Guerrilla Games Talk Behind-the-Scenes of Horizon: Zero Dawn, Concept Art, and Major Details at PSX Panel

Narrative Director John Gonzalez and Guerrilla Games’ Managing Director Herman Hulst speak at PlayStation Experience panel about Horizon: Zero Dawn. They share tons of behind-the-scenes information about the formation of the upcoming Guerrilla title, and more never-before-seen concept art. One of the first questions Sid Shuman asked the duo pertained to the origins of Horizon: Zero Dawn. According to Hulst, after working on Kill Zone for so long, they wanted a new idea. Guerrilla Games wanted a new project that would rejuvenate them. Approximately 40-50 ideas were “pitched”, then it was narrowed down to 2. Hulst jokingly stated:

“One of these concepts made a lot of sense for us to make. It was a very prudent choice, and the other one was Horizon: Zero Dawn.”

Below are key talking points, excerpts, and answers from Hulst and Gonzalez during the panel. They divulge quite a lot about the main character, Aloy, and several elements behind the thought processes in creating Horizon: Zero Dawn. Both of them emphasize the attention to detail on tribe culture, technological design, and the overall creation of the game.

  • HZD seemed like a very risky choice.
  • From several aspects, it was risky because Guerrilla games are not familiar with Open-World, or Action RPGs (new genre to studio). The art style and concept was completely different from the style they are known for.


  • Hulst tried to move away from the concept, initially. However, it was too tempting and too appealing not to try. The studio was very much in love with the project to let it go so easily.
  • The setting is approximately 1,000 years into the future, in comparison to the world as it is now.
  • HZD isn’t supposed to be viewed as apocalyptic. It’s supposed to be lush, beautiful, and majestic setting like a BBC nature documentary.
  • Machines are the dominant species, not humans.

    “That makes it super compelling for us, to have that kind of juxtaposition between the mechanical beasts and the lush, natural setting.” – Hulst

  • One of the biggest reasons Gonzalez was drawn to the project was the “mysteriousness” of the game. One of the questions he asked himself was, “How do you start off with a world that we live in now and end up, after a thousand years or so, with a world like this?”
  • The goal of Guerrilla Games wasn’t just to make something “cool” and make a “great, high concept”, but to create a compelling world.  Not just a large world, but one full of mystery and depth.
  • The studio wanted to create a game that drew players in to want to solve tantalizing puzzles about this mysterious world. To discover and explore.
  • The world is full of tribes.


  • Guerrilla Games committed to the project in 2011, and it was a moment of realization for them.
  • In order to hash out this project with the vision they had, many parts of the company had to be reassessed – organization, bringing in new talent, more expertise. Complete overhaul.
  • They needed more technology in order to create this game, so they created the Decima Engine. More content creation tools needed to be created as well.
  • Aloy’s tribe is called the Nora.
  • Regarding the in-game culture: motherhood and nurturing governed the way the tribe functioned, above all else. A matriarchy. Hunting culture. The placement of villages purposeful in valleys, between mountainous ranges. Symbols resemble Celtic knots and are purposefully round to celebrate and appreciate birth and womanhood.
  • With the concept art, they hire people with varying backgrounds to pitch in. People with industrial design backgrounds and engineers who dissect design aspects of the game.
  • Hulst emphasizes that this is a Science Fiction title, not a fantasy game.
  • Aloy was part of the whole HZD concept from day 1, and is very fundamental to the game. They played with the idea that she may not have come from the Nora tribe, but was brought into it as an infant, for example.
  • So, the big part of the game will focus on Aloy’s background and origins while simultaneously exploring the world and its’ mysteries.
  • The title ZERO DAWN will make more sense as you explore the world entirely.

What say you, gamers? Does this make you even more excited for Horizon: Zero Dawn? You bet I am! Let us know your thoughts in the comments section down below! Of course, make sure you have fun out there and game on!

Hoi Duong2115 Posts

Hoi is an elusive figure at DFTG, whose favorite past-times include chillin' in the Fade, reading manga, watching anime, collecting novelty items, and gaming.


Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


Welcome! Login in to your account

Remember me Lost your password?

Lost Password