Aloy’s hug in ‘Horizon Forbidden West: Burning Shores’ is a technical marvel

The devs needed to manually correct the motion capture data to get the hug to look perfect

Horizon Forbidden West: Burning Shores features a hug that is considered a technical marvel, and one that Guerrilla Games spent a lot of time getting just right.

When a trailer for the Burning Shores DLC was released last month, Strange Scaffold studio head Xalavier Nelson Jr. commented on Aloy’s hug saying it “is a technical flex.” The sentiment was echoed by other developers in the Twitter thread, with some praising the animation and some simply stating their awe.

In a recent interview IGN, via GamesRadar, Guerrilla Games studio animation director Richard Oud spoke on the technicalities of creating something as complex as a hug in a video game. He explained that when two actors in motion capture suits hug, the sensors disappear from the camera’s view, making it difficult for them to pick up movement.


To address this issue, Oud said that the developers needed to manually correct the motion capture data captured during the hug. Other factors can also make animating a hug difficult, like what the characters may be wearing.

“If you look at things like the armor, for example, that Aloy is using… all that kind of stuff is not to be taken into account with the motion capture,” said Oud. “So even with the solved data, you only have the base. So you still need to go in there and start addressing everything towards the fact that somebody’s actually reaching around a piece of armor, for example.

“So the whole animation after that point needs to be addressed so it doesn’t intersect with the cloth that that person is wearing that they’re hugging.”

Oud added that Guerrilla didn’t want to have to remove the hug from the script because the intimate moments in the story won’t come across in the right way, saying, “So we have to find a way to actually do these things and still make sure the emotion and the connection is delivered to the player and they don’t really have to think about it, but as long as [the players] feel it, then I’m already blessed that we actually hit our target.”

It was revealed earlier this week (May 9) that Horizon Forbidden West has sold over 8.4million copies worldwide, and the franchise has sold 32.7million in total.


In other gaming news, Nintendo has confirmed that The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom will have “huge” dungeons that “each carry their own regional look and feel, just like traditional The Legend of Zelda games.”

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