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A Few Tips for Surviving in Horizon: Zero Dawn

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After spending a solid amount of time with Horizon Zero Dawn, I figured it would be helpful to give some tips and advice on surviving in the deadly world of Horizon.

Below are some things I learned to help me along my journey as well as things to do when you first start the game.

A Few Things To Do First

When you first start the game, the world can seem intimidating. Focusing on a few things at the start will set you up for an easier experience in the long run.

After the tutorial missions, Aloy has 3 skill points at her disposal. I highly recommend putting these into Silent Strike, Concentration, and Low Profile. Some may say to get Lure Call first but you have rocks man, and they’re literally everywhere, pick that shit up. Silent Strike allows you to, well, silently kill an enemy from cover without alerting others. Concentration lets you temporarily slow time to give you a few extra seconds to line up your shots. Low Profile makes you harder to detect, this I have found to be most helpful while hunting machines, and paired with Silent Strike makes you feel like a friggin ninja, well kind of.

It’s also important to note that upgrading your bags can be most helpful while exploring the first area. The Expanse is the starting area but also the easiest one to hunt and scavenge for supplies. The enemies in this area aren’t a huge threat so exploring and grinding is a breeze. If you’re having trouble finding upgrade materials, simply select the material in your menu and a kind of “quest” will pop up allowing you to see where the best spots are to get that item.

Tutorials are an awesome, super easy way to gain XP fast. When receiving a new weapon simply scroll to the tutorials section of your quest log and complete the task assigned. It’s never anything to demanding, you basically just use the weapon “X” amount of times and watch the XP roll in. It’s a simple way to level up early on.

It’s important to keep an eye out for Power Cells as well. The first one can be found in the cave you fall in as a child. Revisiting it after the tutorial section will grant access to the first of 5 power cells. Simply back track until you find stalactites blocking your way into a room. Smash them with a swing of your spear and the Power Cell is yours, as well as a few boxes of great loot. Collecting all 5 of these allows you to get the best armor in the game! Who wouldn’t want that?!

Lastly, make sure to purchase the Carja SharpShot bow as early as you can. You can buy it from the trader past the Embrace gate. The Sharpshot bow comes with TearBlast arrows which will be extremely helpful against the larger enemies like Ravagers, ThunderJaws and Glinthawks.. seriously, those guys are assholes.

Keep A Full Med Pouch

Now while this seems like a no brainer it is sometimes easy to get lost in the gorgeous world of Horizon. Whether its taking in the world around you, or focusing on collecting materials, its important to keep in mind you are surrounded by blood thirsty dino-robots. However, the landscapes are also filled with life-saving herbs. Try to always stray off your path every now and again to make sure you have some, it could make all the difference in a hard fight.

Merchants Give Free Items

When you visit a new merchant for the first time make sure to scroll down to the ‘Treasure Boxes’ section on the menu. Every merchant will give you a Free Samples Box that always has some helpful items inside!

Take Advantage of I-Frames

If you’re locked in a tough fight with Horizon’s larger predators, make sure to dodge. The first few seconds of your roll give brief moments of invincibility where Aloy won’t be hurt.

Cauldrons Are a BITCH

Cauldrons are difficult, inescapable dungeons that offer some great loot at the end. Before venturing into one it is important to do a few things.

First, make sure you ALWAYS save at a fire before entering. If you get stuck you won’t be able to escape, meaning your only way out is by loading an older save. Second, when you reach the end of a Cauldron you are forced into a usually difficult fight against a stronger than usual dino-bot of some kind. These guys do not mess around and dish out some heavy damage. To make things easier on you, before initiating the fight, set traps and tripwires around the cage. Doing this will make it extremely easier for you to keep the upper hand. Lastly, make sure to use your scanner. Taking a moment to scan your enemies will help you recognize their weak points, giving you another advantage in the fight. Speaking of scanning…

Memorize Vulnerabilities 

While this may seem like a daunting task, it will help immeasurably when exploring the world. Every machine has a certain weak point you can exploit to stun and deal massive damage. Not to mention shooting off these parts gives additional loot, and who doesn’t love more loot?? Knowing where these spots are will allow you to skip the scanning step, which means you won’t be slowed down or blind-sided.

How Saves Work

Saving is a bit different in this game. Restoring a save deletes your loot. So, if you die before getting loot after a big battle, those items will be gone forever. There are no autosaves in the open world either. If you spend 30 minutes grinding and then meet an untimely end, your progress will be gone forever, so make sure to save at fires often.

Autosaving is available during quests though; the fuck?

Fire Arrows are Your Friend

If you happen to find a machine that’s weak to fire, relentlessly hit them with fire arrows until they catch on fire. Your arrows will then do way more damage.


Incase you couldn’t tell from the all caps statement, upgrading your weapons is crucial. Upgrading weapons or buying a better version of your hunter bow, for example, will allow you to use different tiers of ammo. The three tiers are: Green(Basic), Blue(Carja), and Purple(Shadow). Shadow weapons are available relatively early on, in the central city of Meridian. Upgrading is how you can add elemental types like fire and ice arrows to your arsenal.

Fast Travel

You can fast travel between campsites that have already been discovered, HOWEVER, you need a Fast-Travel Pack to do that. They can be purchased from merchants or crafted from resources.

Rock Barriers Aint No Thang

During your travels through caves, abandoned buildings of the Old Ones and bunkers you may come across stalactites and stalagmites that seem like they’re blocking off an area. While not being prompted to, Aloy can destroy these barriers with a swing of her spear.

Mounts Have a Mind of Their Own

Just like other open world titles, Aloy can override certain machines in the game to use as a form of transportation. A Broadhead, Strider, or Charger can be used as a mount. These simple beasts will follow the path of any roadway they’re travelling on, allowing you to focus on defending them and maintaining their speed.

Do NOT “Top Off” Ammo!

While most of us are programmed to always keep a full arsenal it is important to know that this is not the smartest of decisions in Horizon. You can craft more ammo 5 to 10 at a time BUT if you have 26/30 arrows, filling those 4 will cost the same in resources as it would filling 20/30. 10 Metal Shards are used regardless, so be mindful of when you should craft more ammo. Having max ammo at all times just isn’t worth it.

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