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"The lesson will be taught in due time, Aloy. Until then, we wait."
This article contains heavy spoilers. Read ahead with caution.
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"There's so much to learn, and less time than I'd hoped."
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Varl is a major character in Horizon Zero Dawn and Horizon Forbidden West. He is a Nora Brave, the son of War-Chief Sona and the older brother of Vala, whom Aloy competed against in the Proving.

In the aftermath of the Proving Massacre, in which Varl lost his sister, Varl formed a bond with Aloy as they pursued the party responsible. He would later join her at the Battle of the Alight, and accompany her into the Forbidden West.

History[]

Growing up as the son of legendary Nora War-Chief Sona, Varl was constantly competing with his younger sister Vala for her attention. Once Varl came of age, he competed in the Proving and became a Brave.

When it was Vala's turn to compete, the Proving was attacked by the Eclipse, killing Vala and most of the Brave candidates. The Nora quickly formed a war party to retaliate, but in their haste for vengeance, many of them were killed in an ambush. Sona quickly recovered and gathered another party to lead a counter-attack. When Varl attempted to join them, Sona ordered him to escort the wounded to the Embrace and guard the Embrace Gates.

Vengeance[]

Some time later, Varl was approached by Aloy about the path to Meridian. While initially confused as to why she would seek exile, Varl pointed her to Marea in Mother's Crown upon learning of Aloy's Seeker status. Before she left, Varl asked her to help search for Sona, who had gone missing after launching her attack. Varl remained at the Embrace Gates until Dran returned with word of Sona's location. Eager for revenge, Varl left the gates in the hands of his fellow Braves before heading to Devil's Thirst. Varl located the war party and Aloy, joining them just after they killed off a group of Eclipse cultists. Upon arrival, Varl was berated by Sona for disobeying orders, prompting Aloy to look around the base. The Seeker would find the location of the remaining killers: the Ring of Metal in Devil's Grief, taboo to the Nora. Agreeing with Aloy that there wasn't time to beg the Matriarchs for an exception, Varl convinced Sona to break the taboo. Aloy met Varl and the rest of the war party at Red Echoes, where they worked to disable the three checkpoints set up by the killers.

Once the camps were dealt with, Varl volunteered to join Aloy in entering the Ring of Metal to exploit the base's weakness. The two worked together to clear out the Eclipse in their path, eventually making their way to the main area. On Aloy's instructions, Varl went back to the War Party, leading them to the side of the Ring where she would create an opening. Once Aloy ignited the killers' entire stockpile of Blaze, a hole in the Ring was created for the Nora to charge through. A fierce battle ensued, ending with the Nora's victory. For the time being, Aloy and Varl parted ways, as her journey was far from over.

The Eclipse's assault[]

Sometime after, the Sacred Lands fell prey to a devastating attack from the Eclipse. Varl and Sona were among the few Braves to survive the invasion, and retreated with the rest of the Nora into the Sacred Mountain. The Braves could do nothing but watch through a barrier as the Eclipse unleashed a Corrupted Thunderjaw on the entrance, trying to bring down the mountain. However, Aloy eventually arrived and began to fight the Eclipse. Revigorated, the Braves rushed to Aloy's side, with Varl chanting "For Aloy!". With her help, the tide quickly turned, and the killers were wiped out. Aloy and Varl spoke about the attack briefly before heading inside the mountain to speak with the High Matriarchs.

Varl, along with the rest of the tribe, watched in awe as Aloy entered the chamber inside in the mountain to "speak with the goddess". Upon emerging, Aloy told a watered-down version of her origins and purpose, causing the tribe to fall to their knees and praise her. Aloy instantly rejected the gesture, refusing to accept the title of "the Anointed", and warned them that the entire world was in danger. Varl asked how they could help, upon which Aloy gave instructions to meet her in Meridian. Varl, along with his mother and a number of Braves, were made Seekers so that they could venture beyond the Sacred Lands.

Before leaving, Aloy spoke with Varl a final time. Varl expressed his shock at the events, as well as his confusion. Aloy offered to take him into the chamber, which Varl quickly declined, but he was open to the idea of Aloy sharing what she had been learning with him.

Battle of the Alight[]

After arriving in the Sundom, the Braves made camp upon the Alight to wait for the invasion. Varl met Aloy as she toured the defenses, reminding his fellow Braves that Aloy hated being bowed to. The two discussed briefly, with Varl admitting his discomfort of being in the Tainted Lands and his difficulty towards balancing his admiration of Aloy with respecting her wishes.

When the Eclipse began their final attack, the Braves worked with the Vanguard to protect the Spire. However, HADES and its Deathbringer broke through the defenses, and proceeded to transmit the signal that would end life on Earth once more. Varl, Erend and Talanah[note 1] were the last three still able to stand, and were preparing to go face HADES when Aloy arrived from the village. Varl immediately insisted that the three of them accompany Aloy to the Alight. While Aloy fought the Deathbringer guarding HADES, Varl and the others directed their attention to the Corrupted Machines surrounding them, allowing Aloy to focus on the Deathbringer.

Eventually, after a fierce battle, the machines fell and Aloy purged HADES with the Master Override. As she walked to the edge of the Alight, she was joined by Erend and Varl, who began cheering with the rest of Meridian in their victory. That evening, as the city celebrated, Varl shared drinks with Erend. Although Varl expressed doubts that he was welcome in Carja lands, Erend assured him that Sun-King Avad welcomed the Nora's presence, and encouraged him to stay.

When Aloy left without warning during the celebrations, Varl chose to go after her while the rest of the Nora returned to the Sacred Lands.

Forbidden West[]

Varl finally located her six months later, having deduced what she was searching for and refused to let her continue on alone. Aloy relented and gave him a Focus, granting him her "second sight", and slowly introduced him to the details of her mission to recover a GAIA backup. Together, they made their way into the headquarters of Far Zenith, where they triggered a hologram of Osvald Dalgaard describing the organization's plan to colonize the planet Sirius, intriguing Varl, though Aloy stated that Far Zenith's ship, the Odyssey, blew up before it could make it to Sirius. However, in the next room, Varl expressed his disgust upon seeing another hologram revealing that Far Zenith was only concerned with saving themselves.

When they reached a conference room and found another file that revealed Far Zenith's plan to steal a copy of GAIA, Varl was confused upon seeing an image of Elisabet Sobeck, who bore striking resemblance to Aloy. His friend explained that she was genetic replication of Sobeck, created by a machine, which is why the Nora branded her motherless and an outcast. This only further confused him before Aloy explained GAIA's purpose as the caretaker of the planet before creating Aloy to rebuild her when she was forced to self-destruct. Varl then concluded that GAIA must be the same Goddess who spoke to Aloy in All-Mother Mountain but she insisted that GAIA was no deity.

Unfortunately, their path to the Data Center was blocked by three Slitherfangs. Knowing they couldn't fight or sneak past them, Varl suggested reaching out to other settlements for aid but Aloy insisted there wasn't time and told him to hang back while she toppled a nearby shuttle onto the machines. Once Aloy had destroyed the Slitherfangs, Varl found his way into the Data Center. Upon seeing a hologram of GAIA, he mistook her for the Goddess, only for Aloy to furiously remind him that there was no Goddess and that the GAIA backup she was looking for was nothing but a fake.

Returning to Aloy's campsite, she stated that she had to keep searching for a GAIA backup and that it didn't make sense for her put any companion at risk. But as she turned away, Varl reminded that she once told him of Sylens, who gave her the lance she used to destroy HADES and suggested that they reach out to Marad in order to find him.

Traveling to Meridian on Chargers, the two hunters were received by a crowd of Carja expressing their gratitude towards Aloy for saving their city. Varl encouraged the visibly uncomfortable Aloy to accept the praise, although Aloy felt it was undeserved. Soon after, they were approached by Marad, who stated he had an urgent matter to discuss. They then made their way to the Spire, where Marad explained that following the Battle of the Alight, witnesses claimed of strange activity from HADES' orb. After Aloy entered the interior of the Spire and returned, Varl learned from her that the journey would require them to travel to the Forbidden West. At Aloy's request, the two of them stayed the night in Meridian to rest. When Varl woke the next morning, however, Aloy was already gone. He managed to reach the border at Barren Light just as Aloy was preparing to force her way through the gates. Seeing Erend nearby, he encouraged the Vanguard Captain to back up their friend.

Opting not to confront Aloy about abandoning him in Meridian, Varl walked alongside her to the Embassy, where she managed to obtain right of passage into Tenakth territory. However, the Embassy was interrupted by Regalla, who launched a brutal assault on the assembled Tenakth Marshals and Carja delegation. Varl fought valiantly against the rebels and their overridden machines, and left the battle relatively unscathed. Unfortunately, the injuries he received from Regalla's champion Grudda, while minor, forced him to stay at Barren Light while Aloy ventured out alone into No Man's Land.

The Utaru[]

A few days later, the fully healed Varl set out after Aloy. He eventually found her wounded and delirious on the shores of Jagged Deep, mistaking him for Rost before falling unconscious. Taking the GAIA Kernel she found for sakekeeping, Varl carried her to Stone's Echo, a nearby Utaru outpost, where the local Gravesinger Zo convinced her people to let them inside. Over the following two days, Varl and Zo tended to Aloy, and the blossoms of love began to sprout between them. In that time, Aloy muttered about the mountains west of Plainsong in her delirium; Varl realized it was connected to the Utaru's sacred cave, knowing from Zo that it had been releasing deadly machines.

Varl was waiting when Aloy awoke. While unsuccessful in his attempts to make her rest, he convinced her to talk with Zo, remembering mention of trouble in the mountains. After some persuasion (mainly Aloy helping the faltering Land-god Re), Zo shared what she knew and Varl did what he could to ease conversation. The gravesinger agreed to petition the Utaru Chorus for permission to enter the cave, which Aloy believed would lead to her goal. Varl initially chose to stay in Stone's Echo, concerned Aloy would run off again. However, at Aloy's urging, and vow to stay until she was healed, he gratefully accompanied Zo to Plainsong. There, he spread the word of how Aloy healed Re among the Utaru, pressuring even the most traditionalist Chorus members to meet and consider the request.

The meeting was still ongoing when Aloy arrived in Plainsong. Varl accompanied her and Zo to meet before the Chorus itself, only for it to be cut short by alarms of machines breaking through the Utaru cordon around the cave's entrance. No longer needing to ask for permission, the three made haste to the cave, fighting through the hunter-killers it had spawned.

Repair-Bay TAU[]

Establishing a Base[]

Finding Beta[]

Life in the Base[]

GEMINI[]

Aloy and Beta would attempt to remove HEPHAESTUS's malicious code inside Cauldron GEMINI to merge into GAIA, with Varl keeping a close eye for any threats. However, the sudden appearance of Far Zenith members Tilda, Erik, and Gerard prompted him to protect Beta. Despite his valiant efforts to protect Beta, Varl was no match for Erik's superior weaponry, and was killed single-handedly with a golden-colored blade that materialized from Erik's hand.

Legacy[]

Varl's loss was mourned by his companions, with Aloy, Erend and Zo taking it particularly hard. Zo, intending to share her pregnancy after retrieving HEPHAESTUS, never had the opportunity to tell Varl that he would become a father. Kotallo considered Varl's bravery as honorable as the finest Tenakth, and resolved to etch his memory into his skin once the Zeniths were defeated.

Varl was buried on the eastern side of the Base, so that he could face out towards both Plainsong and the Sacred Lands. Ultimately, Zo performed the Utaru tradition of planting new seeds upon the death of a human so that new life may sprout from death. Varl's death at Erik's hand would be then avenged by Aloy and Zo, who killed the Zenith together.

Personality[]

While resolute and morally upright, Varl's greatest strength was his emotional insight. He largely kept personal struggles to himself while finding healthy measures to cope with them. With his friends, he showed patience and understanding, letting them work through their issues at their own pace but providing insight when he could. This did not stop him from expressing irritation in the form of dry wit, or setting his foot down where necessary.

Before meeting Aloy, Varl largely adhered to the Nora faith. However, he never showed disdain for any outlanders on the basis of their heritage, and was willing to stray from tradition should the situation demand it. While waiting at the Spire for the Eclipse's assault, he expressed mild discomfort at being outside of the Sacred Lands but was not outright disdainful of the Sundom. While he saw Aloy as "the Anointed", he still treated her as a friend out of respect for her feelings, only using the title to tease her if annoyed. Once he began learning the truth about the Old World, he accepted it surprisingly fast, recognizing that technology could be used in positive ways. He seemed to have a particular interest in space, even in light of Far Zenith.

While he respected Sona immensely, Varl had a strained relationship with his mother, due to her high standards and the pressures of having to live up to her name. Zo noticed his reluctance to speak about Sona with her, to the point where she asked Aloy on the matter.

Abilities[]

Varl was a skilled warrior. Notably, he survived both the War Party massacre and Regalla's attack on the Embassy, both of which boasted low survival rates for his side. After receiving a Focus from Aloy, Varl learned how to read and gained a preliminary understanding of ancient history.

Varl was a poor singer, with Erend describing his attempt to sing Utaru music as "sounding like a dying Longleg".

Battle stats[]

Horizon Zero Dawn[]

Revenge of the Nora[]

HP Attack Type Damage Additional info
200 Light Attack 70 (up to x3 combo)
  • Invulnerable and cannot be knocked out.
Strong Attack 110 (up to x2 combo)
Leaping Attack 130
Spin Attack 120
Double Spin Attack 120
Kick 80
Overhead Slam 130

The Heart of the Nora[]

HP Attack Type Damage Additional info
200 Fire Arrow 70 Projectile Damage

10 Fire Damage

  • Invulnerable and cannot be knocked out.
Bash/Kick 100

The Face of Extinction[]

HP Attack Type Damage Additional info
1000 Explosive Arrow 100 Explosive Damage

30 Projectile Damage

Bash/Kick 100

Trivia[]

  • During the quest A Seeker at the Gates, if the player rides a Strider through the Embrace Gate, an astonished Varl will comment on it.
  • In the base, Erend remarks that he won't let Varl anywhere near his ale after the celebration in Meridian, implying that Varl got drunk during the festivities (although this is never elaborated on).
  • If Aloy approaches Erend to play Machine Strike after Varl's death, she learns that he and Varl were in the middle of a game before Varl had to leave. Not willing to just put the unfinished game away, Erend invites Aloy to finish the game on Varl's behalf,

Gallery[]

Notes[]

  1. In Horizon Zero Dawn, the fighter who joins Varl and Erend is dependent on whether the Hunter's Lodge side quest line has been completed. If the quest line has not been completed, the fighter will be Sona; if it has, the fighter will be Talanah, while Sona will be injured but survive. Horizon Forbidden West establishes the latter as canon.

References[]

Nora Tribe
High Matriarchs Jezza - Teersa - Lansra
Other Tribe Members Aloy - Alana - Arana - Bast - Den - Dral - Dran - Enara - Ferl - Fia - Grist - Jarg - Jarm - Jun - Karst - Lut - Marea - Muns - Nakoa - Olara - Orn - Resh - Solai - Sona - Taim - Teb - Teb's father - Thok - Vala - Varl - Yan
Outcasts Brom - Cren - Grata - Jom - Kam - Kurnst - Nora Keeper - Rost - Yun
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