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"The lesson will be taught in due time, Aloy. Until then, we wait."
This article contains heavy spoilers. Read ahead with caution.

Almost every machine seen in Horizon Zero Dawn

Machine is a term used by the tribes of Horizon Zero Dawn and Horizon Forbidden West to refer to the technologically advanced robotic organisms that have grown to become the Earth’s new dominant species. The majority of these machines are modelled after various forms of fauna that have existed throughout the course of Earth's long history, from avians to ungulates, and even dinosaurs.

Currently, there are two known examples of botanical-based machines, the Metal Flowers found throughout the world of Horizon Zero Dawn, and the tree-like Control Towers found only, to date, in The Cut.

History

In the late 2040's, Faro Automated Solutions shifted its focus away from green robotics and devoted most of its resources to developing advanced machines built for combat. At some point, FAS created the Chariot line, a brand of robotic war machines that came in the three models, consisting of the FAS-ACA3 Scarab, FAS-FSPS Khopesh, and the FAS-BOR7 Horus. When deployed, any machine lost in combat could be easily replaced by the interior foundries of the Titan-class Horus units, and the Scarab and Khopesh units could convert biomass to fuel the Horus and themselves, further increasing their already impressive formidability. Additionally, the Scarab possessed an advanced hijacking ability which allowed it to override and shackle other combat machines to the cast network which guided the swarm, effectively defeating every automated opponent put against them the moment they set foot on the battlefield. The entire Faro line used polyphasic entangled waveforms, rendering them virtually un-hackable even when using super computers, with the most charitable estimates for code-breaking time being in the one hundred to two hundred year range.

The Faro Plague

The Faro Plague

In 2064, a "glitch" in the Faro machines broke out the established chain of command, turning them against their former masters and creating a single, fully independent swarm which answered only to itself. Attempts to contain the growing threat failed one by one, and desperation eventually drove Ted Faro, the CEO of FAS, to meet with former employee Dr. Elisabet Sobeck in hopes of containing the swarm permanently. Dr. Sobeck quickly realized the gravity of the situation, concluding that there was no way to stop the swarm now that it had gone rogue. She predicted that a mass extinction level event was soon to occur, with the estimated time till the entire planet was left utterly lifeless being a measly fifteen months. Recognizing that stopping the swarm was not an option, Dr. Sobeck would propose Project Zero Dawn; a way to ensure that life on Earth would continue after the swarm had consumed everything in the current era. As work on the project began, humanity found itself in a full-fledged war with the machines, with Faro robots attacking every nation across the planet, without pause, .

Zero Dawn would see the development of an advanced artificial intelligence known as GAIA that would, in time, crack the machine swarm's encryption codes, deactivate them, and then re-seed the Earth with plant, animal, and human life. GAIA was aided by nine subroutines, one of which was HEPHAESTUS, in charge of producing and programming terraforming machines through a network of underground factories, known as Cauldrons

Far Zenith

Meanwhile, a private group, supposedly comprised of seventy-seven of the world's wealthiest individuals, known as Far Zenith escaped Earth via space travel. They arrived in the Sirius star system and built a colony on one of the systems planets. During their time in Sirius, the Zeniths created machines known as "Specters,” more advanced machines comprised mainly of a solid inner structure and a malleable “skin” comprised of nanomachines. These machines are centuries ahead of the Chariot line in terms of technological development, being capable of performing such miraculous feats as self-repair, levitation, kinetic shield generation, and the ability to form a wide variety of combat tools from its nanomachine hull.

However, the Zeniths were later forced to flee their home system when a failed attempt at transcendence created a volatile artificial intelligence, which would then turn rogue and commence an omnicidal rampage against its makers. This entity, christened Nemesis, attacked and killed the vast majority of the Zeniths, while survivors fled to earth with many of their Specters in tow, along with the means to fabricate more, should the need arise.

GAIA's machines

A variety of machines created by GAIA and HEPHAESTUS

Eventually, the Faro swarm won out over humanity, and devoured all life on Earth, but GAIA (alongside another subroutine known as MINERVA) managed to crack the encryption codes after several decades, shutting the machines down. GAIA would then begin to detoxify the Earth's atmosphere and biosphere (with the aid of subordinate functions such as AETHER and POSEIDON) using machines modeled after fauna that existed prior to the global extinction. Hundreds of years later, humans were released from the Cradles they were created in and began forming primitive tribal societies; not knowing of the "old ones" who came before them. The machines they encountered were docile and generally harmless for many generations, usually fleeing if they saw a human. Machines, especially machine hunting, would have a large role in the culture of these new tribes.

At some point, an unknown signal caused all nine of GAIA's subroutines to become independent AIs, and lead to HADES going rogue. HADES attempted to begin the Extinction Protocol it had been programmed to enact by taking control of the terraforming system, but GAIA commenced self-destruction before it could achieve full control. However, HADES was able to create a virus which unshackled it and all the other subordinate functions, which then escaped into the world.

The destruction of GAIA meant that every subordinate function of Zero Dawn, now AIs and free in the world, were able to make their own decisions, including HEPHAESTUS, which perceived the human practice of hunting machines for resources as hostile activity. Because of this, HEPHAESTUS changed the machines' default behavior as hostile towards mankind, later going on to create machines specifically outfitted to cull the human population and dissuade hunters. This phenomena came to be known as the "Derangement" by the humans, and has put a great strain on nearly every tribe.

Machines in the present day are often hunted for their parts, or to cull them before they can threaten local populations. They can usually be found in large groups, although some operate in smaller packs. Machines will either run away from or attack humans (mostly the latter) that they come across, and will completely ignore wildlife. They will never attack each other unless overridden or corrupted.

Appearance

GAIA machines

The machines of the terraforming system take inspiration from animal biology, primarily from vertebrate species (the exceptions being the Shell-Walker and Control Towers). The typical machine design features a chassis composed of darker alloys, synthetic skins, and fiber-optic cables, with lighter alloys serving as armor plating for vital components and synthetic muscles. The logo for the machine's respective Cauldron will be located in multiple places along the body, and armor plating is sometimes lacquered (the Fireclaw's armor plating is dark red). Due to their respective purposes, not all machines have jaws, and the ones that do generally have split mandibles. The machines vary in size from slightly larger than humans to as tall as ten stories.

With the exception of the Tallneck and Control Tower, all machines have visual sensors, arranged in either a monocular or binocular fashion.

Faro Plague

The Chariot Line, the machines created by Faro Automated Solutions, were designed to be unsettling in appearance. The designs of the Corruptor and Metal Devil resemble invertebrates, while the Deathbringer does not resemble any animal whatsoever. Their chassis are comprised entirely of dark metal and their weapons are easily visible on their exterior.

Far Zenith

Far Zenith machines, sometimes called "Exoframes", are extremely advanced compared to their Earth-bound counterparts. The ones brought to Earth are combat drones made of nanomachines, which gave them a more organic appearance than GAIA's machines. Specters, for example, have tentacle-like limbs, can project energy shields and shapeshift parts of themselves into deadly weapons.

Varieties of machine

Chariot machines

Chariot machines are ancient war machines that have been excavated from the earth and re-awoken by the Eclipse. They were the autonomous combat robots of the Chariot Class, designed by Faro Automated Solutions nearly a millennium before the events of Horizon Zero Dawn.

Zero Dawn machines

Project Zero Dawn's machines are created by HEPHAESTUS, one of GAIA's sub-functions, for the purpose of recreating Earth's biosphere. GAIA's machines fall under four classes, with a fifth later created by HEPHAESTUS for the sole purpose of combating humans.

Acquisition Class

Acquisition Class machines make up the bulk of GAIA's workforce, harvesting resources to assist the terraforming program and allow for the further construction of machines. Each model of Acquisition Class machine is typically specialized towards refining a single type of resource, such as breaking down plant life to create Blaze, distilling Chillwater from bodies of water, or recycling destroyed machines into Processed Metal Blocks.

Combat Class

Combat Class machines did not exist when the first humans were released from the Cradles, instead appearing after the Derangement when the HEPHAESTUS sub-function deemed humans a threat. However, it is worth mentioning that variations of some Combat Class machines (such as the Stalker) existed prior to the Derangement.[1] Often equipped with weapons, Combat Class Machines are unquestionably the most dangerous machines and are often seen among more vulnerable machines, guarding them against hunters.

Communication Class

Communication Class machines are a unique group, with the only known member being the Tallneck.[2] They have no offensive capabilities, and appear completely unaffected by the Derangement.

Recon Class

Recon Class machines are some of the simplest machines, usually built around a single advanced detection component, such as an ocular sensor or radar. Originally created to help Acquisition Class Machines find land suitable for terraforming, their purpose shifted to serving as guards and lookouts for other machines after the Derangement.

Transport Class

Transport Class machines are a diverse group, with one machine designed for the sole purpose of assisting Acquisition Class Machines move large amounts of cargo, and two others designed to carry materials intended for their own terraforming functions.

Corrupted machines

While Corrupted Machines technically fall under their original Machine Class, they have been overridden by FARO Chariot Line's Scarab (Corruptors) that have themselves fallen under HADES' control, turning their subordination to the rogue Extinction fail-safe program instead of HEPHAESTUS who created them. They are allied with the Eclipse, and are hostile to other humans and machines.

These machines have enhanced physical strength and improved firepower over normal machines. They also drop a volatile substance known as Metalburn that is toxic to both organic life and machines, making it even more dangerous to face them. These machines however are more susceptible to Fire damage, even units which are supposedly resistant, such as Fire Bellowbacks and Tramplers.

Daemonic machines

Encountered only in The Frozen Wilds, these are regular machines augmented by HEPHAESTUS through unspecified means after it took control of the Caldera facility. Stronger than Corrupted machines, enhanced with higher elemental resistance, especially shock, and immune to being overridden, without any inherent weakness. Since they are products of HEPHAESTUS, they aren't hostile towards normal machines and will work together with them to take down humans.

Apex

First seen in the Horizon Zero Dawn comic series and later seen in Horizon Forbidden West, these machine variants possess black armor rather than white, and are more deadly than their standard counterparts. They are drawn to locations where large numbers of machines have been killed, serving as guardians, and will stop at nothing to eliminate anyone they consider a threat.

Far Zenith machines

Far Zenith machines are the most advanced of all machines. They were presumably created by the Zeniths on their colony in the Sirius system. They are composed largely of nanotechnology and covered in white-gold armor plates that can turn into weapons and gravitationally reattach themselves.

Gameplay

Machine hunting is one of the main elements of gameplay. As such, understanding a machine's abilities and behavior is essential for survival. While their behavior varies widely across different varieties of machine, there are several commonalities that can be observed.

A machine's state of behavior is indicated by their eye color. Blue light indicates their default docile state, in which they will perform their general functions. Yellow light indicates alarm or disturbance: in this state, they will search for threats until they either detect a threat or determine the threat to be passed. Red light indicates their combat state, which they shift into once they have located a threat. A machine's eyes will flash briefly before it attacks, serving as a warning to its target.

Machines have weak spots which can be exposed by shooting off their armor. Some machines can also be overridden, thus changing their behavior and forcing them to aid Aloy with her objectives.[3] Machines can also become corrupted, posing a even bigger threat. They appear with blue outlines when scanned with a Focus. Machines have varying resistances and weaknesses to elemental damage, which can be used against them in combat.

Evolution

The designs of the machines in-game are not fixed or constant for the entirety of the game. As Aloy hunts and kills more machines, they will eventually 'evolve' and adapt by better protecting themselves with additional armor plates. The number of kills it takes to 'evolve' varies with each machine. Once this 'evolution' of a machine takes place, the player will only ever encounter the more heavily-armored variant. This 'evolution' process only works for machines that are still in production, so the Corruptor and Deathbringer are unaffected.

MACHINE KILLS TO EVOLVE MACHINE KILLS TO EVOLVE
Grazer-Icon.png GRAZER 15 Bellowback-Icon.png FIRE BELLOWBACK 5
Strider-Icon.png STRIDER 15 Bellowback-Icon.png FREEZE BELLOWBACK 5
Lancehorn-Icon.png LANCEHORN 10 Ravager-Icon.png RAVAGER 5
Scrapper-Icon.png SCRAPPER 10 Longleg-Icon.png LONGLEG 5
Broadhead-Icon.png BROADHEAD 10 Sawtooth-Icon.png SAWTOOTH 5
Charger-Icon.png CHARGER 10 Snapmaw-Icon.png SNAPMAW 5
Glinthawk Icon.png GLINTHAWK 10 Thunderjaw-Icon.png THUNDERJAW 2
Watcher-Icon.png WATCHER 5 Rockbreaker-Icon.png ROCKBREAKER 1
Watcher-Icon.png REDEYE WATCHER 5 Behemoth-Icon.png BEHEMOTH 1
Trampler-Icon.png TRAMPLER 5 Stormbird-Icon.png STORMBIRD 1
ShellWalker-Icon.png SHELL-WALKER 5 Stalker-Icon.png STALKER -

Combat Levels

Machine Level Level (Corrupted) Level (Daemonic) Level (HFW) Level (Apex)
Strider-Icon.png Strider 5 12
Burrower Icon.png Burrower 5 10
Watcher-Icon.png Watcher 5 12 15
Grazer-Icon.png Grazer 8 15
Scrounger Icon.png Scrounger 8 14
Scrapper-Icon.png Scrapper 8 15 17 11 18
Broadhead-Icon.png Broadhead 10 17
Watcher-Icon.png Redeye Watcher 10 17 17 15 27
Plowhorn icon.png Plowhorn 12 22
Lancehorn-Icon.png Lancehorn 13 13
Charger-Icon.png Charger 13 18 13
Leaplasher Icon.png Leaplasher 13 21
Longleg-Icon.png Longleg 13 20 23 13 23
Bristleback Icon.png Bristleback 13 23
Spikesnout Icon.png Spikesnout 14 24
Deathbringer-Icon.png Deathbringer (1) 14
Fanghorn Icon.png Fanghorn 14
Sawtooth-Icon.png Sawtooth 15 20
Widemaw Icon.png Widemaw 15 27
Trampler-Icon.png Trampler 15 20
Skydrifter Icon.png Skydrifter 16 26
Clawstrider Icon.png Clawstrider 16 26
Corruptor-Icon.png Corruptor 18 18
Deathbringer-Icon.png Deathbringer (2) 18
Glinthawk Icon.png Glinthawk 18 23 12 19
Bellowback-Icon.png Fire Bellowback 18 23 30 18 29
Bellowback-Icon.png Freeze Bellowback 18 23 30 18 29
Stalker-Icon.png Stalker 18 23 30 22 35
ShellWalker-Icon.png Shell-Walker 18 28 29
Grimhorn Icon.png Grimhorn 18 29
Sunwing Icon.png Sunwing 20
Ravager-Icon.png Ravager 20 27 20 32
Snapmaw-Icon.png Snapmaw 20 27 31 20 32
Clamberjaw Icon.png Clamberjaw 21 34
Rollerback Icon.png Rollerback 22
Rockbreaker-Icon.png Rockbreaker 23 34 40 25 40
Deathbringer-Icon.png Deathbringer (3) 25
Specter Icon.png Specter 25
Behemoth-Icon.png Behemoth 25 32 40 25 40
Dreadwing Icon.png Dreadwing 26 40
Tideripper Icon.png Tideripper 26 44
Stormbird-Icon.png Stormbird 27 40 30 46
Thunderjaw-Icon.png Thunderjaw 27 36 40 30 48
Shellsnapper Icon.png Shellsnapper 27 42
Slitherfang Icon.png Slitherfang 28 48
Deathbringer-Icon.png Deathbringer (4) 30
Scorcher-Icon.png ScorcherFW 30 35 30 48
Iceclaw-Icon.png FrostclawFW 30 36 24 38
Tremortusk Icon.png Tremortusk 35 56
Slaughterspine Icon.png Slaughterspine 45 64
Specter Prime 45
Fireclaw-Icon.png FireclawFW 50 55 42 60
Control TowerFW
Tallneck-Icon.png Tallneck

Trivia

  • The naming convention for the machines is either an active agent (eg. Strider or Grazer) or compound noun (eg. Bellowback or Snapmaw), and occasionally both. The Behemoth and the Metal Devil are exceptions, both of which draw from mythology.
  • Although the lore mentions that there were many fully automated robots that came before the Chariot Line, there are strangely no signs of these ancient machines, dormant or dead.
    • It is possible however that said automatons were destroyed during operating Enduring Victory by humans, knowing they would only boost the Faro Plague.
      • Even so, such machines include those designed for domestic purposes by F.A.S, such as @lfred.
  • According to Jan Bart van Beek, the design for the machines was influenced by discussions that Guerrilla Games had with a university in Delft: many of the features, such as legs, synthetic muscles, self-sustainable design, and external armor plating, were incorporated into the machines design.[4]

References

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