The people of the many tribes living in the world of Horizon Zero Dawn.
Voiced by: Ashly Burch (English), Ayahi Takagaki (Japanese) Misaki Kuno (Japanese/young), Erica Edwards (Latin American Spanish)
Aloy is the protagonist and player character of the game. Born to the Nora tribe, she was exiled as an infant and raised by Rost, another outcast. As a child, she fell into a lab from the Metal World and found an earpiece called a Focus, which allows her to scan the world around her. She begins her adventure by participating in the Proving in order to become a Brave and find out what happened to her mother.
- Action Girl: She travels the world After the End and fights giant robots and cultists with modern weapons while she herself is armed with hardly more than a bow and a spear. After all, she's been training since she was six years old.
- All of the Other Reindeer: The "Aloy's Journey" trailer details how Aloy is an outcast in her tribe due to her being found with no known parents. This only serves to fuel her drive to go out into the world and find the truth about it and herself.
- Amateur Sleuth: Her expert tracking skills, Focus, and natural intellect all combine to make Aloy an accomplished detective in a world that likely doesn't have much in the way of police investigation.
- The Antichrist: The reason she's an outcast in the first place is because the Matriarchs, Teersa excluded, thought she was a spawn of the Metal Devil sent to destroy them.
- Archer Archetype: Though in a twist, her targets are primarily animalistic robots.
- Badass Adorable: Rost started training her to hunt & survive when she was six; she managed to bring down a Strider on her first day, and save a young Nora from a group of machines.
- Badass Boast: One treasure hunter lures her into an ambush atop a cliff, so that he may steal her machine-taming spear. Her response?Aloy: You obviously know who I am, and you know what I am capable of. What makes you think this is going to end well for you?
- Barbarian Longhair: A female example.
- Bare Your Midriff: The Carja Blazon outfit is the only armour that shows her stomach.
- The Beastmaster: With the override ability, Aloy can send machines to fight for her in battle.
- Berserk Button: When the Nora suddenly start worshiping her on hands and knees after she returns from meeting GAIA after a lifetime of the tribe shunning her and treating her as a non-person, she takes it pretty badly, considering they still aren't treating her as a person, but as an idolized figure, which in her opinion isn't much better.
- Big Heroic Run: Aloy takes an abandoned, dangerous path to win the race of the Proving, the Rite of Passage.
- Blade on a Stick: Aloy's spear is her primary melee weapon and she's very good with it.
- The Chosen One: When she was born, the Matriarchs couldn't agree on whether she was the daughter of All-Mother sent to save the Nora, or the spawn of the Metal Devil sent to awaken it, with Teersa believing the former and Lansra adamantly believing the latter. They were able to reach a compromise in making her an outcast, keeping her away from Nora society for their protection, in Lansra's mind, but keeping open the possibility for her to earn her place. As it turns out, she actually was born to save them and the rest of humanity (albeit without the religious implications).
- Climb, Slip, Hang, Climb: Free climbing up steep stone walls is dangerous. Not that Aloy will let that stop her.
- Colossus Climb: What Aloy is going to be doing when a Tallneck shows up.
- Cloning Blues: When Aloy found out the truth about herself, she experienced complex feelings, complicated by Sylens's detached and cynical take on the truth.
- Combat Pragmatist: Despite Aloy's training in archery, she'll pick up any weapon she gets her hands on if necessary to survive.
- Deadpan Snarker: Aloy's wit is every bit as sharp as her arrows.
- Determinator: Nothing will stand in Aloy's way, not robot dinosaurs, not bandits, not evil robot-dinosaur-controlling bandits, etc., etc. It's a trait that she inherited from Elisabet Sobeck.
- Dude Magnet: Aloy's a beautiful woman and more than one man takes notice (often Played for Laughs). Due to the nature of her quest, she turns them down.
- Even the Girls Want Her: In addition to Varl, Erend, Avad and others taking an interest in her, Aloy also gets hit on by the Oseram woman Petra, and the Carja Vanasha.
- Fast-Roping: Aloy can throw herself off a high place, throw a rope while falling, then rappel down the rest of the way.
- Friendless Background: As an outcast, the only person Aloy could ever consider as a friend was her adoptive dad Rost. One single trader will speak to her when no one else can see them, and she's consistently irritated about that.
- From Nobody to Nightmare: From outcast to either the best ally you can possibly have or the most terrifying enemy otherwise.
- Genius Bruiser: Aloy is a clone of Dr. Elisabet Sobeck, the brilliant creator of GAIA, and shares her intellect. She also tears through anyone and anything that stands in her way, singlehandedly taking on progressively more dangerous machines that make even groups of elite warriors hesitate. Her badassery gets recognized more than once by characters in the game.
- Glass Cannon: Aloy can only endure a few hits from the machines, which limits her ability to make direct attacks and means that much of your scavenging will be to replenish health.
- Good Is Not Nice: "Empathy" is one of the three ways Aloy can choose to handle a situation, but that doesn't necessarily mean she's being nice. For instance, using her emotional smarts to deliberately bruise someone's ego as harshly as possible.
- Has Two Mommies: Her origins could be interpreted as this, since she was created by GAIA using Elisabet's DNA.Aloy: I never had a mother.Sylens: What are you talking about? You had two, a dead woman and a machine.
- Horse Archer: Can shoot down machines, humans, and animals from a Strider or a Broadhead.
- Indifferent Beauty: A handful of people will comment on her attractive figure during the game, but she always shrugs the compliments off and seems not to care much.
- Indy Ploy: A master at this, due to both her intuition and Rost's teaching. In her own words, "Out of ammo, but not out of ideas."
- Instant Expert: Considering it is impossible for her to have prior experience with it, Aloy picks up riding and mounted archery instantly. It helps that her mounts are machines that are under her direct control and not living animals requiring training and possessed of their own instinct.
- It Is Pronounced Tro Pay: Despite its morphological similarity to the word "alloy", Aloy's name is pronounced "Ae-loy", with the first syllable sounding like "hey" or "play".
- Jerkass Façade: Aloy can be blunt and sarcastic, but she'll help even complete strangers without a second thought and can show a surprising amount of empathy towards other people. How she treats people socially largely depends on how they treat her, she may say sarcastic things to respectful people at times, but is generally kind.
- Knight Errant: An uncommon female example.
- Knight In Sour Armor: Aloy does little to mask her disdain when tribes value tradition over common sense or empathy, but it doesn't take much for her to come running to help them at the first sign of trouble.
- Lineage Comes from the Father:
- Inverted. Due to the matriarchal nature of the Nora, no one, not even Aloy, cares about who her father might have been and her lack of identity is due to her being motherless. Late in the game the most hostile of the High Matriarchs claims her father is the Metal Devil, but is brushed aside. She spends most of her life training to ask the Matriarchs who her mother was, and while her main quest is to end the threat plaguing the tribes her personal quest is to find her mother. It's quite a Gut Punch when you consider who her biological father really is: Elisabet's dad, never mentioned in-universe and has already been dead for a thousand years.
- Despite this, it is Rost, her adoptive father, that Aloy is most personally connected to.
- Meaningful Name: An example with a double meaning.
- Aloysius (feminine form: Aloisa) is a name that is not uncommon in The Netherlands, Czech Republic and German speaking countries. The name literally means famous warrior. The studio that made the game is from The Netherlands and Aloy becomes more and more famous throughout the game.
- Her name resembles alloy. Most of your enemies are mechanical lifeforms. Alloys are also a mix of several different metals to form a new one, equivalent to how Aloy unites various different tribes and convinces them to work together. And important Foreshadowing to boot: It is phonetically similar to Elizabeth, and she is indeed "born of a machine" (although not in the way you may first think).
- Messianic Archetype: As strongly hinted at in the trailers, Aloy turns out to be this. She's a clone of Elisabet Sobeck, the scientist who created GAIA, essentially the Goddess of the new world. Due to being a genetic copy of Elisabet, she has top-level access to all of GAIA's systems, and having inherited Elisabet's genius and willpower gives her the traits necessary to fulfill her mission of stopping HADES and restoring GAIA.
- A Minor Kidroduction: We meet Aloy as a baby, but actually start gameplay when she's at six year old.
- Not Good with People: She's often described as 'blunt' and 'direct'; Rost taught her a lot, but not much about social graces - to say nothing of the fact that she spent the first 18 years of her life being treated as less than human. She has little time for people's bullshit and will make it known when she feels her time is being wasted.
- One Woman Army: Aloy is capable of taking down great machines, or swarms of machines that would wipe out entire warbands.
- Paper-Thin Disguise: The Shadow Stalwart Light armor keeps Shadow Carja soldiers from recognizing Aloy. Presumably it does so because they simply don't expect that she'd come waltzing back into the city after narrowly avoiding being sacrificed in the Sun Ring. It definitely doesn't actually do anything to disguise her appearance.
- Rebellious Spirit: She's quick to question tradition, authority, and accepted common knowledge. She has an innate lust for discovery and adventure, and given that her tribe's traditions—the same traditions that made her an outcast all her life—forbid such things and encourage stagnation, it makes sense she'd be opposed.
- Red-Headed Hero: Her hair is a shade of red.
- Replacement Goldfish: Subverted with Avad after discovering Ersa's fate. Out of gratitude, he propositions Aloy to stay in Meridian by his side, but Aloy realizes he's projecting what he felt for Ersa on her, and turns him down.
- Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: As someone who was an outcast her entire life just because of her lack of a mother, Aloy has zero respect for the law forbidding contact with outcasts and willingly talks with and assists them and encourages people who start questioning harsh laws. Among the Banuk, she readily encourages tribesfolk who themselves start to ask these questions.
- Smarter Than You Look: Despite being raised in a primitive setting, Aloy's extremely high intelligence compensates for her lack of knowledge. Even Sylens was left gobsmacked when Aloy informs him that of course she doesn't think the Earth is flat; since an eclipse of the moon is caused by the Earth's shadow (something she considers a minor enough deduction that she doesn't even bother to elaborate on how she worked it out), and the shadow it casts is round, obviously the Earth is too. This is due to the fact she is a clone of Elisabet Sobeck, from whom she inherits her genius.
- One of the things Aloy has going for her is her Focus, which apparently contains some database of information; if the training montage cutscene is anything to go by, she'd spend hours each night studying the information it contained.
- The Snark Knight: Wherever she got her sass, it certainly wasn't from Rost. Sylens is particularly not amused as Aloy searches through the ruins of the Zero Dawn facilities, calling her pain over her origins "whining" and her furious responses "temper tantrums."
- The Straight and Arrow Path: She is skilled with a bow and can obtain several variations for different purposes throughout the game.
- Thinking Out Loud: Aloy does this a lot, due to her Friendless Background.
- Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: With Sylens.
- Thank Your Prey: No surprise from a Nature Hero, Aloy apologizes to a Watcher after she kills it to stop it warning the other robots.Aloy: Sorry little one.
- Tomato in the Mirror: Technically, Aloy is not the daughter of Elisabet Sobeck, she is her clone created by the GAIA A.I.
- Unperson: Not just considered an outcast, Aloy's existence is considered by the Nora to be a curse. No one from the Nora is supposed to interact with her, and she has to live far away from the nearest town in the wilds. Oftentimes, people will call her 'it' or 'outcast,' not even acknowledging she is a human being. Extreme version of All of the Other Reindeer.
- Unwanted False Faith: Late in the game, after saving the Nora from an Eclipse attack and entering the mountain that the Nora believe to be their goddess, the Nora see Aloy as a divine gift from All-Mother and fall down on their knees before her, praising her as the "Anointed". This makes her supremely uncomfortable for a number of reasons: firstly being that she had just learned the reason for her existence and the weight of it, and didn't want active worship adding to the pressure; secondly the hypocrisy of the tribe going from shunning her to worshiping her all based not on any merit of her actions but by perceived divine will; third, she knows as a matter of fact that there's nothing supernatural or divine going on here and doesn't want to take advantage of their ignorance; fourth, she is uncomfortable with the connotations of ownership involved in what they're doing, believing that by declaring her their chosen one, the tribe is asserting a level of implied possession of her, as if she were an idol and not a person. She immediately demands that they stop, pulls them up to their feet, chastises them, and rejects the title of Anointed that they try to bestow on her.
- Weapon of Choice: Her primary weapons are a bow and a spear.
- What a Senseless Waste of Human Life: If the final heart option in the game is chosen upon Helis's defeat, Aloy expresses pity, which is probably the most cutting thing she could do at that point anyway, and is seen closing her eyes with a pained expression.
- What the Hell, Hero?: No matter what dialogue option is chosen, Aloy will lay into Sylens when he claims he would do everything he did to empower HADES again, just with "a few more safeguards." Aloy tells him that despite having brought the world to the brink of ruin to sate his own addiction to knowledge, he has failed to learn anything. He brushes her off, and the ending seems to prove Aloy only all too right.
- Wise Beyond Their Years: Sylens notes that GAIA Prime detonated 19 years prior, thus making her roughly 18 years old. By the end of the game, she's done more feats in weeks and months than most in the Nora have for generations.
An insular tribe, isolated in the Sacred Land to the east of Meridian. They're a deeply religious people, with almost every aspect of their culture being related to the worship of the All-Mother. While the Nora are regarded as a primitive and backwards tribe by their neighbors, they are also renowned warriors and hunters.
- All Crimes Are Equal: For the Nora, making a person an outcast can be because of murder, stealing, trespassing into forbidden lands, or speaking to an outcast. Subverted in that it's made clear that being made an outcast generally comes with a set sentence that depends on the crime. It seems that children are rarely made outcast - Teersa mentions a case of a thirteen-year-old boy killing his mother and receiving this sentence as the one time besides Aloy in which there was an outcast child, so those rules must usually be more lax.
- All Myths Are True: Much of what they believe about the All-Mother, the Metal Devil and those that believe Aloy is The Chosen One all have some truth to them to an extent. Much of the Nora faith seems to have been once factual events that were eventually mythologised over time through oral history.
- The All-Mother gave all life to the world. GAIA, a benevolent AI designed by the last humans, really did give all life to the planet, though only after it was destroyed the first time.
- The Metal Devil stood against the All-Mother. The AI HADES has gone rogue after being activated by an unknown party, seeking to undo all of GAIA's good work despite his "clean slate" function no longer being required.
- Aloy is the goddess' chosen warrior. GAIA created Aloy for the specific purpose of accessing areas sealed with DNA scanning.
- Amazon Brigade: They aren't one, but they have a reputation for this among the other tribes due to their isolationism and matriarchy; the Carja commonly believe that the Nora only allow women to fight with male warriors being a rare exception.
- Belief Makes You Stupid: Zigzagged. While the Nora's religion means the High Matriarchs are incredibly superstitious and distrustful of any of the Old Ones' technology, Teersa's faithful lens and willingness to listen allows her to correctly intuit how Aloy can overcome a core obstacle despite having no idea how it works.
- Blade on a Stick: The Nora's favored melee weapon is a short-shafted spear, putting it on the low end of the stick part.
- Cargo Cult: The Nora worship a goddess called the All-Mother, the virtual intelligence that controls the massive blast door of an "Old Ones" bunker. Basically, they're worshiping an extremely advanced doorbell.
- Of course, as it is later revealed that this was the door that birthed the ancestors of all living humans, they're actually closer to correct than it seems at first.
- The Dreaded: Nora Braves are feared among the other tribes due to having a highly territorial attitude born of their isolationism. While we see the Nora as a fairly balanced society of hunter-gatherers, the other tribes fear them as savages and brutal warriors who'll murder anyone who ventures too close to their territory.
- Facial Markings: The Nora use some kind of woad to mark their faces; family members (like Sona and Varl) have the same marks.
- Fantasy Counterpart Culture: Their aesthetic and attune to nature resembles to the Native Americans mixed up with some Pictish.
- Ironic Name: The Nora most likely took their name from crumbling NORAD outposts in the vicinity of the "Sacred Lands," with no idea what the moniker stood for.
- Machine Worship: They worship a goddess they call the All-Mother, which is actually a simple, non-sentient computer that happens to have a female voice stashed away in what was once a cradle facility that birthed the first generation of humans that formed into their tribe.
- Matriarchy: Ruled by a council of High Matriarchs. Nora matriarchs are specifically grandmothers, and High Matriarchs are great-grandmothers, because Nora want their leaders to be able to speak for generations. Men and women without children aren't barred from positions of responsibility and respect, though, as temporary War-Chief Resh proves.
- Noble Savage: Subverted with the Nora, who despite fitting the usual elements of being close to nature and a very religious people, they're sometimes shown in a negative light, as isolationist zealots who are hostile towards outsiders and outcasts. Their more sympathetic aspects aren't associated with the noble savage at all.
- Oddly Common Rarity: Justified. Aloy becoming a Seeker is treated as an exceptional, once in a generation thing, but near the end there are whole war parties of Seekers. As Aloy became their Anointed and she needed soldiers to fight against HADES, the Matriarchs made an exception and gave the honor to anyone willing to go.
- Right for the Wrong Reasons: They're a matriarchal society that worships "The All-Mother", a monotheistic Goddess who created the world, in the form of a glowing light in a cave with a feminine voice. It turns out that their world was created by GAIA, a female A.I. modeled on the "Mother Nature as Goddess" trope. However, by all accounts the Nora religion didn't spring from knowledge of GAIA (GAIA explicitly states she's avoided making any form of contact with the Zero Dawn tribes). Rather, it stems from the cave being the entrance to a "Cradle", an underground facility containing the Uterine Replicators that produced the first generation of the tribe centuries earlier — and nineteen years earlier, produced Aloy — so it is in fact the "mother" of the entire tribe. Unfortunately, due to Ted Faro's sabotage of the APOLLO educational program, said first generation was only educated to kindergarten-level, leaving only an oral tradition of this. All of that plus said blast door is essentially a geometrized vulva controlled by a (simple, non-sentient) computer that happens to have a female voice and you get a Cargo Cult worshiping Siri.
- Rite of Passage: The Proving for young Nora warriors. Involves shooting down a machine, taking a trophy from the machine's carcass, then racing through the snow on rocky, precarious ledges to reach the altar. The first one there receives a boon, or whatever the winner wants. Aloy has been enduring Training from Hell for this since she was six years old, in order to get answers about her parents.
- Technophobia: The Nora reject all technology, due to their belief that technology is responsible for destroying the world and leads humans astray from the nature-oriented Goddess. Their Creation Myth even includes a SKYNET-like Satan figure known as the Metal Devil, whose giant corpse can be seen on the horizon. Because for the first few hours you spend all your time with the Nora, it's easy to take them at their word and assume the game is saying that Science Is Bad. However, the Nora's creation myth has serious flaws and inaccuracies, and ultimately their rejection of technology turns out be to the natural extension of Ted Faro's final beliefs (Faro being the man who destroyed the world and not someone to be emulated.)
- Unperson: Being an outcast among the Nora means this. Not only is an outcast thrown out of the tribe and forced to live on their own, it's forbidden to speak or associate with one, even if you're another outcast. With rare exceptions, outcasts are welcomed back after a set period of time, though.
Voiced by: Bryce Papenbrook
A boy who constantly attempted to bully Aloy as a child and is her primary rival in the Proving.
- Asshole Victim: Gets gunned down by an Eclipse Cultist. Though he does get some redeeming qualities just before his death.
- Big "NO!": Screams one after Vala is killed.
- The Bully: As a child and a young man, he's a contemptuous jackass to Aloy. Though he's not completely bad.
- Cheaters Never Prosper: He sabotages Aloy in the Proving, putting an arrow through her acquired trophy, forcing her to get another whilst the other competitors move on. He only gets away with this due to Resh ignoring his cheating. He's still pipped at the post by Aloy regardless.
- Establishing Character Moment: When they're both children, he throws a rock at Aloy's head for being an outcast.
- Everybody Has Standards: He immediately sets aside his beef with Aloy the moment the Eclipse cultists attack the village during the Proving, even stopping her from running out and getting shot at one point, and at least tried to save Vala, who is already dead by this point, for which he gets killed.
- Jerkass: Very rude towards Aloy since they were kids and talks too much about himself.
- Kids Are Cruel: He's a reminder of the children who also shun Aloy and (in his case) are outwardly malevolent.
- Laser-Guided Karma: The girl he attacked and made life hard for as a child grows up and defeats him in the Proving.
- Small Name, Big Ego: He loves the sound of his own voice quite a bit.
- Underestimating Badassery: He shows Aloy zero respect in the Proving.
- We Hardly Knew Ye: Gets very little characterization before he's gunned down by the Eclipse.
Voiced by: Steve Furst
A cranky trader and former outcast.
- Friend in the Black Market: Except it's not so much that the wares he's selling are illegal, but rather that the act of selling them to Aloy and the other outcasts is an illegal act in itself.
- The Hermit: He lives by himself, but that doesn't mean he can't visit the nearby Nora village. That he's so paranoid that someone will see him speaking to Aloy certainly suggests that he's in frequent contact.
- Nothing Is the Same Anymore: The reason he chose to live by himself in the wilderness is that once his sentence of being an outcast was up, he discovered that everyone he knew had moved on and there was nothing left for him to stay in his old home.
Voiced by: Ako Mitchell
A Nora who was saved by Aloy after an accident and became a good friend and ally.
- Back for the Finale: Unlike the other Nora at Meridian, except for outcast Nakoa, he doesn't seem dramatically stressed at being in this strange location and has apparently had friendly conversations with several Carja, trying to explain Stitchers to them and being made an honorary quartermaster.
- Climb, Slip, Hang, Climb: While presumably training for the Proving on the cliffside obstacle courses known as brave trails, Teb wasn't able to keep his grip and fell into the middle of a pack of angry Striders.
- Distressed Dude: After his fall, he was badly injured and trapped, unable to move for fear of the Striders.
- I Owe You My Life: After Aloy saved Teb, he patiently waited for years to be able to thank her.
- Nice Guy: One of the few Nora who speaks to Aloy during her time as an outcast, since he feels the need to thank her for saving his life.
- Not the Fall That Kills You: Despite falling off a cliff, the more pressing danger to Teb is the angry machines searching for him.
- Non-Action Guy: His first scene has him failing while training to be a hunter-warrior, which seems to prove to Teb that he isn't cut out for front line combat. Instead he became a Stitcher.
- Passive Rescue: Instead of shooting down machines and causing explosions, Aloy uses her Focus to guide Teb out of danger without alerting any machines.
- Rescue Introduction: Teb is the first non-outcast that Aloy meets that treats her with gratitude and kindness.
- Stalker with a Crush: An Implied Trope: When Aloy first arrives in Mother's Heart, he already has an outfit prepared for her that fits her perfectly, despitely ostensibly having had no opportunity to take her measurements (since they hadn't seen each other since she saved him as a child). This suggests that he'd been watching her more recently without her knowing it.
- Textile Work Is Feminine: Averted. Teb works as a Stitcher, making armor for Braves to wear in combat.
Voiced by: Nicolette McKenzie
A more reasonable and friendly High Matriarch.
- Cool Old Lady: She actually acts as Aloy's surrogate mother while at the same time defending her from Lansra.
- Nice Mean And In Between: Of the three matriarchs, Teersa is the nice one. She treats Aloy and Rost with respect despite them being outcasts, and believes that Aloy is a gift from the All-Mother who has a greater purpose.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: She doesn't totally adhere to her tribe's strict customs and is welcoming to Aloy, and willing to deal with outsiders repentant over the Red Raids. She's also willing enough to break the tribe's customs by allowing her people to evacuate inside the Embrace, where it was solely exclusive to the High Matriarchs, when the Eclipse intends on wiping them out.
- When Aloy presents her with information that conflicts with her lifelong held beliefs, she doesn't argue or deny Aloy's claims. Teersa instead admits that the situation has gone beyond her understanding and entrusts Aloy to learn the truth of it.
- While the other High Matriarchs' plans for dealing with large problems involve little more than praying to All-Mother and clinging to their beliefs, Teersa takes a significantly more open minded and proactive approach. Her actions effectively set Aloy on the right path for the main plot of the game and later saves the lives of dozens of Nora.
- Right for the Wrong Reasons: Teersa believes that Aloy is a gift from their goddess that will accomplish great things for their Nora. She's right but it's not quite that simple. Their "goddess" is an AI that self destructed to give the world a fighting chance against Hades and Aloy is a clone designed to access genetically locked areas.
- Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: Teersa is the only High Matriarch who is willing to ignore the Nora's strict taboos from blessing the name of Aloy, an outcast, to allowing her tribesmen to flee inside the safety of All-Mother temple, where it is exclusively reserved for only High Matriarchs to enter, from the Eclipse.
Voiced by: Eve Karpf
A conservative High Matriarch who strictly adheres to the Nora's religious customs.
- Bitch Alert: Her Establishing Character Moment is treating the infant Aloy like an abomination and reprimanding Teersa for actually allowing Aloy's name to be blessed.
- Heel–Face Turn: Of a sort. When Aloy exits the GAIA facility that the Nora's ancestors lived in until their food ran out, she immediately bows to the ground out of religious fervour, names her 'Anointed' and overall becomes more tolerant of her.
- The Fundamentalist: Really follows her custom to the point of refusing to let her tribesmen to flee inside the Embrace from the Eclipse. But no one really listens to her after the screaming and shouting. The only reason she ever begs Aloy's forgiveness isn't because of a personal revelation but because what she sees gives her the false impression that Aloy is the Anointed of the Goddess.
- Jerkass: Of the three High Matriarchs, Lansra is the most cold-hearted, treating Aloy with contempt at every turn, no matter how much she's proven herself, and even trying to stop her tribesmen from taking refuge in the mountain when the Eclipse attacks.
- Nice Mean And In Between: Lansra is the mean one. She despises Aloy, treating her not just as an outcast, but as an abomination of nature who will bring nothing but suffering to the tribe.
- Starter Villain: Of a sort. She isn't directly against Aloy, but she is the first force shown to be antagonistic toward her, barring Resh. By the end, Aloy realizes she has bigger problems than a fundamentalist who won't even leave the Sacred Lands.Aloy: If there's anything I've learned since the Proving, it's that there are bigger evils in this world than you.
Voiced by: Rachel Atkins
The third of the tribe's three High Matriarchs, Jezza seems to be the most pragmatic of the High Matriarchs, siding with the idealistic Teersa or the harsh fundamentalist Lansra depending on situational benefit.
- Nice Mean And In Between: Jezza is the in-between. She's not exactly sure what to think of Aloy, and doesn't treat her with the same level of loving kindness as Teersa, nor the same level of scorn as Lansra. After Aloy is declared the Annointed she simply says of Aloy's original outcast status, "We were so unsure."
- Out of Focus: Of the three Matriarchs, she's the only one without any real characterization.
Voiced by: Adjoa Andoh
Nora War-Chief and the mother of Vala and Varl.
- Lady of War: She's the War-Chief of the Nora and is usually calm and composed, if harsh.
- Outliving One's Offspring: Her daughter was killed by the Eclipse.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: The first time Aloy encounters her, Sona is curt and cool with her, as you might expect given how recently she lost her daughter, but unlike Resh she places no blame on the former Outcast, and Aloy quickly gains her respect.
- Roaring Rampage of Revenge: After the Proving massacre that killed Vala and the loss of most of her kinsmen, Sona is dead set on hunting down the Eclipse.
- Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: While she's bound by Nora custom, she breaks taboo to hunt the Eclipse who have taken shelter in the ruins. Later on, before the final battle, she's shown to be uncomfortable being in Meridian and away from the sacred land.
- Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: In the finale, she hates being in 'tainted' lands surrounded by godless people and refuses an audience with the Sun-King, though she doesn't bar the people she led to Meridian from talking to all Carja. She still sees the need to be there.
- War Hawk: Averted. She believes that being this is a mark of a poor War-Chief, and war is a burden to be dealt with, not an opportunity for glory or fun. Even her vengeful rampage was meant to quickly and efficiently deal with a known threat.
Voiced by: Elena Saurel
Sona's daughter and a contestant in the Proving.
- Black Girl Dies First: She's the first named character to die in the game.
- Friendly Rivalry: She is the only Brave-in-training that is willing to tolerate Aloy and openly competitive with her fellow Braves during the Proving. By the end of the Proving she is really proud of Aloy becoming a Brave.
- Nice Girl: She speaks with Aloy despite her being an outcast, and outright tells Bast to stop picking on her.
- Surprisingly Sudden Death: Aside from the proctor at the Proving, she is the first character who gets killed by a machine gun-wielding Cultist.
- We Hardly Knew Ye: She gets even less screen time than Bast, only having enough to establish herself as a Friendly Rival to Aloy and a courageous Nora before being killed by Eclipse during the Proving.
Voiced by: John Macmillan
Sona's son and a Brave.
- Amazon Chaser: He is one of several characters that shows an interest in Aloy, largely because of rather than in spite of her combat skills.
- Proud Warrior Race Guy: He's one of the best Braves in the tribe and is not afraid to get himself involved in a fight.
- Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Varl replaces his sister Vala, who was killed by the Eclipse, and befriends Aloy. He's humbler and less openly friendly than his sister, but less reserved, formal, and harsh than his mother.
- Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Like Sona he's deeply uncomfortable in the finale being so far from everything he knows and around such foreign people, he's just less intense about it and can apply more perspective.
Voiced by: Harry Myers
One of the senior Braves.
- Hate Sink: Unlike the other Nora, who eventually come around to accepting the "motherless outcast" and more, there is absolutely nothing that can be said "positively" about Resh beyond his ability to keep his unwavering determination to hate Aloy.
- Jerkass: Has a deep seated hatred for Aloy for no particular reason other than she was an outcast. Even after Aloy is dubbed the Anointed of the Goddess by the rest of her tribe, Resh doesn't follow suit, treating her with just as much vitriol before, only this time disowning his tribe for accepting her.
- The Neidermeyer: He is vastly less competent than Sona, and the other Braves don't really think highly of him.
- No Place for Me There: A variation. When Aloy is given an overwhelmingly positive reception by the rest of the tribe upon being dubbed the Anointed of the Goddess, Resh decides that the tribe he knew is gone and he has no place there. Aloy agrees, and more or less tells him not to let the door hit him on the way out.
- You Are in Command Now: He is promoted to be the Nora tribe's War Chief after the previous War Chief, Sona, goes missing.
Voiced by: JB Blanc (English), Fumihiko Tachiki (Japanese)
Aloy's guardian and mentor.
- Badass Beard: A long, braided one.
- Boomerang Bigot: A subdued example; Rost has a very low opinion of other Outcasts other than Aloy (and even of regular Nora that break the rules by treating Outcasts with some basic human decency), and often expresses his disapproval of her interacting with them. He does speak approvingly of Odd Greta, an Outcast who doesn't try to speak to other Outcasts, and likes it when Aloy helps her.
- Dark and Troubled Past: Most outcasts are only exiled from the tribe for a certain period of time. Rost, however, was sentenced to be an outcast for life, implying he had committed a particularly serious crime which he does not want to talk about. Subverted, though, as he willingly exiled himself once he finished his hunting down of a band of twelve Outlanders after pleading to the Matriarchs to become a Death-Seeker.
- Death Seeker: He requested that the Matriarchs literally name him a Death-Seeker, one whose soul remains in the Sacred Lands even as their body leaves it, never to return. He did so in order to kill the people who murdered his wife and child, and when he succeeded he was content with dying as close to the Sacred Lands as the law allowed. Instead another Nora tribeswoman found him, and brought him back into Nora territory. Even though this was forbidden, the Matriarchs compromised with him, allowing him to stay in Nora lands in exchange for being an outcast. In present day he no longer has this mentality and is just content with living in his cherished lands and raising Aloy as his daughter.
- Due to the Dead: The Matriarchs make a grave for him, and Aloy can even visit it and tell Rost all that's been happening in her life.
- Famous Last Words: "Survive."
- Heroic Sacrifice: He dies saving Aloy from being blown up by the Eclipse Cultists.
- Hero of Another Story: His adventures as a Death-Seeker basically sounds like something out of a Horizon-flavored Assassin's Creed game.
- Honor Before Reason: He adheres to the laws of the Nora Tribe no matter what, even if it hurts him. He tells Aloy that after the Proving he'll move on because it's against the law for tribe members to speak to Outcasts like him, even though Aloy was raised as an outcast all her life. His death stops him from carrying out that plan, however.
- Mentor Occupational Hazard: As to be expected of a mentor figure, he dies.
- Papa Wolf: He's incredibly protective of his adoptive daughter, Aloy. Despite saying he'll have to stay out of Aloy's life after she becomes a Nora, it turns out he was watching over her during the Proving, and puts up a hell of a fight to save her from Helis, sacrificing his own life in the process. This goes for his biological daughter, as well, whom he avenged by hunting down and murdering the twelve Outlanders who killed her, even though he believed it meant he'd never set foot in the Sacred Lands again.
- Parental Substitute: He's the closest thing Aloy has to a father.
- Parents as People: Rost and Aloy shared a loving father/daughter relationship and he trained Aloy so well, she became the best hunter and survivalist out of all the Nora. However, Rost's deep love and respect of the Nora, their laws, and religion left him unable to truly empathize with Aloy over her frustration and pain at being an outcast. As a result, he was unable to help her emotionally adjust, leaving her with significant emotional turmoil over her position in life when she grew up.
- Religious Bruiser: A very devout Nora who will bend certain rules (acting as an infant's mother when it's time to name her, whistling to signal some tribesfolk but not openly talking to them, "Survive") but believes in them utterly. This puts him in some conflict with Aloy, who's hurt and frustrated by many of the things that he quietly accepts and supports.
- Roaring Rampage of Revenge: He begged the Matriarchs to name him Death-Seeker, so that he could leave Nora lands and kill the men who'd murdered his wife and daughter.
- Back for the Finale: Happy to help, stating that Helis is much like Zaid and was nearly as feared during the Red Raids.
- Revenge: Her motivation for leaving the Sacred Lands.
- You Can't Go Home Again: After killing Zaid, she cannot go back to the Nora because she is considered exiled for leaving in the first place. She claims she doesn't mind and doesn't want to go back anyway, and focuses on helping victims from Zaid's slave trade. Apparently some of this was sour grapes and trying to make the best of her situation. In the endgame she's heard about the Nora opening up their borders somewhat and is excited and happy at the prospect of coming home and seeing her brother again.
- You Killed My Father: Witnessed her father being killed by Zaid during the Red Raids, instilling in her a desire for vengeance against her father's killer.
- All Hail the Great God Mickey!: Their religion springs from concepts found hundreds of years ago in a long-gone textbook about the sun. Apart from the sun being utterly essential to life, everything they might have learned from it has become unrecognizably altered.
- Cruel and Unusual Death: Traditional punishments and 'trials' always involve being staked out in the hot sun for days. Avad has instated a prison program that he hopes will rehabilitate criminals instead.
- Culture Chop Suey: While their buildings take from Babylonian and Mediterranian architecture, their outfits vary greatly according to the occupation and social status, ranging from Aztec, Roman, Middle Eastern and even Asian styles of clothing.
- Gladiator Games: The Carja under the reign of the Mad Sun-King have the Sun Ring where men are pitted against machines. The Shadow Carja and the Eclipse continue the tradition at the Citadel. After Aloy is captured by Helis, she is thrown into the Sun Ring.
- Guyliner: Both men and women usually have some kind of eye makeup, fancier in higher class characters.
- Stay in the Kitchen: The Carja are a very patriarchal society; they discourage women from fighting and prevent them from fighting in the army, and the handful we meet in game who are capable warriors are noted as being exceptions who've had to break through the ceiling. This helps explain why they think the matriarchal Nora are so strange. Sun-King Avad is trying to change things, starting with lifting certain laws and having a foreign woman be the head of his armed forces, but it's not as easy as that.
- Tautological Templar: You can never be wrong as long as your actions are blessed by the Sun. Or are at least claimed to be. On the other hand, if you're shown to be clearly and obviously wrong, you're clearly not being blessed by the Sun. This latter argument is used by Avad's supporters as proof that his father was no longer a true Sun-King, since the murder of a truly blessed Sun-King would plunge the world into darkness.
- Theme Naming: Generally speaking, men's names end in a consonant and womens' names end in a vowel or a vowel sound, but there are exceptions.
- The Theocracy: Downplayed, but present, with priests being one of the highest-ranking people and the premise of the ruler being "chosen of the Sun".
- The Sacred Darkness: While Sun-Carja much prefer sun to shadow, their scripture also prescribes a certain reverence for it. They see night and day as life and death, that the night of the Old Ones led to their dawn and that eventually their day will end as well. The Sun and Shadow are the two halves of nature and to deny one is to deny both.
- Walking Shirtless Scene: Many of the men walk around with partially bare chests and bared backs. Considering they live in a desert, it's not unjustified.
Voiced by: Josh Keaton
The current and 14th Sun-King.
- Adorkable: Usually he's pretty composed, but he fumbles his words and stammers a bit while asking Aloy to stay in the city.
- Amazon Chaser: Avad is quite attracted to strong, capable women. He admits that he fell in love with Ersa while she was helping him overthrow his father, and later on, he admits he has a crush on Aloy after she saves him from Dervahl. Aloy's pretty quick to set him straight.
- Did They or Didn't They?: Although he explains the Carja nobles wouldn't accept their king taking an Oseram woman for a wife, it's kept purposefully ambiguous what kind of relationship Avad and Ersa really had. It's brought up by enough characters to warrant the question, and depending on choices Aloy can bring this up to his face, at which point he backs down, greatly flustered. The Collector's Edition hardback states that they were intimate, but they apparently kept it hidden enough that Ersa's brother and coworker is uncertain Avad was even her type.
- God-Emperor: The Carja worship the Sun God and view the Sun King as something of a living embodiment of the Sun's will; Avad personally downplays the trope as much as he can, not wanting to incite the same fanaticism that his father did.
- The Good King: Tries his best to rule as a wise and honorable king.
- Masculine Girl, Feminine Boy: Pragmatic Oseram warrior Ersa and softspoken makeup-wearing gentleman Avad were close, with Word of God even confirming these qualities are pretty much what attracted them to one another.
- Nice Guy: Avad is a truly good and decent man, up to the point of commenting on What a Senseless Waste of Human Life Dervahl's inevitable and politically necessary death is since if he hadn't let himself be consumed by hate, he could have used his genius for good, despite the fact that Dervahl killed the woman he loved and very nearly killed him, as well. He comes off as genuine and sensitive enough that it's a little strange to think of him killing his father; it must have taken a lot of doing, and the official recount says that he did the deed "in anguish".
- The Collector's Edition guide states that this is also his biggest flaw. Avad can make hard choices but not ruthless ones, like wiping out the insurgent Shadow Carja.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: Seeking to reform and redeem the Carja's atrocious role in the Red Raids. His first decree is outlawing slavery and reestablishing peaceful relations between the tribes. Much to the dismay of many, he's very adamant on giving people a second chance.
- Silk Hiding Steel: A rare male example. Avad is a softspoken diplomat who champions nothing but peaceful solutions, but he once led a successful rebellion and personally killed the previous king.
- The Kingslayer: Ended up killing his father, the 13th Sun-King, for his habit of human sacrifices to the sun god.
- My Country Tis of Thee That I Sting: His status of a prince allowed him to go from speaking out against the former practices to successfully organizing a coup.
- Patricide: Had good reasons for killing his father after the whole "human sacrifices to placate the sun god" thing.
- Replacement Goldfish: His only real moral failing in the game is when he tries to recruit Aloy into his court to stand-in for Ersa, something she'll call him out on and he'll later apologize for.
- Walking Shirtless Scene: Just like Nil, Avad's Carja armor/robe is rather revealing in the chest department.
- Warrior Prince: In game he's more of a Non-Action Guy, but he did directly participate in the assault on Meridian to overthrow his father. During the climax, he wields a sword and seems fully prepared to fight Helis himself before Aloy tells him to go rally the city guard and leave Helis to her.
The 13th Sun-King, father of Avad, and notoriously known as the Mad Sun King for committing the Red Raids.
- Archnemesis Dad: To Avad, before Avad killed him.
- The Caligula: He enslaved other tribes, conducted Human Sacrifice, carried out Cruel And Unusual deaths on people in the Sun Ring — including his eldest son.
- Evil Overlord: Promoted Carja expansionism and slavery during his lifetime. Endorsed the belief that the strong looked down upon the weak. He later believed that human sacrifices would stop the recent rise of machine aggression.
- A God Am I: Unlike Avad, he really took the idea of being the embodiment of the Sun God's will to heart.
- Offing the Offspring: He murdered his eldest son for standing up to him, and ordered Avad's death when he fled. Luckily, Avad was able to rebel and kill him first.
- Pet the Dog: According to one of Helis's logs, after the death of his wife and child in childbirth, Jiran granted them an honor normally only reserved for Carja heroes and kings, by burying them in the royal crypts. The gesture was enough to move Helis out of his self-pity (and pretty much any pity at all).
- Posthumous Character: Already dead by the time of the story.
- Predecessor Villain: He's dead long before Aloy could ever meet him in present day, but he once ruled the Carja, abducted, enslaved and sacrificed people from other tribes in his Red Raids, and overall spread terror throughout the land.
- Villainous Legacy: Though dead by the present day, his influence hangs over the setting. The Red Raids he orchestrated caused much distrust between Carja and the other clans, and his fanatical, former champion, Helis, is still active, forming Eclipse and the Shadow Carja, and forging an alliance with HADES, all to continue his dead king's dogma.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: The stated reason for all the Red Raids and Human Sacrifice was because he wanted to prevent the Derangement from producing more deadly and aggressive machines.
King Avad's adviser.
- Evil Chancellor: Subverted. He did serve the Mad Sun King, but discretely helped his enemies.
- Mentor Archetype: Downplayed example, but as Avad's currently highest advisor, he qualifies.
- The Good Chancellor: He is always there for Avad to do whatever he can to help the Sundom.
- Perpetual Smiler: He's rarely if ever seen unhappy. It may simply be his diplomatic training, but it might also be relief at getting to serve Avad rather than his bloodthirsty father.
- The Spymaster: He see himself as a "good listener" who listens to helpful voices in the Sundom and beyond. According to the collector's edition guide, he trained Vanasha.
A wandering Carja warrior who loves to kill people.
- Big Damn Heroes: If you don't kill him, Nil will appear in Meridian to aid in the final battle. His behavior suggests that he's temporarily restrained his bloodlust to defend Aloy, or at least convinced himself that machine demons will be more interesting than normal machines.
- Blood Knight: He kills for the thrill. Killing random people causes outrage, killing animals when he doesn't need the meat causes complaint, and killing machines is just not fun at all. But killing bandits in a savage world? He's often praised. He's thus become something of a Vigilante Man.
- Blue and Orange Morality: He thinks the term "war crimes" strange because he sees the logic that all wars are a crime to someone.
- Duel to the Death: After clearing out all the bandit camps, Nil will ask Aloy to meet him alone. There he earnestly asks her if she wants to fight to the death. He doesn't attack if she refuses, he's just disappointed.
- Everyone Has Standards: Surprisingly enough, he thinks the rules of engagement are important.
- Face Death with Dignity: If you opt to fight him in a Duel to the Death, he's calm in his final moments, even as he admits he thought the match would've gone in his favor.
- I Call It "Vera": Calls his bow "The Voice of our Teeth". He seems somewhat surprised that Aloy hasn't named hers. He draws the line at naming his knife, though.
- In Love with Your Carnage: A more subdued example, but he genuinely admires Aloy for her skill in wiping out bandit camps.
- Interplay of Sex and Violence: Subverted. By all accounts, he probably enjoys violence in place of sex. Aloy even seems to rationalise his proposal for a Duel to the Death as his twisted version of a love confession, and may turn him down accordingly.
- Just Following Orders: "I don't make decisions. Let's say, the rules of engagement suited me. But rules are important. A structure...a cage. Otherwise... you know of those places — lonely places where people were, now just a hole cut in the world? Chances are, I was there before."
- Meaningful Name: "Nil", zero, or nothingness. Appropriate for a totally cold-blooded killer who leaves nothing in his wake. The warden at Sunstone Rock implies it's not his original name.
- Moral Sociopathy: He freely admits that he lives for the moment of ending human lives and expresses no regret or remorse if his companions die. However, he does evidence a fairly strong sense of rules-of-engagement based right and wrong, and focuses on killing bandits because no one "civilized" objects to eliminating those who "give honest killers a bad name".
- Nightmare Fuel Station Attendant: He might assist Aloy, sort of, and even become something like a partner to her, also sort of, but Aloy makes no secret of finding him extremely creepy.
- Reformed Criminal: As punishment for his crimes, Nil spent two years of rehabilitation at Sunstone Rock. It seems to have done little to cull his bloodlust, but at least he only targets bandits.
- Smiting Evil Feels Good: He started killing bandits because they were all he could kill without being hunted himself. But after years of doing so, he's found an entirely new enjoyment in killing those who kill for no reason at all.
- Sociopathic Soldier: A former Carja soldier, Nil committed many crimes under the 13th Sun King, which he freely admitted to when Avad launched an investigation into the atrocities committed during the war.
- This Is the Part Where...: If you agree to duel and kill him, he'll say, "I should say, "I always knew it would end this way, since we first met." But if I'm honest... I thought I could take you."
- Walking Shirtless Scene: His "armor" takes the form of an open vest that shows off his chest and abdomen.
A disinherited nobleman's son.
- Black Sheep: He is the only member in his family that is not so kind and generous, the result being he was disowned by his father.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: He gets killed by a machine that he had summoned to kill Aloy.
- Too Dumb to Live: First he sends a warrior out to clear the house from machines. Then he betrays said warrior and expects to kill her by calling for more machines. He does that while holding the device that summons the machines, machines he has no control over, which predictably gets him killed first.
Captain Balahn's second-in-command and former participant of the Red Raids.
- Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: The first time Aloy meets him personally, he acts like a polite soldier suffering from a case of Mistaken Identity, not the terrifying war criminal stories are told of. Turns out, all the stories about him are true and he's even running a slavery ring on the side.
- Blatant Lies: He claims that his role in the Red Raids was wildly exaggerated; Nakoa doesn't believe it for a second and Aloy too doesn't completely buy the story, leading her to continue her investigation.
- Foil: He and Helis were both terrors in the Red Raids, killing people and capturing others to send to die in the Sun-Ring, but Zaid stayed with the Sun-Carja and Helis was loyal to Jiran and went to the Shadow. Zaid mutilated people, retains a keen interest in capturing them for his own ends, and is skilled at dissembling and misdirection, wheras Helis is more of a zealot thug.
- Laser-Guided Karma: Zaid gets killed by Nakoa for killing her father.
- Number Two: Balahn's second in command.
- Slavery Is a Special Kind of Evil: The reveal that he's leading a slavery ring on the side is treated with a deserved amount of revulsion.
- You Killed My Father: He murdered — and apparently mutilated — Nakoa's father during the Red Raids while she hid and saw the whole thing. It takes years for her to get her revenge, but with Aloy's help she's finally able to avenge her father's death.
- Back for the Finale: Avad offered any prisoners willing to fight for Meridian their freedom and they all accepted, so Janeva and all his guards took them there.
- Good Scars, Evil Scars: A cheek scar pulls Janeva's mouth into a constant, sardonic-looking half smile.
- My Master, Right or Wrong: A morally inverted version. Avad saw that Janeva, a member of his honor guard, thought all criminals were the same once, so made his soldier the Warden of Sunstone Rock as an education. Janeva doesn't like treating criminals 'softly', but toes the line the Sun-King sets and is harsh-but-fair rather than abusive.
- Prisoner's Work: When Aloy goes to Sunstone Rock the prison is in lockdown just after a violent escape, but there are crop fields around it, and a prisoner wistfully asks when they'll be let out to work on the farms again. Before the final battle, Janeva also boasts that all their dawn drills have helped their pre-battle discipline.
- Transgender: Potentially. Janeva's voice actor is female and Aloy initially believes the Warden to be a woman, but Janeva cuts Aloy off when she asks about it, vehemently saying "No. I'm not one of your sisters. No woman can wear Carja armor." Janeva also mentions becoming a soldier and breaking the arms of soldiers who inquired too closely about this. The soldiers around the prison, Janeva included, wear much more concealing armor than most Carja.
- Wardens Are Evil: Prefers the 'old way' of punishing criminals, leaving them buried to the neck in the hot sun. Openly dubious about the concept of people being rehabilitated, asks Aloy to hunt down and kill some escapees instead of bringing them back because they'd already had their chance. However, as said above Janeva is loyal to Avad, and is cautiously positive when Aloy brings up Nil and his stay in the prison.
The Carja in Shadow/The Eclipse
Carja who were loyal to the Mad Sun-King and are currently based in Sunfall. The Eclipse is a cult comprised of Shadow Carja soldiers fanatical to the cause and seek to resurrect and control long-dead machines to one day retake Meridian from Sun-King Avad.
- Always Chaotic Evil: Averted with the Shadow Carja; the game makes clear that there are plenty of Shadow Carja citizens, even some Shadow Carja soldiers, who're good and decent people. They just happened to pick the wrong side or had the misfortune of already living in territory that the Shadow Carja would come to control.
- The Eclipse is basically all evil or conscripts, but then, it is a cult. You can tell the difference because if Aloy ventures into a Shadow Carja outpost the soldiers will say colder, ruder things to her than the generally indifferent Sun Carja in similar outposts. If she ventures into an Eclipse outpost they immediately start to shoot at her.
- Cargo Cult: The Eclipse worship HADES, whose status as an AI was known to Sylens when he founded Eclipse.
- Dark Is Evil: Carja respect The Sacred Darkness, and after the revolution in Meridian Jiran's loyalists took that darkness and embraced it. Believing that the death of the Sun-King led to a spiritual night, nearly everything about them has a darkness motif. From their ranks comes the cult of the Eclipse, who definitely run this way. Shadow Carja wear black clothes and armor. The Eclipse, who take the color scheme further and wear different but still dark clothing, are the primary enemies of the game. They also control the pitch-black Corruptors and Deathbringers, as well as corrupted machines.
- Dying Town: Sunfall was once the Sun-King's summer palace, and its inside is still beautiful and well-built, but this is a desert, and its prosperity was dependent on imported food and supplies. The settlement is surrounded by a tent city of impoverished refugees and commoners who get to watch most of what resources the Shadow Carja have get taken by the wealthy. Opinions closer to Meridian are that Avad pities them too much and that's why there's an uneasy truce at the start of the game.
- Establishing Character Moment: Eclipse shows to everyone that they are not so friendly when they attacked the Proving and killing almost everyone (mostly kids in their teens) for being a witness.
- Religion of Evil: The Eclipse is serving what they believe is the Buried Shadow, literally the Satan-analogue in Carja scripture, in the belief that sometimes the shadow can do what the sun cannot, in this case retake holy Meridian from the Sun Carja.
- The Remnant: They are the leftovers of the Carja that followed the Mad Sun King.
- World Domination: Their main goal.
Voiced by: Crispin Freeman
A former champion of the Mad Sun-King and leader of the Eclipse.
- Arch-Enemy: To Aloy. He earns her burning hatred pretty quickly for killing Rost, and she eventually becomes the subject of his obsession after her repeated interference in Eclipse plans.
- Arrow Catch: In his introductory cutscene, he deflects an arrow using his bracer during his fight with Rost. He does the same thing in his boss fight at the end of the game, deflecting a number of the arrows you shoot at him.
- Authority Equals Asskicking: He's a legitimately deadly fighter (though Rost is able to match him blow-for-blow, so he's not as dominant as, say, Colonel Radec), and has a ton of health when you finally fight him (so much so that you'll probably need to grab a heavy machine gun and empty it into his skull to beat him).
- Ax-Crazy: Rationality and stability are not his strongest traits.
- The Champion: He was literally known as the Mad Sun-King's Champion, and even after his master's death he continues to carry on his king's work.
- Creepy Blue Eyes: His pale blue-gray eyes seen from up close just add to how alarming his appearance is.
- Damage-Sponge Boss: He can take a lot of damage when you finally fight him; he's not as tough as the bigger machines, but he's quite tough for a human.
- Don't You Dare Pity Me!: If you choose the empathetic option before killing him, he'll show outrage.
- The Dragon: Was formerly this to the Mad Sun-King, and even though he's now the leader of the Eclipse, he's still merely taking orders from HADES.
- The Dreaded: He is widely feared due to the Red Raids, especially by the Oseram. He is known as The Terror of the Sun and Stacker of Corpses.
- Even Evil Has Loved Ones: He had a wife once. She died in childbirth, along with their child, prior to Avad overthrowing Jiran and Helis leading the Shadow Carja into exile. One of his few displays of sentimentality is keeping a recording where he reminisces about his wedding night - though since this is Helis, this reminiscence is still creepy and how loving they were is in doubt.
- Evil Mentor: Tries to be one to Itamen, the Mad Sun-King's youngest son, whom Helis sees as the true Sun-King instead of Avad. Luckily for the rest of the world, Itamen has no taste for the Shadow Carja's cruelty, and Aloy can even free Itamen and his mother from their Gilded Cage and return them to Avad's protection.
- Evil Sounds Deep: He's the main human antagonist and has the deepest human voice in the game.
- Face Death with Dignity: If you choose the empathetic option, he'll be outraged that Aloy pities him, but when she tells him to turn his face toward the sun, he'll do so calmly before she delivers the final blow. Not really the case with the other options.
- The Fatalist: He believes that he has a great destiny, and even though he failed to kill Aloy at first, that only happened because he wasn't destined to kill her at that time. Everything that followed was meant to be.
- The Fundamentalist: He is a fanatical believer of Carja faith, particularly the Mad Sun-King's version.
- The Heavy: While he does answer to HADES, as the leader of the Eclipse it is he who drives the plot in the story. Had he and his men never invaded the Proving and killed Rost, the Nora would have never made Aloy a Seeker, and she would never have gone on her groundbreaking journey.
- Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: After his boss fight, Aloy finishes him off by gutting him with her spear.
- Ironic Echo: He tells Aloy to turn her face towards the sun before attempting to execute her at the beginning of the game. At the end of the game Aloy echoes it back at him in his last moment. Depending on your dialogue choice she either does this out of pity and sincere respect for his faith - and even waits until he does turn his face to stab him - or as a angry taunt after stabbing him.
- Killed Mid-Sentence: If you choose the logical option, Aloy will tell him he'll die then HADES will be next. Helis will begin ranting that the Buried Shadow will save him right as Aloy runs him through with her spear.
- Large and in Charge: He's a big guy, noticeably larger and more muscular than pretty much anyone else in the game.
- Madness Mantra: He often insists on his main motivation as "Two halves joined to one cause: Shadow to Sun, Dark to Light, Night to Day." Another phrase he uses repeatedly is "In this, I have become an instrument of prophecy."
- My Greatest Failure: Defied; he tells Aloy that for a long time he obsessed over his failure to kill her when they first met - he could have cut her throat deeper before Rost interfered - and as she disrupts Eclipse operations time and again, up to and including helping their Sun King escape and killing their high priest, he becomes fixated on why he didn't just kill her when he had the chance, before finally coming to the realization that he was meant to fail then so that she could cause those problems and he could capture her and sacrifice her as an example in the Sun Ring later. Recall, rationality isn't his strong suit.
- Neck Lift: Of Aloy, one-handed, during their first meeting.
- No-Sell: Aloy tries to shoulder tackle him when they first meet. Unfortunately, what works against skinny Mooks doesn't work against a 240-pound man of linebacker proportions, and she just bounces off him.
- This applies in the game as well, as he's able to shrug off arrows in the head, exploding barrels and Deathbringer gun bullets.
- Psycho Supporter: He is a psychopathic, bloodthirsty maniac, but he remains completely loyal to the Mad Sun-King and fully believes in his brutal ideology.
- Soft-Spoken Sadist: Deep voice aside, he's generally very calm and collected when speaking, only raising his voice when addressing the crowd at the Sun Ring and losing his composure when Aloy defeats him.
- Undying Loyalty: All his allegiance is with the Mad Sun-King, even long after the King's death. His logs reveal that this is likely due to Jiran granting his wife and child burial in the royal tomb, an honor usually reserved for royalty and great heroes.
- Unwitting Pawn: HADES tricks him into thinking that he's the Buried Shadow of the Carja religion, and he's completely duped by the ancient AI into unknowingly helping along the apocalypse just so the Shadow Carja can reclaim Meridian. In its way, it's almost pitiful how entirely Helis is taken in.
- This Cannot Be!: His reactions to his defeat by Aloy."Impossible. I am chosen. This was not meant to be!"
The High Priest of the Shadow Carja, Bahavas also acts as the regent for the child king Itamen.
- Evil Chancellor: In reality, Bahavas uses Itamen as a puppet, and keeps him and Queen Nasadi imprisoned in all but name.
- Hate Sink: The smug figurehead of a Religion of Evil who holds a child king hostage and routinely has his own weak and elderly people killed just to weed out weakness. Bahavas has no redeeming features whatsoever and his end is both swift and satisfying to behold.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: He falsely accuses Uthid of treason when he discovers Bahavas' secret cullings. However, his pursuit of Uthid is what ultimately leads to his own death.
- Social Darwinist: He arranges for assassins to secretly murder old and sick citizens living under Shadow Carja rule, especially the ones in the refugee camp, in an effort to weed out the weak.
- The Unfought: You don't actually fight him himself, just the three guards he brings. When they're gone, he's killed without a struggle in a cutscene by Uthid.
The youngest son of the Mad Sun-King and a child puppet king set-up by the Shadow Carja.
- A Child Shall Lead Them: Uthid explains that even though Itamen is a child, he's innocent and pure; not deranged like the old Sun-King or guilty of patricide like the new one, and that's why Uthid himself, a comparatively kind and honorable Carja, went to Sunfall. However, this make him easy to control by the true rulers of the Shadow Carja.
- Children Are Innocent: Even though raised by Helis to be like his father, Itamen shows no sign of his dad's madness and is terrified by the brutality of the Shadow Carja. Mainly all he wants is to be near his mother, like any child that age.
- Defector from Decadence: Ultimately decides to defect to the Carja in order to escape his imprisonment in all but name.
- Gilded Cage: He's got a pretty sweet crib as part of being king, but it's not like he's got any choice in the matter - much less any inkling of power or any idea of what to do with it.
- Puppet King: The Shadow Carja use Itamen as their idol to control their followers.
A wanted Shadow Carja soldier.
- Defector from Decadence: Automatically became one after turning over a serial killer, who was instantly exonerated by High Priest Bahavas, who was actually the mastermind behind the killings and attempted to kill Uthid. Bahavas's people did kill Uthid's men, which grieves Uthid.
- He Knows Too Much: When he found out that Bahavas was behind the culling he was investigating, Bahavas had his men killed and tried to kill him too, offering a bounty on his head after he escaped.
- The Last Dance: His quest has him luring every hunter after him in a chance to at least go out in a blaze of glory. Aloy instead makes him realize he'd do much better damage to the Shadow Carja living instead of dying. Not only do he and Aloy take down every bounty hunter sent after him, but he manages to kill High Priest Bahavas.
- My Country, Right or Wrong: He did not agree with the Red Raids in any capacity, but he and his men did as ordered in service to Sunfall. It's not until after "peacetime" comes and things are still no better that he finally realizes the depth of rot and corruption plaguing his homeland.
- Nice to the Waiter: Fed orphans out of his own rations and punished soldiers who abused the refugees.
- Ship Tease: If you talk to him before the final assault on Meridian, he'll start to complain about Vanasha's incessant teasing, but then admits he's actually come to like it (implying he feels the same toward her).
- Action Girl: Is very eager to take on Shadow Carja agents that are trying to prevent her from saving Nasadi and Itamen.
- Amazonian Beauty: She gets at least one man to help her with her scheme by using her looks, and she shows up dressed for battle in a fanservice-y outfit very like the clothes male Carja wear, that shows off an impressive six-pack.
- Ambiguously Bi: She flirts with both Aloy and Uthid, though whether she has genuine interest in either of them or is just messing with them is vague.
- Bare Your Midriff: Her second outfit reveals that she has very impressive abs.
- Dark and Troubled Past: Implied. When she talks with Aloy before the final fight with the Shadow Carja, she reveals her utter loathing of the Shadow Carja, and the remark of feeling "their whips on [her] back," hinting that she may have been one of their slaves.
- Dude, Where's My Respect?: Pretends to be outraged when Avad gives Aloy the credit for freeing Itamen after two years of undercover work, but she's obviously joking.
- Friend to All Children: She's shown handing out food to impoverished children on Queen Nasadi's behalf, and she's very fond and protective of Itamen.
- Lady-in-Waiting: She isn't of noble blood but she is the handmaiden for Queen Nasadi.
- The Mole: Vanasha is a spy for the Carja government and organizes Itamen's extraction. She says she's been working undercover for two years.
- Offscreen Moment of Awesome: After Aloy saves Uthid from the bounty hunters, Vanasha arrives and states that she helped by completely eliminating another band of bounty hunters on her own - Aloy met them, Nora outcasts who claim they'll kill Nora for free - to prevent them from joining the fight.
- O.O.C. Is Serious Business: In the endgame, if she's there she briefly drops her usual teasing playful tone to tell Aloy that this enemy is the one behind turning Sunfall and the Sun Ring into torture-filled bloodbaths, and she hates them.
- The Tease: She has a lot of fun making vaguely flirtatious comments to Uthid to get under his skin. He acts annoyed towards her, but seems at peace with their "relationship." She is similarly flirty when interacting with Aloy, affectionately referring to her as "little huntress".
A hardy and ingenuitive people. Their homeland, the Claim, is purportedly built atop the ruins of an ancient. As a result, the Oseram have grown adept at reforging scrap metal into weapons and armor. Many Oseram are even capable of recycling destroyed machines into powerful weapons, such as the Oseram Cannon. They are ostensibly allied with the Carja, but their relationship has been strained due to the fallout of the Red Raids.
- The Blacksmith: The Oseram are known for making the best armors and weapons.
- Busman's Vocabulary: A lot of their colloquialisms revolve around blacksmithing terms, like "By fire and spit," for example.
- Cruel and Unusual Death: Apparently they specialize in this; aside from weapons, their tinkering goes into torture devices that they use to punish their most hated enemies with slow, agonizing deaths. We aren't given any specifics and don't see much of it beyond Dervahl using a sonic device that paralyzes and causes extreme pain to pin down Ersa for days before she dies of her injuries. It's alluded to that Dervahl's fate will be just as bad, if not worse, once he's returned to the Claim.
- Drop the Hammer: Oseram tend to favor using two-handed warhammers as their melee weapon of choice.
- Fantasy Counterpart Culture: Seem to be a blend of northern European cultures such as Scottish, Irish, Viking, and German.
- Secular Hero: Whereas the Nora, the Carja (especially the Shadow Carja), and the Banuk are all very spiritual tribes, we don't get much insight at all into the beliefs of the Oseram. We know they have some form of funeral rites for the dead, and we know that they hold the forge to be sacred to some extent, but not much beyond that.
- Stay in the Kitchen: Apparently the Oseram of the Claim (their homeland) have this attitude; "Women know their place in the Claim" is advice the tribal elders gave one Oseram man Aloy meets. Outside the Claim, this is apparently much less of an issue, as multiple women have left with leadership or just getting away from these expectations as part of their motivation.
Second-in-command of Avad's Vanguard and Ersa's younger brother.
- The Alcoholic: He loves to drink. Later tried to drink into depression when he initially believed his sister was killed.
- Amazon Chaser: From their very first conversation he displays obvious interest in Aloy, all but outright saying that he could take her away from all this. Aloy is too focused on her own goals to respond much. Before the final battle Varl notes the looks he keeps giving her, and Erend's men make fun of him for it.
- Badass Mustache: He's no slouch in combat, and he's got an impressive handlebar mustache connected to his mutton chops to give him a suitable brawny appearance.
- Character Development: He comes to respect Aloy over the course of their encounters, freely admitting that he initially saw himself as the big shot but came to realise he was lucky to get a minute of her time.
- Cruel Mercy: A part of his Character Development and maturation is sparing Dervahl's life, as Avad requested, despite his desire for revenge. He is able to content himself with the knowledge that the Oseram will probably give him a far crueler punishment than he ever could.
- Establishing Character Moment: Erend comes to the defense of a Carja Sun Priest from rowdy Nora tribesmen by calmly and reasonably talking them down.
- Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling: Erend is consistently regarded as less competent than his sister, even by himself, and seems content to play second-banana to her and drink. When she dies, Ersa essentially tells him he'll have to shape up without her, and he takes it to heart.
- My Sister Is Off-Limits!: Downplayed, considering the guy discussed having the hots for his sister is the current Sun-King and Erend really isn't in a position to object. He still claims that just thinking about it puts "very bad images in [his] head" and that Avad is "too skinny" for Ersa's tastes.
- Noble Bigot: He instantly takes a liking to Aloy on their first meeting and giving her advice that she is better off without the Nora, whom he sees as backwater hicks.
- Number Two: Initially to Ersa as part of Avad's Vanguard.
- Praetorian Guard: A heroic example, as the Vanguard serve as this to Avad.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: He's willing to do a few favors for Aloy to help her investigate Olin even after Meridian closes itself off from outsiders (and while he's grieving for his sister).
- Shut Up, Hannibal!: To Dervahl before taking him away.Dervahl: It's just like you to get someone else to do your killing—Erend: Shut up. You're at the Sun-King's mercy now. (knocks him out)
- Unexpected Successor: Ersa was a very beloved figure and seen as an incredibly competent badass. So when Erend is forced to take on her position as captain of Avad's Vanguard, he doesn't initially feel he's up to the challenge.
The captain of Avad's Vanguard and Erend's older sister.
- Almost Dead Guy: She survives just long enough to divulge Dervahl's goal to destroy Meridian before dying in her brother's arms.
- Badass in Distress: Played straight when she falls into Dervahl's trap.
- The Captain: After the Red Raids, she became the Captain of the Oseram Vanguards and acting to maintain peace between her people and the Carja.
- Damsel out of Distress: She was captured during the Red Raids, but managed to escape being sacrificed and help overthrow the old Sun-King.
- Death Faked for You: Dervahl captures her alive and leaves another woman's corpse in her armor, disfigured beyond easy identification, all so he can keep her prisoner and slowly torture her to death.
- Didn't See That Coming: Dervahl had more wiles than she credited him for. While she knew perfectly well his "peace talk" was a trap, she didn't foresee him designing a machine that can paralyse any person not wearing special ear-plugs. She and her men didn't even get to lift their weapons.
- Died in Your Arms Tonight: Passes away in her brother's embrace.
- Go Out with a Smile: Dies like this to try to make sure Erend won't worry about her after she's gone.
- Informed Attribute: Other characters constantly mention how fierce she is of a fighter and how she's more capable at everything than her brother. All you ever actually see her do is die in her Erend's arms.
- Noodle Incident: Apparently the way she escaped capture by the Carja is an amazing story, but there's never an opportunity to tell it. It involved her befriending Avad while she was a slave in the Palace of the Sun, and that's about all the detail there is.
A mysterious scavenger who also possesses a Focus like Aloy.
- The Atoner: Is genuinely guilty about cooperating with the Eclipse, and if Aloy spares him, he swears to use his life to make up for his past misdeeds.
- Face Death with Dignity: If Aloy chooses to kill him, he'll face it calmly, saying he's ready to pay for the lives he's ruined. His only request is that Aloy not tell his family what he did.
- Go and Sin No More: If Aloy's merciful and spared his life, she can free his family and pretty much just tells him to do good with the life she's given him.
- I Have Your Wife: He only works for the Eclipse because they have his wife and son.
- The Mole: For the Eclipse, but against his will.
- Small Role, Big Impact: He inadvertently sets the plot into motion just by seeing and conversing with Aloy. Through his Focus, HADES is alerted to her very existence, which prompts the AI to order the Eclipse to kill her, leading to the massacre at the Proving, the attack on the Nora, and the beginning of Aloy's quest. That same action also gets Sylens' attention, leading him to start monitoring Aloy's progress.
- Trapped in Villainy: Olin is forced to work for the Eclipse because they are holding his family hostage.
A tough woman who runs an independent town built next to an old wrecking yard named Free Heap. She's building newer and more powerful cannons for Meridian.
- Back for the Finale: Though she's there even if Aloy never met her.
- Butch Lesbian: She's tough, blunt, doesn't care about her appearance, and openly flirts with Aloy. She also mentions her many past love affairs with wandering Nora girls who come through Free Heap.
- Wrench Wench: One of the reasons she left the Claim — women aren't allowed to work the forge or hold positions of power there.
A Oseram warlord who seeks the destruction of the Carja.
- Arc Villain: His threat is completely unrelated to Helis and HADES, except in the roundabout way where what caused HADES to be a threat also caused the machines to become deranged and Jiran to become obsessed with ritual slaughter and kill Dervahl's family, but his plot to assassinate Avad and destroy Meridian still drives several missions in the main plot.
- Crazy-Prepared: Downplayed, but he's got a few layers to his plan, and brings a machine lure to summon Glinthawks to kill everyone just in case both his bomb was disabled and he was stopped from personally killing Avad, regardless of how unlikely that was.
- Genius Bruiser: He knows how to tinker with sonic weapons and bombs.
- He Who Fights Monsters: His lust for vengeance against Jiran consumed him to the point where he wanted to murder all Carja. Even years after Jiran's death and the end of the Red Raids, he still wants to burn Meridian to the ground and completely wipe out the Carja, even though the people currently living in Meridian are innocent of Jiran's cruelty and the current Sun-King is working tirelessly to make amends with the tribes his father harmed.
- Lone Wolf Boss: He manages to become the greatest threat to Meridian other than Eclipse, even though he's completely unaffiliated with them or the game's main plot.
- Misplaced Retribution: He wanted to kill Jiran to get revenge for the deaths of his wife and daughter, but Ersa switched from Dervahl's side to Avad's, and helped the latter kill Jiran instead. Now Dervahl wants revenge against Avad and Ersa for denying him his original revenge against Jiran, and for good measure he wants to wipe out all Carja for the crimes of their mad king, regardless of whether they willingly followed him or not.
- Not Good with Rejection: One of his reasons for killing Ersa is that after his wife died, Dervahl fell in love with Ersa, but she rejected him.
- Roaring Rampage of Revenge: He originally planned on razing Meridian and butchering its people during the Red Raids until his plans was foiled by Ersa and Erend.
- Start of Darkness: The Mad Sun-King murdering his wife and daughter caused him to become obsessed with gaining vengeance on Jiran and the Carja, to the point where he's become a genocidal madman.
- Sore Loser: You can actually go and talk to him in his dungeon cell in Meridian after defeating him. Suffice to say, Dervahl is extremely salty about it, and has plenty of insults and taunts to lob your way before he gets tired and simply starts ignoring you.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: Dervahl's wife and daughter were captured and sacrificed in the Red Raids and their deaths caused his absolute hatred towards the Carja. Including those who had no role in the Red Raids.
- You Could Have Used Your Powers for Good: Avad comments that it's a shameful waste that Dervahl's anger and grief has turned him into a monster, noting that his technical genius could have made him a great boon to society.
A nomadic people, native to the mountains to the north of the Sacred Lands. They both worship and hunt the machines, moving in great hunting parties called Weraks as they chase herds across the land.
- The Beastmaster: The Banuk are able to tame and even "communicate" with machines; they refer to this communication as the "machine song". Banuk characters note that Aloy's ability to override machines is similar to, albeit much more advanced than, techniques Banuk shamans use to commune with the machines' "spirits".
- Challenge Seeker: One of their highest cultural values is overcoming challenges. Regardless of where you come from, if you strive to always improve yourself rather than sit in complacency, you'll earn their respect. It's one reason they live in such a hostile climate and hunt machines.
- A Day in the Limelight: The first DLC, The Frozen Wilds, takes place in Banuk lands and focuses more on their tribe.
- Exposed to the Elements: Banuk shamans wear extremely elaborate headgear, but no shirts, in spite of the cold weather they live in. Notably, they have glowing blue cords (not unlike the ones that appear on machines Aloy has overridden) sewn through the skin of their torso and arms. The practice can apparently be traced back to the founder of their tribe, but the explanation for her doing so is shrouded in mysticism.
- Grim Up North: The Banuk live to the north of the Sacred Lands, where the altitude is high, the air is thin, and the weather is perpetually cold. Banuk-patterned outfits even give additional cold resistance. Their homeland of Ban-Ur is located in the remains of the US states of Montana and Idaho and extends south through a region known as the Cut, which was once Yellowstone National Park.
- Hufflepuff House: They're the least plot-relevant tribe in the game to have any prominence; while there is one major character who is a member, he is an individualist through and through, and appears to have absolutely no concern for his tribe's culture or people. The DLC The Frozen Wilds gives them more focus, though it also raises the question of whether that one major character is actually a Banuk.
- Savage Piercings: Banuk shamans frequently have blue machine tubing stitched into their skin.
Voiced by: Lance Reddick
A mysterious traveler and researcher who is obsessed with learning about the Old Ones.
- Ancient Keeper: A far more adept Disaster Scavenger than Olin. Has workshops located in the ruins of the Old Ones and is by far the most technologically savvy and advanced human in the post-Zero Dawn world.
- The Atoner: Part of the reason why he helps Aloy is to help atone for the fact that he was the original founder of Eclipse before he learned HADES' true intentions. He's not remotely concerned about the harm he helped cause though, and when Aloy claims he is this he dismisses it.
- Bald Black Leader Guy: Starts off as Unwanted Assistance to Aloy, then progressively becomes more relevant and prominent as he earns more screen time.
- Big Damn Heroes: He shows up personally with a trio of hacked Ravagers to save Aloy from being executed in the Sun Ring by Helis and the Eclipse.
- Black and Nerdy: He may be the last person on the planet who understands physics and calculus, though only through his interactions with HADES.
- Brutal Honesty: Part of his charm.Aloy: The point is, every time I take a step forward, the answers slip farther from my grasp. You just don't understand.
Sylens: It's not that I don't understand, Aloy. It's that I don't care.
- But Now I Must Go: After visiting the remains of GAIA, he'll arrive in person to speak with Aloy, tell her the truth about his former relationship with HADES, and say it's the last time he'll hear from her. When Aloy tries to communicate with Sylens on the night before the final battle, he doesn't respond.
- Byronic Hero: Ironically so, given his stoicism and empiricism. But in the game's final cutscene, as he confronts (the remnants of) HADES once more, you cannot help but wonder if he'll repeat the same mistakes he made before.
- Deal with the Devil: Sylens made one with HADES, forming the Eclipse for the corrupt AI and making the cult's Focus network in exchange for the knowledge HADES possessed. Once Sylens outlived his usefulness though, HADES put a kill order out on him. By the end of the game, Sylens has HADES' remains at his mercy, and is intent on getting the information he was originally promised — and to discover what made the AI go haywire in the first place.
- Establishing Character Moment: When Aloy tracks down Olin dealing with Eclipse Cultists, Sylens out of nowhere disables all of the Focuses nearby and starts giving lots of orders (and no explanations) immediately.
- Everyone Has Standards:
- Self-preservation aside, this is a big part of the reason he helps Aloy to begin with. (That and he's learning so much from her, at a faster rate than he ever has before by himself).
- He finds Ted Faro an incredibly disgusting individual for condemning humanity to ignorance by destroying APOLLO and murdering the Alphas.
- Foil: Blue to Aloy's red. Where intelligence and curiosity motivate and inspire Aloy, they harden and isolate Sylens. Aloy is willing to make room for emotion alongside her intellect; Sylens detests any form of sentimentality.
- For Science!: He is willing to do almost anything and everything for the sake of accumulating knowledge. Unsurprisingly, he's utterly furious when he learns that the ignorant state of the world is due to Ted Faro destroying all knowledge from the past just for his own pride.
- Hazy Feel Turn: Prior to the start of the game, he formed the Eclipse for HADES in exchange for more knowledge, and while he did have some moral reservations about what they were doing, he didn't abandon them until HADES betrayed and tried to kill him. He allies with Aloy to prevent the apocalypse, but his obsession still remains a priority for him. In The Stinger, he's captured HADES and is back to continuing his pursuit of ancient knowledge.
- Ink-Suit Actor: He greatly resembles Lance Reddick.
- Insufferable Genius: He is the man who knows the most about the world's secrets, and he's aware of it. His posturing tends to grate on Aloy's nerves, in addition to his casual rudeness.
- It's All About Me: There's no bones about it: he's a pretty selfish guy. He's not completely without morals or empathy, but they're secondary to his pursuit of the Old Ones' secrets.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Downplayed. Even though he's not particularly social and is Aloy's most mysterious and morally ambiguous ally, there are occasions where Sylens' conscience just shines through. He's slightly less abrasive in person. But his final conversation with Aloy before the two of them part ways has him reveal that he would do what he did all over again, despite the suffering and destruction his actions caused, showing that at the end of the day, he's just as arrogant as Eclipse when it comes to consorting with powers he cannot hope to control, as befitting its founder.
- Jerkass Has a Point: Even though he made sure to include a backdoor in his spear that allowed him to download and save HADES for undoubtedly selfish reasons, the first question he has for it is who exactly woke and corrupted the GAIA subfunction, which is a very important question, considering they almost caused the death of all life on Earth again.
- Karma Houdini: He's responsible for helping HADES create the Eclipse, and empowering them with a Focus network. Even his Heel–Face Turn is prompted mainly by self-preservation. Yet he ends the game with HADES, his key to the details of the past he wanted all along, in his control.
- Lack of Empathy: He really doesn't have much concern for anyone else. Aloy actually has a chance to call him out on it at one point. He apologizes to her once for being cruelly honest about the fact that Aloy was born from a machine and says he hopes for her to actually find a human mother waiting for her instead, even though he pretty much knows that behind the vault's door no more humans can be alive. And even though when she actually finds her answers and is stricken, he mocks her anguish.
- Lust: He empowered HADES because he covets its knowledge of the old world, ultimately being the cause of the main conflict within the game. And as the ending shows, he doesn't appear to have learned his lesson.
- Meaningful Name: Silence, duh, as Aloy lampshades. Only HADES, the Eclipse, the Banuk hierarchs, and Aloy know of his very existence.Ourea: When that name is spoken, secrets soon follow... or vanish, as the case may be.
- Mission Control: He occasionally acts as this for Aloy through her Focus.
- Mysterious Past:
- The only hint of which tribe Sylens may have belonged to is the body modifications on his head and arms; they imply he's Banuk, but he doesn't indicate any personal connection to them.
- Frozen Wilds sheds some light on his backstory but raises even more questions. Tellingly, if he's involved in the storyline when Aloy enters the Cut he'll badger her about "wasting time" looking into his origins, claiming she'll gain nothing useful. Supposedly he's a shaman from the far northern, most remote edges of Ban-Ur who came south and impressed himself to the Banuk conclave of shamans with his knowledge and talent of machines... before desecrating their most holy site and stealing their most valued artifacts. No one they sent after him ever returned, and all of the people who originally vouched for him ended up missing. The Banuk aren't sure if he was ever really part of their tribe, and the Conclave swore oaths of silence to cover up his crimes.
- After learning this information, Aloy gets a chance to needle Sylens about what she found out. He gets very perturbed at her prying. When he tells her to back off, Aloy asks if he said the same thing to the Banuk hunters. Sylens says that he didn't even give them the courtesy of a warning.
- Nominal Hero: Of the Mutual Interest sort.Aloy: I'm past trusting you with secrets.
Sylens: Good, that means you're wising up. Trust is for fools. It shifts and crumbles like sand — a poor foundation for any partnership. But mutual-self interest, now that is a solid bedrock upon which you and I might build a new science of understanding.
- Pet the Dog: Every now and then he will treat Aloy with some semblance of kindness. At one point he'll apologize for being overly cruel to her as she starts to find out the truth of her parentage, though when she actually finds out he's immediately cruel again. Later, he'll offer Aloy his condolences once they discover what happened to Elisabet, though this one takes some prompting from Aloy beforehand.
- Pragmatic Villainy: Sylens's ultimate allegiance is solely to knowledge, and he's willing to commit some seriously questionable acts pursuing this goal (including being the original founder of Eclipse. Even though he saw the murders in the Sun-Ring as abhorrent he was completely willing to work with and use the people who were behind it and continued the practice.). However, he's rational, unlike Helis, and fully recognizes that global genocide is no good for anybody and immediately acts to oppose it.
- Romanticism Versus Enlightenment: Some of his conversations with Aloy have this tone, with Sylens espousing Enlightenment values while Aloy expresses Romantic arguments.
- Seeker Archetype: Incidentally, it's Aloy who bears the offical title of a Seeker, but Sylens is the better example of this trope.
- Sir Not-Appearing-in-This-Trailer: Sylens' actions become essential to Aloy in discovering her true origins, yet he was barely shown in Guerrilla's marketing for the game. Justified, as he is a Walking Spoiler.
- Sword of Plot Advancement: In the final interaction between him and Aloy, he grants her his personal weapon, Sylens' Lance, which is a major upgrade to her spear that can give shock damage when used with a heavy attack, just before the Final Battle. Aloy further upgrades it with the Master Override, which enables her to stop HADES.
- Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: While he and Aloy need each other to fight HADES, they spend most of their dialogue bickering. By the end of their time together, they've warmed up to each other a bit.
- Tranquil Fury: When he learns the true reason why APOLLO and all of humanity's knowledge are nowhere to be found.
- What the Hell, Hero?: He's the only character in the game with the confidence and gravitas to credibly call out Aloy on her moments of teen angst, such as her complaining about not being closer to finding the identity of her mother after she just found out the cause of the fall of civilization. In turn she calls him out for his Lack of Empathy and above-it-all attitude.
- Wild Card: He's worked with HADES, Helis, and Aloy to further his goals, but his only true loyalty is to himself.
- You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Once he established the Eclipse and got their Focus network up and running, HADES contacted Helis and put a kill order out on Sylens. Sylens spied on HADES, so he was able to escape before the Eclipse could carry it out.
A legendary Banuk hunter who lived in exile from Ban-Ur for some time after being falsely accused of murdering the chieftain of his werak. He crafted the Banuk figures Aloy encounters on her journey, which he left as messages for his son Tektuk.
The leader of Song's Edge's werak... At first.
- An Ice Person: His trademark weapon is the Icerail, which sprays a cold mist that freezes machines.
- Big Brother Instinct: His refusal to let anyone near Thunder Drum is driven by his fierce protectiveness toward his sister, who suffered much during the Red Raids.
- The Big Guy: He is massive and towers over just about everyone in the cut. He's also the only person who's strong enough to break down HEPHAESTUS' barriers in Thunder Drum.
- In one cutscene of The Frozen Wilds he manages to not only catch a falling Aloy one-handed, but throw her above his head. Dude is strong.
- Graceful Loser: Once the Hunting Challenge is completed, several of his supporters try to claim that the Frostclaw attack invalidated the results. He says that no, Aloy clearly won fair and square and he won't hear any talk saying otherwise.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: He has a rough exterior, but genuinely means well. After seeing his sister get kidnapped by the Shadow Carja, then nearly die in the assault on Thunder's Drum, he insists on keeping her, and indeed his entire tribe, away from the mountain, regardless of their personal feelings on the matter.
- Honor Before Reason: After leading a disastrous attack on Thunder's Drum that lead to his tribe's best warriors getting massacred by the Daemon's machines, his response is to go back and gather up his tribe's second-best warriors to attack it again because the Banuk way is to push through adversity.
- Made of Iron: He is said to have sustained 23 wounds during the Red Raids without complaint, and Ourea remarks that he once carried an injured man to safety even after being shot by three arrows.
The shaman of Song's Edge werak. She communes with CYAN.
- Ambiguous Disorder: Even before her capture, she felt disconnected from her tribe, as CYAN notes. Later she shows a level of social ineptness. While trying to thank Aloy she says something that she realizes sounds insulting, retracts it, and is grateful when Aloy gets to the point.
- Broken Bird: She was left deeply traumatized from her time as a prisoner of the Shadow Carja, who forced her to gather machines for the Sun-Ring, where innocents would be sacrificed en masse. She already struggled to connect with her fellow Banuk, but this didn't help.
- Heroic Sacrifice: When Aloy is overwhelmed trying to override HEPHAESTUS' control of Firebreak's core, Ourea picks up the spear and completes the override, but is electrocuted in the process.
- Pals with Jesus: She is the best and Only Friend to CYAN, of whom she is convinced is a spirit that traces its origins back to the Blue Light that the Banuk venerate.
- Shock and Awe: Her weapon of choice is the Stormslinger, a rifle of sorts that fires charged bolts of electricity.
Voiced by: Jennifer Hale
The Keeper of Snowchants Hunting Grounds.
- Action Girl: Back in her youth, she was part of a female only, powerful werak, the Thunder's Daughters. Although the werak disbanded in time, she's still badass enough to host hunting trials.
- Former Teen Rebel: The Thunder's Daughters were a rebellious bunch, and many of them either died a glorious death, or ended up in exile. Those that survived to grow old see it as a Fate Worse than Death.Lauvuk: To grow old. And find that all the rules and traditions you fought so hard against are still there. That's why I tell all the hunters I train to stay young.
- Ink-Suit Actor: Lauvuk bears a resemblance to Jennifer Hale.
An agrarian tribe, living to the eastern plains beyond the lands of the Carja and Nora. They were the first to be targeted by the Red Raids. Their homeland is called Plainsong.
- Arcadia: Plainsong
- Call to Agriculture: The only named tribe that doesn't have some sort of warrior tradition, instead living as peaceful farmers.
- Hufflepuff House: Even moreso than the Banuk, who at least get center stage during a side mission and have a presence in the final battle. The most we see of the Utaru are a single NPC and an occasional mention in the lore.
- The Sacred Darkness: Agricultural to the extent of seeing life as coming from death.
- We Have Become Complacent: The tribe is so isolated from other tribes that they lack any sort of defense against outsiders, and when the Carja arrived all they could do was try and appease them with gifts. It didn't work.
An aggressive tribe whose territory is south of the Carja Sundom.
- Barbarian Tribe: The Tenakth are described as aggressive raiders who value strength above all else. They're notably the only named tribe not mentioned as a target of the Red Raids.
- Hufflepuff House: Much like the Utaru, only one named Tenakth NPC is present in the game and the tribe isn't mentioned often.
- I'm a Humanitarian: The other tribes believe the Tenakth practice cannibalism. This is never confirmed or denied, though they do have a custom of drinking the blood of their dead, believing it allows the deceased's stories to live on through the survivors.
The Hunter's Lodge
A Meridian-based hunting organization that test up-and-coming hunters and compete in taking down the mightiest machines. Before the reign of Sun King Avad, the Hunter's Lodge was only open to men of noble Carja blood. Now, however, anyone, regardless of status or gender, can become a member. Junior members of the Lodge are called Thrushes, and are mentored by a senior member of the Lodge, known as a Hawk. Out of the Hawks, there is the Sunhawk, who is the leader. A Hawk can become a Sunhawk if they kill the largest or most dangerous machines and bring their trophy back to the Lodge. A Thrush becomes a Hawk when their mentor Hawk is killed.
- Offscreen Moment of Awesome: During the reign of the Sun King Jiran, members of the Hunter's Lodge spoke out against the Red Raids and sacrifices, and were thrown into the Sun Ring to fight against machines. From dawn til dusk, the members of the Lodge fought against the machines until Sun King Jiran sent two Behemoths into the Sun Ring. However, the Behemoths started to attack members of the audience, and the remaining members of the Hunter's Lodge sacrificed themselves to save as many people as they could. This event became known as the Massacre of the Sun Ring.
The first female Hawk of the Hunter's Lodge. Both her father and brother were members of the Lodge, being of noble Carja blood. After the deaths of her father and brother at the Massacre of the Sun Ring, she strove to become a Sunhawk and let her family's sacrifice be known.
- Animal Nemesis: More of a machine nemesis; Redmaw, a legendary Thunderjaw, killed Talanah's mentor. Talanah wants to hunt down Redmaw not only to avenge her mentor's death, but also to unseat Ahsis from the Sunhawk's position.
- Back for the Finale: She's the most prominent of the optionally recruited characters.
- Determinator: Talanah won't let anything stop her; not being the first woman in a hunting fraternity, not a Jerk Ass club leader who insults her and attempts to cripple the competition, and definitely not the large variety of robot dinosaurs bristling with weapons.
- Had To Be Sharp: Being the first woman to break the glass ceiling of the Hunter's Lodge meant that when someone tells Talanah "No, you can't do that;" she'll say "Watch me."
- Magical Asian: Thankfully averted. Talanah is more of Aloy's hunting partner, though Talanah has more experience than Aloy in hunting some of the bigger machines, In fact, the only time Talanah mentors Aloy is to give her tips on machines Aloy can hunt for trophies (and experience) to gain prestige in the Hunter's Lodge.
- Lady of War: Zigzagged. Talanah was raised as a member of a noble Carja family, and so knows how to navigate the complex social spheres of both Meridian and the Hunter's Lodge. However, her forge-ahead attitude means that she spends much less of her time being "proper" and more time hunting down machines.
- Sink-or-Swim Mentor: Has Aloy take down three Sawtooths, two Ravagers, a Stalker, and loads of Glinthawks before she even agrees to sponsor Aloy as her Thrush.
- True Companions: If Aloy becomes her Thrush she'll return the favour by assisting her in the final battle. "Hawk and Thrush, together" is all that needs to be said.
- You Killed My Father: To Ahsis; though it's more 'you-watched-my-father-die-and-used-his-death-to-benefit-yourself-and-now-you're-refusing-to-even-acknowledge-the-Massacre-at-the-Sun-Ring-and-I'm-gonna-take-you-down' than anything else.
The current Sunhawk of the Hunter's Lodge.
- Glory Hound: He alone wants to obtain the glory of slaying Redmaw, to the point where he sends killers after Talanah so he can take the beast on single-handedly.
- Hate Sink: For the Hunter's Lodge quests. He's not an active antagonist until the final mission, but he's still a condescending douchebag who treats Aloy and Talanah with nothing but contempt and refuses to acknowledge the sacrifices of Hunters in the Sun Ring.
- Ignored Epiphany: With his last words before he dies it looks like he might have had a moral breakthrough and realized his failings. Instead it turns out he realized he should've let Talanah fight Redmaw first to soften the beast up for him.
- It's All About Me: He only cares about his own glory and keeping his position as the Sunhawk. He refuses to acknowledge that hunters sacrificed their lives in the Sun Ring to save their fellows, since he only gained his position through their deaths while he sat and did nothing. He even tries to have Talanah killed to make sure he gets the glory of killing Redmaw, not her.
- Jerkass: He makes no secret that he hates Aloy and Talanah, and has to be threatened by Talanah into making Aloy a member of the Lodge even though she meets every requirement.
- Karmic Death: Sends assassins to kill Talanah so he alone can have the glory of killing Redmaw. Instead, Redmaw kills him by using its tail to swat him like a fly.
- No Dead Body Poops: Hilariously, the Hunter's Lodge adds insult to injury at his death by mentioning in the official record of Redmaw's defeat how Ahsis's bowels failed after his death.
- Politically Incorrect Villain: He's prejudiced against women, low-borns, and people from foreign tribes, yet Avad's edict means he's forced to accept them all into the Lodge. Since Aloy is all three, he's straightforward with his burning hatred for her.
- Defector from Decadence: He doesn't believe in the High Matriarchs' rules and that his people's isolation doesn't help considering how much he had seen on his travels.