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Horizon Zero Dawn: Starting Tips & Tricks for new mecha-hunters

horizon zero dawn beginners guide beginner s
Sony Interactive Entertainment

Horizon Zero Dawn can seem like an intimidating proposition at times. While Aloy’s adoptive father Rost shows her the ropes of hunting in the very beginning of the game, the hand-holding ends once she leaves the Sacred Lands. Fortunately, like Lewis and Clark we blazed ahead through this vast wilderness, and have returned with some starting tips and tricks we picked up during our time with the game. 

More: 8 Tips for keeping crafting as painless as possible in Horizon: Zero Dawn

Basic hunting tips

Get the lay of the land

With prey as deadly as machines, patience and planning can make all the difference between life and death. Whenever possible, start every encounter by scoping out the surrounding area, ideally from higher ground. Note the landscape for things like cliffs to be wary of or choke points you could use. Use your Focus to scan for not just your targets, but also any machines in the surrounding area that might be drawn in by the scuffle. You can tag enemies that you want to keep tabs on, like your particular prey or tricky predators like cloaking Stalkers that may try and get the drop on you in the scuffle.

Set traps

A well-placed trap or two can end an otherwise dangerous encounter very quickly. For easy harvesting of parts from Herders, Grazers, and other machines likely to flee from trouble, set explosive trip wires and then drive the herd into them. Against more aggressive predators, set up a kill zone with different types of traps in combination and then guide them back into it. If it doesn’t kill them outright, it will usually stun them enough for you to finish the job with your spear.

Pick them apart

When you use your Focus to highlight machines, look for glowing orange components, which mark are the functional, removable parts of the machine. In addition to disabling special attacks or their ability to call for reinforcements, knocking these special components off your enemies does substantially more damage than body blows. Fluid canisters can be knocked off with hardpoint or tear arrows if you want to collect them, but they can also be used against the machine and its neighbors by blowing them up with an arrow of the same element (e.g. flame arrows for blaze canisters). Projectile weapons mounted on the backs of larger predators can be knocked off and used against them, which is always a good idea. They have limited ammo, but are extremely powerful. One of the best ways to start any fight is to use a tear arrows on a sharpshooter bow from long range to knock off the component or two that will give you the most trouble before switching to your hunting bow once they close range on you.

Float like a butterfly

As is often the case in action games, dodge rolling gives Aloy some precious frames of invulnerability. This can be utilized much like you would in Dark Souls, such as aggressively rolling into the charging attack of huge enemies to neutralize the damage and set up a few spear-blows on their flank.

When in doubt, run

Aloy is a badass, but she can easily be overwhelmed by even just a few machines. If a fight starts to get too chaotic it’s often best to just run away so you can break line of sight to re-establish stealth and come in again with a level head. They have size and strength, so planning is Aloy’s best asset.

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