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So in Horizon zero dawn a upcoming game. We have our protagonist fighting giant metal Bulls, velociraptors and Crab things with a bow and arrow. Regardless of whether our brave hero could have actually fought them, they have all manner of robotic wildlife just walking around and abundant metallic resources. However it seems that they are still living in wooden houses, only have leather armour( I have no idea where it came from) and their weapons are also kinda wooden.

How is it possible that humanity has not made progress into using metals? They should have had plenty of time to adapt to this robotic wildlife right?

This does not follow adhere to the game in question. The context is why humanity would not have had better tech if the animals were all robots. The plant life is normal earth like though.

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    $\begingroup$ Having plenty of metal wildlife doesn't automatically give you decent metalworking/robotic/electronic technologies. The same way, we still have no decent biotechnologies (can't get rid of a trivial aging, for instance), regardless of having plenty of biological life around. $\endgroup$ – enkryptor Sep 5 '16 at 13:28
  • $\begingroup$ They would at least be able to use the parts of the robots they hunted right? At the very least they can cover their houses with metal plating scavenged from their remains. $\endgroup$ – Skye Sep 5 '16 at 13:31
  • $\begingroup$ How small do these metal creatures get? I imagines mosquitos in my answer, but started wondering about ants and then bacteria. Metal could be a real liability if the whole ecology is fighting for it. $\endgroup$ – SRM Sep 5 '16 at 14:39
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You say late medieval but then also reference not using metals - metals were well in use by the late medieval time... So I'll assume you mean stone-age. (or at least pre Bronze age?)

First of all, the robots have been built by an advanced but unknown (and possibly even extinct by the time of the story) society who have no interaction with this society.

Many of the robots have a sort of smaller, secondary / auxiliary or even third or fourth life which becomes activated once their main body has been destroyed. Sort of like the Terminator in Terminator 2. Or perhaps they have an auto-repair function.

This has given rise to the (possibly religious) belief that robots are haunted and even after they are defeated they may spring back to life at any moment. This explains why, once they have defeated a robot, the people don't try and scavenge the scrap metal. (They want to get rid of it ASAP, so they probably throw it in the sea or something)

However, they also have no knowledge of the idea of extracting metal ore from the ground and smelting/putting through whatever processes are required to create usable metal. Whoever built the robots have long since stripped the easily accessible ore from the ground and it doesn't occur to our stone-age people that one could tunnel deep into the ground to mine for more.

Edit

If you really do mean late medieval and they have metals, but why don't they advance further, it could be a similar answer, but a defeated robot could not really reveal much information: It doesn't use easily visible "slightly" advanced technologies like steam or gunpowder or clockwork components. It uses electronics, advanced electromagnetic servos and quantum picoprocessors. The rare engineer of the time who was brave to get close wouldn't be able to make head nor tail of what was going on with all these long metal strings and black boxes so it wouldn't offer any use in advancing their own technology.

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The machines take all the metal? Carrying around unassimilated metal could be like blood in water to sharks. Every metal creature, from eagle to mosquito becomes eager to eat what you're carrying. Becomes impossible to move through the ecology carrying metal.

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    $\begingroup$ This would be the best reason for humanity not making use of all those metallic resources, not even arrow tips from steel teeth. $\endgroup$ – Cyrus Sep 5 '16 at 14:45
  • $\begingroup$ I don't think this would work, unless you have some sort of "scattering" mechanism to distribute metal periodically. Otherwise, there would be nothing for the animals at the bottom of the food chain to eat (you would have to forgo plant life, since you can't make metal out of the atmosphere like plants can make organic matter from CO2 and H2O). That would probably mean the metal would accumulate in the bodies of ever fewer, larger animals. $\endgroup$ – Salmoncrusher Sep 6 '16 at 8:21
  • $\begingroup$ One workaround is a scattering system like I said, such as bits of metal constantly flaking off of the creatures(this also provides a need to eat), although you would need some chemical reason for this as it would be obviously evolutionarily unfavorable. Another option would be plants that mine from the ground, although those would eventually run out and you'd be left with the same problem. Another solution would be to design an entirely different food chain than what we are used to. Or maybe the reader won't think this through enough to warrant any of this. $\endgroup$ – Salmoncrusher Sep 6 '16 at 8:31
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I made up some reasons why we have tribal stone-age people walking among robots

Post-apocalypse
Humanity and its technology got developed to a point where these machines took on the shapes of animals for "some" reason other than practicality (fashion? Luxury-related?). Then a calamity occurred and humanity regressed to a tribal state, living among the relics of their past.

This is not earth
The people are actually the remnants of a extra terrestrial colonial party that got wiped out after having traveled to this planet to settle down. The machines are not at all of human origin.

Not everyone's a cave dweller
This could be earth, but war has fractioned the countries and some regions have been bombed back to the stone age. The remaining high-tech futuristic country has created these animals as a way to keep prodding stone-agers out of their nuclear-waste-free zone. The machines take form of animals because The Government has convinced its people there are no other people outside their country limits, and these machines are a sort of wild-life preserve stunt

Self-reproducing AI
My favorite as the last: Humanity made an AI and put it in a machine. The AI went full skynet and destroyed most of the worlds' population. After several hundred/thousand years, humans crawled out of their bunkers and formed a tribal like lifestyle as all technology got lost. Meanwhile, the AI learned how to make and transplant itself into new machines, basically creating offspring. It went trough a strange process akin to evolution where it began reproducing itself a tiny bit different every time, and eventually branched into all sorts of animal-like robot types. If we imaginethat animals as we know them are the typical route any evolutionist tree probably takes, the robots turned out to not be an exception!

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    $\begingroup$ That last one is reminiscent of the Poul Anderson short story "Epilogue". $\endgroup$ – ruakh Sep 5 '16 at 19:30
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Maybe the robotic life forms are far too complicated for people to understand, so that does not help them work with metals any more than Earth life helped medieval humans work with making their own biotechnology in our own history.

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Wild robots tend to attack metal constructs

The same in the biological ecosystem - there are (robotic) dangerous predators and scavengers that can sense and hunt metal. It would be a suicide to carry any metal with you, or build a house from it.

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This could be some sort of alien reality show. The aliens came and replaced all of the animals with metallic counter parts. Since this was done rapidly the humans did not have time to adapt to these changes, furthermore the aliens could even stifle technological progress to keep humans at the most entertaining (to them) technological level.

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After reading the wiki, I think you asked the wrong question.

The wiki gameplay description describes that the protagonist uses explosive arrows and tripwire traps, meaning that they would have the knowledge of using explosives, possibly guns. The picture even shows her wearing metal armor.

So the question should be, why aren't they using guns?

The answers before this explained the situation quite nicely. Overall, the world got invaded by an advanced race that takes metal to build more machine.

This would make it almost impossible for humans to make much metal based weapons like guns and cannons because:

A) there aren't enough metals on the machines to properly supply an army of gun wielding warriors.

B) most mining spots would be overrunning with the advance race.

Another thing I noticed is that the protagonist only uses stealthy weapons and traps. This clearly shows that the machines have acute sense of hearing. If you were to run in full armor clanking and guns blazing, you would be dead before you even harm it. Bow and arrow and light armor would be best at stealth missions. A bow and arrow can do a lot of damage to giant robots if shot at right locations, like the joints.

Overall, I think this is could answer you question.

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