Despite being full of beautiful vistas and engaging human characters, the Horizon universe is a generally bleak place to live. The planet was torn apart a thousand years prior by a robotic singularity, and the remnants of the apocalypse aren’t as long gone as that length of time would suggest. Throughout her adventures in Horizon Forbidden West and Zero Dawn, Aloy has gotten used to coming face-to-face with old-world horrors.

For Horizon Forbidden West, Guerrilla Games has taken that expectation to a whole new level, from both a worldbuilding and narrative perspective. During the later stages of Aloy’s quest to save the biosphere, players will come across one location that exemplifies the destructive tendencies of ancient humans. Referred to as "the Greenhouse," this dilapidated old-world location provides a dark window into one of the universe’s more prevalent antagonists, Ted Faro.

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Ted Faro’s Impact on the Horizon Universe

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Even though he’s rarely seen physically, players have gotten a detailed insight into the backstory and personality of Ted Faro over the course of Horizon Zero Dawn and its sequel. In many ways, the entrepreneur and business mogul is the primary architect of the apocalypse and various calamities that Aloy finds herself attempting to solve. As the founder and creative force behind Faro Automated Solutions, Ted was responsible for the automated military technology that drove humanity to extinction.

Through various collectible data points and holograms, players have gradually been able to form a psychological profile of Ted Faro and the motivations that drove him to doom the world. It’s clear that a deep-seated arrogance formed a cornerstone of his identity, alongside a lust for wealth and a borderline god-complex. While many of his schemes had seemingly altruistic angles, in reality it was a desire for attention and fame that pushed the business owner forward. All of these features are perhaps typified best by his involvement in Project Firebreak during the in-game 2040s.

Before the robotic apocalypse, humanity first came face-to-face with the possibility of extinction due to global warming. In an attempt to capitalize on the unchecked climate crisis, Ted Faro positioned his company as a key player in the subsequent ‘Clawback' era. The idea to stabilize the super-volcano beneath Yellowstone National Park using an AI named CYAN likely came about thanks to his negative influence. Though Project Firebreak was successful for a time, the events of Horizon Zero Dawn’s The Frozen Wilds DLC demonstrate how badly things could have gone on that occasion as well.

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Forbidden West’s Greenhouse

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For Horizon Forbidden West, Guerrilla Games has taken its examination of Ted Faro’s destructive personality to a whole new level. Instead of solely telling players about the character’s tendencies through notes, the studio offers more physical demonstrations as well. While his final resting place of Thebes is perhaps the biggest example, the Greenhouse comes into play here as a series of old-world laboratories that Guerrilla has created specifically to show his impact while Aloy searches after DEMETER.

Based on the recommended entry requirements, most players will stumble into its dilapidated ruins toward the latter half of Horizon Forbidden West’s main story. Even though they’ll have faced off against a number of remarkable threats by that point in time, what awaits them within the location is arguably more harrowing. It turns out, alongside a number of other experiments, the Greenhouse was one of the locations where Ted Faro developed the technology that would define his world-ending Chariot robots.

While attempting to help Alva find a way to feed the famine-plagued Quen tribe, Aloy stumbles across one of Ted Faro’s dormant experiments. It’s been clear since Horizon Zero Dawn that the Chariot robots were imbued with the ability to refuel and replicate using biomass, but the reality of what that means was never really given the attention it deserves. During the mission, players and Aloy see a swarm of microscopic robots strip away every single trace of life from the surrounding area, adding further context to what happened on Earth a thousand years ago. Thanks to some clever writing and cinematography, the moment stands out as one of the most terrifying in the entire game.

Ted Faro’s Destructive Tendencies

horizon zero dawn aloy with holograms of elisabet sobeck and ted faro

While the Greenhouse’s public mission statement was geared toward solving the ongoing food crisis, from several datapads it becomes clear that Faro shifted the facility's focus toward ulterior angles. Fearing that his competitors had jumped ahead in the food arms race, Ted's ego prompted him to divert the Greenhouse’s attention toward Harvester robots. Disregarding ethics and morality, this project eventually took on a secret military element. Instead of creating a line of robotic farmers, the Harvesters were repurposed to convert biomass into fuel. It’s never mentioned directly in-game, but it’s likely the Corruptor robots that Aloy faces are the same machines with a new military designation.

The fact that the Faro Plague had components from a facility originally designed to feed a starving planet arguably makes the apocalypse more terrifying. When the swarm of robots eventually go rogue, their ability to independently refuel and replicate ensured nothing could stop them from destroying every living organism. The attempts of the scientists at the Greenhouse to stop the robots by giving them indigestion, using the vines sprouting from Metal Flowers, ultimately failed. By offering a physical demonstration of the process in action, Guerrilla Games has not only opened a window into Ted Faro’s destructive tendencies, it has also created an effective cautionary tale. When unchecked technological advancement meets egotism and recklessness, even the best-laid plans can become a disaster.

Having played such a pivotal role in most of the planet’s woes over the last century, there’s a chance that Ted Faro could still show up in the inevitable third main entry in the Horizon series. Though his mutated physical form was heard off-screen during the destruction of his twisted Thebes sanctuary, he was never shown dying. Going off of traditional horror and sci-fi tropes, that could mean he’s destined to face the consequences of the destructive tendencies in a more direct way later.

Horizon Forbidden West is available now on PS4 and PS5.

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