Humanity is a technologically regressed species now re-acclimated to a tribal hunter-gatherer society.
Humanity used to be a species of unsurpassed technological advancement, having created cities comprised of various high rises and sophisticated architecture, among other things. However, following a mysterious turn of events, humanity's status as the world's preeminent species was eventually lost to them. Over time, their cities fell victim to overgrowth and conquered lands were reclaimed by nature. In humanity's place rose the machines, a sentient race of technologically advanced robotic creatures of similar design to various forms of wildlife.
As part of Project Zero Dawn, a large number of human embryos were cultivated for hundreds of years in secret underground facilities known as "cradles". After several centuries, a new generation of humans was born, cared for by android servitors. The humans were to be educated in classrooms by a subroutine of the GAIA A.I known as APOLLO, but the creator of the machines, Ted Faro, destroyed APOLLO's archives, fearing that the knowledge of the old world would corrupt humanity. As a result, the doors to the APOLLO classroom remained locked, and the new generation of humans never learned of the ones who came before them. Around the 25th century, the humans were released from the Cradles to begin repopulating the world.
After adjusting to their tribal lifestyle, human hunters began to prey on machines for their materials, a valuable item they trade amongst each other.
Technology and Culture
However, the new generation of humans has regressed significantly because of Faro's actions. Overall, technology utilized by humanity post-Faro Plague is close to the technology utilized by Native Americans before European arrival. The main weapon utilized by humanity is the spear, used to attack soft components of machines, as well as bows. Using scavenged machine parts, humans have managed to produce more advanced devices, such as rope launchers and various traps and bombs. The Oseram are the most technologically advanced tribe, producing tools and gadgets that far exceed anything used by other tribes, usually using scavenged machine parts. The Carja constructed a massive fortified city named Meridian out of brick, and use elevators to reach it's upper levels. The Nora remain one of the least advanced tribes, fearfully shunning machine technology based on their religion.
Human culture is generally quite religious, with most people worshiping some sort of deity. The Carja revere the Sun as the giver of all life, while the Nora worship the All-Mother deep inside a mountain. Because of the Derangement causing machines to act aggressively, warrior-classes are among the highest in most tribes, and their services are invaluable in a world populated with increasingly hostile and dangerous machines. Despite the threat of machines, many humans make livings as artisans, farmers, merchants, or workers. Trade is ongoing between many places, protected by warriors from bandits and machines.
Humans act as NPCs in the game, serving as either passive, background, or hostile units.
Humans that can engage in combat can either be friendly or hostile towards Aloy, depending on their alignment and the context of quests. Compared to machines, humans lack resilience, as a shot in the head can kill majority of humans instantly on most difficulties; however they back up this weakness with numbers, frequency of attacks, and a vast array of weaponry that can overwhelm their foes.
Like machines, humans are vulnerable to context-sensitive attacks like Critical Strike and Stealth Strike, which in most cases will instantly kill them. However, some boss level and elite humans require Aloy to acquire the Leader Strike skill for them to be susceptible to such attacks, and even then some do not immediately fall.
Humans are also susceptible to most statuses that can be inflicted on machines, although their resistance is wholly dependent on the toughness of the particular type instead of variable like machines. Humans can be shocked, burned and frenzied with Corruption with similar effects to machines, Freeze will slow humans down, while Tear damage is useless against them. Humans can trigger tripwires like machines, but Tearblast effects will only momentarily stagger them and they are immune to the binding effect of Ropecaster.
The faction humans come from determines the toughness and weaponry that they will carry. For example, Bandits can be expected to be of moderate resilience with weapons ranging from torching staves to Firespitters, while Eclipse soldiers are much tougher with more advanced weapons like Blaze-coated axes and Deathbringer Guns.
Humans often carry loot that is not obtainable from machines, such as Desert Glass, Slagshine Glass, Traps, and even potions. Elite human units often carry more valuable loots, with some yielding more shards than most machines when killed and looted.