Horizon Zero Dawn is undeniably one of 2017’s most successful titles. Even with the exclusivity on PlayStation 4, the game is still one of the most beautiful and detailed games the past year has seen. Almost a year after its release on the console, Horizon Zero Dawn’s Director Mathijs De Jonge talks about the game’s development and revealing some details that we didn’t know up until now.
In Noclip’s latest extended interview, Mathijs De Jonge, the designer of Horizon Zero Dawn talks about designing the game, what we haven’t seen and also what we might see in the future. Interestingly, there were a lot of things that we didn’t know about Horizon Zero Dawn. Let’s take a look:
The World Map was originally 50 times bigger
Horizon Zero Dawn is one of the most complete open world experiences we had in the recent years and no one could have thought that its map could actually be bigger than what we’ve seen. Jonge has revealed though that in the early stages of its development, the map was 50 times bigger than what we see today. The problem was that the developer team could never fill such a world with enough content since their plan was to have a different event happening within 200 meters. After all, the map got smaller, denser and it was then up to the art team to make the sceneries make it look bigger than it actually is.
Audio Design is a part of the gameplay
According to Jonge, the game’s audio design is a big part of the player’s experience. You can already tell that the soundtrack, as well as the SFX, added to it are masterfully implemented in it but what you may not have noticed is that the machine enemies’ sound effects can tell you what it’s doing without even looking at it. He says:
Our goal was that you could, by not looking at the enemy, tell what it was doing and where it was by just hearing. You could hear if it was searching, if it’s found something, if it was going into combat, if it was about to attack, so all of these stages, all of these behaviors that are important for the player we wanted him to know what was going on.
There’s more Horizon Zero Dawn Content Coming
After being asked about mechanics that were supposed to be in the game but haven’t made the cut, Jonge stated that there are actually “more things that they might have saved to a later date”. He didn’t say whether he’s talking about a sequel or a new expansion for the already released game but knowing that there’s more to it than what we’ve seen is a good sign.
The Fulton mechanic that never made it to the game
Speaking of mechanics that didn’t make the cut, the developer team of Horizon Zero Dawn originally wanted Alloy to be able to take components of the machines she slain. That would be possible by shooting a flare, signaling a nearby tribe to come and Fulton the giant machine with a flying wheel machine so that it can be sold later. He calls that flying machine a “flying wheel pirate ship” but it actually felt too complicated and wasn’t implemented in the final version of the game even though it was initially created.
Horizon Zero Dawn was supposed to only have machine enemies
In the early stages of its development, Horizon Zero Dawn didn’t have any human enemies. Later on, the development team realized that there was a lack of variety in enemies. Always fighting “aggressive metal machines” wasn’t fulfilling enough as Jonge states and that’s why they finally implemented the bandit camps.
There was a two-player co-op prototype of the game
Did you know that the game was supposed to have two protagonists and that it would be playable in co-op mode? This would have taken Horizon Zero Dawn’s gameplay to a different direction but was finally out of the picture since the developers insisted that for it to happen the content of the game should be reduced by 50%. Removing features of the gameplay was out of the question so the co-op prototype never saw the day of light. Truth be told, the game is exactly what it should be and it couldn’t have been what it is today if played in a co-op mode but with less content.
For what it’s worth, founder of Xbox, Seamus Blackley was right, Horizon Zero Dawn is a spectacular game and it takes balls to release such a title.