Baltica over the Horizon (Zero Dawn)

What actually awaits beyond the Horizon ?

Ok, let’s be honest – I had some thoughts that it would be great to get an invitation for any official event connected to Horizon Zero Dawn. If polish gamers liked my cosplay, why wouldn’t it be appreciated on the international arena? However, this was not any dominant thought. I was aware that there are better costumes than mine.

And till one wonderfull evening…

I got out of the gym and checked what’s up on the Internet and I did not believe my eyes – I got a private message via my Facebook, about taking part in Horizon Zero Dawn promotion event in Amsterdam, organized by european PlayStation headquarters and Guerrilla Games. Date: 23rd-24th of January 2017. Was this message really for me? They already had two Aloy cosplayers in the Netherlands. Why spend money on someone from other country? As it turned out, there were six Aloys in total, but we will get back to this topic later.

Next thought – plane? How am I suppose to secure my bow? This thing does not fit into a suitcase. I can’t even dismantle it into separate parts. So train was my final mean of transport. Let my choice be blessed – Monika Paplińska from PlayStation Poland informed me about flight delays and cancellations due to fog in Poland plus issues with flights from London. But there always has to be balance in the nature – my way-back-home train had a delay because of a another-train-vs-truck crash on my train’s route.

Get to the point!

Five cosplayers have been invited – Raven Star from Netherlands, Ibelinn from Norway, Miss Skunk from Germany and – SURPRISE! – Margaret and myself from Poland. I realized from that I won’t be the only Aloy when I read Raven’s twitt. It was something like ‘I have really exiting news for you guys!’ and appeared at the same evening I got the invitation. Soon, there was a request not to put any information in social medial about our presence in Amsterdam, so none of us said any more word.

First part of the event on Monday 23rd of January was a time for media in Guerrilla Games Studio, without Aloys. We got to the hotel in Amsterdam on Monday’s afternoon (except Margaret, who arrived around 20:00 due to flight changes) and after ‘briefing’ leaded by our cooridnator from Manifest London (event company working for PlayStation) and first couple of photos, we’ve headed to Sugar City – old sugar workshop area, adopted for various events purpouses.

We’ve been welcomed by Guerrilla Games employees, including Hermen Hulst himself. Their happines when they saw live-action Aloys was impossible to describe and we did not have to wait long for the first photos and video footages. After a while, like ‘out of nowhere’, a Circle Perussion drum band appeared, playing on their instruments and creating this tribal-alike atmosphere from Horizon Zero Dawn. The band is also featured in game’s soundtrack.
The guests were ariving. I was happy to see polish faces – Monika Paplińska from PlayStation Poland, PSX Extreme Magazine crew and guys from Spider’s Web. Surprisingly – sixth Aloy joined us as well. It was italian cosplayer Nadia Baiardi.

source: Hermen Hulst, Guerrilla Games

First item on the agenda was a performance of already mentioned drum band.

What were our tasks? To welcome guests, to accompany them during such activities like archery and photoshooting on a green screen, with Horizon Zero Dawn outfit elements created by Manifest London (and my bow or other Aloy’s spear). We were supposed to change our post every hour, but as soon as The Watcher (yes, THE Watcher, which was known only from videos and photos from across the ocean) appeared, all plans were more or less not valid anymore. When there was some space, I decided – as first of all Aloys – to apporach the Watcher and do some role-playing scene, visible on the videos below. It was all improvised. The machine was ‘taken over’ by other Aloys with its every step and so we kept to exchange from time to time.

About the machine itself: according to information from Hermen, the armor itself weighs around 50-60kg, and the ‘perfomers’ inside are able to move with it about 20-30 minutes. It requires quite a physical fitness and is not as easy as it looks. The Watcher makes sound like these from the game and depending on the ‘mode’ he is actually in, the lights in front of his face change colors. Red is a fight mode, blue means that it is reprogramed to be our ally and I am not sure about the yellow cause I did not asked, but I think it’s a standby/observe mode. Its moves are perfect and game-alike, thanks to performes inside the armor.
Watcher came out of the backstage couple of times, so everyone have their chance to make couple of photos and videos. At the end of the party when atmosphere got loose, the creature decided to dance with Aloys. We demand a DLC with that ! Other surprise except the drum band, was performance of Julie Elven, the vocalist, who performed known from trailers Horizon Zero Dawn theme. For the event purposes music from the game was mixed by guys from The Flight.

source: Miss Skunk

In the meantime we took part in interviews, including one for PlayStation Headquaters, who will make one big interview from all Aloys comments. I also had the pleasure to have an interview with guys from Spider’s Web and posed for spanish and japanese PlayStation teams.
I did some archery – unfortunately because of safety reasons the arrow’s end was a sponge, soaked with paint to make a mark on the shooting target. I proposed Watcher with some Coca-Cola (he did not want :(() and made a video with Watcher getting a badge of one of the Guerrilla’s employees.

First day came to an end and all the guests, including cosplayers, where transported back to the hotel.
Only five hours of sleep ahead, cause I needed to wake up at 6:00 in order to dress again as Aloy, eat a breakfast and head to Guerrilla Studio with everyone. But sleep is for weak ones, right?

Day two: tester vs developers

I could not wait for the visit in the studio because of many reasons. First – I have never been to a company, where computer games are being created (or I don’t remember). Second – we were about to play the game. Third – I could ask dev and test team many technical questions to see, if game development proces is different then developing any other software that I have contact with every day as a tester. So not so long after leaving my travel-things I entered the first room full of devs. As it was not the testing team yet, the chat was basicaly about ‘How long did it take to make this outfit?’.

The guests were officialy welcomed by John Gonzalez, known from work on Fallout: New Vegas, now among Guerrilla Games people. According to NDA we’ve signed, we were informed what we can and can’t do. We were presented with the attractions that awaited us, including the biggest one – possibilty to play three hours of Horizon Zero Dawn. We were supposed to go through first few tasks and if there is enought time – to explore the world of Aloy. The game build was switched after the lunch so different stage of game would be available, but I personally played only at the beginning, about one hour and something. I did not want to spoil myself the pleasure of playing the game at home, when it finally hits the stores.
And I won’t put any spoilers here. I will say only one thing – there is a lot to explore. If you had your hands on gameplay from last year, you will be happy how the graphics progressed since then. You should also like how Aloy moves, how the fight system looks like and how you can modify the weapon. That’s it! Nothing more to say about the game itself!

But it’s not only about the game

In the meantime a studio-tour for cosplayers began and we were presented to all the teams creating the game. Of course I was the one who was busy with something else and I need to be drivin into keeping up with girls, but – as I mentioned before – my purpouse during this visist was not only to admire the game itself. That’s why I spent time with some employees asking them questions regarding Horizon’s development and rejoing other Aloys after that.

It was obvious that for all employees, no mather from which team – to see five (five, becasue Nadia did not dress up this day) live-action Aloys will be something to remember. The game is not there yet and things like this are happening ! Together with design team and graphics I made a jokes, that this is the time where we can blame them for the part of the outfit that is not so easy to wear in the reality as it seems in the game.
Let’s stick with the Aloy’s outfit for a while. When you look at the photos, you see few chicks dressed in the same clothes. Are you sure? Take a closer look – all of us used different technique, different fabrics, not all of us used a wig. So – we look the same but at the same time we look so different.
Also at this day guests did as many pics of us and made as many interviews as the could. I finally managed to meet with Leszek Szczepański, developer from Guerrilla Games, whom I knew only from Twitter.

source: Monika Paplińska, PlayStation Polska

Time flew by, so I took my time and started to pack my bow. Guests were leaving as well, media team from PlayStation was already into going through all the photos and videos they have made and believe me – there is a lot of this. Last few words with Guerrilla people and it was time for me to take off Aloy’s robes and get into something that fits our world and the temperature outside.

This i sit! Finito! End of amazing, two-day event under the name of approaching Horizon Zero Dawn game.
I would like to thank everyone from Guerrilla Studios for such a warm welcome, to PlayStation employees from all over the world – especially to Monika Paplińska who supports gamers and cosplayers, and to Manifest London people – you were great !
Greetings to all the Aloys as well!

If you would like to know some more, feel free to contact me:

Twitter i Instagram: @Miss_Baltica

source: Sertxu Sanchez (Twitter: @sertxusanchez), PlayStation España