100+ hours in Horizon Zero Dawn – here are the tips I wish I knew when I started (no spoilers)

DUE TO CONSTANT BADGERING (BORDERING ON INSULTING) IN PRIVATE MESSAGES FROM NUMEROUS PEOPLE ON THIS SUBREDDIT, I HAVE RECREATED THIS POST. I HAVE ALSO DISABLED INBOX REPLIES AND THIS WILL NEVER BE ADDED TO OR EDITED AGAIN. The negative responses in the previous thread were too much, so the thread was removed by myself. Instead of restoring the previous thread, I have recreated it here. At least try to keep things civil and positive otherwise people will refrain from offering their time and effort in the future.

Previous thread contents begins here:


Ok to preface this – this is what I would have liked to know prior to starting the game as knowing them would have made my playthrough much smoother. This isn't a ''U SHOOD NO DIS STUFF!'' list. Feel free to add your own or hell, make your own list if you disagree with many things here. I encourage you because having more helpful tips can only be a good thing for newer players.

  1. Gather everything. At the start, you will have absolutely nothing. Gather everything you see. The exception is Ridge Wood. Gather about 250 of that before stopping. You still consume quite a bit of it for arrows, but since you cant sell it… If you have heaps of inventory space to spare, having lots more won't hurt but keep in mind that this cannot be sold and you must dump it from your inventory completely into the game world. There is no harm in having many hundreds or even a thousand or two of these, if you have the inventory to spare. Whenever you need more space, simply dump a stack.

  2. Kill the wildlife any chance you get. You will need a crap ton of what they carry for lots of stuff, mostly potions and inventory space.

  3. Dont leave the starting area until you max out your resource inventory upgrades. Then maybe your modification inventory, or at least upgrade it a couple times. Everything else, just upgrade them as you need them. Trust me, it is worth it.

  4. A good idea is to not leave the starting area until you are about level 10. That way, you should be good with most of the things directly outside of the gates.

  5. When you start off in the starting area, do your best to kill with your spear, rather than with your bow. Saves resources. With the silent kill talent, you can 1 shot everything in the starting area.

  6. Speaking of talents. There are list of must have talents you should get as soon as you can. Suffice to say, these are the absolute must haves: Silent Strike, Concentration (all of them), Critical Hit (all of them too), everything related to healing and your medicine pouch and everything related to resources (plants and machines). Then comes the super useful talents that allow you to pick up your traps and wires and the must have talent Tinker that allows safe removal of modifications. Only other must have is the double and triple shot arrow talents. Everything else is simply convenience and extra abilities that make things easier.

  7. Always buy the free bonus one time loot box from each new vendor you meet.

  8. Dont be afraid to sell resources that you have excess of. Just don't empty your bags on them. You do actually need quite a lot of resources.

  9. This may sound odd, but buy EVERY weapon in the game. Every one. Just once. Why? Because once you buy a new tripcaster, it grants you a ''tutorial'' quest that when completed (blow up 3 machines with the blast wire for example) gives a decent chunk of experience. As someone has mentioned below, you can go straight to the "Shadow" versions of these weapons, but at a significant cost. And they all require something most players won't be able to obtain for a significant while. So yes, you CAN cut to the chase and go straight for one of if not the best weapons of it's type in the game, but you do so at the cost of crippling your wallet. That decision, I leave entirely up to you. 🙂

  10. Dont skip the hunting trials. I did. Always aim for ''blazing sun'' times. The point is, you will need it for later (no spoilers) and it teaches you how to take down machines smartly. If you find you failed and want to try again, but don't want to climb back up to reset it… just reload from save. You will load back where you started the trial and everything will have reset. Do these when you are near them. They are worth it.

  11. Collectables are not necessary. They just give flavour to the game. There are exceptions but i will leave that for you to discover.

  12. This isn't World of Warcraft. When something on a machine says it's weakness is X, it isn't telling you that you will simply have a slightly higher damage on that component. It is telling you that hitting that with the correct element will seriously F them up something chronic. Hit a blaze canister with a fire arrow and after a couple seconds a GIANT explosion will engulf the machine AND ANYTHING AROUND IT. Hit one canister on 3 machines with a fire arrow each and say goodbye to all 3 machines. I am not joking either. There is nothing more satisfying than hitting a Longleg's power cells with a shock arrow (one to each one) and with ONLY TWO BLOODY ARROWS the machine explodes violently, utterly destroying it and anything around it. And even more so if you hit one power cell on 3 Longlegs OMFG!

  13. The game does not explicitly make it obvious, but frost arrows and bombs make machines absurdly easy. Freeze a machine and ALL damage, elemental or not, is increased by a solid F ton.

  14. Another thing the game does NOT tell you, is that hitting a machine in the body with an elemental weapon will rarely grant the element's true effect. You must hit it with it two or more times to fill up the ''circle'' above it's head. Once that circle fills up, the machine will become completely under it's effect and have a timer show on the circumference of that circle, counter clockwise. Once that runs out, the effect will end. Fire will completely engulf a machine giving it a damage over time effect, frost will freeze it – turning it white, slowing it to a crawl you could run circles around and seriously increase it's damage taken and shock will stun it, allowing you to whack it upside the face or (if you have the talent Critical Hit) stab it for good damage with your spear.

  15. All icons on the map that say nothing when you hover the cursor over it, have not been ''discovered''. Get close enough to it and a notification will appear on screen to let you know that it has been added to the map as ''found''.

  16. There are maps you can buy (cheaply) from some vendors for the collectibles. Quite helpful. As mentioned below however, once you purchase these maps, you CANNOT turn them off. I am hoping for a patch that allows you to filter the map for only what you want to see.

  17. There is an infinite fast travel item you can buy relatively early in the game that does not consume anything. It isn't overly expensive either. And yes, you can craft the consumable fast travel pack. But make sure you have at least one at the very minimum at all times. It is in fact possible to get stuck in the terrain with no way out besides fast travelling.

  18. With humans, it is just plain better to headshot them with the sharpshot bow. If you are not certain you can kill them with one arrow, get close and load up 2 or 3 arrows if you have the talent. As someone has pointed out below, almost all the time, one arrow will in fact be enough. But, the question is, are you willing to risk alerting the entire area if your headshot does NOT kill them instantly?

  19. Some machines have weapons you can shoot off and pick up to wield against them or other machines. They make you practically walk around, but FAAAARK they seriously F machines up really good. Literally a Ravager cannon (medium level machine) can topple a damned Thunderjaw!

  20. Last one – When you start out, resources are slim and take time to harvest. Until you have crap tons of them, only craft ammunition if the set (bottom right of the screen) will not craft more than how many you are short. If you have 23/30 and your set crafts 10 – don't craft. If you are 23/40 and your set crafts 10, then craft ONCE.

Feel free to add yours in. These are just things I learned the hard way.

EDIT – There are a number of other things I COULD add to this… But I would be straying into spoiler territory and I don't want to go there. An example of this is corruption and the corruption stat, since it is tied with the story and I cannot go into detail without spoiling things.

EDIT 1 – Bonus tips:

  • ''Handling'' modification effect, increases the reload and fire rate of a weapon. Put this on a ropecaster to be able to spam that like crazy to tie a machine down really fast.

  • Fast travel can not only be used on green campfires. There are other things you can fast travel to. 🙂

  • This is a little out of the scope of this list, but rollseyes if you release the L2 trigger when the bow string is pulled, Aloy will retract the string. Also changing the weapon will also reset the number of arrows (if you have the talent and more than one arrow) on the string.

  • One really important problem (someone mentioned below) with the game that I hope gets patched is that tutorial quests WILL NOT GRANT CREDIT unless you perform the tasks required whilst it is tracked – the quest is on the game screen when you perform the tasks.


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