Skip to main content

How Mass Effect helped inspire Aloy's character in Horizon: Zero Dawn

Aloy in Horizon: Zero Dawn
(Image credit: Sony)

Voice actor Ashly Burch has spoken about the importance of Mass Effect, citing it as a huge inspiration for her own career.

Burch, who voices Aloy in Horizon: Zero Dawn and Mel in The Last of Us Part 2, spoke to The Gamer about how much Mass Effect's  Commander Shepard impacted her personally and how she tackled bringing Aloy to life.

In a wide-ranging interview, Burch talks at length about the importance of  Commander Shepard (voiced by Jennifer Hale) – whom she lists as her favorite performance in any video game – owing to how much variety there is in Mass Effect because of the sheer volume of player agency throughout the game.

“For Shepard, the player not only gets to choose how the Commander behaves throughout the game, they even get to choose her backstory," explains Burch.

Burch goes on to say: "So Jennifer - I imagine - had to find what few consistent tentpoles there were - she's a soldier, she wants to stop the Reapers, etc - and build a person that would make sense no matter how the player chose to move through the narrative."

Burch rightly praises Hale's performance as Shephard to no end throughout, specifically noting how impressive and tough it is to play through a choice-heavy game like Mass Effect, but still being able to "ground every choice the player could make in a character that felt consistent and true", making the character feel real.

Later in the interview, Burch explains that she applied these lessons she learned from playing through every Mass Effect game to apply to her role as Aloy, the main character of Horizon: Zero Dawn.

While there might not be as much freedom in Horizon as there is in Mass Effect, Aloy is still shaped and, essentially, role-played through player decisions; which Burch mentions she had to "find a balance for".

"Finding that balance between honoring context and making her feel grounded no matter what the player chooses is such an interesting needle to thread. And Jen is an absolute pro. I thought about her performance frequently. It's absolutely masterful. I learned a lot from it".

Speaking of Mass Effect, here's why the next game in the series is definitely a direct sequel to Mass Effect 3.

I'm a freelance reporter for Gamesradar - games and films are my jam, so you'll mostly find me gushing about my undying love of Xenoblade Chronicles, Lord of the Rings, and how Persona 4 Golden changed my life.