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10 Tips and Tricks for Horizon Zero Dawn

10 Tips and Tricks for Horizon Zero Dawn

Horizon Zero Dawn is not a new game under any means, but players that were incapable of enjoying this gorgeous title on its original release due to issues with using a controller to aim are now capable of doing so with the Steam release!

I personally tried playing Horizon Zero Dawn on the PlayStation 4 when it came out, but couldn't get past some enemies due to my inability to aim, and continued dying pathetically over and over until eventually I gave up. Words you won't hear me say very often!

Throughout my journey, I made a lot of mistakes. Here are 10 tips and tricks so that you can avoid needless death like me!

#1 - Upgrade your inventory ASAP.


So this is kind of a double whammy because when I first started playing I didn't really notice I could upgrade my inventory, which meant that I was running around trying to choose whether I wanted fancy meat, fatty meat, or boar skin, without knowing why I needed to choose among all of them because I hadn't seen nor understood the crafting menu.

I later delved into it, and found out I could upgrade my bags! So all of the rare things I let go of in favour of slightly rarer versions were absolutely unnecessary and to this day I still weep for them.

#2 - Hunt a lot.

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This one is more for the early game because of the crafting debacle, but you're going to want to kill every boar, fox, raccoon, and bunny that crosses your path because you will need some of their materials to upgrade something. I refused to kill boars because I was incapable of killing them in one hit, so they'd run in fear and pain and I couldn't handle it, which meant that by the time I did need boar skin I needed to genocide an entire family while everyone ran away, and I honestly didn't enjoy it.

So hunt as many animals as you can early so you aren't lost later on as to where you might find them, and keep upgrading everything until you’re maxed out.

#3 - Get a Sharpshot Bow early.


One of the fixes for my ever-growing pit of despair and guilt was to get a Sharpshot Bow to hit the boars and kill them in one shot. That was a mistake, don't do it, but I wanted you to know why I bought the bow.

The Sharpshot Bow works almost like a heavier version of your normal hunting bow. It takes longer to draw, but the precision arrows that it uses cause a lot more damage. This allows you to use the bow as an initiator to combat, and sometimes be able to hit a component from a monster right away.

Bonus: Since we're talking about it, make sure to target the components of the machines you're fighting. Upon taking enough damage, the component tears off, doing pretty substantial damage and oftentimes giving a new item to pick up. This allows for farming specific materials from the machines whenever they have them as components.

#4 - Get double and triple shot perks early.


I loved the double and triple shot perks the moment I saw them. It was love at first sight for me due to the capability of notching two or three arrows at a time. This works very well while paired with the Sharpshot Bow, allowing you to get up to three hits with your precision arrows rather than the one.

This can work for stealth playthroughs— although it's important to keep in mind I did play Horizon Zero Dawn on Normal difficulty—and I was capable of one-shotting several of the machines with a well placed triple notch precision shot. At the very least, you begin your fight with extra damage dished out.

Bonus: Make sure to read all of the abilities and plan out your build. Stealth builds will benefit from stealth attack perks, while foraging builds allow for more resistance in long-term fights. Keep your eyes peeled for what perks you want, and work towards them. This will truly facilitate your runs.

#5 - Always observe the battlefield, and how many enemies there are.

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It's easy to see a machine and just notch your arrows, take aim and shoot. A big part of the fun that Horizon Zero Dawn provides is the fighting, of course, but sometimes it isn't the smartest approach.

Keep a watchful eye before beginning a fight. Passive machines like Striders will often be accompanied by Watchers, usually two or three at a time. And sometimes the bigger machines will have a companion of the same type somewhere nearby.

Bonus: Keep your focus in mind all of the time. It will help you see through walls that you normally couldn't, and allow you to see where machines are. Additionally, some machines have a specific theme. Like the Sawtooth with a song that sounds an awful lot like a theme from Wakanda.

#6 - Fight smart, not hard.

Fire Bellowback

I don't know about you, but I personally struggle a tad with the fighting in Horizon Zero Dawn. Enemies feel like damage sponges at times and I'm just left rampantly dodging and machine-gunning them with my arrows until they finally die and I can loot their carcass, hoping for something that compensates the haphazard wasting of arrows I call combat.

It's important to keep in mind that in Horizon Zero Dawn enemies have components and weak spots on their bodies. Like the Strider weak spot that Rost mentions in the tutorial, every enemy has a weakness and a strength, and capitalising on that ensures that combat will be more forgiving. This includes shooting components, using different traps that machines are weak to, and fighting in melee when given the opportunity. Never neglect fighting with the staff and the potential for a free heavy hit on a machine that made a mistake.

#7 - You can repeat Blazing Sun trials to get money if needed.

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Early on after leaving the embrace, you will find a Nora outcast that tells you about the Hunters Lodge, and to prove your worth you'll have to complete some trials in the Hunting Grounds.

Once you reach the Hunting Grounds, you'll find several trials with different time requirements to get higher tier medals: Half Sun, Full Sun, and Blazing Sun.

Each of the separate tiers gives different loot boxes that contain different and better rewards. Once you have completed the Blazing Sun, you can continue to repeat the trials and get boxes for your efforts, which can offer high amounts of Shards (in-game currency). If you need an early boost of Shards, this is a good way to get it.

#8 - Every vendor has a free loot box.

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Speaking of loot boxes, every vendor will have one “Free Sample Box" in their stock that can contain a slew of useful items that can help you early on your journey. And, at the very expensive price of free, it's definitely worth your trouble!

#9 - Don't forget you have loot boxes.

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I'm a sucker for anything that is heavy fighting. The heavier and higher damage numbers I see, the more I love it. And because of this, I got into the habit of using precision arrows a bit too much. Which meant that quickly—very quickly—I ran out of wire to craft precision arrows.

I was distraught. How could I keep doing consistently high damage numbers that make me jittery inside? The answer was, I couldn't. Wire is common, but not common enough to justify using precision arrows as a main source of damage; however I did remember that I have a lot of loot boxes. And by that, I mean a lot.

Don't forget to check your loot box tab in your inventory whenever you need anything. Chances are, you have one that might contain what you need.

Bonus: The Scavenger perk gives Aloy a 10% chance to acquire a "Machine Scavenger Box" which will contain items that the creature it was harvested from could have dropped. Meaning a Scavenger Box looted from a Watcher will only contain items that a Watcher could have dropped. If you do intend to get it, do so early to get the most out of the perk!

#10 - Always save when able to.

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Early on in the game—just after arriving at the Hunting Grounds—I neglected saving because I'd just saved, and I ran rampant killing everything in my path until I bit off more than I could chew, and got taken back almost 30 minutes of game time. It was then I learned the harshest lesson of all: Horizon Zero Dawn doesn't have an autosave. Or, at least, not one that happens often enough to save your hide.

A bit of a fail for an open-world game, I agree, but without an autosave in the game, you must save every time you can. Otherwise, you might lose a lot of progress and forget what you did in your time of playing.

That is it for the tips and tricks on Horizon Zero Dawn! Please do leave any more you might have in the comments, games this big always have tons of things where we screw up and look back at our mistakes, making us feel dumb. The more information we share, the less likely we are to struggle with this! Stay awesome!

Tips, Tricks & Guides
Artura Dawn

Artura Dawn

Staff Writer

Writes in her sleep, can you tell?

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