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Horizon Forbidden West: Best skills to unlock

By the end of her first outing in Horizon Zero Dawn, Aloy was a fearless robot dinosaur hunter. Early on she may have struggled with the smaller predators, but by the end of the game she was equipped to go head to head against the titanic Thunderjaws and live to tell the tale. While her arsenal of weapons certainly played a large part in her ability to strip down these hulking machines until they were piles of scrap, her skills were just as, if not more, important to her success. However, even though Horizon Forbidden West only takes place a few months after the first game, Aloy has come down with a severe case of the Metroids and lost just about every ability she had.

Starting from scratch is almost expected from RPG sequels. Some abilities can carry over, but you would generally be way too powerful in the beginning for there to be much challenge. In Horizon Forbidden West‘s case, the game’s developers also took this opportunity to completely overhaul the skill system. There’s now a much more diverse and playstyle-specific skill tree system to let players focus their build to best suit how they want to approach the game. But with six skill trees and dozens of skills within them, knowing which are the best, especially early on, can be daunting. Rather than waste your skill points, here are the best skills to unlock in Horizon Forbidden West.

Further reading

Best Warrior skills

Aloy aims a bow and arrow in Horizon Forbidden West.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Starting off in the Warrior skill tree, this section is all about improving Aloy’s options in open combat. Here are the best ones and what they do.

Block Breaker Combo

This skill grants you a new combo that will break open an enemy’s guard. This is a new defensive option enemies have in Horizon Forbidden West that can be very annoying to deal with. Rather than try to get around, or wait, for the enemy to stop guarding to deal any real damage, this combo will instantly shatter their guard and leave them wide open to your follow-up attacks.

Resonator Blast

You would be forgiven for ignoring your spear for basically the entire game in Horizon Zero Dawn, but don’t make that mistake in the sequel. There are tons of skills and combos that make the melee system shine, including the Resonator Blast. As you hit enemies with your spear, it will gather energy that you can unleash onto your foe. While energized, that enemy will take massive damage from the next shot you land with your bow, making it a perfect way to soften foes before backing up for the kill with a well-placed arrow.

Spread Shot

Our last pick is a later skill, but worth working your way through the Warrior tree to get. Spread Shot does exactly what it says: Shoots five arrows in a horizontal spread using any Warrior Bow. It should go without saying that being able to nock five arrows is insanely powerful, so make a point to go after this one as soon as you can.

Best Trapper skills

A decaying satellite dish in Horizon Forbidden West.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Trapper skills are, well, focused on Aloy’s trapping weapons and abilities. There are not quite as many skills in this tree as some others, but it is full of buffs that can be worth picking up even if you’re not fond of this style of hunting.

Quick Trapper

If you do like the trapping lifestyle, then getting both the Quick Trapper upgrades to let you set up traps faster is a must. Ideally, you will want to set up traps before you are in the heat of things, but more often than not you will end up needing to lay down additional traps to fully subdue whatever you’re fighting, and being able to do it faster makes it that much less likely you’ll get hit while trying to set them up.

Trap Limit

The biggest frustration with traps is how few you can use by default. Thankfully, there are two Trap Limit skills to let you lay down a reasonable amount of traps and tripwires. The more you can lay down, the more damage you can do before needing to make and set up more.

Nimble Crafter

Speaking of making new traps, Nimble Crafter is a good one to look into even if you’re not a big trap person. It will not only let you make traps faster but also tools and potions, which are great for any build. Again, ideally you’d do this out of combat, but you’ll be glad to be able to whip out a lifesaving potion in the thick of things thanks to this skill.

Best Hunter skills

Aloy gliding in a jungle.

The Hunter tree will probably be the most popular, and turns out to have perhaps the most valuable skills in the game as well. It is all about making you more lethal with your bow, which is Aloy’s primary weapon of choice and the most fun to use.

Concentration +

Concentration is your combat crutch in basically every fight. Every time you need to nail a tough shot, or line up a hit on a fast-moving enemy, you will always fall back on Concentration to make it possible to hit. This pair of skills increases your Concentration capacity, letting you activate it for longer periods of time.

Deep Concentration

Rolling right along, while you’re expanding how much concentration you have, double down by making that meter drain slower with these two skills.

Concentration Regen

Finally, to top it all off, recover your Concentration faster with Concentration Regen. Once you have all three of these maxed out, you can basically pop Concentration at any moment you need it without worrying about your meter.

Best Survivor skills

A tribe rides machines in Horizon Forbidden West
Image used with permission by copyright holder

The Survivor tree is, again, pretty self-explanatory. There are a few key skills you will want to pick up here, but not necessarily spend the majority of your points in it.

Potent Medicine

Besides potions, Medicinal Berries are your main source of healing, but are by default not as good as the former. If you’d rather just rustle up berries and not bother with the crafting part, Potent Medicine can make berries viable health items for most of, if not the entire, game, especially when paired with the following skills.

Low Health Defense

This tree has a ton of buffs that trigger on low health, but you have to go with Low Health Defense first. Even if you like playing on the edge, those other buffs won’t matter much if you can’t take another hit. Grab this one to give yourself at least a fighting chance while in the red.

Medicine Capacity

Back on the healing side, expand your pouch to hold more Medicinal Berries with these upgrades. If you’re going to make them more powerful, you might as well be able to hold more of them, right? Pack your bag extra tight with these two buffs.

Best Infiltrator skills

Aloy looks at a giant Slitherfang in Horizon Forbidden West.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Right behind Hunter, Infiltrator will likely be a big draw for most people. What can we say? There’s something too satisfying about getting a stealth kill on a robo dinosaur — or human for that matter. Why not make yourself a more deadly silent assassin to the point where you could potentially clear entire encounters without raising an alert.

Silent Strike +

There are plenty of buffs you can add to your stealth strikes, but you have to go with the damage one first. Nothing drains the wind out of your sails more than an enemy surviving a stealth attack, right? Get that damage up to max to make sure that even if what you hit survives, they won’t for long.

Stealth Tear +

While you’re stealthing, you also have a great opportunity to get valuable components off those machines. When you improve your tear damage with this upgrade — which, again, comes in two levels — you will do even more tear damage on your already buffed stealth attacks.

Low Profile

Finally, there’s no way we could leave out the bread and butter buff of the Infiltrator. Enemies aren’t super aware in Horizon Forbidden West to begin with, but once you raise Aloy’s stealth so her visibility is lower all the time, you can get away with some crazy maneuvers without getting spotted. If you’re a stealth fan, this one should be first on your list.

Best Machine Master skills

Aloy looks out over a beach while riding a machine in Horizon Forbidden West.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Finally, we come to the Machine Master skills. Overriding machines was another limited ability in the first game that has seen improvements in Horizon Forbidden West, but is still not quite worthy of building your entire character around. Still, like every skill tree, there are some skills in here that can be worth your while.

Heavy Lifter

Heavy weapons don’t show up super often, but when they do, boy do they make an impression. Aside from the massive damage potential, you’ll notice just how much they slow you down to hold. Aloy is so nimble by default that this can feel like playing with cement shoes. Heavy Lifter at least makes walking around with these power weapons bearable.

Mounted Archer

If you do find yourself mounting up, give yourself a buff to initiate combat with Mounted Archer. Every shot you can land while riding does more damage, at least adding some reward to the risk of fighting while riding.

Mounted Defense

Last up, who doesn’t like more defense? Again it’s situational, but there’s no point in which you won’t be happy to have more defense while riding a mount. Even if you’re just trying to escape or rush by some enemies, let alone fight while mounted up, taking less damage is never a bad way to spend some spare points.

Jesse Lennox
Jesse Lennox loves writing, games, and complaining about not having time to write and play games. He knows the names of more…
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