Sony’s Horizon Zero Dawn program could be great, if it can avoid these pitfalls

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After years of intensely isolationist behavior, Sony’s PlayStation arm is branching out from making games for its own system, seeking to capture more eyes from the wider culture. Part of that is releasing their previously PC-exclusive games, but they’re also getting into TV. The Last of Us TV show is already in the works for HBO, and the company recently revealed that it plans to make a show based on Horizon Zero Dawn with Netflix. Recent rumors suggest that it could be a prequel.

What will that show be like? Sony and Netflix have an uphill battle on their hands as they try to bring this sci-fi adventure to life, unless they actively work to avoid the pitfalls of previous productions.

here is the tone

According to gaming journalist Jeff Grubb of giant bomb, the story is currently designed with a split timeline. “The show as it stands now is called Horizon: 2074, and it will split its time between the timeline you see in the games and the timeline where things start to fall,” Grubb said on a recent episode of his podcast. GrubbSnax. “And the idea is that this isn’t a reboot, or a remake, or some kind of reinvention of the game’s story, it’s going to parallel and explain other elements that happen in the game.”

First, we need to mess up Horizon Zero Dawn. It’s been five years, you had your chance! The Horizon games are aesthetically about protagonist Aloy fighting large robotic creatures that look like dinosaurs, oxen, and other burly prehistoric beasts. Meanwhile, the backstory takes place a thousand years earlier and tells the story of artificial intelligence engineer Elizabet Sobeck in a battle of morals, corporations, and ego with capitalist and inventor Ted Faro.

Ted Faro has created a self-replicating AI that uses biomass (living things) without a kill switch. Experts quickly conclude that Faro’s AI cannot be defeated and will inevitably consume all life on earth. Instead of making it illegal to talk about the problem to protect shareholders, the government gives Eliabet all the resources she needs as an AI engineer to create a kind of seed of life: an AI-powered system that it will restart life once Faro’s machines work on their own. and close

This show could be a great way to flesh out the game’s backstory, or a terrible idea. It has a lot going for it, but also a lot of potential pitfalls. The show will need to be careful not to fall into the traps of doing too much backstory and doing too much boardroom drama, while also getting the much-needed CGI just right. At the same time, there’s a lot of potential here for a fun new take on the story and characters.

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The Star Wars problem

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The original Star Wars trilogy planted countless intriguing seeds of galactic history. While the once-canon novels that followed sought to explore the aftermath of the Emperor’s death, the Star Wars universe has focused on what happened before Luke met Obi-Wan before that fateful double sunset. . It has become so focused that it feels like Lucasfilm is looking to document every moment from Chancellor Palpatine’s first appearance to his second death fighting Rey. In this time, individual lines of dialogue in the original trilogy have been made into movies and entire television series, such as Rogue One, Solo, or the currently airing Obi-Wan Kenobi series.

While many of these moments are interesting, they become opportunities for deep fiction to contradict itself and prevent the story from moving forward; always connects two points that we already know. Horizon Zero Dawn introduces us to a mysterious world of these mechanical beasts and as we explore it fills in their backstory through audio logs that reveal some really important information about what brought the world to this post-post-apocalypse, and some small intimate moments set during the very literal end of all life on earth.

Where Star Wars often struggles, and where Horizon might struggle, is detailing all the things between the very big and the very small. Even at the rumored launch, we see the potential for this. In the Horizon timeline, all life is eradicated by 2065, and it won’t be for a few decades that the AI ​​that regenerates life will begin to do so. Horizon: 2074, with that in mind, would just be documentary footage of gigantic squid robots wandering aimlessly across a desolate landscape until they run out of fuel.

Danger: Boardroom Drama Ahead

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But let’s put aside the continuity issue that the supposed release name presents and assume someone just didn’t read the timeline carefully and really means “Horizon before it all got bad” because that’s really what the title.

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So let’s say they go ahead with that.

It sounds like a battle of the titans, but it would be incredibly easy to turn this into a boardroom battle; There’s already tons of corporate espionage built into this backstory, and those things are relatively easy to write. Back when Marvel and Netflix were still collaborating on shows, Iron Fist ran into exactly this problem. Instead of giving us a show about a guy in a colorful jumpsuit getting into kung fu battles, we end up with an entire season set in boardrooms. Horizon’s split between past and present will require constant vigilance and a generous budget to make sure the writers aren’t forced to return to corporate drama again and again.

On the other hand, choreographing fights is one thing. Building monstrous CGI robots for Aloy to fight will be difficult. It’s certainly not out of reach for modern CGI houses, but only if Netflix and Sony are willing to put in the time and money to make it look good. Mixing CGI and live-action content is tough, and from the CW superhero popping up to an epic movie like Dune, it’s as easy to sniff out CGI as it is to nail it.

The showrunners would have to strike a careful balance here to make the CGI look as good as it needs to without ending up with a Lord of the Rings-sized budget, and to make the near-future corporate battle feel like a game changer. of rhythm in a way to relieve that budget. While there are notable exceptions like Stranger Things, many of Netflix’s visual effects-fueled shows like The Jupiter Legacy and Shadow & Bone have flopped, at least in part, due to ugly visuals distracting from the stories. Sony’s other big TV adaptation of a beloved game, The Last of Us, is with HBO, and it has a much smoother road ahead of it: over a decade of The Walking Dead has set up a pretty clean template for handling post- apocalyptic. shows with zombie-like creatures and practical effects.

two heroes

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While all of these pitfalls exist, there is also the potential for a really fun and resonant show. Aloy, a literal clone of Elizabet, is the main character of the games; game fans know her all too well by now. She is determined, thoughtful, self-reliant, and tough as a nail. Elizabeth is the main character in the backstory. We only see glimpses of her, but we get to know her well enough through her actions. She’s clumsy and intense, but she’s smart enough to intimidate Tony Stark and Reed Richards and she has a love for life and humanity big enough to put a lump in anyone’s throat. One is the image of athletics, and the other is an intellectual giant. Tatiana Maslany won an Emmy Award in 2016 for playing several different versions of the same character in Orphan Black. Twin Peaks turned that idea into a whole mythology. Our late Legends of Tomorrow used it to give talented actors new characters to play with. With the right actor, the Elizabet/Aloy dichotomy could make for a seriously strong and compelling performance.

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While Westworld has more stumbled than walked at this point, one of the fun parts was the visual separation between the park and the behind-the-scenes stuff: the beauty of nature and the rawness of a laboratory. With Horizon, we have exactly that in both looks and tone; Aloy’s world is in danger, but it is full of beauty and potential even with all the monsters and tribes at war. He grew up in a small tribe, but his world grows and grows as he explores and experiences new things. Elizabeth’s world is doomed and will get smaller with each passing day as Faro’s machines literally eat the world alive, but we know her plan will work, so there is a bright light of hope within the darkness.

It can be an uphill battle for the Horizon Netflix show, regardless of which pitch ends up becoming a series. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t climb that mountain. After all, Netflix was able to adapt The Witcher’s huge fantasy landscape into a really fun show. Who’s to say Horizon isn’t next?

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