Horizon Zero Dawn: Cauldron Guide

Cauldrons are a test of your skills, mastering your tools and defeating them will reward you with new overrides to help you rule the machines.

The Cauldrons are self-sustaining factories that produce the many, many machines you encounter in Horizon. There are four of them in total; Sigma, Rho, XI, and ZetaYou receive one skill point for defeating a Cauldron and variable XP. There is, of course, a lot of loot to pick up as well, so you will want to make sure you make space in your inventory before you venture into one. Although you will be able to find some health boosting plants, you better stock up on consumables like health potions as well just in case. Each Cauldron unlocks the ability to override a new set of machines. Whether you are looking for a trusty steed or an ally in a fight, this is an invaluable ability to have.

Machine Overrides Unlocked:

  • Sigma: Sawtooth, Scrapper, Grazer Lancehorn
  • Rho: Shell-walker, Snapmaw, Longleg, Ravager
  • XI: Glinthawk, Stalker, Behemoth, Bellowbacks
  • Zeta: Stormbird, Thunderjaw, Rockbreaker

Sigma & Rho

  • Recommended Level: 8 & 12 Respectively
  • XP Bonus: 4000-6000XP
  • Boss: Bellowback & Snapmaw

Sigma and Rho are the first two you will come across. Sigma is impossible to miss because it’s part of the story. Rho is located just on the other side of the pass out of the Valley. When you pass through to find Daytower, take a sharp left and follow the path down towards it. Use your focus to spot the signal they send out and hone in on it.

Horizon Zero Dawn™_ map sigma RHO cauldron

To navigate these rooms, you will need to eliminate the handful of enemies in them. They’re usually a few Watchers, which can be quietly dispatched with Silent Strike or a well-placed arrow. There are a few trickier beasts like Shell-Walkers, Sawtooths or Long Legs. Try to keep them isolated and use the vents for cover. Shooting them generates a fog that acts just like the long grass.

You can set traps and use your Silent Strike skill to lash out and deal some damage. Just remember to relocate quickly. You can lose them fairly easily by taking a few sharp corners and ducking into a vent cloud. After that, platforming is straightforward and it is just a matter of climbing and overriding your way to the core.

These culminate with a large machine boss in a room. Sigma is home to a Bellowback and a few Watchers while a Snapmaw and Ravenger are at the center of Rho. The strategy remains the same, however. There aren’t any places to hide and it can be easy to get caught in corners, so watch your maneuvering. Even though these machines are tough to bring down, you can do some prep work to make it easier. Bring a selection of tripwires and booby trap the hell out of that room.

The machine will not attack until you climb one of the pillars around the room and override the panel, so you have plenty of time to set traps. When the force field comes down, just keep repositioning yourself to spots that will force them to cross the traps. With a few well-placed arrow shots on top of that, these rooms will be no problem.


  • Recommended Level: 18
  • XP Bonus: 8000 XP
  • Boss: Stalkers
Horizon Zero Dawn™ Map XI Cauldron
Located in the bottom of the map, south of Meridian.

XI is a little different because it has been breached. The challenge for XI is getting in and getting out. There are a lot of Eclipse troops to eliminate. Move slowly and use Silent Takedowns and you will breeze through them. When you reach the core and override it you will meet with another hostile group. My best advice is to turn away from the core and run over to the alcove at the far end. Set a few traps and hold this point. Human enemies will attack but won’t rush you and if you can hold here for about a minute, machine enemies will join the party. This is just fine. Let them fight it out among themselves and clean up what is left, probably the Ravenger. If you set those traps, you will be just fine.

When you have dealt with them, you have to reach the exit. The tricky part here are the four Stalkers between you and the entrance. Go slowly and quietly. You can hear them before you see them. If you do, try and find cover and look for their Predator-like cloak. Set a combination of electric and explosive traps. Electricity is very effective at stunning them and explosives are pretty self-explanatory.

Horizon Zero Dawn™ Stalker
It’s a very good cloak

These guys are fast and deadly, so you don’t really want to take them directly on. The first is isolated, while the other three are in the large overgrown atrium you passed on the way to the core. There is a lot of cover in there, so you can move and set traps easily. There are also a handful of human enemies left in there as well, but they won’t be much trouble as they are terrified of those Stalkers. I found climbing one of the deactivated Tall Necks in the middle of the room effective. You get a good vantage point of the room and can lob explosives down on the Stalkers. It is also tricky for them to hit you up there.

Afterward, there are a few more machine vs. Eclipse fights, nothing too tough. You can rush through and head to the exit while they are busy with one another or wait for them to kill each other and loot them. The overrides will only unlock once you reach the exit


  • Recommended Level: 20
  • XP Bonus: 10,000 XP
  • Boss: Thunderjaw

Towards the top of the map, beyond some very tough machines, is the final Cauldron. Zeta is the most straightforward of the Cauldrons but also the hardest. Its boss is a Thunderjaw which, in such a confined space, is a serious hazard.

Horizon Zero Dawn™ Map Zeta cauldron

Travel north from Meridian until you find the Focus signal. You’ll approach this Cauldron down a hill through some trees; when the door is within sight, be wary. There are two Stalkers in this area roaming about, watch out for the flares they set and use the grass. You should have already completed XI, which will make the first part of this is actually very easy. Watch them and override one when they get close enough. Let them fight each other until one goes down. You can use this opportunity to enter the Cauldron, or wait and finish the last Stalker off so you can loot them both.

You may notice the maintain entrance is protected by a large forcefield. You won’t be getting through that, so double back. When you turn around, there are a couple of rock pillars to the right that you can climb and use to leap to the ledge above. There is a single Watcher here who is very easy to overcome. Enter the Cauldron and follow the path to the core. There are no more machines or extra puzzles, just go straight to the main event.

At the center of Zeta is one angry looking Thunderjaw. Dispatch the two Watchers and begin setting up traps everywhere! Place trip wires around the perimeter of the core. The bad news is that these traps don’t actually do much damage to that Thunderjaw, but they will help slow him down. Thunderjaw’s main weakness is removing his components which means you will want to equip your Tearblast Arrows and Ropecaster. If you have any modifications that buff them, this would be a good time to put them to use assuming you can. Climb up the pillars and override the Cauldron security to begin the fight.

Horizon Zero Dawn™ Traps!
Don’t be shy, just lay tripwires and all kinds and traps everywhere.

This room is big, but so is he. He moves fast and has a massive arsenal that will not stop, so you have to act fast.  As soon as that force field is down, pump those Tearblast Arrows into him. This will stun him a bit giving you a chance to use your Ropecaster. This should help keep him still, even if it is just for short moments. Keep using those TearBlast Arrows until you have removed as many of the large weapons on his back you can.

He has two mounted disc launchers. Once those come down (you’ll notice those yellow heavy weapon icons above them when they fall) you need to get your hands on them. This machine can take 200 hit points off of your health in a single blow, so you can’t afford this fight to go on too long even with a lot of potions handy. Try to maneuver him away and circle back for them. The good news is that even if you still get hit, Aloy hangs onto that launcher. Just swig a potion and line up your shot.

At this point, you should have removed enough components to have him at about half health. You will need both disc launchers and maybe a few arrows to finish the job. If you are successful, you can override the core and unlock the machine overrides for Thunderjaw, Stormbird, and Rockbreaker. There are three more Stalkers in the field you first entered on the way out, so watch out for them as you leave.

You are now master of the machines. Only the Corruptor and Deathbringer are beyond your control. However, if you made it this far, you have the skill and ability to take them down as well. If you are looking for more tips and tricks for Horizon, check out our guide to becoming the ultimate hunter. Do you have any tips for the community? Share with the community in the comments below or share with us on Facebook, Twitter, or our Forums

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