|“||A shaman should always have the ear of their chieftain. Yet I turned her away, my own sister. I was foolish, but she knew better. Though I grieve for her passing, at last I truly know who she was. And why the Spirit was so important. For so long she’d told me, "If only you could have heard it, brother." Now I understand. There’s something else, isn’t there?||„|
|~ Aratak revealing Ourea's motivation behind CYAN's rescue.|
Aratak is a major character in the 2017 video game Horizon Zero Dawn, specifically in the game's DLC The Frozen Wilds. He is a member of the Banuk tribe, who serves as the chieftain of the Song's Edge werak, along with his older sister Ourea, the werak's Shaman.
Temporarily, Aratak relinquished his chieftaincy after his defeat from Aloy during their formal challenge, in order to access Thunder's Drum, known as Firebreak, and rescue the imprisoned AI known as CYAN from the grips of the rogue AI HEPHAESTUS.
Ourea would later sacrifice herself to purge the rogue machine-making AI out from Cauldron EPSILON, thus succeeding their mission. After the expedition, Aloy would later relinquish the chieftaincy title and give it back to Aratak, with him turning Naltuk as the new Shaman after Ourea's death. He later appears as an ally against the Eclipse's attack on Meridian.
Aratak is voiced by Richard Neil.
Aratak is a large, intimidating middle-aged man with light brown eyes, a triangle-shaped beard, thick sideburns, and all of his facial hair is dark brown with grey streaks. His attire is customary Banuk clothing that is in a range of blues and greens and is necessary for protection from the subzero conditions of the tribe's homeland. His uniform consists mostly of a green parka, thick brown leggings, and a big red hood that he wears all the time.
Since his hair's appearance is unknown, it may be inferred that it will be similar to his facial hair. The parka's hood, shoulders, and thick fur cape are all covered in layers of brown fur. Strong, durable, cloth-wrapped boots with large spike-ringed bottoms are required for walking through snow and mounting steep cliffs, while heavy gloves and bracers protect his wrists and forearms. His hood has a machine-made headpiece with removable projections on either side that is integrated into it.
Aratak is a large, stern man who speaks little and prefers action over talking. Ourea described him as being stoic, unyielding, and willing to battle to the end, even to death, if necessary. He becomes slightly aloof as a result of this, and more so after he was unable to save Ourea from the Carja's capture during the Red Raids. He steadfastly adheres to the meritocratic Banuk culture, nevertheless, and is incredibly honourable.
This was dramatically displayed by his unhesitant eagerness to give his chieftaincy to Aloy when she formally challenged him and showed herself his superior at hunting, without caring a whit about her age, sex or the fact that she was not Banuk. He took it upon himself to order the werak's hunters, who still revered him, to protect The Cut in the event that he, Ourea, and Aloy were unable to do so because he knew she was unfamiliar with Banuk customs. Aloy agreed wholeheartedly and gave him permission.
Aratak hides a great loyalty and love for his friends, especially Ourea, under his stoicism. He has never been able to forgive himself for failing to save her from being kidnapped and sold into slavery; as a result, he has become too protective, straining their relationship.
Both Aratak and Ourea were raised in Song's Edge as part of the most powerful werak of The Cut. He rose to the position of chieftain of the werak as an adult, most likely by taking on the previous leader and out-hunting him, as Aloy had done with him.
During the Red Raids, Aratak put up a valiant fight against the advancing Carja army formations. His tenacity at this point was legendary. He is believed to have suffered 23 wounds during battles with the Carja, yet he never once voiced a single injury complaint. Aratak didn't know whether he would ever see Ourea again after she was taken hostage during a raid, but he remained steadfast to the Banuk motto of "Survive. Prevail. What else matters?"
However, he was disappointed that he was unable to defend her as her chieftain and, in addition, as her brother, and he made the decision that, should she ever return, he would always do so. In the years after the raids stopped and she finally came home, this caused tension between the two.
Ourea told Aratak about a ghost named Thunder's Drum that was imprisoned on the mountain in The Cut after she arrived back to Song's Edge. She had come into contact with the being when she sought safety from Carja raiders in what she thought to be a temple at Thunder's Drum, and they had forged a close connection. She thought it was separate from the Blue Light, the all-pervasive mystical spirit of the Banuk faith. It had contacted her for assistance after being caught and made a slave by a wicked force that became known as the Daemon among those who lived in The Cut.
In reality, it was CYAN, a modern artificial intelligence from the 21st Century. The Daemon was actually the A.I. HEPHAESTUS, a former subordinate function of Zero Dawn's ruling A.I. GAIA, and the temple was actually the facility for the 21st-century project known as Firebreak. Its purpose had been to construct terraforming devices for Zero Dawn in accordance with GAIA's blueprints. However, it had broken free and turned on people in favour of hunting machines. It had taken control of CYAN so that it could employ Firebreak for the hunting-related plans it had.
Aratak promised to aid in CYAN's release. He assembled a group of the top werak hunters, and with Ourea's help, he conducted an expedition to Thunder's Drum. The expedition was a complete failure. HEPHAESTUS had carried out its design for Firebreak during Ourea's absence, constructing the enormous machine cauldron known as EPSILON. Here it researched and developed newer, more lethal machines to deter people from machine-hunting, and then started building hunter-killed robots to wipe off the human population as a sure-fire way to do it.
The door to the cauldron was utterly beyond of reach for any hunter to force open, and the passage through Firebreak to the door was guarded by vastly enhanced versions of HEPHAESTUS' most lethal machines, known as Daemonic machines. This kept CYAN imprisoned deep within EPSILON. The majority of the group perished, depriving the werak its top hunters. The survivors, including Aratak, were made to retreat and go back to Song's Edge.
The entire tribe was in mourning, but after the burial rites for the dead, Aratak spoke to the werak. He admonished them vehemently to put aside their sorrow, follow the bravery of the slain, and get ready for another journey to Thunder's Drum.
This time, killing HEPHAESTUS would be the main goal in addition to liberating Cyan because his Daemonic Machines had gradually increased the danger level in The Cut. He was determined to keep his promise to protect Ourea, so he decided that this time, she would stay. Although horrified, Ourea was unable to persuade him otherwise.
The crisis was settled when Aloy arrived. She was aware of the presence of HEPHAESTUS and had gone to The Cut to look into tales of the area's enhanced, more aggressive robots because she suspected HEPHAESTUS was to blame. When she arrived, Aratak gave her minimal attention and gave her questions in a harsh and dismissive manner.
To his complete shock, she later approached him and formally challenged him for his chieftaincy, forcing him to take her much more seriously. Ourea recommended doing this so that she might participate in the planned second trip to Thunder's Drum. Since Ourea supported Aloy's offer, he had no option but to accept and fervently vowed to soundly defeat Aloy in the upcoming contest.
The Challenge for Chieftaincy
Aloy narrowly prevailed over him in the first two trials of the competition. But what was supposed to be the third and final trial ended up being a far riskier situation than the whole competition. When the two entered the third trial's arena, three Frostclaws attacked them. While Aratak fought valiantly, Aloy killed all three of the massive, lethal robots all by himself. The way Aratak responded was a clear indication of his dignity, morality, and dedication to the Banuk ethic of honouring only talent.
Aratak argued that Aloy, not he, had defeated the three machines, which everyone in attendance knew were deadlier than anything they would have encountered in the third trial, despite the werak members who watched the challenge declaring it invalid because of the interruption by the Frostclaws. He declared himself one of her hunters and immediately gave up his chieftaincy to her. When they saw this, the rest followed suit. His first move was to beg her permission to go to Thunder's Drum with her and Ourea. Aloy consented, and Ourea set a cap on the number of participants at Aloy, herself, and Aratak.
Breaking into Firebreak
The three arrived at Firebreak's outer boundary, went inside the building, and headed for EPSILON. This time, the group got it through the obstacles in their way, and Aloy used her Zero Dawn access privileges to unlock the cauldron door. The group travelled to the main command post, where CYAN was held captive. Aloy tried to liberate her, but the code links of HEPHAESTUS were too powerful. The cauldron's close core was the only alternative choice.
Aratak had one last conversation with Ourea, telling her that he would have preferred her to wait there in safety while Aloy and he went on to the core and did what was necessary, but he knew what her reaction would be. Aloy had previously warned her that doing so would almost certainly result in an all-out machine attack from HEPHAESTUS. Their disagreement was resolved during this conversation, and it was clear how much they loved each other as siblings. They and Aloy succeeded at the core against HEPHAESTUS' main defence against Aloy's attempt to enter the core: a unit of its brand-new Fireclaw anti-human hunter-killer.
HEPHAESTUS, however, was not finished. When Aloy attempted to overcome it once again, it fired a strong electrical discharge into the core as a last-ditch effort to stop it, rendering her unconscious. But even if it meant risking her life, Ourea was determined to set her buddy CYAN free. She successfully overrode the core, releasing CYAN, but she perished from the discharge.
Aratak was so distraught that he almost decided to stay and die while CYAN started a series of events that would eventually destroy EPSILON. Aloy, on the other hand, urged him to go, assuring him that Ourea would never have wanted him to perish there. He overcame his anguish and, carrying Ourea's Bluegleam necklace as a memento, escaped the cauldron with Aloy moments before it burst.
Upon their escape, Aratak went to Ourea’s Retreat, where CYAN had transferred itself, after asking Aloy to meet him there. This was actually Firebreak’s auxiliary control center. As Aloy entered, Aratak stood listening to an audio recording of Ourea telling CYAN that she would enlist his aid to free her from HEPHAESTUS’ grip.
The recording made it obvious how much she admired and loved him. Aratak listened with his back to Aloy, his anguish apparent and nearly in tears. He collected himself when he saw Aloy behind him and left, leaving CYAN and Aloy to talk. As it was her appearance at The Cut that sparked the events that resulted in Ourea's death, Aloy questioned him about this in their subsequent talk. Aratak made it obvious that he didn't since she died upholding her beliefs, and he now knew why she had placed such a high value on aiding CYAN.
Aloy returned the chieftaincy of the werak to him knowing that she had to depart The Cut to go on her mission against HADES and the Eclipse. Accepting, he requested her help in getting rid of the Fireclaws that HEPHAESTUS had been able to free from EPSILON before to its destruction in The Cut. Aloy gave her consent. After collaborating to take down two of the robots, they had another chat in which he decided to have the werak defend CYAN. He then bade her farewell, his regard and camaraderi for her being clear in his tone.
In the days leading up to the Eclipse's violent attack on the Carja capital Meridian, Aratak once more crossed paths with Aloy. Song's Edge learned about the coalition of tribes she had forged to defend the city, and his admiration for her as a hunter, warrior, and leader prompted him to join. When she saw him, she was pleasantly delighted.
- Aratak will join Aloy in the fight against the Eclipse if Horizon Zero Dawn: The Frozen Wilds is finished before the objective The Looming Shadow.