'Horizon Zero Dawn' Tips And Tricks: Nine Strategies For New Hunters

Horizon Zero Dawn - Ruins
Horizon Zero Dawn Photo: iDigitalTimes

Horizon Zero Dawn is finally available on PS4, to strong approval from fans and critics alike, but figuring out where to go and what to do in Guerrilla Games’ first open-world RPG can be a bit overwhelming. That’s doubly true once Aloy has overridden a few Tallnecks and the blank spots on her map begin to fill in. Others struggle with Horizon Zero Dawn’s combat mechanics, which emphasize bow shooting, melee combat and stealthy assassinations interchangeably.

But a plethora of options can be overwhelming for some gamers. And there’s no telling when you’ll have to put Horizon Zero Dawn down for a few days/weeks; just long enough for whatever information you retained to be replaced by new data from your daily life (or another game). So we’ve put together a short beginner’s guide, intended for new players still struggling with Horizon Zero Dawn and/or those returning to the game after an extended absence. Rather than focus on specific exploits, we’ve tried to include strategies that should help long after a specific weapon or attack pattern gets nerfed by the HZD dev team.

Here are our tips for novice Horizon Zero Dawn players:

Always Remove Armor And Weapons First

Early in the Horizon Zero Dawn campaign, Aloy’s only significant armor removal option is a heavy attack with her spear. But she quickly gains access to a second type of bow; one that draws much slower than her standard but can also fire arrows that exclusively deal Tear damage. Make acquisition of a War Bow your top priority, unless you’re planning to stick with a melee build, and use it to initiate encounters with anything bigger than a Stalker. They'll be especially helpful when you meet Ravagers in a few hours. If you’re planning to stick with Aloy’s spear, silent strikes should be your primary means of initiating combat and we'd also recommend dumping a few points into the skill tree that increases her spear damage.

Mercilessly Exploit Each Animal’s Weakness

Methodically shooting (or stabbing) the glowing orange bits on legions of robotic adversaries may not sound exciting. But it’s unquestionably the most effective way to deal with the mechanical creatures in Horizon Zero Dawn. Take the time to scan any enemy you don’t recognize, along with corrupted versions of previously encountered robots, and use Aloy’s concentration ability to shoot arrows into the glowing orange bits until the robot(s) in question stay down for good.

Blaze ALWAYS Ignites

It doesn’t matter if we’re talking about a canister strapped to a robot, barrel in a bandit camp or one of the glowing green vials strapped to the back of some bandits. If Blaze is present in any form, adding fire will have explosive consequences. You might have to shoot the container more than once, depending on its size and the strength of your bow, but mixing blaze and fire never ends well for anyone in close proximity. And remember that humans carrying blaze typically run toward their allies before they explode, making them an especially effective (albeit attention-grabbing) means of eliminating small groups without breaking stealth.

Heavy Weapons Are OP

Aloy’s personal arsenal is filled with deadly weaponry. But bows and tripcasters don’t hold a candle to the heavy weapons you’ll occasionally find on the battlefield. Anytime you see the golden crosshair indicator on your screen, do your best to recover the gun or projectile launcher its highlighting and turn that weapon on Aloy’s aggressors. Heavy weapons strip away armor and deal more damage, amplified further by headshots and weak spots, making them powerful additions to Aloy’s arsenal... for however long the clip lasts. Just be ready when opportunity knocks, which is pretty much anytime you kill a human leader or large robot.

Overheating Exposes New Weak Points

Fire isn’t just good for igniting blaze or temporarily distracting Aloy’s enemies. It’s also an effective tool against enemies that don’t have many obvious weak points. If you notice a thermometer indicator appear over an enemy after it catches fire, keep pouring on the heat damage until the robot overheats. Use Aloy’s Focus to scan the newly exposed weak points -- which tend to be canister-shaped cores or exhaust vents -- switch to the weapon capable of dealing the most damage and unload. It shouldn’t take long for your foe’s health meter to drain.

Stop And Smell The Roses...Then Take Them

Keeping your medicine pouch stocked is vital in Horizon Zero Dawn, especially during the early hours of the campaign when you won’t have enough metal shards to keep your potion pouch stocked. Fortunately, there are thousands of healing herbs scattered across the map. And new ones are sprouting every day. With that in mind, make sure Aloy’s medicine pouch is full every time you start a new quest and prioritize skills that expand its capacity if you’re frequently forced to dip into your stash of healing potions.

Wander Off The Beaten Path

There are dozens of side quests, optional activities and errands available in Horizon Zero Dawn , many of which feature writing as good as anything in the main story. These optional tasks also tend to reward the player with thousands of experience points; a difference maker (to say the least) if you believe one unlearned skill is all that’s currently standing between you and success. So if you’re struggling with the next link in the primary quest chain, spend some time completing other entries in Aloy’s quest log.

Some Activities Yield Skill Points

There are a handful of optional activities in Horizon Zero Dawn that will also provide players with an additional skill point for Aloy. Players will receive a free skill point the first time they override each of the Tallnecks wandering the map and the first time they finish exploring each of the four Cauldrons featured in the game. It may not seem like much. But that’s nine points total, enough to fill any single branch from the game’s three skill trees.You’ll even have a few points left over to get started on a second.

Let The Animals Fight

Many of the robotic creatures featured in Horizon Zero Dawn are hostile to one another. They won’t always initiate combat on their own, sometimes you’ll need to trick a Stalker into firing at a Sawtooth (or vice versa), but there are some occasions where Aloy won’t have to put much (if any) effort into getting her mechanical adversaries to fight one another. Prime example: Corrupt and normal machines can’t stand each other. So if you’re struggling to clear a Corrupted Zone, draw some “normal” creatures to the area or lure the zone’s inhabitants to a nearby machine site.

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Horizon Zero Dawn is currently available on PlayStation 4.

Be sure to check back with iDigitalTimes and follow Scott on Twitter for additional Horizon Zero Dawn coverage in 2017 and however long Guerrilla supports Horizon Zero Dawn after launch.

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