A Focus is a small augmented reality device worn by human users that serves as a multipurpose sensory interface. This device is responsive to the user's gestures and voice, and displays a visual 3D interface visible only to them, aiding in the operation of machinery and technology alike, as well as in communications.
As a young child, Aloy discovers a still-functional Focus in a ruin site. This Focus becomes integral to gameplay, allowing Aloy to learn information about machines, track movement and patrol routes, and detect important objects.
Appearance and functions
The device resembles a small silver triangle, approximately an inch long from base to tip. A strip of light - presumably a power indicator - runs along the centerline of the device from the bottom to the tip.
The Focus attaches to the side of the user's head through an unknown mechanism that closely resembles magnetism in operation. As a child, it automatically clung to the side of Aloy's head before she secured it in place.
It is extremely durable and can remain operational for hundreds of years, as evidenced by Aloy's Focus being left in a cave exposed to the elements for nearly 1,000 years and losing no known functionality. It is not known what type of energy the Focus runs on or how it recharges. Considering the fact that Aloy's Focus was found resting in direct sunlight, it is possible that the Focus operates on solar energy.
When activated, a ring of light illuminates around the device. The interface is within a wide geodesic polyhedron of holographic light, and important markers are also indicated with holographic light in purple and blue hues. The user can interact with some of the holograms with gestures. The interface can be used while in motion up to a point, as Aloy must walk slowly to use it.
The Focus also contains a suite of sensors that can scan and reveal the location of animals, humans, and machines in a certain range. It is somehow linked to the technology present in machines as well, as Aloy can scan machines with it, revealing information about them such as components and behavior, and in some cases, the three-dimensional interface will extend and adapt to machines to facilitate some processes.
Aside from powerful and adaptable sensors, it also contains a capable processing unit, albeit one that was relatively weak by the standards of the Old Ones. The Focus can repair heavily damaged files and audios in a matter of hours or days, which normally is a computationally intensive process and can take years for current, real-world processors to achieve - if at all.
A Focus can tap into the data stored on other Focuses, as Aloy does multiple times throughout the game, by simply holding another Focus in her hand and scanning it. It can be assumed that the process is destructive, seeing how the scanned Focuses sparked and malfunctioned after the data transfer was done.
The Focus was invented some time in the 21st century by Faro Automated Solutions, as a personal device that could be used by civilians. The Focus could be used in a wide variety of different ways, with supplemental functions available through apps from the Faro Store (similar to real-world smartphones). Before the Faro Plague, two updates were known to have released for the Focus, the "Aten" update, which released with fanfare, but eventually became known for its failures, and the "Nepit" update, which sought to fix, tweak, and improve the Focus, effectively redefining its capabilities and functionalities. Boasting over 200,000 apps covering music, fashion, navigation, the Nepit update also refined biometrics for monitoring health and finding lost pets, to assisting in diagnosing and repairing household appliances. It became common to have one by the mid 21st century.
After the Faro Plague eradicated life on Earth, Focus devices remained functional into the 31st century.
Focuses were a planned feature of APOLLO, where they would be used to educate the new generation of humanity. However, after Ted Faro's purge of APOLLO, none of these Focuses were used for their intended purpose.
Usage of Focus devices among the new generation of humans is incredibly rare. Notable exceptions are Aloy, who discovered one as a child; Sylens, who found and repaired a damaged one; and the Eclipse, who used a communication network developed by Sylens under HADES's orders, allowing instantaneous communication over vast distances. However, this network was destroyed by Aloy in order to infiltrate Sunfall.
After the fall of the Eclipse, Aloy and Sylens are the only two people alive known to have Focuses (Olin Delverson is a possible third, depending on whether Aloy spared or killed him).
In Horizon Forbidden West, it is revealed that Aloy found a cache containing numerous Focuses sometime after the events of Horizon Zero Dawn. Varl, Zo, Erend, and Kotallo are all given Focuses during the course of the story.
Alva and Bohai also possess Focuses, albeit ones of an earlier design with limited functionality and different appearances compared to the Focuses used by other characters. These Focuses are unable to access data created after the 2050s. Other members of the Quen tribe are also said to possess Focuses of this design.
Below is a list of the known functions of the Focus:
- Making the structures of nearby machines visible through obstructions, similar to an X-ray.
- Scanning machines and registering their information, including weaknesses, in the Machine Catalogue in the Notebook. This briefly leaves them and their weak points highlighted.
- Optionally places a marker to allow for tracking a machine outside of scanning mode.
- Optionally places a trail on the ground indicating a machine's patrol route.
- Decoding datapoints, glyphs, and Vantage Points.
- Revealing tracks or evidence left behind by humans or machines.
- Scanning up to 75 meters away from Aloy, looking for hidden datapoints. If it finds any, and if Aloy then comes within 25 meters of them, it will place an icon of a box on the compass to help her locate them.
- Shows places to climb (Horizon Forbidden West)
- Flashlight (Horizon Forbidden West, only in certain areas)
Behind the scenes
- According to John Gonzalez, the narrative director for Horizon Zero Dawn, early drafts for the story had Aloy finding the Focus as an adult, following the Proving massacre. This received heavy backlash from the design team, as this would mean the game's user interface would not appear until the third hour of gameplay.