Wow. Had to say something to someone. The experience is… something stellar.
I have this habit of trying to run through side quests as the game progresses. Bee lining it to the end without doing the content along the way feels odd to me, but the reward system was admittedly getting to me. Save a person for a random box of garbage? Pfft; it's a good thing Aloy's doing this out of compassion, etc… The quests were imaginative and interesting, and it made sense to me that Aloy would go off doing all these things while out and about.
So it came as such a huge treat to 'tour the battlements' near the end, and see it all come back to you. Everyone you'd helped, back for Aloy. I'd see faces and go 'wait… I remember you…' and to have that conversation acknowledging the time and effort was magical.
HZD could have replaced every single one of them with nameless NPC's and still delivered a pulse pounding adventure. But when Aloy was running through the burning remains of outer Meridian and a longneck started to wind up a charge, only to be interrupted by NILS (of all people?!) telling me to push on?
Magic. God damned magical. I'm still giddy.