Horizon Zero Dawn is one of the best games to come out in the last couple of years (potentially decade, depending on who you ask). It's a stunning open-world RPG with an incredible storyline and an amazing heroine in Aloy. But one of the other great parts of Horizon Zero Dawn is its ability to create a plethora of incredible side characters. Some of them you may not see often but they leave a lasting impact.
Even better, HZD doesn't care about sexuality and gender in the sense that everyone flirts with Aloy (sadly romance isn't an option though - maybe in the sequel?) and some characters don't have a discernible gender. The game is evolved in the sense you will meet people from all walks of life with immersive backstories. Here are a few of our favorite side characters.
Brin is a pretty weird dude, to put it bluntly. But he's part of an interesting side quest called Acquired Taste that is worth checking out if you get the chance. Formerly a Banuk shaman, Brinn was ousted from the group once he began drinking machine mech fluid and the tribe was disgusted by this.
Brin survived on his own after they left him to fend for himself in the icy wilds. When Aloy meets him he requests for her to bring him the blood of several different machines, including the mighty Thunderjaw. Each time he drinks it, he has a vision of the future. Some have predicted his final vision may hint at the game's sequel.
You meet Teb for the first time early on in the game while Aloy is still a child. She saves him from a herd of Watchers and Striders. Despite the fact Aloy was an outcast, Teb always remembered what she did and treats her with kindness. He respects and looks up to her and it is implied he has a bit of a crush on her too.
Teb becomes a Stitcher for the Nora tribe and eventually a helpful ally in the battle to save Meridian against the impending Eclipse battle. He was also one of the wounded during the Proving, but we were happy to see Aloy survived.
Petra Forgewoman, or just Petra, is a member of the Oseram tribe. She's one of the many powerful women that Aloy meets in the game as the leader of the Free Heap settlement and the inventor of the Oseram Cannon. She leads her people to go on dangerous expeditions in order to track down valuable machine parts.
At one point in the game, you get to try out Petra's new cannon and take out a bunch of bandits who come in to rob the settlement. Petra takes a liking to Aloy and it's hard not to like her in return. She's witty and, like many characters in the game, it appears she is flirting with Aloy at several moments.
One of the great things about Horizon Zero Dawn is its emphasis on strong female characters, and, in the case of Janeva, potentially even non-binary ones. It is never explicitly stated what Janeva's gender is which is kind of refreshing to see in a new game.
Despite not having a major role in the series, Janeva is still a fascinating character as the leader of the prison at Sunstone Rock. You'll need to assist Janeva during a side quest when a few criminals escape and you have to track them down to ensure they don't hurt anyone else. It's one of the more involved, and fun, side quests in the game.
Sona is the badass War-Chief of the Nora tribe. She has an entire force of Nora Braves at her command and she knows how to strategize. You get the chance to impress Sona on a couple of different quests, mainly in the War-Chief's Trail, and you get to work alongside her which is pretty awesome.
Sona has two children, Varl and Vala. They are two other lovable side characters but unfortunately, Vala becomes one of the many victims in the Proving Massacre. But Sona is able to persevere in spite of her loss to ensure they take down the people responsible for killing her daughter and so many other innocent lives.
As touched on before in the passage about Sona, it's a shame that Vala ends up dying so early on in the game. She was only 18 at the time but already proved to be a potentially great new friend and rival for Aloy.
Vala is one of the first people to be truly kind to Aloy when she enters the Proving. She stands up to Bast and doesn't ridicule Aloy for being an outcast. Aloy mentions several times in the game that she liked Vala very much in their brief time spent together, it's a real shame their friendship was cut short.
Brother to Vala and son of Sona, Varl was in constant competition with his sister while they grew up. He eventually did compete in the Proving himself and became a Nora Brave. Like the other members of their family, Varl treats Aloy with kindness and requests her assistance in tracking down Sona when she seemingly disappears.
Eventually, Varl even joins up with Sona and Aloy, although he is disciplined by his mother for disregarding her orders to not leave his post. That said, he wanted to find the killers and get vengeance for the death of his sister. Varl volunteers to accompany Aloy into the Ring of Metal, proving his genuine altruism and bravery.
Nil, oh Nil. As one of the most eccentric characters in the game, he is also one of the most amusing and intriguing. You'll come across Nil fairly early on as he will be your companion in taking out the many bandit camps in the game. Nil is obsessed with death, to be blunt. He has a fascination with killing people and has no qualms about it.
Despite Aloy not agreeing with his beliefs, she also has begrudging respect, or at least interest, in him. By the time you reach the last bandit quest, Nil asks you to meet on top of a mesa for a duel. You'll have the choice to fight him to the death or let him live (he's more heartbroken if you walk away, weird guy.)
When you embark on the Hunter's Lodge quest, Aloy will become a Thrush and Talanah is her Hawk. Honestly, you couldn't have ended up with a better person as your Hawk. Talanah lost both her brother and her father in the terrible Sun-Ring during the Red Raids.
Ahsis, the current Sunhawk won't allow her to memorialize their memory, which is one of the many reasons she seeks to overthrow him. You get to work with Talanah to hunt down difficult machines and eventually go on the legendary Redmaw hunt. Talanah eventually becomes Sunhawk and ensures you know she will always be in your corner. She's an excellent ally to have.
You meet Erend for the first time the night before the Proving. He's drunk and flirtatious and you might not think all that much of him during your initial interaction. But then you wind up helping Erend again later on in the quest to find out what happened to his sister Ersa and to seek revenge on the deadly Dervahl for murdering her.
By the end of their mission together, Aloy and Erend have formed newfound respect for one another and their parting words are incredibly sweet. Erend asks Aloy to ensure he spares a minute for her in the future and she says, "Maybe even two." Seriously, they're so cute! Their friendship is easily one of the best in the game.