Horizon Zero Dawn – Guide to Getting Started

Horizon Zero Dawn is not only a fantastic game, it also tells the story of Aloy, one of the most intriguing and capable female protagonists to grace games this generation. With global game sales for Horizon in excess of 2.6 million for its first two weeks on sale and widespread acclaim from critics and players, this feisty new heroine has undoubtedly proved herself worthy of a place in the PlayStation hall of fame.

In order to help you get to grips with Aloy’s adventure, I’ve compiled a guide containing all you need to know when first stepping foot in this sprawling prehistoric-style land, as well as tips for taking on its fearsome mechanical inhabitants with ease.

Use a variety of weapons

Not all robotic dinosaur beings are made equal and so you’re going to have to utilise a variety of weapons and tactics in order to bring them down. While a well-placed arrow to the face of a Watcher may do the trick, better firepower and a carefully thought-out strategy are needed for the bigger, tougher enemies that soon show up. Luckily merchants are stocked with a diverse supply of death-dealing instruments suitable for every kind of encounter. The Rattler, for example, is fast firing but lacks power, rendering it largely ineffective against machines, but perfect for human targets. The Ropecaster pins small yet quick enemies like Scrapper’s in place, leaving them open to powerful melee strikes. Heavy firepower, like the Tripcaster loaded with blast darts, is ideal for inflicting massive damage on more hardened adversaries such as the mighty Sawtooth.

Complete weapon tutorials for extra XP

When you obtain a new weapon, check the tutorial section of your quest list to find an optional objective pertaining to that weapon. Usually requiring you to take down a certain number of enemies, these quests not only provide a means of learning how to use the device, they also grant a generous amount of experience upon completion, helping you level up faster in the game’s early stages. A means of levelling up quickly is essential to keeping Aloy alive as it grants her a health boost as well as valuable skill points used to gain access to new and useful skills. In order to complete a weapon quest you must have it set as your active quest, otherwise kills made with that weapon won’t count towards the quest’s completion.

Don’t forget about your Focus

Scattered throughout the landscape are collectibles that grant an insight into the ancient technology-obsessed world. These can be found and activated using Aloy’s Focus. This strange mechanical earpiece not only gives information but can also be used effectively in combat. Using the Focus allows Aloy to target enemies and tag them, pinpointing their location even if they’re no longer in sight. This helps with tracking enemies, especially if you want to edge in for a stealthy takedown. If all out action is more your approach, the Focus can be used to briefly highlight weak points on enemies which can be targeted for maximum damage.

Continually scavenge for resources

Downed enemies offer a bounty of useful items for crafting ammo and items as well as storage upgrades. They also regularly drop modifications to helpfully enhance weapons and armour. It’s not only mechanical creatures that can be scavenged, the environment also yields a wealth of useful resources. With no regenerating health system, you’ll have to rely on healing herbs scattered throughout the land for survival. Collecting branches ensures that you have a healthy supply of arrows and the meat from small creatures allows you to craft fast travel kits for instant navigation, helpful for when you’re tired of wandering the wilds and would rather speed up the action.

Choose skills wisely

As mentioned, Aloy acquires skill points as she levels up, giving her access to new skills that improve her performance in a variety of ways. Some of these skills are more useful than others and choosing the right skills rather than wasting points on unnecessary ones makes for an easier and altogether more enjoyable experience. The machines in Horizon are worthy adversaries and Aloy can’t withstand any more than a couple of hits from these ferocious robotic beasts. It’s therefore highly advisable that you spend points that allow Aloy to carry more herbs which she can scoff if the battle goes ill. Boosting the Concentration skill is essential as it lengthens the duration of slow motion while aiming, allowing for easier and more effective targeting with the bow. Critical Hit also proves invaluable as it allows for high impact hits on downed enemies. Skills, like dropping silently from a height and shooting from a tightrope, aren’t all that useful and should only be considered when you’ve bought up the more beneficial ones.

Take the time to explore

Not only are the side quests in Horizon Zero Dawn an effective was of obtaining XP, supplies, and special items, they’re also worth doing for what they add to the narrative. Venturing off the beaten path leads to encounters involving interesting characters in all manner of dire straits. Side quests and areas of interest don’t instantaneously pop up on your map so you’ll have to do some exploring if you want to discover these optional objectives. Make sure to always venture to areas outside of the path required for the main story and keep an eye out for green exclamation marks that pop up when you near the location of a side quest. Scaling the world’s mighty Tallnecks allows you to uncover more of the world map and for those keen to discover everything, treasure maps that handily pinpoint the location of secrets and collectibles can be purchased from traders.

Horizon Zero Dawn is a huge adventure with lots more to discover on your journey from outcast to seasoned adventurer. These tips should prove helpful during your first few hours in the wilds. Happy hunting!