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For Horizon Zero Dawn, Guerrilla Games had to break out of its comfort zone

"At the end of the day, you're also constrained by genre, so we decided to break out of that," said Guerrilla Games managing director Hermen Hulst.

Alissa McAloon, Publisher

March 17, 2017

2 Min Read

"There's only so much you can find in terms of new challenges that aren't intrinsic to a concept. At the end of the day, you're also constrained by genre, so we decided to break out of that."

- Hermen Hulst explains what led the studio took a risk on Horizon Zero Dawn

Glixel spoke with members of the Guerrilla Games team to capture the story of how Horizon Zero Dawn was born, and to explore why a studio that had cut its teeth in making the first-person shooter franchise Killzone took a risk on an open-world game about a post-apocalyptic landscape ruled by robot dinosaurs.

The idea for Horizon Zero Dawn originally came from a six week long company-wide pitch jam. Going in, managing director Herman Hulst’s only rule was that he didn’t want Guerrilla’s next game to be in the racing or puzzle genre. 

Thirty-six game ideas were pitched during the process. Five games went on to be presented the rest of the company, and ultimately two games made the cut. Of those two, Horizon Zero Dawn the riskier game by a long shot. 

"I really like how Hermen says they basically narrowed it down to two concepts: one of which really made a lot of sense for us, and the other was Horizon," said narrative director John Gonzalez. "I think they knew they had something potentially really special, but it was also something that went beyond the established competencies of the studio.”

The full story over at Glixel explores the early challenges the studio faced when moving from a first-person shooter franchise to an entirely new, open-world IP and talks about how the studio added little touches to the game to make the world of Horizon Zero Dawn feel alive.

About the Author(s)

Alissa McAloon

Publisher, GameDeveloper.com

As the Publisher of Game Developer, Alissa McAloon brings a decade of experience in the video game industry and media. When not working in the world of B2B game journalism, Alissa enjoys spending her time in the worlds of immersive sandbox games or dabbling in the occasional TTRPG.

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