Nearly five years after Horizon Zero Dawn first launched on the PS4, and a year and a half since it was ported to PC, one fan has discovered an unused character model in the game’s files that replaces protagonist Aloy with an anthropomorphic duck.
The character looks like a test model used in an early build of the game. A plain black human model, it’s fairly nondescript save for the huge duck head that’s poking out of its neck. The character is also wearing a sandwich board that says “this is a legacy char[acter] please replace me”, and encourages anyone with questions to contact the email address email@example.com.
Duckman, as the character’s sandwich board suggests he’s called, was found by Redditor PortPort_ using a cheat menu mod with the PC version of the game. The mod lets you tweak Horizon Zero Dawn’s graphics, change its gameplay features, spawn in NPCs, and rummage around the game’s files.
_PortPort_ said they were able to swap Aloy’s character model for this walking duck using the cheat menu, and another Redditor said they were able to find the model after downloading a file manager mod with which to splice the game.
Analysis: devs just wanna have fun
Why this anthropomorphic duck character was ever included in Horizon Zero Dawn is a mystery, although he’s likely nothing more than a leftover character model created as a joke. Despite his sandwich board asking that the “legacy character” be deleted, the included email address rather suggests Guerrilla Games (or a developer inside the studio, at least) wanted him to be found.
Video game developers often leave small easter eggs in areas that aren’t accessible to players. Back in 2020, a data miner fully hacked God of War’s camera, letting them move about the world and pause time freely. Not only were they able to access areas of the map previously cut off from players, but they also discovered an amusing easter egg - after Baldur is tossed into a ravine by Kratos at the start of the game he turns around and flips the bird.
Duckman looks like another funny treat left inside the game by an amused developer. What’s surprising, however, is how long the character has been left waiting. It’s been nearly five years since the game first launched, and fans are still finding secrets within it. What other human-animal hybrids lie waiting to be found?
They won’t be left plumbing the depths of Zero Dawn much longer though, with its sequel Horizon Forbidden West set to release later this month.
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Callum is TechRadar Gaming’s News Writer. You’ll find him whipping up stories about all the latest happenings in the gaming world, as well as penning the odd feature and review. Before coming to TechRadar, he wrote freelance for various sites, including Clash, The Telegraph, and Gamesindustry.biz, and worked as a Staff Writer at Wargamer. Strategy games and RPGs are his bread and butter, but he’ll eat anything that spins a captivating narrative. He also loves tabletop games, and will happily chew your ear off about TTRPGs and board games.