveal: Far Zenith's escape from the Sirius System wasn't caused by a natural geological cataclysm, but because an isolated failed AI, composed of copies from the minds of all their members, breached its containment and has been hunting them down since it gained access to machine printers, following them even to space and now approaching Earth, having sent the signal that made Hades sentient in an attempt to eliminate them, and thus causing the events of both Horizon Zero Dawn and Forbidden West.
  • The Revolution Will Not Be Civilized: Regalla's rebellion is willing to do anything to see their goals achieved, up to and including war crimes. Over the course of the main story they massacre the Tenakth/Carja Embassy, including Marshal Fashav, attempt to destroy the Bulwark with an overridden Tremortusk, almost destroy the Memorial Grove and disrupt the Kulrut with a Slitherfang, and finally launch an all-out attack on the Memorial Grove as a last-ditch effort. And that's not getting into the stuff that happens in side quests, where they terrorize Utaru villagers and plan to destroy Fall's Edge, as well as being the ones responsible for the Blood Choke contaminating Thornmarsh.
  • Trojan Prisoner: Erend attempts to get himself and Aloy into First Forge like this, but the guards have no idea who he is. Erend solves this problem by bashing them with his hammer.
  • Rule of Pool: The final boss battle takes place in a courtyard on the Zeniths' island, which has a very shallow pool for presumably aesthetic reasons. It makes the battle look very cool, and arguably symbolizes that Tilda never got over her trauma.
  • Rummage Sale Reject: The Oseram Artificer armor, a top-tier endgame-level armor, looks like this. It is the combination of four different Oseram-made armors that were rejected all as losers (with no winner) from an armoring contest. At Aloy's suggestion, the good parts of all were distilled into one superior amalgamation, with no effort made to make the aesthetics of the four cohere into one. The effect is downplayed as the armor still follows the general Oseram style of leather with inserted metal rings and plates and has a single color-scheme for the whole armor.
  • Savage Spinosaurs: Forbidden West introduces the Slaughterspine, a heavyweight-class combat machine resembling a spinosaurid with deadly plasma attacks. Notably, they're clearly based on early 2000s portrayals of Spinosaurus as a terrestrial predator rather than the semi-aquatic potential piscivore it is now theorized to be.
  • Scatterbrained Senior: "In The Fog" is a sidequest that deals with a lowland Tenakth named Fenirra asking you to find her father Garokkah out in the forest, who in all but name has dementia or Alzheimer's of some kind, and attacked his own daughter after forgetting who she was. He keeps forgetting where and when he is and sometimes thinks that he's once again a soldier fighting the Desert Clan during the Clan Wars decades prior, causing him to get lost in the forest. Garokkah describes it like a fog taking over his memory, making it hard for him to tell what's real, and explains that Tenakth normally die in battle long before he does, so he didn't realize what was happening to him because there's no precedent for what to do with the elderly in his community. The quest ends on a bittersweet note, with him entering his daughter's care full-time while she fully realizes he's slipping away from her, and one day will do so entirely.
  • Scenery Porn: AND HOW! Forbidden West is one of the most aesthetically beautiful games of its time, with every frame filled with literal granular detail under beautiful cutscene lighting, draped across stunning natural landscapes. To put it in perspective, for several months after launch Guerilla struggled with patches that addressed rendering the game at 1080p, because the world was filled with so much detail that smaller plants and shrubs weren't being drawn correctly at such a "low" resolution.
  • Schmuck Bait: Metal Flowers and Firegleam normally are opened to reveal hidden resources and loot. But there are several that have Apex Ravagers inside that will immediately attack you once you open them.
  • Serial Escalation: The first game had Aloy fighting a malevolent A.I and its army of awakened killer robots, which while insane is still pretty grounded for the setting. Forbidden West sees her go up against a cabal of evil elites from space who have nigh-unlimited resources. The Sequel Hook for the third game looks to continue this, with the equivalent of A.I. Cthulhu headed toward Earth and Aloy needing to find a way to stop it.
  • Sequel Hook:
    • While GAIA is nearly fully functional and the Far Zenith threat seems to have ended, the Nemesis AI that forced the latter to return to Earth in the first place is approaching the planet, and now Aloy and her friends must gather allies to face the danger it poses. In addition, Beta released HEPHAESTUS as part of the assault on Far Zenith's base, which means HEPHAESTUS must be recaptured or the biosphere will still collapse in a matter of months.
  • In conversation about the Old World, GAIA reports that Elysium, the final residence of all Zero Dawn support personnel who opted to live out their days after Zero Day, was severed from the Zero Dawn network far short of its 100-year supply duration. Whatever happened to the residents may be fodder for a DLC or the next Horizon game.
  • Sylens already has turned up the beginnings of a lead on a means to combat Nemesis as he researches at the Base post-endgame: a "thread that leads to a greater tapestry" as he words it. It's too early to tell, so he's keeping mum about details for now.
  • The introduction of the Quen Empire who are travelers from across the Pacific Ocean and possess Focuses - granting them knowledge and comparatively better (but still not advanced) technology than the primitive tribes of North America implies that sooner or later, open encounter between the Quen and the North American tribes will happen. Judging from what we learned about the Quen society from Alva and other Quens, their twisted worshipping of 'Ancestors' even though we know most of them are flawed people, their censorship of knowledge even among the Diviners so that only the elites can keep valauble or dangerous knowledge to themselves, as well as the fact that most of them regarded the primitive tribes in North America as 'barbarians' and open fire on them on sight, Aloy is probably going to have a tough time trying to get on their good side.
  • Sequel Non-Entity:
    • Forbidden West removes a few of the extraneous machines from the first game, such as Sawtooths, which were just Ravagers without the BFG on their back. It also removes the three ridable machines which played identically, with only Chargers remaining, and instead reworked the mount system so that Aloy can ride Chargers for pure speed, Bristlebacks for the ability to scour for objects, and Clawstriders for sheer attack power.
    • Of the major tribes from the first game, the Nora and Banuk are more or less absent from the game, owing to their isolationism, being too far away, and the Nora needing to reconstruct after the Sacred Lands were attacked twice. The Nora are at least present in the form of Aloy and Varl, while the Banuk are barely even mentioned.
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story: The entire prologue segment turns out to be one. Aloy has spent the intervening six months since the end of the first game looking for another copy of GAIA to save the world with. At the start of Forbidden West, she is down to her very last lead at a Far Zenith facility. Throughout the opening hour or two, she gains confirmation that the facility does in fact have a copy of GAIA, even if it was stolen from Zero Dawn, but for Aloy's purposes that works just fine...until it turns out that Zero Dawn was aware of Far Zenith's plan to steal GAIA, and snuck them a virus instead, making Aloy's (and the player's) efforts up to this point completely a waste. Then it turns out that Sylens had a lead on a GAIA copy all along, and that Aloy's 6-month trek was completely pointless to begin with. Then the game proper begins.
  • Shop Fodder: Every item you pick up will helpfully tell you in its description what its purpose is. For many items, mostly Old World artifacts, the only purpose is "Selling to vendors for shards".
  • Shout-Out:
    • The Blight that's devastating the world and forms an environmental hazard for a fair chunk of the game has a strong resemblance to the Red Weed from The War of the Worlds (1898), which like the Blight was introduced to Earth as a means of Hostile Terraforming.
    • When talking about Far Zenith, Erend asks what will be next: "wizards, from the moon?"
    • When exploring one of the southwestern corners of the map, Aloy can come across a fox sitting under a tree on the side of the road. Said fox won't run away, and moves off in a certain direction if Aloy approaches on foot. Following the fox will leads to a crude shrine fashioned in the shape of a fox deity. If Aloy scans said fox, the focus designates it as 'Inari', and a similar musical sting plays when she finds the shrine as when Jin locates a Fox Shrine.
    • You have the chance to find statuettes of Atreus, Brok, Sindri and of course Kratos scattered throughout the map. Finding all of them unlocks the option for Aloy to wear Kratos's distinctive facepaint.
    • While it's not functional, Aloy can find a sword in a stone. What's more, she recognizes it from a story.
    • The Utaru have a peaceful culture that incorporates agriculturally-helpful "dinosaurs".
    • After completing The Seas Of Sands main quest, Morlund, Stemmur, and Abadund will talk about what they should do with the ruins of Las Vegas. Morlund's ideas are basically recreating famous Las Vegas landmarks like Circus Circus and the MGM Grand.
    • Each Cauldron has a seemingly unopenable door with a Triforce marking on it. Pressing the sequence for Zelda's Lullaby on the D-Pad will open the door, revealing a room with some loot in it. Several of them will have Aloy directly quoting the games when she enters them, including it's dangerous to go alone" and "you've met with a terrible fate". These references nod to Zero Dawn releasing a week before The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.
    • Tilda van der Meer's art vault contains, among other priceless treasures, Rembrandt van Rijn's The Night Watch.
  • Shown Their Work: According to All There in the Manual, Quen Mariner outfits are made from braided, twisted, and woven wool. In real life, wool is the most common material used in the clothes of sailors because it retains heat well even when soaking wet, blocks UV rays well, and is cheap and available.
  • Single Language Planet: Despite there being an ocean between them and the other tribes, the Quen still share a common language with them. A note made by Alva explains that when Ted Faro deleted APOLLO, the Zero Dawn system reverted to its default language of English, tragically rendering it the sole surviving tongue of the Old Ones the new generation of Humanity were ever exposed to.
  • Snark-to-Snark Combat: Aloy and HADES of all people have this in their final conversation before Aloy executes it. at least to the degree that an AI like HADES can snark.
    HADES: You are... unhappy. Good.
    Aloy: Anyone ever tell you you've got a great personality, HADES?
    HADES: Sarcasm Detected.
    Aloy: Yeah, didn't think so.
  • Somebody Else's Problem: The Chorus, leaders of the Utaru tribe, have essentially left all its settlements outside the capital city for dead. An Utaru villager outright begs the foreigner Aloy to protect her home, because she knows her own people will not.
  • Someone to Remember Him By: At Varl's grave, Zo reveals to Aloy that she's pregnant with his child.
  • Space Clothes: Far Zenith members are dressed in a shiny, form-fitting silver suit with intricate designs on it.
  • Spinosaurus Versus T. rex: Averted. Thunderjaws (The T. Rexpy) and Slaughterspines (The robot Spinosaurus) aren't anywhere near each other on the map, so you can't, say, override one and make them fight. In fact, in the final battle, they fight alongside one another.
  • Stealth-Based Mission: Aloy can't fight while swimming, so stealth is her only option when investigating underwater areas.
  • Stock Ness Monster: Tiderippers are huge plesiosaurid machines that are deceptively more agile than you'd think on land. Morlund and his crew help Aloy take one down beneath the ruins of Las Vegas, and an Apex variant serves as the boss of Cauldron Kappa.
  • Sticky Bomb: While sticky bombs were a distinct ammo type for Blastslings in the previous game, in this game they're a weapon skill that can be unlocked and used for any type of ammo. In addition, the new Spike Thrower class weapon comes in varieties that can fire Explosive and Advanced Explosive spikes that will stick to a target before detonating if fully drawn.
  • Straw Character: Far Zenith depicts The Elites Jump Ship in its most concentrated Conservative essence. The richest men and women on Earth spend all their money and resources on escaping the apocalypse rather than preventing it. In fact, some of the lore implies they hindered progress on stopping the Faro Plague to ensure the remaining 'plebians' on Earth would die screaming, and just to twist the knife they feigned their deaths so the rest of humanity would despair at their apparent total extinction. Rather than quickly die off due to hubris, they do surprisingly well for themselves, managing to thrive on a new planet for a thousand years - but the moment they discover immortality, they flatline their technological progress, keeping everything preserved as one giant do-nothing elite resort. Nothing gets done because they either don't care or don't want a new threat to emerge. The only science being done is through experimenting on AI. This is the one thing they don't put out of its mercy for safety, because this pit of suffering is one of the few scientific pursuits that they enjoy, causing one particular AI to snap and Grey Goo the entire planet. To summarize: Zenith proves that it is capable of creating a sustainable long-term society, but only for themselves, and proceeds to use this prosperity to torture new forms of life as a source of entertainment, and this concentrated sadism creates the greatest Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds of all time.
  • Subsystem Damage: Many machines have parts that are breakable or capable of being knocked off or disabled with enough direct damage to them. Sometimes it's an integral part of defeating a heavy or combat-class machine, such as the BFG that can be knocked off a Ravager's back and used against it, destroying a Fireclaw's Blaze sac so it can't use its flaming Ground Punch, or disabling a Dreadwing's invisibility generator so it can't hide itself from your Focus.
  • Summon Bigger Fish: Aloy's plan for dealing with Far Zenith's army of Specter drones is to have Beta download HEPHAESTUS into their network. This results in an army of Thunderjaws and Slaughterspines being generated by Far Zenith's Grey Goo machine generator. While it doesn't preoccupy all of the Specters, it certainly evens the odds.
  • Super Not-Drowning Skills: With the Diving Mask, Aloy can stay underwater indefinitely.
  • Super-Persistent Predator: Clawstriders constantly chase Aloy once they've caught sight of her in the trailer and this carries over to the main game where they are one of the few machines that follow you outside encounter area.
  • Support Party Member: Spikesnouts are anteater-like machines that spray their comrades with a damage buff and spray Aloy with various debuffs. Unfortunately, it's not as simple as taking them out before they buff anything, because they're also surprisingly resilient, especially the Apex ones.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome:
    • Even with all the money in the world, there was a very slim chance Ted Faro's plan to achieve immortality with one scientist cut off from his lab would turn out good. As expected, it didn't.
    • In a smaller, less serious instance, Aloy can come across the bodies of some Oseram who had an encounter with Brin, a Banuk shaman from the first game who drinks machine oil to get visions. They tried following his example and ended up poisoning themselves instead.
    • Tenakth culture demands that leadership challenges be to the death, and the Desert Clan aren't going to change that for one foreigner, however helpful she's been. There's no Golden Ending, no third option—either Yarra or Drakka must die. The surviving combatant does agree to end the bloodshed there in the interests of the clan's survival, though, much to Aloy's and Chaplain Jetakka's relief.
    • The Shield Weaver armor unlockable at the end of the first game is the starting armor now. Except, over the course of the six months of adventuring between games, its power cells died.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Tilda van der Meer isn't helping Aloy out of altruism, she's helping because Aloy demonstratesnote  all of the best qualities of her ex, Lis Sobeck, and she's now becoming obsessed with her.
  • Suspicious Video-Game Generosity: If you enter a large, open area with lots of stealth grass, supply caches and medicinal herbs during a quest, chances are a Dreadwing/Stormbird/Slitherfang/other huge combat machine is about to rip you a new one.
  • Tempting Fate: You can sort of see where the Carja/Tenakth peace talks are going, because everyone you've met until that point has been talking about how important they are and how awful it will be if things go wrong. The diplomats do their job. Unfortunately, the talks get crashed by terrorists several minutes in.
  • Thirsty Desert: The West includes deserts around what was once Nevada. Weirdly, they are where you find a Underwater City, contained within a dome.
  • This Is Unforgivable!: Aloy considers Sylens to have gone too far when he lures her into a trap for the Zeniths to capture her, especially since he failed to realize that they would kill her. She vows to hunt him down, before cutting off all contact with him and smashing her spyware-infected Focus.
  • This Means Warpaint: In the trigger animations for several Valor Surges, Aloy will don warpaint. Additionally, the general appearance of the Tenakth shows them to be all about the warpaint.
  • Throwing the Distraction: With removal of the whistle ability from the first game, tossing small rocks is the only way to misdirect an enemy's attention while in stealth.
  • Too Clever by Half: Sylens lures Aloy into an Old Ones facility that houses a backup copy of GAIA, then sends out an anonymous signal that summons the mysterious masters who sent that signal that self-actualised GAIA's sub functions to the same location. Sylens later admits that he intended Aloy to become their captive, removing her interference from his plans whilst he prepared an army of fanatics to assault the Zenith base with weapons designed to bypass their technological superiority— an undertaking that would have required mass casualties, and thus not one Aloy would have allowed to happen. He assumed that they would spare Aloy, her genetic code being the proverbial key to accessing the terraforming system, but he clearly never anticipated that the masters would have the ability to create their own clone of Elizabet. Upon discovering Aloy, their leader considers having one clone of the deceased scientist to be 'enough trouble' and orders Erik to kill her on the spot.
  • Trans Nature: In the quest A Soldier's March you meet Wekkata, a Tenakth soldier who asks you find missing Penttoh, a Tenakth who went on a Coming of Age quest to become a soldier, despite being looked down upon by his fellow tribeman. Once Penttoh is rescued, Wekkata tells Aloy that they admire Penttoh's determination, noting that many Tenakth questioned Wekkata when she chose to begin wearing women's armor.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: The announcement trailer shows Sylens looking on as a group of Tenakth raiders subdue and override a Bristleback, foreshadowing that he's behind yet another militant faction standing in Aloy's path with the ability to control machines. What it doesn't spoil, but actually implies, is his motivation for doing so.
  • Turtle Island: At one point, Aloy comes face-to-face with a Shellsnapper, a robot turtle easily twice her height, masquerading as a small island in a bog.
  • Tutorial Failure: The Melee Pits tell you what buttons to press, but not for how long, or what the player did wrong if they fail. They're also timed, for no reason at all.
  • Two-Keyed Lock: One sidequest involves accessing a three keyed vault, with each key in a different ruin and the vault in a fourth, as all of the keyholders were killed by the Faro Swarm before they could deliver their keys. This lampshades one weakness of a multi-key security system, namely that it can be difficult to assemble and use all those keys if you need to access what they're keeping locked away on short notice.

    U-Z 
  • Underground Monkey: There are a variety of elemental variants for some machines, most prominently elemental Clawstriders and canister Burrowers. Strangely averted for Fanghorns, which are always called "Fire Fanghorns" despite there being no other type of Fanghorn in the game.
  • Underwater Ruins: The gameplay reveal showcases parts of San Francisco that have apparently sunk beneath the surface of the ocean, and have since overgrown with coral. The same video also shows Aloy's upgraded swimming skills, allowing the player to explore the waters more thoroughly.
  • Unique Enemy: The two Corruptors guarding the entrance hall to Thebes. They're the only two Faro robots you fight in the whole game, and they feel oddly ripped straight from the first one(same weak points, vulnerability to fire, etc.) The encounter is also cut short by the Quen imperial guards raining bullets down on them, and they're not that strong to begin with. Make sure to scan one or you won't get the achievement for scanning all the machines in the game.
  • Unskilled, but Strong: The main antagonists, Far Zenith, turn out to be this when finally confronted in the final battle. With their shields, they're functionally Invincible Villains. After Sylens disables their shields, they get slaughtered effortlessly despite retaining their other advanced combat capabilities such as flight, energy weaponry, and enhanced strength; they're billionaires, not survivors like Aloy and her friends. In fact only Tilda and Erik seem to have any combat skill without their shields, and Tilda still needs to summon a mech suit when she's fought as the Final Boss.
  • Unspoken Plan Guarantee: Aloy's whispered plan to have Beta upload HEPHAESTUS to Far Zenith's machine printers to create a helpful army for their fight goes better than it likely would have if she let Tilda in on it.
  • Vagueness Is Coming: The trailer has this tone, Aloy says that she's the only one who can "stop what's coming", and the only clearly antagonistic forces seen are the Red Blight and the storm. Later underplayed by the developer message, which clarifies that "what's coming" is an ecological collapse, though the cause of it is left up to speculation. Subverted, when it is later revealed that the Red Blight and the Supercell Storms are caused by AETHER, DEMETER, and POSEIDON being self-aware AIs, thus procuring the three of them and sending them back to GAIA, respectively, is the main goal.
  • Video Game Vista: Unusually for an open world game, this actually occurs in the starting area. After her escapade at the Far Zenith spaceport trying to find a GAIA kernel, Aloy takes a huge Oseram elevator down into the Daunt, a narrow but beautiful and secluded valley which represents the very edge of Carja territorynote . The player can likely see all the way to Barren Light at the border of the Utaru territory from that high above, and the elevator ride's conclusion represents the first time they are truly cut loose and are free to explore the world.
  • Villainous Rescue: In the final battle, Aloy has Beta release HEPHAESTUS back into the Cauldron network; HEPHAESTUS immediately starts churning out an army of animal robots who turn the tide against Far Zenith's horde of Specters and even end up slaughtering all the Zeniths themselves save for Gerard, Erik, and Tilda. This does mean that HEPHAESTUS is once again free to potentially keep causing trouble, but he's comparatively a much lesser concern than the Zeniths for the short-term.
  • Violation of Common Sense: It's actually not in your best interest to shoot the big glowing chemical sacs on most machines, because while they are huge weak points that do tons of damage upon bursting, most machines will drop valuable sac webbing if you preserve them, which are usually valuable crafting resources. This applies to Bellowbacks, Frostclaws and Fireclaws; especially egregious in the case of the latter two since without exploiting those elemental vulnerabilities they are Damage Sponge Bosses.
  • War Elephants: The rebels have tamed Tremortusks, enormous robot mammoths, and ride them into battle. Aloy and Kotallo encounter a group of Rebels in the mountains hatching a plot to use one to attack the Bulwark, but put a stop to it before anything can happen by taking it and the Rebels down. Later on, the Rebels are seen invading the Memorial Grove with a lot more, but Aloy incapacitates them with a Horus power cell.
  • Water Source Tampering:
    • Aloy helps a Desert Clan Tenakth named Drakka investigate the drought that has been plaguing Scalding Spear. The chief of the Desert Clan, Yarra, believes that Drakka deliberately sabotaged the water to make Scalding Spear dependent on his settlement for water, but Drakka believes she is being overly paranoid and neglecting her people. It's up to the player to determine who they think is in the right.
    • Regalla's rebels are responsible for the Blood Choke, a red algae infesting the water around Thornmarsh. They've set up camp at the top of the waterfall that produces the river that runs through Thornmarsh and are using it as a staging ground for overridden machines, with the failures being discarded and eventually used to contruct an impromptu dam. Aloy investigates and manages to destroy it, bringing clean water to Thornmarsh and alleviating its people of disease.
  • Wham Episode: Whoo, boy, GEMINI. Aloy's plan to capture HEPHAESTUS at Cauldron GEMINI while her companions try to fool Far Zeniths was doomed from the start, as the Zeniths have been keeping a close eye on HEPHAESTUS for a long time. This results in the Zeniths assaulting Aloy's team at GEMINI just as HEPHEASTUS is being captured, killing Varl, and taking Beta, GAIA, and HEPHAESTUS with them. The only reason Aloy is even alive is that Tilda, one of the Zeniths, defected and helps her escape.
  • Wham Shot:
    • Once Aloy finally succeeds in finding a backup copy of GAIA, albeit lacking the governing intelligence needed to control the terraforming systems and end the derangement, she's interrupted by the mysterious masters that sent the signal that caused the whole mess in the first place, having being summoned to the location by Sylens in hopes of brokering an alliance with them over GAIA, rather than making needless enemies. Said master's appearances clearly showcase that they're far more technologically advanced than the machines GAIA created, and whilst Aloy thinks the gene-locked doors will keep them out, they able to enter with ease thanks to their trump card: a second clone of Elisabet Sobeck called 'Beta'.
    • Towards the end of the trailer for Burning Shores, the final shot showcases an inert Horus machine suddenly activating.
  • Who Wants to Live Forever?:The Far Zenith colonists created entire virtual worlds for themselves to hang out in to alleviate the boredom of immortality. Only Tilda saw this for what it was; a way of escaping their own problems by hiding in facsimiles of Earth.
  • The Worf Effect: Despite all of Aloy's skills and equipment every engagement before the finale with the Far Zenith shows them being completely untouchable. What really seals the deal is that in spite of their extraordinary power they are actually running from something else. And it's on the way.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness:
    • In the prologue, text logs indicate that the Far Zenith team was planning to quietly kill off a few of their less useful members before leaving, despite promising them a berth on the ship. These include their own public spokesman and their mole in Zero Dawn.
    • An Anti-Villain variant. One of the first things Sylens does when Aloy finally enters the Forbidden West is to lead her to the location where he'd stashed HADES, immobile and incapable of causing trouble again, having extracted all the knowledge and information he needed from it and leaving it behind to finally be destroyed for good at Aloy's hands as a peace offering for his earlier deception, and to finally end its threat for good. By doing this, he hoped to find common ground with Aloy again to further investigate the Old Ones' ruins and find the necessary backup copy of GAIA they both sought.
  • Your Terrorists Are Our Freedom Fighters: Regalla's bloodthirsty warband of Tenakth rebels believe that they're fighting against a weak and soft chieftain who is seeking to parley with the Tenakth's oldest and greatest enemy, the Carja. This means they are willingly ignoring how Sun-King Avad also seeks to amend the mistakes of the Red Raids and heal the wounds between the two tribes. Unfortunately, Regalla has a personal vendetta against Hekarro after he spared her in combat many years ago, so she isn't going to listen to reason.
    • This is explored further in the side quest where Aloy is recruited to help chaplain Dekka find her grandson Kavvoh, who had defected to the rebels. Kavvoh bought into the nationalistic lies of the rebels, but realized just how deranged they really were when he uncovered their plan to release an overridden Behemoth into the village of Fall's Edge, killing dozens of unarmed lowland Tenakth citizens.

    Burning Shores 
  • 2 + Torture = 5: The MSP's brainwashing procedure involves recordings of Londra (or an AI meant to sound like him) inflicting Doublethink onto the person strapped to it.
    Londra (MSP): The Apple is an orange. Respond. The bird is a fish. Respond. The triangle is a square. Respond. To respond is to obey.
  • Action Commands: The new Machine Grapple Strike skill adds one. After knocking a machine down, the skill lets you pull yourself into it using the Pullcaster and deliver a spear strike. Pressing the R1 button when prompted will also energize the target for a Resonator Blast.
  • A God Am I: Londra's plan is to escape off-world and found a space colony using Quen clones from the DNA samples he took from them and a select few as his "retinue", all of whom would be enslaved with MSP. In this colony he would functionally be a god as a result.
  • Amphibian Assault: Bileguts are Heavyweight-class Acquisition machines that resemble giant frogs. They serve as massive recycling centers similar to scrappers, taking old machine waste and repurposing it back into the machine life cycle in the form of Stingspawn. They also possess an array of dangerous acid and glue-based attacks and can jump deceptively long distances for their size. A unique Apex variant which instead has fire attacks has made the half-flooded Cauldron THETA into a sort of nest for its stingspawn, and serves as the cauldron's boss.
  • Arc Villain: Walter Londra is the last remaining Zenith, having travelled to the Burning Shores while the rest of the Zeniths were off finding GAIA in the Main Game.
  • Arc Words: "How could I not come back? Being with you feels like belonging. It feels like home."
  • Arm Cannon: Aloy comes across a Zenith personal weapon called the Specter Gauntlet, which initially is capable of firing an explosive Flechette Storm that can potentially zero in on a target you designate with the stamina-based special ability. A later upgrade acquired expands its capabilities to include a rail gun with armor-piercing qualities that does extra damage to designated targets instead of homing in and the ability to shoot through multiple targets when fully charged.
  • Better to Die than Be Killed: A datapoint on the Pangea Figurine quest reveals that when Walter Londra left with Far Zenith, Evelyn Day (his ex-wife) committed suicide with pills when the FARO Plague started wiping out the earth.
  • The Big Damn Kiss: Aloy and Seyka can potentially kiss on the beach where they first met, before bidding each other farewell for the time being as Seyka goes to help reunite the Quen fleet, while Aloy waits for Sylens to come back with a plan for confronting Nemesis.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: The MSP, or Mutiny Suppression Protocol, was a program made by Heaven¢ as a preventative measure in the event that its astronauts try to weaponize their space-mining operations, but was shut-down when it created "episodes of increased aggression" in its subjects. Being the Control Freak that he is, Londra would use the original procedure to brainwash Quen devotees into loyal soldiers, and he plans on using a modified version as a mind-controlling operation for his harem and the colony of clones he plans on creating.
  • Boss Banter: Londra is quite talkative all the way through the fight with his Horus and eventually himself, and is clearly in love with his own voice. Aloy gets tired of it pretty quickly.
    Londra: I will build a new world. Adored by my loyal followers, While you choke on fallout. Right until Nemesis rips apart your pathetic planet!
    Aloy: Whatever you say.
  • Clipped-Wing Angel: The Horus that Londra takes control of is monolithic and terrifying... but it's also been inactive for nearly a millennium. All its coolant has leaked out, and its autonomous systems have to resort to emergency cooling measures by deploying its delicate heat sink radiators fully... giving Aloy an avenue of attack. On top of that, instead of being controlled by the Swarm's cold and calculating AI, the Horus is being piloted manually by an egotistical billionaire who's easily provoked and has no combat experience whatsoever.
  • Closet Key: Aloy is smitten by Seyka almost immediately.
  • Colony Drop: The MSP was intended as a countermeasure to make sure that asteroid miners wouldn't get the idea to do this - mentally conditioning the miners so that the idea of dropping the asteroids they are working on onto the planet is literally unthinkable.
  • Colossus Climb: Part of the final boss fight against the Horus involves climbing one of its legs so that Aloy can remove a piece of armor plating on its side in order to expose a heat sink.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • Rheng nearly quotes a jailed Dervahl word for word when you visit him in the brig after the admiral orders him detained.
    • A note left behind near a Devotee camp indicates that the Tenakth had scouted out the area shortly before Regalla's Rebellion but deemed it not worth the manpower to secure. Said scouting party was led by the ex-Carja Ritakka, who was persuaded to go by Fashav as she was the only other literate Tenakth besides himself and so could record her findings.
    • The background music that plays after you find Gildun's looking glass is the same background music that plays out in the wilderness of the Cut.
  • Contrasting Sequel Setting: The setting of the DLC, the Burning Shores, is a heavy contrast to its predecessor DLC's setting, the Frozen Wilds. The Frozen Wilds takes place in the Cut, the Banuk lands that were formed from what was once Montana and Wyoming, located north of the Nora Sacred Lands where it is often covered in permafrost and snows a lot, and only a few of the Old World buildings can be seen. The Burning Shores takes place in the namesake area that was once Los Angeles, where it is virtually remote and unoccupied by any tribe except for the other half of the Quen fleet, with the terrain a volcanic archipelago with a tropical climate and littered with the ruins of Old World buildings. While the Frozen Wilds is connected to Horizon Zero Dawn's main map, the Burning Shores is separated from the main map of Horizon Forbidden West and can only be accessed via flying mount.
  • Convection, Schmonvection: The lava flows that give the Burning Shores their name don't seem to affect Aloy at all unless she happens to fall into one.
  • Damage-Sponge Boss: Zeth is basically the same as Erik Visser, only without the ability to fly. He's also considerably more armored than Erik and has the ability that Champions have to power up and take substantially less damage while dealing a lot more.
  • Death by Materialism: There's an errand around recovering the directions to buried treasure that a team of Oseram Delvers killed each other for. Upon finding it, Aloy observes that there was enough for them to have easily split it amongst themselves and all been rich, but they got greedy and murdered each other.
  • Death Seeker: Nova begs for the release of death after a thousand years as Londra's servant, constantly having her personality finely tweaked every waking hour while being unable to disobey, and is willing to open the door to the Volcano if Aloy agrees to terminate her using her override. Aloy later tells Londra she can understand why working for him for a thousand years would make anybody want to kill themself.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Aloy's allies are incredulous that she actually managed to defeat a Horus, a machine that lore-wise borders on the indestructible and is the size of a mountain.
  • Difficult, but Awesome: The new Specter Gauntlet's railgun, as opposed to its homing barrage attack. At first glance, it seems like a moderately powerful sniper weapon. Once using it has been mastered, it becomes possible to hit machines with massively powerful strikes that can take down even the most powerful Apex machine in only a few hits. The trick is to not only make use of its stamina ability to tag a spot for bonus damage, but to make sure that you shoot that spot through the body of the machine, which generates additional splinters that can strike for thousands of points of additional damage.
  • The Ditz: Gildun, once again. Apparently, his first instinct while delving through a Los Angeles ruin was to pull a random lever, which locked the entrance behind him. Once again he needs Aloy's help with delving while contributing little to no work himself.
  • Dive! Dive! Dive!: The only way to approach Pangea Park before Nova disables the defenses is to fly in on a Waterwing and diving underwater whenever the defense drone opens fire.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Walter Londra is able to entice the Quen into following him and his claims for a better future among the stars as his chosen, except he treats the Quen as disposable since he's only doing it for their servitude and attention as he controls them. When Aloy reveals the truth, several Quen are unable to accept it and continue to believe what Londra told them even after his death. While this obviously draws parallels on cult leaders, Walter being from the ultra-elite of Far Zenith means it also calls to mind tech CEOs and modern political figures in America, and the way they control information about them and their goals as they operate high above the common people. The fact that he owns a rocket ship company makes it a bit more obvious.
  • Expy: The Los Angeles Dinosaur theme-park that Londra made into a base of operations is obviously meant to be a hologram-heavy take on Universal Studios Hollywood. Even the movie studio who's films inspired the park, Pangea, can be this world's version of Universal.
  • Failed a Spot Check: Its been some time since the events of Singularity, yet until Sylens investigates deeper, no one from Aloy's group double-checked the number of Zeniths who arrived with the number who are dead. This includes Beta, since she was with the Zeniths yet never realizes Londra wasn't accounted for. Justified in that Burning Shores takes place immediately after the main story is completed, meaning that was likely the earliest point Sylens was able to learn about it, and Beta was kept in the dark about what Far Zenith was up to much of the time.
  • Fascist, but Inefficient: Rheng is the leader of Compliance in Fleet's End, but he's also a complete idiot. Him sending one of his agents to tail a group trying to recover a manifest results in the deaths of five people during a time when Fleet's End seriously cannot afford to bleed manpower, and Admiral Gerrit gives him a serious chewing out and throws him in the brig when this comes to light. Rheng tries to stand his ground but Admiral Gerrit knows the clauses better than he and finds technical justification for tossing Rheng in the clink.
  • Gameplay and Story Integration: To explain the availability of Tenakth and Oseram weapons and armor for sale at Fleet's End, a note mentions that some scouts stumbled upon a camp with weapons and armor they noticed were from different tribes, and brought them back to the quartermaster. It's possible to find these camps out in the wild, further integrating them into the gameplay. The Tenakth camp is Northeast of Heaven's Rest being used by Devotees after Aloy destroys Londra's cult, with a note explaining that the former Carja Ritakka led an expedition to the Burning Shores to see if it could be colonized for the Clan Lands, only to conclude that the islands were choked with too many dangerous machines, making any colonization attempt a waste of resources. The Oseram camp is on the beach opposite Cauldron THETA and belonged to a group of grammatically challenged delvers who unearthed a mother lode of Brimshine and all killed each other trying to claim it for themselves.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: The Nora Lookout is one of the new outfits for the DLC and can be bought from a Quen merchant. Putting aside that Quen treats all North American tribes as barbarians, how a Nora outfit got all the way to the Burning Shores is a mystery, considering the tribe rarely wanders away from the Sacred Lands.
  • Hair-Trigger Explosive: Unstable Firegleam is this. Rather than requiring Aloy's Igniter to set it off, any sort of impact will cause a huge explosion (even throwing rocks). Moreover, it's typically found growing on ruins in such a way that the blast triggers a secondary collapse of the structure, making it a highly effective means of destroying groups of machines with a single arrow or proximity trap.
  • Howard Hughes Homage: Walter Londra is the fabulously wealthy owner of a ginormous Aerospace company who is always in the public eye as a result of tabloids, and has a moustache and grand designs very similar to Hughes'. He even used to own a holo-film company, Londra Productions, very similarly to how Hughes owned RKO Pictures later in life.
  • Humongous Mecha: Londra uses the deactivated Horus crashed on top of the Hollywood sign as one of these, wiring himself into its systems. The Horus itself lives up to the epithet of "Metal Devil", possessing gigantic tentacular drill arms, gigantic who-knows-what-caliber machine guns and an array of Fire munitions and missile bombardments that completely eviscerate its targets. It also has a fabricator that Londra uses to create Corruptors to distract Aloy.
  • I Just Want to Have Friends: Gildun feels very alone, which is why he grows so attached to Olvar so quickly. Unfortunately, Olvar exploits Gildun's ditziness and naivete to steal his looking glass and attempts to kill him. When Aloy helps him figure out what really happened, it's a bad blow to him. Luckily Aloy, being The Heart, gives Gildun a Focus and patches him through to her other teammates, effectively inviting him into her own friend group.
  • Infinity -1 Sword: The Specter Gauntlet is an incredibly lethal weapon that fires homing explosives and railgun blasts with relatively cheap ammo, and can be easily acquired through the Burning Shores main quest by defeating Zeth. Its only major downsides compared to Legendary bows are that it can't equip weapon coils and that it's a Loud weapon like most explosive weaponry, which means that firing it automatically alerts all enemies in the area regardless of whether or not they could see the attack. Furthermore, using the designator for either ammo type counts as an attack that will cause its target to become suspicious.
  • I Reject Your Reality: Lan is so unwilling to accept that Londra took advantage of his Quen followers that he willingly lets himself be imprisoned by Pirik, and is very ungrateful when Aloy rescues him, claiming she doesn't know or understand Londra. Otoso can be seen with him later back at Fleet's End unsuccessfully trying to talk some sense into him.
  • Joke Item: There's a hidden Toy Bow in one of the ruins. It fires rubber suction-tipped arrows that inflict 1 point of damage on a hit and can't be upgraded in any way.
  • The Juggernaut: Londra's Horus is the only machine in either game to have a Machine Catalogue entry with no helpful advice. It just says "Weaknesses-none, strengths-all". It certainly lives up to that descriptor, as Aloy can't put a dent in it and even destroying its heat sinks doesn't display damage numbers. If the Horus hadn't been inactive for a thousand years, and reliant on its exposed heat sinks to prevent Overheating, there would likely have been nothing she could have done to destroy it.
  • Kids Love Dinosaurs: One of the dinosaurs in the third Pangea holo was a talking pterodactyl named Reggie. According to a recording left by Walter, he was persuaded to include Reggie in his holo franchise in order to appeal to children, a decision he felt was a mistake.
  • The Lava Caves of New York: The area is called the Burning Shores because somehow, 1000 years in the future it's become volcanically active, with lava vents spewing continuous streams of lava similar to Hawaii. It's never stated anywhere in-game, but as the largest activity is centered around the local Cauldron, it's possible that a problem with the Cauldron's geothermal power plant is what caused it rather than it being entirely natural. Beta also speculates that a series of massive earthquakes in the 22nd-23rd centuries may have contributed as well.
  • La Résistance: Theoa and Rokomo are part of a group of internal rebels within the Quen Empire seeking to undermine Compliance and the Boards. According to them, back in the Great Delta there are high-profile members of society who have joined the group and been imprisoned rather than killed, since Compliance doesn't want to make martyrs out of them.
  • Lethal Lava Land: Parts of Los Angeles have been subsumed by a gigantic volcano, resulting in deadly laval flows. Cauldron THETA has been flooded by the stuff.
  • Love Interest: Seyka asks Aloy if she wants her as her girlfriend at the finale of the final primary mission of Burning Shores. Aloy has the option of saying yes.
  • Lying to Protect Your Feelings: After finding Gildun's looking glass, Aloy has the option to let him continue to believe that his partner helped protect it after he fell overboard instead of making him realize that his partner pushed him overboard to steal it for himself.
  • Military Moonshiner: Seyka mentions that some of her fellow marines have brewed up something called "bilge blaze", which is made by distilling whatever fermentables they can scrounge. Aloy declines to sample it, on the grounds that it's likely much more potent than anything she's used to drinking.
  • Mistreatment-Induced Betrayal: Nova betrays Londra and helps Aloy and Sekya locate him after he continuously "tweaks" her personality to his flighty specifications, "agonizing" being an accurate description for the experience.
  • Monumental Damage: The Horus was in the middle of destroying the Hollywood sign when MINERVA deactivated it, so it inevitably finishes the job after Londra wakes it back up.
  • Mook Maker:
    • Bileguts come equipped with egg launchers that fire stingspawn eggs. Shooting them off is crucial to avoid getting overwhelmed.
    • Aloy and Seyka witness Londra's Horus produce a swarm of brand new Corruptors which can later be fought. During the final fight against the Horus, it produces some more Corruptors to distract Aloy.
  • My Rule Fu Is Stronger than Yours: Admiral Gerrit justifies arresting Compliance Officer Rheng on the grounds that in an emergency situation, Quen law requires Compliance to transfer command of covert assets to the ranking officer. Given that Rheng conducted his operation without Gerrit's consent, this would amount to insubordination and is grounds for arrest.
  • Oh, Crap!: Aloy and Seyka both have this expression when they figure out what Londra meant when he said he'd "squash them like a bug"-right as the eye of the Horus draped over Londra's bunker lights up.
  • One Nation Under Copyright: The Quen appear to have something like this based on various characters' descriptions. In addition to the House of the Quen Emperor, the Quen also model their society on their limited knowledge of their ancestors, meaning there are a number of powerful organizations known as the Boards that also have a great deal of influence throughout the Great Delta, presumably having been based on the boards of MegaCorps like Faro Automated Solutions, which they revere like religious iconsnote .
  • Overheating: True to Faro robot tradition, Londra's Horus is defeated by destroying the heat sinks on its arms and abdomen, causing a hull breach and Londra to submerge it to prevent it from shutting down.
  • Peninsula of Power Leveling: If you need to fight a Heavy weight class machine for upgrade materials, the Burning Shores has one of them. Tremortusks, Thunderjaws, Slaughterspines, Slitherfangs, Tiderippers, Dreadwings, Fireclaws and Bileguts can all be found somewhere among the archipelago. About the only thing it doesn't have are Stormbirds, except for the malfunctioning one above the ruined amusement park on the coast.
  • Precursor Worship: Londra convinces a number of Quen to join him due to their veneration of Ancestors like him and eventually forms a cult of personality around himself and the "Ascension", a deliberately vague event referring to the rocket he plans to use to escape off-world. When Aloy and Seyka expose Londra's lies, the entire cult falls apart, with some becoming so heartbroken that they become vengeful and murderous.
  • Puppy Love: Aloy's growing attraction to Seyka comes across like an awkward schoolgirl crush. Which, given that Aloy is an undersocialized Barbarian Hero who avoids developing close relationships with people, is probably a fairly accurate description.
  • Put on a Bus: If Aloy visits the location where her companions went at the end of the vanilla game, they will no longer be there. Each of them left a message for Aloy telling her that they are off rallying others to prepare the fight against Nemesis. Alva however makes a short cameo as Aloy sets up communication between her and Seyka in order for them to be reunite the two halves of the Quen expedition. Sylens will still be around until the end of the DLC before leaving himself, trying to check in on the companies that Londra mentions in his Focus that could help them in the future. At the end of the DLC, only Beta and GAIA are left at the Base.
  • Remember the New Guy?: In the main quest of Forbidden West, no indication is ever given that Aloy's team does not, in fact, manage to kill all the Far Zenith members. Burning Shores introduces Walter Londra, the thirteenth Zenith who managed to evade Sylens' weapon and the massacre at the spaceport since he was down in Los Angeles at the time and Aloy must now track down and finish off.
  • Replacement Goldfish: Londra's criteria for the people he plans to take with him in person, rather than simply as tissue samples, is people who he can condition to be substitutes for his inner circle of associates and/or sycophants. The one we actually see him testing for is for who can best impersonate his late wife.
  • Scary Stinging Swarm: Stingspawn naturally organize themselves into these, and they can start seriously hurting. Luckily, they can be disabled en masse by causing a chain reaction using Shock ammo.
  • Scenery Dissonance: The fight with Londra's Horus takes place largely on the brightly-lit sunny tropical beaches of the Burning Shores as it destroys everything in sight and turns the sand to ash.
  • Schizo Tech: Seyka has managed to rig together what is essentially a speedboat using motors constructed from Widemaw tusks while the rest of her tribe is still stuck using large sailing ships.
  • Schmuck Bait: At several points in the Burning Shores, you can find an ancient safe in the middle of the road with legendary loot inside. Looting it will immediately spawn in three machines that converge and attack you. These machines can range from Longlegs to Clawstriders and even a Tremortusk.
  • Self-Deprecation: The Murmoring Hollow Relic Ruin pokes fun at two Fridge Logic moments fans had with two Relic Ruins back in the Forbidden West. First, Aloy enters an elevator and comments that it's definitely not working, referencing the functioning elevator in the Isle of Spires ruin. Second, Aloy finds a train car like in the Restless Weald ruin, but finds she can't push it by herself this time.
  • Sequel Hook: Seyka stays behind to help the rest of the Quen reunite with the Quen at Landfall, but she decides to join Aloy down the line on her mission to defeat Nemesis (depending on player choice) as her girlfriend. Sylens skims through Walter's data and uncovers a select number of 21st-century companies with technological resources that may help them find a way to defeat Nemesis.
  • Serial Escalation: The only Faro Robots Aloy fought in Zero Dawn were a lot of Scarabsnote  and a handful of Khopeshesnote . Keep in mind that Aloy taking down Khopeshes were difficult late-game fights, and that the're equivalent to nothing but foot soldiers in the Faro Swarm. In Burning Shores, she defeats a Horusnote . It's easy to forget, but the disparity between a Khopesh and a Horus is like the difference between a single soldier and an aircraft carrier.
  • Ship Sinking: Burning Shores is a veritable ship graveyard for those shipping Aloy with anyone in the first two games. She meets a Quen marine named Seyka upon arrival, and they team up to stop Londra's plot. Along the way, the two grow closer, and when Seyka confesses to Aloy that she wants to be with her after the final boss fight, Aloy can choose to reciprocate. It's been confirmed by the game's director that Seyka is Aloy's canonical love interest and regardless of your reply, Aloy will admit at Varl's grave that she has romantic feelings for Seyka.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The Pangea franchise is a Jurassic Park Expy, although it seems to take more direct inspiration from the Jurassic World trilogy. The dinosaurs themselves look almost exactly like the ones from said movies, particularly the T. rex and the Raptors, and all of Pangea's dinosaurs intentionally lack any sign of Science Marches On after the original Jurassic Park movies, like feathers or the more lumbering body type for Spinosaurus.
      • Aloy's reaction to one of the velociraptor statues outside the Raptor Raid building:
      Aloy: This one looks clever.
    • The ringed portal used in the Pangea franchise resembles the Stargate.
    • A couple to The Last of Us Part II:
      • A toy bow and arrow can be found near the Thunderjaw site, with a similar design to the one Abby used at the aquarium.
      • At Pangea Park, Aloy and Seyka can encounter a sign depicting a dinosaur wearing a hat, which they comment on.
    • At the park, the holographic soldiers opposing the dinosaurs are clearly ISA Marines from Guerrilla's previous series, Killzone.
    • While there are many canisters one can pick up with their flying mount, one of them can be found on the shore of a beach, evoking the opening scene of the original BIONICLE toyline's promotional material, including the "Mata Nui Online Game". A character named Thok who shares the name with one of BIONICLE's Piraka exists in the game as well.
    • One of the Datapoints will be an ad for Clerk Quest II: Deluxe Edition, with an expansion pass titled "Suppoed to Be My Day Off", referencing the famous "I'm not even supposed to be here today" line.
  • Show Within a Show: Pangea, a holo series produced by Walter Londra which is the basis for Pangea Park. Not a lot is explained about the plot of the series, but it appears to be about a woman named Jane (played by Evelyn, Londra's ex-wife) who travels across the multiverse fighting dinosaurs and makes heavy use of the Artistic License – Paleontology, Raptor Attack, and Prehistoric Monster tropes. Aloy and Seyka are both very puzzled at why 21st century humans would be thrilled to watch other humans get attacked and eaten by dinosaurs.
  • Spinosaurus vs. T. rex: Unlike the main game, the Los Angeles archipelago does have a location with a Thunderjaw and Slaughterspine right next to each other, so you can enact all your wildest machine-battling fantasies if you have the override for one of them. And while not strictly this trope, Pangea Park has a habit of pairing a T. rex and a Spinosaurus together in its holograms.
  • State Sec: Compliance Officers are the eyes and ears of the Imperial House and the Boards, and they crack down hard on dissent. Everyone in Fleet's End is worried about upsetting them, and Theoa tells an anecdote of how her brother reported their mother to Compliance and she was never seen again.
  • Stationary Boss: Walter Londra is wired into his Horus' systems, allowing him to control it. His final fight consists of Aloy disabling the shield around the core of the machine while he lobs electricity attacks at her and heats up the floor.
  • The Stool Pigeon: One sidequest centers around finding the logs of a disgruntled officer of Operation: Enduring Victory who was fed up with watching hopeless battles be reported as victories in propaganda broadcasts, and was setting up to act as a whistleblower telling the world how badly the war was actually going. After being personally briefed by Elisabet Sobeck about the true purpose of Zero Dawn, she went out and disabled the failsafes that would broadcast her messages in the event of her death or arrest, accepting that while the war was hopeless, it was not pointless.
  • Tactical Suicide Boss:
  • Take That!:
    • When Sylens explains that a tabloid was a type of media that focused on the lives of wealthy, famous people so that others could live vicariously through them as part of explaining who Londra was in the Old World, Aloy's only response is a disgusted "Oh. ...yuck!"
    • Aloy and Seyka's impressions of the Pangea franchise, as well as Walter Londra's thoughts on it as the businessman behind it, are a Take That on huge megafranchises that warrant Serial Escalation, merchandising and Theme Parks. This verges on Biting-the-Hand Humor considering the Horizon franchise is practically this for Sony, especially since Pangea also stars a long-haired Action Girl who fights dinosaurs.
  • Thunderbird: A unique Apex Stormbird can be found flying over the ruins of the Santa Monica Pier, seeding the clouds and brewing a massive thunderstorm, making it a more literal example than other Stormbirds. Aloy can choose to fight and destroy it in order to end the storm, allowing her to explore the area without getting struck by lightning.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: The trailer for the DLC literally shows Londra's Horus activating, meaning anyone who watched it is going to have an eye on the only Horus on the Burning Shores map at all times.
  • Unique Enemy: There are two corrupted Apex Clamberjaws guarding the external heat sink for Londra's Horus. They are the only two corrupted machines in the entire game, not just Burning Shores, and the only machines that are both corrupted and Daemonic/Apex simultaneously in either game.
  • What Is This Feeling?: As they grow closer, Aloy becomes flustered by her feelings for Seyka. When she meets up with Seyka after their fight when she reveals the truth about Nemesis, she unconsciously lays a hand on her shoulder while encouraging her, before immediately withdrawing her hand in confusion. She doesn't come to terms with her feelings until Seyka reveals her own affection for Aloy, at which point she can reciprocate or decline.
  • Womb Level: The final confrontation with Londra takes place inside the Horus he's wired himself to.
  • "X" Marks the Spot: A side errand leads Aloy to a treasure that was buried by a crew of Oseram Delvers before their greed got the better of them and they killed each other off. The location where the treasure was buried on the beach is marked by an X made out of a pair of logs.

 
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The Tenakth

Living within the ruins of an Old World Museum, Chief Hekarro would base his Tribes culture after Anne Faradays' speech that rebuilt the United States following a civil war: a speech that resonates 1000 years later when The Derangement of Machines began.

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Main / AllHailTheGreatGodMickey

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