Horizon: Zero Dawn's weather system nearly had random lightning strikes, "but it just felt unfair"

At one point in Horizon: Zero Dawn (opens in new tab) development, its complex weather system featured naturalistic lighting strikes that could hit the player and enemies alike. While that sounds like it would have looked impressive there's obviously quite the issue with random inflictions of massive electrical damage. 

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Speaking in an interview conducted with Official PlayStation Magazine, game director Mathijs de Jonge talks about the game's "very elaborate weather system" (Horizon: Zero Dawn litereally renders actual clouds (opens in new tab)). "We had some prototypes, for example, we had some lightning strikes that would randomly hit enemies or randomly hit the player," he says. "But it just felt unfair because you have no control over it, it just naturally happens and suddenly you have a lot of damage. So we took that out in the end." 

As a result, de Jonge explains, the system is more about effects and atmosphere than random acts of God killing the player. "The weather system is more impairing of vision for example," he says. "At night, robots can be harder to see but also can have lots of light and sparks when you shoot at them, so there’s a bit of a balance there." 

The weather does have at least one trick up its sleeve we haven't seen yet though, according to de Jonge: "We have - in a region that you haven’t played yet - we have dust storms as well, which really limit the visibility down." That must be the Sunfall region recently revealed in this Horizon: Zero Dawn map (opens in new tab)

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Leon Hurley
Senior Guides Co-ordinator

I'm GamesRadar's Senior Guides Co-ordinator, which means I run GamesRadar's guides and tips content. I also write reviews, previews and features, largely about horror, action adventure, FPS and open world games. I previously worked on Kotaku, and the Official PlayStation Magazine and website.