There’s a roaring in the distance. Trees are trembling. Billowing smoke swirls around the tip of the Mountain, electricity crackling through it. Deep inside is a secret - one that you’re going to help Aloy uncover. November 7th 2017 will see the release of (opens in new tab)’s first DLC, which sends the flame-haired Seeker, hunter, and unstoppable force of nature to what looks like Ban-Ur, the homeland of the mystical Banuk tribe. She’s heard of some kind of mystery that waits inside the Mountain, and although the trailer is barely 2 minutes long, we’ve gleaned some key details from it. Forget all the words, and take away just these two: Yellowstone. Bear. Ahem - or maybe that should be ‘gorilla’. The arguments for either animal are convincing to say the least...
Most of the details you can guess: there’s a new map, new weapons, and new settlements. (opens in new tab) of hunting in the lush post-post apocalyptic world awaits, with Guerrilla’s Managing Director (opens in new tab) calling the DLC “very substantial”. Now all the obvious stuff is out of the way, let’s get to the really intriguing bits - namely the Banuk and their homestead of Ban-Ur.
Yellowstone National Park is home, sweet home
Cold, inhospitable, and deadly: those aren’t words just used to describe Ban-Ur. The Banuk people aren’t the friendliest bunch, greeting Aloy in the Frozen Wilds trailer with a harsh reminder that she’s trespassing on their land. Some of you will be familiar with their chilly home already. Horizon has a solid history of respecting the, well, history of the locations it visits, as it features faithful representations of monuments ranging from the (opens in new tab) to the Pikes Peak Range Riders Memorial. So it comes as no surprise that they’ve done the same in The Frozen Wilds, as this time Aloy is almost certainly taking a trip to Yellowstone National Park and the (opens in new tab), as you can see the multicoloured hot spring in the promotional artwork for the DLC. Our names for those stunning sites of natural beauty are foreign to the Banuk, though. To them it’s Ban-Ur, described by the Carja academic Aram as being dotted with "billows of steam that erupt from the earth". That description pretty much matches the geysers and hot springs featured in Frozen Wilds trailer, and the Banuk society is no calmer than the bubbling, scalding water located nearby.
Siluk, a member of the Banuk tribe, mentions to Aloy during the events of Horizon that recently there’s been trouble in his homelands. Proud hunters and the more spiritual shamans are arguing about how to respond to the changing world around them. It’s likely that this is referencing the Corruption - the virus created by the rogue AI Hades that turns robot animals from tame to ferocious - with the hunters advocating ‘neutralising’ the threat with a metric ton of arrows. I doubt the Shamans (bearing in mind the Banuk people believe they can live in spiritual harmony with the robots) are of the same opinion, hence why some have been exiled from Yellowstone/Ban-Ur by their own tribe. Yet in the trailer we see the Mountain Aloy is eager to delve inside, which closely resembles the famous Devils Tower. Only thing is, that giant rocky outcropping is 361 miles away from Yellowstone National Park. Either the game designers have exercised their creative licence to bring it a bit closer, or it’s a completely new mountain created during the apocalypse by whatever lies beneath.
If it’s the Devils Tower that tourists from all over the globe are familiar with, Guerrilla might have dropped a substantial hint about how big the Frozen Wilds map will be. A with - quite frankly - incredibly impressive diligence worked out that Horizon’s map is about 415 miles wide (on a 107.5:1 scale to real life). With the distance from Yellowstone to Devils Tower being 361 miles, we could be looking at a map only slightly smaller than the full game, which is intoxicating. So much space! Just think of all the quests that could be squirrelled away in its corners. Or it’s a completely new map, with a landmark that just happens to look astonishingly like the towering rock formation Wyoming is famous for. Minus the crackling electrical smoke, of course. Regardless of whether the mountain is real or not, whatever monstrosity that’s guarding it isn’t happy. Which leads me nicely onto...
Beware the beast
When even a Thunderjaw’s eyes turn amber at the sound of this unknown monster’s roar, you know you’re in trouble. The only time that robots turned on robots in the original game is when Aloy overrides one of their own, so to have something mechanical trigger the Thunderjaw’s fight instinct is extraordinary. It also probably doesn’t bode well for Aloy either, as anything dangerous enough to make the apex predator get on the defensive sure as hell isn’t going to go down quietly. Or easily. Just take a look at it in action:
One thing we can be 100% certain about is that this robot has never been seen before. It has broad shoulders on a short body, a bulky belly, and a relatively small head that looks to be split in the middle like Horizon’s Scrapper robot. Sure, it would be pleasantly fitting for it to be a bear seeing as Yellowstone is full of the fluffy, teethy predators. Native American lore also says Devils Tower was created by a bear clawing up its side, so it would make sense. Yet study this gif for a moment:
The wide, heavy belly that hangs below the shoulders, and the way the robot moves by simultaneously pushing off its hind legs makes it looks suspiciously like a gorilla. The reaching digits on its left hand as it lands in the snow also look like fingers rather than paws, which would fit the idea of an ape. Either way, there’s a glint of blue on its black (rather than green, which is typically the colour of blaze) so whatever the giant mechanised creature is, it’s probably got a frosty attack that uses the sparkling azure chillwater. The fact Aloy is decked out in her ridiculously strong Shieldweaver armour subtly implies that we could also be seeing the introduction of a New Game+ mode, with an extra hard difficulty for those of you who want to put her skills to the test. That’s good news. I promise.
What do you think? Is it a bear or gorilla that’s lurking in the electrical smoke - or something completely different? Let us know your theories in the comments below!