Horizon Zero Dawn Gameplay Tips – Become a Master Monster Hunter

Samantha Loveridge

In the early days of your Horizon Zero Dawn adventure, things can start to feel a little daunting. Whether it’s the RPG elements, impressively powerful robots or just which skills to focus on first, there are certainly some Horizon Zero Dawn gameplay tips we can give you to help you get started.

We’ve compiled a few of the most helpful things we learned from playing Horizon here to give you a helping hand to becoming a master monster hunter.

Horde crafting gear as much as you can

At the beginning of the game when you’re first learning about what items you’ll need for arrows and the like, you’ll think that there’s an abundance of ingredients.

Well, we’d advise you start hoarding everything – because you’ll soon realise that all the bits and bobs you need can become more sporadically available as you progress through the game.

Wire, in particular, is a resource we regularly ran out of, which is used to craft traps, heavier arrows and other items that you’ll rely on to take down the bigger beasts. It’s something that you’ll pick up from robots you take out, so make sure to attack plenty of Watchers and nab all their wiring.

Hunt biological creatures as well as robotic ones

Horizon Zero Dawn gameplay
Hunting biological critters is just as important as targeting metal ones

Although the materials you get from robots are crucial in the game, the meat and fur you will get from the boars, birds and other biological wildlife you come across in Horizon Zero Dawn are equally important.

They’re actually key for crafting weapon and ammo pouch upgrades, so make sure to remember your furry friends when you next go on a rampage.

Craft new pouches as soon as you can

Horizon Zero Dawn gameplay
Upgrading everything you can is sometimes key to survival

Once you’ve got a pocket full of fluff, you should start upgrading as many pouch and satchel upgrades as you can.

The more arrows, traps and other weaponry you can carry on you, the better prepared you’ll be in the heat of battle.

Stealth is always your friend

Life is tough in this post-post-apocalyptic world and the bigger the robot, the more likely it is to take you out in one quick swipe. But fear not, long grass is everywhere in Horizon Zero Dawn and is your best chance for sizing up your opponents, marking out enemies and getting a great lay of the land.

Not to mention, it’s a fantastic spot from which to launch your attack and make a hasty unseen retreat until the frenzy calms.

Tag everything

Horizon Zero Dawn gameplay
Make sure to tag everything around you as much as you can, just to be prepared

The best thing you can do pre-battle is to use your Focus on R3 to scan the area and then tag any enemies you can see. Your Focus has the power to see through walls, has an impeccable range and is generally incredibly useful. Plus, once you’ve tagged them you’ll then be able to keep track of them even when you’ve turned off your Focus.

When it comes to enemies too, just keep an eye on what the Focus highlights as their weakness as you tag them – this will allow you to tailor your attack to hit the hardest.

Don’t sell anything unless it’s marked “selling for metal shards”

When you’re saving up for a shiny new bow or the latest in post-post-apocalyptic chic, it’s tempting to sell off any extra resources you have to give yourself some extra Shards – aka the in-game currency.

However, a word of warning: don’t sell anything unless it’s ONLY marked useful for “selling for metal shards”. We’ve learned to our detriment that it’s easy to sell off anything that’s deemed valuable to vendors, but they’re actually incredibly useful items you’ll need to buy the best weapons and other gadgets.

So, if you’re in desperate need of some shards, get them from looting robot corpses or trading in anything that’s only useful for shard gathering.

Make sure you fill up an enemy’s stat effect meter

Horizon Zero Dawn gameplay

Many enemies are susceptible to different elemental attacks from fire to electro-shocks. However, you can’t just ping off a fire arrow and hope for the best. In order to actually start dealing some serious damage, you’ll have to hit them with that attack until the special meter above their head fills up completely.

It’ll then get a white outline that will slowly deplete until you have to apply the effect all over again. It’s a very useful thing to know when tackling multiple Corruptors for the first time.

Visit all the vendors you can and you’ll be rewarded

There’s a lovely hidden secret when it comes to meeting new vendors because they just love giving Aloy gifts. The first time you meet a fresh vendor face, check out his Treasure Boxes section as they’ll always give you one free box of resources. No catch, no PPI calls for months afterwards, no sneaky robot hiding around the corner to eat you up.

Focus on these four skills first

Horizon Zero Dawn gameplay
There are four skills you should work on getting first, one of which is Silent Strike

When you first start looking at Aloy’s skill tree, it can be quite daunting to know which skills will serve you best at the start of the game.

Here’s our advice on which four skills you should spend your level points on first:

  1. Concentration: Basically, the Concentration skill lets you slow down time when aiming with your bow. Once you’ve fully drawn your bow, hit L3 and time will slow for a few moment, letting you get that headshot or robot weak point. It’s incredibly useful for a stealthy approach and making sure that every arrow counts in a fight.
  2. Silent Strike: Early enemies can be dispatched with one hit of a silent strike, so this is an incredibly useful skill to have in the early days. Lurk in the grass and either wait for a robot to draw near or use a rock to lure them towards you. You’ll then be prompted to perform a silent strike, which actually takes them out completely and won’t alert other nearby robots.
  3. Critical Hit: This is similar to Silent Strike, but delivers a powerful blow to downed robots. We found that if you unsteady them with a swipe of your spear using L2, you can then deal a Critical Hit when they’re on the floor. It’s an effective way of dealing with the mid-level robots like the Broadheads or Grazers.
  4. Gatherer: This handy skill lets you collect more resource from a single bush or plant, making it easier to pick up lots of medicinal herb or fire plants in one picking.

Study up at the Hunting Grounds

Horizon Zero Dawn gameplay
The Hunting Grounds are a great place to work out what makes all the robots tick

Hunting Grounds are dotted all over Horizon Zero Dawn‘s maps and are spots where you can really hone your monster hunter skills. They’re managed by a Grounds Keeper, who’s an often grumpy fellow, but will offer you three unique challenges.

They will require you to use your surroundings and different weapons to take on the machines, discovering and then exploiting their various weaknesses.

Not only will you learn more about your robotic foes, if you complete the challenges within set times you’ll earn a Half Sun, Full Sun or Blazing Sun according to your speed, and a treasure box to match.

These Suns are key to unlocking special weapons from the Hunting Lodge in Meridian, but it’s the knowledge you’ll gain that’ll be incredibly valuable on your Horizon journey.

Horizon Zero Dawn is out February 28 in the US and March 1 in the UK, exclusive to PS4. 

Samantha Loveridge
Sam is the UK Gaming Editor at Fandom. She's been addicted to games since she first got her paws on a GameBoy and hasn't looked back.
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