7 Tips to Become The Ultimate Hunter in Horizon: Zero Dawn

You have ventured out of Mother’s Cradle and into a world as deadly as it is beautiful. There are plenty of challenges out there, so here are seven strategies to help you conquer the world of machines.

Guerilla Games have created a stunning world in Horizon: Zero Dawn. You can explore fertile valleys to rocky deserts, uncovering the mysteries of a civilization long past. New threats have arisen, and you must explore this land of increasingly hostile machines. As you might imagine, a bow and arrow are not the most effective tools for fighting metal beasts. That doesn’t mean you are helpless. Planing, agility and the right tools for the job will go a long way to giving you the edge.

Mastering your tools and abilities will go a long when it comes time to take on legendary threats like Redmaw.

Keep Moving

In a game about taking on robots with a bow and arrow, it should be no surprise that agility is your best friend. At a distance, the machines will come at you with everything they have from sonic blasts to mounted cannons. You will need to master the art of the quick fire and dodge. The Concentration skill is particularly useful during these confrontations. After it is unlocked, you can activate it using the R3 button and buy yourself a few seconds of “bullet time” to line up your shots. It has a 1:1 cooldown rate: you can not activate it until the meter is full, but it will be available again sooner if you don’t use it all in one go. This skill can also be upgraded.


Horizon Zero Dawn™ Skill Tree
Which skills you unlock will depend a lot on your playstyle, but skills like Silent Strike, Dodge Prowess, and Concentration are invaluable to everyone.


Machines will throw themselves at you, wiping their tails or horns violently. You will need to be agile as you roll and dodge incoming attacks. Mastering the dodge roll will be your greatest asset. You can unlock the Dodge Prowess skill to give yourself more control over your maneuvers. Try and unlock Dodge Prowess and Concentration early on. These will make your escapes faster and buy you the time you need to land that perfect shot.

The Ropecaster can come in very handy in situations where you have to deal with multiple machines. It will allow you to pin them down for a short period but they will escape eventually. The better your Ropecaster the bigger the machines you will be able to keep in place. This is a great tool for fighting in the late game Thunderjaw or Stormbirds but it can also take a lot of frustration out of fighting very agile creatures like Glinthawks.

Become a Hunter

These metallic beasts are tough, and the larger and more aggressive they become the further you get from home. Fighting them is tricky one-on-one and deadly when there is more than one of them. A much better strategy is to study them, lay traps, and strike when they suspect it least.

Horizon has a fairly simple but effective stealth system built in. Unless actively looking (with a yellow Exclamation mark next to their health bar), machines won’t be able to detect you in the many convenient patches of tall grass. Use your focus to identify their weaknesses and track their movements. Then plan your attack. Laying traps and tripwire in their paths is an excellent way to shave off some of their health. This strategy that can be repeated until they are done for if you are really looking to avoid a fight.

Your focus can identify threats, weak spots, and opportunities so you can plan your approach accordingly.

Unlocking the “Silent Strike” skill will allow you to take out small machines like Watchers instantly, and upgrading Silent Strike allows you to handle medium machines. Larger machines won’t be taken out of the fight with one of these, but it can do a lot of damage and leave them momentarily stunned for you to reposition. You can use rocks or unlock skills such as “Lure” to manipulate your targets into your traps or silent takedowns. 

As a bonus tip, stealth and silent takedowns are the easiest way to take out Bandit Camps. Human Enemies are particularly susceptible to these and fairly oblivious. Be quick, use cover, and you can rip through the camp in no time with little fight.

A Well Placed Shot Makes All The Difference

One of the great parts focus is it can identify vulnerabilities in even the deadliest machine. Taking a minute to study a machine will highlight not only the weak points, but also what kind of ammunition to use and (perhaps most importantly) what kind not to use. While in focus, there are not many offensive tactics you can employ. However, vulnerable areas remain highlighted for a few seconds afterward which will help you put your bow to good use. If you have removed all the vulnerable areas, you should fall back on the classic aim-for-the-head strategy. Even a Thunderjaw takes more damage there than his broadside. It can be tricky to land them on agitated machines since they can move very quickly, so use concentration to help line those shots up. Combined with explosives or the right elemental weapons, you can bring down even the biggest enemies with a little perseverance.

Horizon Zero Dawn™ Zeta Cauldron Thunderjaw
Make every shot count because humans don’t stand up to explosives and crushing very well.
  • Arrows: Once you begin exploring and leveling these won’t be much good, but I still keep a few around for hunting wildlife for resources.
  • Hardpoint Arrows: A good go-to arrow for human enemies and small machines. You can usually kill humans or watchers with a single arrow with a headshot.
  • Precision Arrows: These are a bit slower to draw, but they do as much as twice the damage of Hardpoint arrows
  • Tearblast Arrows: When they hit vulnerable areas they can blow components, weapons, and even health off of machines. This reduces the threat from projectiles but should be paired with other arrows to finish the job.
  • Harvest Arrows: These cause machines to drop valuable extra resources. You only need to use one, as far as I can tell it doesn’t make a difference after that, then switch to a more powerful arrow to bring the machine down.
  • Elemental Arrows: Electric, Fire, Corruption, Frost. Choose your ammo based on the machine you are fighting because what works on one may have no effect on the next type. Electric and Fire seem to be the most prevalent vulnerabilities. Corruption works in a similar way to an override except the target will be briefly hostile to everything including you.

An Outfit for Every Occasion

It is incredibly easy to switch between sets of armor in Horizon. This means you can purchase specialized armor that provide natural resistance to various attacks and switch them out when you need to.  For instance, the Oseram Sparkworker armor provides excellent protection against electricity, particularly good for taking on Stormbirds. The Carja Blazon armor protects against fire, perfect for fighting Fire Bellowbacks, and the Banuk Ice Hunter against ice, great for those annoying Glinthawks.

You can unlock most of these with enough shards and a few key machine parts in Meridian. Personally, I am a big fan of running around in Carja Silks (because they look so fine), but every outfit can be useful in the right situation. The best armor you can find is the Shield Weaver set. It is a piece of ancient tech that generates a forcefield that negates most damage. In order to grab that, you will need to locate it and the five rare ancient power cells located across the land to unlock it.

Horizon Zero Dawn™ Looting Purples
Purple is King. Big machines such as Thunderjaw or Stormbird drop three ultra rare modifications every time.

All outfits and weapons can be improved using the game’s modifications, which you can find as loot all over. These range in effectiveness but the ultra rare ones can provide substantial boosts to your stats. They can be found throughout the game in supply crates and on downed machines. Look for those blue and purple loot icons for the really good stuff.

One thing to keep in mind is that modifications can not be removed from an item unless you have unlocked the Tinker skill. This is rather high up in the skill tree, so you will have to consider whether or not recovering your modifications is a priority. It may be worth just buying the weapon again if you want to add improved modifications to a weapon. There is no bank system in Horizon, but if you upgrade your storage by collecting resources from actual wildlife, you can carry a wide range of weapons and modifications at once.

Get Your Hands on Tearblast Arrows

If you are one of those people who skips through tutorial text like me, then this tip is for you. Get your hands on a bow that shoots Tearblast arrows as soon as possible. When these handy little guys hit in just the right place, they blow components off machines. Depending on the component, that could also mean taking a sizable bit of its health with it.

Horizon Zero Dawn™ Tear Arrows at work

This is great for two reasons. Firs,t ripping components off of machines can grant you extra resources like blaze or shards. Second, some machine components are absolutely deadly. Tearing heavy weapons, such as machine guns or frost cannons, means they have one less thing to aim you. It also means they are that much closer to going down. Tearblast Arrows don’t do much for damage once all the components have been removed, so switch to your elemental or precision arrows once you have removed a few components.

Visit the Cauldrons As Early As You Can

The Cauldrons are machine facilities hidden underground. There are four of them in total: Sigma, Rho, XI, and Zeta. Each one has a few enemies and platforming puzzles to solve, culminating in a mini-boss. These bosses are not easy, but shouldn’t be something you need to shy away from. Here’s why: Overriding a Cauldron unlocks the ability to override a new set of machines. A Machine Override lets you flip machines to your side of the fight. The more Cauldrons you beat, the greater number of different machines you can control. For more details on how to defeat each one, read our handy Cauldron Guide.

Keep in mind that this can only be done if you sneak up on them. Machines already in combat will not respond with anything other than a swift body blow. Overridden machines fight for you, which evens the odds or can create enough of a distraction that you can sneak through an area. Also, it is just kind of fun to watch them fight.

Use the Power of the Machines

Several machines, such as the Ravenger, have heavy weapons mounted on them that can drop off. Remember those Tear Arrows? Use them here because they are perfect for separating the machines from their weapons. The next part is a bit of a risk because the machines move quickly and are very aggressive. Try to get some distance between yourself and the machine and then circle back to that weapon drop.

By doing this, you buy yourself enough space and time to pick up the weapon. You may still take a hit, but the good news is that Aloy has a pretty good grip. As long as you have enough health, you can usually afford to take the hit and then open fire. Machine weapons rip through even large machines like Thunderjaw. Keep in mind that they do have limited ammo but usually more than enough to take out a few small or medium machines. It is also enough to take a big piece of health off larger machines.

Hopefully, these strategies will help you overcome any obstacles you find on your adventures in Horizon. What strategies have you been using get the upper hand on these metal beasts? Share with the community in the comments below or share with us on Facebook, Twitter, or our Forums

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