Machines are the technologically advanced, mechanized creatures which are the dominant species of the Horizon Zero Dawn world. They typically bear strikingly similar designs to various forms of wildlife, such as avians, ungulates, and even dinosaurs.
The first machines created by Faro Automated Solutions were domestic servants, the Focus, and @lfred. However, Faro soon began developing machines built for combat, two of which were the Scarab and Khopesh, heavily-armed robots that could supplant entire armies, convert biomass into fuel, and replicate themselves allowing them to operate indefinitely.
The Faro Plague
However, a "glitch" in the Faro machines caused them to ignore commands and begin attacking humans without authorization. The machines replicated faster than they could be destroyed, and began operating as a swarm. Soon, a full-fledged war between humanity and robots began, costing millions of lives and immense destruction. Despite humanity's best efforts, the swarm could not be contained and they devoured biomass wherever they went, eliminating entire cities and ecosystems. Ted Faro, the CEO of Faro Industries, met with a former employee named Elisabet Sobeck in hopes of containing the swarm, but Elisabet found that there was no way of stopping the machines from destroying all life on Earth. However, she proposed a project named Zero Dawn to Ted, stating that it was the only way of ensuring that life on Earth could continue after the machines killed everything.
Zero Dawn was the development of an advanced intelligence known as GAIA that would crack the machine swarm's encryption codes, deactivate them, and then re-seed the Earth with plant, animal, and human life. GAIA was aided by nine subroutines, one of which was HADES, a subroutine designed to take control of the terraforming process and start it over again if it was unsatisfactory.
The swarm eventually devoured all biomass on Earth, but GAIA managed to succeed in cracking the encryption codes and shut down the Faro machines. She then created many different machines modeled off of former animal life to purify the Earth's toxic atmosphere and biosphere. Hundreds of years later, humans were released from the cradles they were created in and began forming primitive tribal societies, not knowing of the "old ones" who came before them. The machines they encountered were docile and generally harmless for many generations. However at one point, an unknown signal caused HADES to go rogue and begin his extinction protocol. HADES attempted to take control of GAIA completely, but GAIA self-destructed before he could do so.
The destruction of GAIA meant that every subordinate function of Zero Dawn had to make its own decisions, including HEPHAESTUS, which perceived the human practice of hunting machines for resources as hostile activity. Because of this, HEPHAESTUS made the existing GAIA machines hostile to mankind, as well as creating a new generation of machines designed to attack humans in an event that came to be known as the "Derangement."
Machines in the present day are often hunted for their parts and to cull them before they can threaten local populations. They can usually be found in large groups, although some operate in smaller packs. Machines will either run away from or attack humans that they come across, and will completely ignore wildlife. They will never attack each other unless overridden or corrupted.
Machines have weak spots which can be exposed by shooting off their armor. Some machines can also be overridden, thus changing their behavior and forcing them to aid Aloy with her objectives. The machines vary in size from small, about dog-sized, to as tall as ten stories. Machines can also become corrupted, posing a even bigger threat. They appear with blue outlines when scanned with a Focus.
The designs of the machines in-game are not fixed or constant for the entirety of the game. As Aloy hunts and kills more machines, they will eventually 'evolve' and adapt by better protecting themselves with additional armor plates. The number of kills it takes to 'evolve' varies with each machine. Once this 'evolution' of a machine takes place, the player will only ever encounter the more heavily-armored variant. This 'evolution' process only works for machines that are still in production, so the Corruptor and Deathbringer are unaffected.
Classes of machines
The machines are created by HEPHAESTUS, one of GAIA's sub-functions, for the purpose of recreating of Earth's biosphere. Machines fall under three classes, with a fourth later created by HEPHAESTUS for the sole purpose of combating humans.
Acquisition Class Machines
Terra-former Machines are primarily designed to assist sub-function DEMETER, manipulating the earth, originally to help the growth of plant life, now in order to help plant life thrive. Often employing a facial or otherwise head-based apparatus, Terra-former Machines work to break down soil and other obstacles like rocks in the way of plant growth.
Purifier Machines are primarily designed to assist sub-functions POSEIDON and AETHER. While Purifier Machines share many design similarities with Terra-former Machines, they are equipped differently suggesting that they are instead tasked with the detoxification of the atmosphere and marine biosphere.
Recycler Machines are primarily designed to assist sub-function HEPHAESTUS, breaking down destroyed machines and bringing the parts back to the Cauldrons to be reused.
Transport Class Machines
Transport Class Machines are a diverse group, with one machine designed for the sole purpose of assisting Acquisition Class Machines move large amounts of cargo, and two others designed to carry materials intended for their own terraforming functions.
Recon Class Machines
Recon Class Machines are some of the simplest machines, usually built around a single advanced detection component, such as an ocular sensor or radar. Originally created to help Acquisition Class Machines find land suitable for terraforming, their purpose shifted to serving as guards and lookouts for other machines after the Derangement.
Communication Class Machines
Communication Class Machines are a unique group, with the only known member being the Tallneck. They have no offensive capabilities, and appear completely unaffected by the Derangement.
Combat Class Machines
Combat Class Machines didn't exist when the first humans were released from the Cradles, instead appearing after the Derangement when the HEPHAESTUS sub-function unnecessarily deemed humans a threat. Often equipped with weapons and armor, Combat Class Machines are unquestionably the most dangerous machines and are often seen amongst more vulnerable machines, likely guarding them.
Faro Machines are ancient war machines that have been excavated from the earth and re-awoken by the Eclipse. Originally designed by Faro Automated Solutions a millennium before the events of Horizon Zero Dawn, they do not fall under any Machine Class as they were not designed by GAIA for the execution of Zero Dawn.
While Corrupted Machines technically fall under their original Machine Class, they have been overridden by FARO Chariot Line's Scarab (Corruptors) that have themselves fallen under HADES' control, turning their subordination to the rogue Extinction fail-safe program instead of HEPHAESTUS who created them. They are allied with the Eclipse, and are hostile to other humans and machines.
These machines have enhanced physical strength and improved firepower over normal machines. They also drip a volatile substance known as Metalburn that is toxic to both organic life and machines, making it even more dangerous to face them. These machines however are more susceptible to Fire damage, even units which are supposedly resistant, such as Fire Bellowbacks and Tramplers.
Encountered only in The Frozen Wilds, these are regular machines that were upgraded by HEPHAESTUS through unspecified means after it took control of the Caldera facility. They are even stronger than Corrupted machines, enhanced with higher elemental resistance and immune to being overridden and shocked, without any inherent weakness. Since they are products of HEPHAESTUS, they aren't hostile towards normal machines and will work together with them to take down humans.
- The naming convention for the machines is either an active agent or compound noun (or both) excepting the Behemoth and the Metal Devil which draw from mythology. The Scorcher is an outlier to both of these rules
- Although the lore mentions that there were many fully automated robots that came before the Chariot Line, there are strangely no signs of these ancient machines, dormant or dead.
- ↑ Game Informer #82: Woman vs. Machine
- ↑ Horizon Zero Dawn: The Frozen Wilds Collector's Edition Guide, page 18
|Acquisition Class||Broadhead - Charger - FireclawFW - FrostclawFW - Glinthawk - Grazer - Lancehorn - Rockbreaker - Scrapper - Snapmaw - Strider - Trampler|
|Combat Class||Ravager - Sawtooth - ScorcherFW - Stalker - Stormbird - Thunderjaw|
|Recon Class||Longleg - Watcher (Redeye Watcher)|
|Transport Class||Behemoth - Fire Bellowback - Freeze Bellowback - Shell-Walker|
|Chariot Class||Corrupted Machines - Corruptor - Deathbringer - Metal Devil|
|Unknown Class||Control TowerFW|