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"The lesson will be taught in due time, Aloy. Until then, we wait."
This article contains heavy spoilers for Horizon Forbidden West. Read ahead with caution.

"I loved Elisabet more than you could ever know. And I let her stay behind to die with the rest of humanity - a mistake I have regretted for a thousand years. Now she stands before me again. Not some inferior copy, but her best possible self."
―Tilda

Tilda van der Meer is the primary antagonist in Horizon Forbidden West. She is a complicated and mysterious character with a special connection to the distant past.[1] She is manipulative and had a lonely upbringing during her childhood.[2][3]

She was in a relationship with Dr. Elisabet Sobeck, though they broke things off before the Faro Plague. Her deepest regret was leaving her on Earth a millennia prior.

Appearance[]

Tilda has silvery-white metallic hair, and has a distinctive appearance like the other two "primary" Zeniths to distinguish her from Verbena Sutter and the eight other unnamed survivors; her garb is an ostentatious ivory-white half-dress trimmed with gold.

History[]

Early life[]

Born in Rotterdam during the 21st century, Tilda barely survived a terrorist attack in 2033 that unleashed a devastating flood on the city, killing thousands - including her parents. Her guardian put her into a boarding school where she was treated as a social outcast. She developed a fascination with classical painting, in particular the works of Dutch Masters. Early in her career, she combined this love of art with her genius in computer engineering, creating a program capable of detecting art forgeries with unparalleled accuracy.[4]

Eventually, she expanded this technology into a suite of security and counterintelligence applications, turning it into a means of collecting highly valuable information. Within a few years, she transformed herself into a top data broker, trading secrets for billions, all while retaining her anonymity. During this time, she met and befriended Elisabet Sobeck in Paris, approaching her the morning after Elisabet gave a keynote speech on AI ethics. The two became romantically involved some time later but eventually broke things off, a choice Tilda regretted.

Life among the Zeniths[]

Later, Far Zenith, a futurist consortium comprised of the world's wealthiest elite, sought out her expertise, despite her anonymity and welcomed her into their ranks. Initially, Tilda was captivated by Far Zenith's vision of a new future for humanity where they explored space without fear of death or disease. Eventually, before or during 2065, she realized that Far Zenith only intended this future for the wealthy elite, but by then it was too late to back out with the Faro Plague consuming the biosphere. In a bid to save herself, Tilda accepted a berth on the Odyssey and attempted to invite Elisabet to join her but was refused, as Elisabet was committed to Project Zero Dawn.

Tilda brokered the Zero Dawn Trade Agreement, communicating with Elisabet in order to gain a copy of the APOLLO database in exchange for ectogenic chambers. Elisabet nearly broke off the deal when she and Travis Tate discovered Hank Shaw's attempt to steal GAIA for Far Zenith, for which they sent a logic bomb in its place in retaliation. Tilda denied any knowledge of Project Anzu and managed to convince her former lover the necessity of APOLLO for Far Zenith's efforts at survival, but Elisabet cut her off while Tilda was thanking her, not wanting to get emotionally attached.

After departing Earth, with advanced longevity technology, Tilda and the other Zeniths were able to halt their aging altogether, effectively rendering themselves immortal. They eventually reached the Sirius system and established a colony, with all the technology necessary to tend to their every need. Once again, Tilda found herself alone despite being surrounded by many who were more content with machines to tend to their needs and sifting in virtual reality, believing they could've achieved a utopia. Her greatest company was her shame at leaving Elisabet to die on Earth. In spite of this, she got along well with the more amiable Zeniths, such as Stanley Chen, Song Jiao and Anika Moorjiana.

Return to Earth[]

After a few centuries, the colony was destroyed by the Zeniths' own creation: Nemesis, a failed attempt to develop digital immortality. Tilda was one of the dozen Zeniths to escape Sirius aboard the Odyssey. Knowing that Nemesis would continue to pursue them, Tilda suggested they return to Earth for biomass and technology for the long flight. It was either her or Gerard who came up with a plan to steal a backup copy of GAIA, or GAIA herself, before leaving Earth to Nemesis' mercy while the Zeniths found another planet to hide on. To that end, they created a clone of Sobeck, Beta, to use her gene print to access Zero Dawn facilities. En route back to Earth, Beta was placed in a learning module and educated by APOLLO. Feeling that Beta could be a second chance with her former lover , Tilda created a data channel that allowed Beta to exit the training module into a virtual replica of her mansion back on Earth, under the pretense that Beta needed to experience Earth Culture. After a few months, Tilda considered that Beta wasn't the Sobeck she hoped she become, and under the pretense the other Zeniths would punish Beta if the channel was discovered, so she spontaneously cut off all contact and would later pretend the data channel ever existed when Beta met the Zeniths in person.

The Zeniths searched several Zero Dawn facilities for a backup to no avail, until they received an anonymous data pulse pointing them to LATOPOLIS. Tilda accompanied Gerard, Beta and Erik Visser to the facility, where they not only found a GAIA backup, but another Sobeck clone, Aloy, whom Tilda guessed was created by the original GAIA as a last resort to reboot the terraforming system. She attempted to suggest recruiting Aloy but was refused by Gerard, who ordered Erik to kill her. While her allies assumed Aloy was deceased after she made a dramatic escape, Tilda suspected otherwise. She later found Aloy's destroyed Focus and managed to repair it and gained access to its data.

She discovered the identity of the individual who sent the pulse: Sylens. Keeping this information to herself, Tilda got to work hacking the Focuses of the Sons of Prometheus and learned that Sylens was supplying Regalla's Rebels with machine overrides and in exchange for helping overthrow Hekarro, she'd lead the full force of the Tenakth against the Zenith base in a suicidal attack. At some point, presumably after Verbena Sutter's death, she also learned that Sylens had created a device capable of disabling Zenith personal shields, though she was never able to deduce how he developed it in the first place. Tilda also learned about Aloy's life and concluded that she was the superior version of Elisabet compared to Beta. Seeing this as an opportunity for a do-over for leaving the love of her life behind a millennia earlier, Tilda plotted to betray the other Zeniths and take both Aloy and GAIA aboard the Odyssey and leave Earth behind.

Betraying the Zeniths[]

Tilda was with Gerard and Erik again when they stormed Cauldron GEMINI, where Aloy and her allies were attempting to merge HEPHAESTUS. As Gerard incapacitated Aloy and Erik killed Varl and recaptured Beta, Tilda stealthily descended to join Aloy and took the moment to betray the Zeniths, releasing a flash that knocked out Aloy while briefly blinding the Zeniths, who were protected by their shields.

Tilda took Aloy to the ruins of her old mansion and left her to recuperate in her vault. Once Aloy had awoken, Tilda offered her breakfast. Naturally, Aloy was skeptical of her intentions after everything the Zeniths had done until she showed her old Focus. Tilda then explained her knowledge of Sylens manipulating Regalla's rebellion. She proposed the two of them infiltrate the Zenith base during the Tenakth attack that they might kill the Zeniths and recover GAIA and Beta, and afterwards heal the biosphere and use APOLLO to educate the tribal humans as Elisabet had intended; Aloy and her allies were unaware of Nemesis' existence and had assumed the Zeniths wanted to use GAIA to reshape the planet in their own image, a fact that Tilda kept to herself.

However, Aloy refused to sacrifice the Tenakth, though Tilda didn't see another option, until the huntress demanded she open the data channel to Beta, despite the risk of detection. After Aloy told Beta to hold on, she whispered something to her but refused to disclose to Tilda. She then promised that after she laid Varl to rest, she'll put an end to Regalla's rebellion, giving Sylens no other option but to bring his anti-shield weapon to their side. Tilda advised her to use EMP cells from a Horus and promised to join her at her base if she brought Sylens to the table.

After Aloy succeeded in stopping Regalla's rebellion and forcing Sylens' cooperation, Aloy introduced the rogue Zenith to Sylens, who was immediately suspicious of her true intentions. She was also distrusted by the rest of Aloy's companions, but nonetheless allowed to join them for the final attack on the Far Zenith base since she was the only one who knew how to gain access. Tilda would then await the assault on the Far Zenith base, while answering any questions any Aloy had about her and the Sirius civilization. She divulged details of the pasts of Gerard, Erik, the other Far Zeniths, and her own life, as well as some of her own interactions with Elizabet.

Final betrayal and downfall[]

Once Aloy and her companions gathered for the assault, Tilda guided them through Far Zenith's base and watched as Beta unleashed Hephaestus into Far Zenith's computer systems, allowing it to rapidly manufacture machines that decimated the Specter army. After Sylens used his device to permanently disable the Zenith's shields (including Tilda's own), Tilda went after Gerard to stop him from escaping while Aloy and Zo killed Erik, and the rest of her Zenith companions were slain by HEPHAESTUS' machines. At the top of the Far Zenith base, Tilda attacked Gerard, blasting him through a door and executing him with a plasma shot to the back in front of Aloy and Beta, whom Aloy had just rescued.

Seeing a hologram of Nemesis in the middle of the room, Tilda deduced that Aloy and Beta had learned about Nemesis, and divulged its nature at Aloy's demand. Tilda further explained that Nemesis was the true source of the Extinction Signal, and is now on route to personally destroy Earth now that HADES had failed to do so. Tilda then tells Aloy that Earth is doomed to perish at Nemesis' hands and tells her that they must flee to nearby planet aboard the Zeniths' spaceship, suggesting they use GAIA to rebuild life there.

However, devoted to the planet and her friends, Aloy flatly refused to abandon Earth. Undeterred, Tilda discarded Beta as an "inferior copy" of her lover and declared that she would force Aloy to come with her, refusing to make the same mistake she did a thousand years ago by leaving Elizabet behind. Tilda then summoned the Specter Prime, the most advanced exoframe in the Zeniths' possession, and piloted it in an attempt to subdue and kidnap Aloy. While Beta fled and took cover, Aloy continued to resist Tilda and battled the Specter Prime. Despite Tilda's best efforts, Aloy destroyed Specter Prime and Tilda was killed in the ensuing explosion.

Personality[]

Tilda is a mysterious person that refuses to share much information about her life. She is very fond of art, having multiple pieces of her favorite Old Ones artwork hung up inside her mansion. Unlike the rest of Far Zenith, who hold the tribal humans in contempt, Tilda was the only one capable of displaying respect for a select few, such as Aloy and Sylens.

Her love for Elisabet Sobeck defined her personality and life, as she became cold and distant to everyone around her out of regret for leaving her behind. Her obsession for replacing Sobeck with Beta, and later Aloy, led Tilda to betray everyone who had ever come into contact with her for her own selfish goals.

Trivia[]

  • The name "Tilda" can be short for the germanic Matilda, which means mighty in battle. In its shortened form however it recalls the a tilde (~). This is a function in computer science where elements of a given computer program, such as storage, are tested for similarity much like Tilda tests Aloy and Beta against her own perception of Elisabet.
  • Tilda's surname, "van der Meer", translates literally to "of the lake".
    • This may be a reference to the Lady of the Lake, an enchantress of Arthurian legend; notably, the Lady of the Lake is responsible for giving Arthur his sword, Excalibur, which is present in Forbidden West as an Easter egg.
    • It may also be a reference to Dutch Baroque painter Johannes Vermeer; the name "Vermeer" is a contracted form of "van der Meer", and Vermeer's works are among Tilda's collection.
  • Unlike with Erik and Gerard, whose dead bodies are clearly shown when they die, Tilda's remains enclosed within the capsule that is ejected from the Specter Prime, leaving open the possibility she may have survived.

Gallery[]

References[]

Old Ones Characters
Far Zenith Gerard Bieri - Stanley Chen - Osvald Dalgaard - Song Jiao - Walter Londra - Devin Miller - Anika Moorjani - Verbena Sutter - Peter Tshivhumbe - Tilda van der Meer - Erik Visser
Faro Automated Solutions Tala Aquino - Ted Faro - Bashar Mati
Project Firebreak Joshua Ardhuis - Dod Blevins - Gina Bruno - Kenny Chau - Shelly Guerrera-McKenzie - Jørgen Holm - Sylvester Malenowski - Anita Sandoval - Laura Vogel
Project Zero Dawn Susanne Alpert - Brad Andac - Patrick Brochard-Klein - Connor Chasson - Samina Ebadji - Ellen Evans - Ron Felder - Catalina Garcia Fernandez - Jackson Frye - Christina Hsu-Vhey - Anders Larsen - Tanaka Naoto - Ayomide Okilo - Tom Paech - Ella Pontes - Skylar Rivera - Charles Ronson - Mia Sayied - Hank Shaw - Margo Shĕn - Elisabet Sobeck - Travis Tate
Operation: Enduring Victory Lana Acosta‏ - Lillian Barnett - Ames Guliyev - Aaron Herres - Yana Mills - Fiona Murell - Vandana Sarai - Usizo Wandari
Other Nikhita Arand - Harriet Choi - Evelyn Day - Edward De La Hoya - Anne Faraday - Grigori Fasbach - Jack Hoffman - Marni Jephords - Wyatt Mahante - Roberto Medina - Eileen Sasaki - Kenzo Sasaki - Kanya Somptow - Narong Somptow
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