An Ode to the Himbos in Horizon Forbidden West

Varl in Horizon Forbidden West.
Guerrilla Games

Horizon Forbidden West has some of the best writing in a video game. Its characters are written so well that they feel like real people with emotions, desires and jokes outside of the main storyline. Aloy is the obvious example of Forbidden West’s great writing and in this game she’s joined by friends, including Varl and Erend from the first game. They’re all great characters — we’re not here to discuss their contributions to the game or importance to the storyline. Instead, we simply must discuss the fact that almost all of the men in Horizon Forbidden West are himbos.

Slight spoilers ahead for characters in Horizon Forbidden West.

What is a Himbo?

A himbo is a hot man who, despite appearances, is a total dummy and a real sweetheart. Himbos are big and strong, stupid, and incredibly innocent. Think of Jason Mendoza in The Good Place, Steve in Stranger Things, a Great Dane who still thinks he’s a lap dog or basically any Keanu Reeves character. The term was coined in 1988 as a “male bimbo” but has had a resurgence in the last few years with a much more wholesome and pure meaning. Some people even think himbos are the antidote to toxic masculinity.

To be clear, Varl and Erend weren’t himbos in Horizon Zero Dawn. Both men had small but memorable roles in the first game, popping up at key moments to help Aloy defeat Hades and the Eclipse. They have much larger roles in Forbidden West and maybe it’s just because we learn more about them that we recognise their himbo energy. Regardless, we love these big dummies.

Here are the best examples of Varl, Erend and Kotallo being himbos in Horizon Forbidden West.

Varl’s Beard

When Varl first appears in Horizon Forbidden West, he’s just spent six months tracking Aloy and has grown a pretty impressive beard. For some reason that I’ll never understand, Aloy’s not a fan and jokes that he should shave it.

The next time they see each other, Varl’s shaved his beard off. He’s a simple dummy who just wants to please his friends.

Varl’s Friendship With Aloy

One of the game’s sour notes for me was Erend guilting Aloy for leaving the celebration at the end of Zero Dawn. Aloy has just saved the world once and has to do it again, but Erend was more concerned with the idea that she abandoned him. Varl, the big sweetie, never tries to guilt Aloy for leaving. He accepts it when Aloy tells him she’s not used to parties because she grew up an outcast, and gently reminds her that this party was in her honour before offering his help.

“Yeah, but that one was in your honour. Just saying. So, what are we doing?”

Erend Learning to Use a Focus

Eventually, Erend comes around and joins the team and he spends a lot of time simply learning how to use a Focus. This big, strong dummy breaks several trying to activate them because he can’t stop smashing them against his head instead of gently touching them. When he does manage to turn one on, he spends a lot of time listening to heavy metal and furiously drumming along to the music.

Kotallo and Erend arm wrestling

Kotallo is a brilliant strategist and perhaps the only man in Horizon Forbidden West who isn’t a himbo. But he and Erend definitely radiate pure himbo energy when they arm-wrestled with Kotallo’s metal arm.

Aloy can only sigh and ask “What did you do?” when she sees Erend nursing an injured shoulder afterwards. Actually, that can also sum up almost all of the conversations Aloy and Zo have with their male companions.

Varl’s Relationship with Zo

The final and perhaps sweetest example of the himbos in Horizon Forbidden West is when Varl meets Zo after the “Death’s Door” main quest. It’s immediately obvious that Varl and Zo like each other, and it’s cute to see Varl stumble over his words when he tries to tell her how he feels: “It’s not that I, uh… don’t want to go with you, it’s just that I…” You can see the gears turning in this himbo’s head as he searches for the perfect words for his perfect girl.

In answer, Zo kisses him and asks him “Is that what you were trying to say? … Then I look forward to more conversation.”

The couple have more adorable conversations throughout the game, with Varl being just as clueless but eager to please as he was in their first interaction. His himbo energy clearly worked for Zo, and we love to see it!

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