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Old Ones' city of Colorado Springs seen in a Vantage Point

The Old Ones is the name for humans of the old world in Horizon Zero Dawn, specifically humanity up to 2066 A.D.

Humanity by the mid-21st century was a technologically advanced civilization, having designed and built incredible scientific feats. Foremost among these was advanced robotics, from artificial intelligence and self-replicating robots to enormous war machines that would eventually supplant entire armies.[1]

However, the world was not one of peace and prosperity--nations found their power eroded by sovereign corporations, climate change led to massive environmental damage and displacement, unemployment was at record highs due to automation, and the accessibility of robots designed for warfare made conflict frequent and widespread.


The Great Die-Off and the Claw-Back

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The Faro Plague

Faro Automated Solutions (FAS) was one of the largest corporations in the world and the primary manufacturer of military robots, finding great success in their Chariot line of "peacekeeper" robots that were sold to nations worldwide. The Chariot line ran the gamut from man-sized FAS-ACA3 "Scarab" walker robots to gigantic FAS-BOR7 "Horus" tunneling machines. These robots were entirely self-sufficient, able to self-replicate at will and fuel themselves by consuming biomass.

In 2064 a swarm from the Chariot line had their command and control protocols severed through an unknown glitch. FAS lost all command over the killer robots which then proceeded to replicate/repair themselves and consume any biomass available. The crisis became known as the Faro Plague; at the rate the robots were replicating and consuming biomass, all life on Earth would be extinguished in 15 months, with the planet eventually becoming an uninhabitable husk. Faced with the inevitable destruction of not just humanity, but all life, Project Zero Dawn was implemented by Dr. Elisabet Sobeck through the United States Robot Command, with funding provided reluctantly by FAS' founder Ted Faro.

Operation: Enduring Victory

There was no way to stop the Faro Plague before it destroyed everything--the encryption protocols to deactivate the swarm were highly advanced and cracking even one of the codes required a minimum of 60 years; humanity had a little over one year. Thus, the center of Project Zero Dawn was GAIA, a highly advanced artificial intelligence designed by Dr. Elisabet Sobeck. GAIA's task was to deactivate the Faro swarm and rebuild the barren Earth that would be left behind. Humanity and all life could not be saved, but Zero Dawn's goal was to make it so something might be able to come after.

To accomplish this unprecedented task, a network of underground facilities and bunkers was constructed to facilitate the rebuilding of Earth. To buy the necessary time and quickly begin large worldwide construction projects, the U.S. military implemented Operation: Enduring Victory--a civilian-enlistee global war campaign intended to delay the swarm and allow the project to complete preparations. Billions of people, mostly civilians, fought against the swarm with all of the weapons at their disposal. The entire operation was doomed from the start; victory was impossible, something its commanding officer General Herres knew, but the war bought the Zero Dawn team two valuable years to complete the project. By 2066, Zero Dawn was ready, but the last human military forces were destroyed later that year.

Ted Faro felt extreme guilt from his inadvertent role as the architect of the eradication of all life. He felt that the humans who would come after would not learn from humanity's mistakes and would simply repeat them, eventually leading to a similar crisis. One of Project Zero Dawn's subroutines, APOLLO was an archive of all of humanity's knowledge and cultures, intended to teach the next generation all of its achievements and failures. Using his high-level access, Ted Faro deleted APOLLO's archives, ensuring all of humanity's culture, history, and technological knowledge--the collective sum of over 150,000 years of human history and progress--would be lost forever. He believed that if humanity was doomed, what came after should be free of its mistakes, a "clean slate."


Over the course of centuries, Earth was restored by GAIA and her subroutines. Once-ravaged continents and poisoned seas were returned to a habitable state. The atmosphere became breathable again, and animals soon roamed the lands once more. By the 31st century, the humans that came about as a result of Project Zero Dawn were unable to progress beyond a tribal level of technology because of the APOLLO purge centuries ago.

Humanity's once-great cities lay in ruins, reclaimed by nature -- evidence of a civilization long forgotten, now called "The Old Ones." Even though centuries have passed, much of the technology left behind still remains in a functional state, including many of the Project Zero Dawn holographic files, the last known record of what led to the Old Ones' destruction. Their ruins are avoided by some tribes while others see them as a valuable source of salvage. Further, each tribe holds different beliefs about what brought on the demise of the Old Ones.[2]


Both nations and corporations waged war with each other due to the proliferation of military robotics, and the automation of many industries led to a global unemployment crisis. During the 2050s, many young Americans migrated to China seeking employment in the form of manual labor.

Severe climate change led to the destruction of several nations, including New Zealand, Panama and the Azores. This spurred an increase in green technologies and environmental cleanup efforts, in turn leading to even greater dependence on robotics and automation.

Holographic technologies dominated social and cultural networks, as evidenced by the many holograms left behind in ruins.

Known Organizations

Corporate Entities

Other Groups

Mentioned Individuals



  • Lacy Almodovar[23]
  • Sally Bowyer, UK Prime Minister[17]
  • Ozzy Jebson, Governor of Wyoming[24]
  • Nigel Kearns-Bailey, UK Opposition Party Leader[17]
  • Tama Ngata, New Zealand Prime Minister[25]
  • Gerard O'Neil, U.S. Senator[26]