EQUIPMENT SPOILERS EVERYWHERE, OBVIOUSLY.
Just a quick write up to help people struggling to understand the nuances of weapons/armor and their upgrades work in Horizon Zero Dawn.
- General Weapon info: There are a variety of weapons in HZD, and you are meant to carry them all, and switch between them as the encounter requires it. All 3 Bows, both Slings, the two Casters, the Rattler, and the Tearblast gun. Don’t think you are supposed to be looking for the “one best bow” you should be carrying them all.
- Upgrades: There are 3 tiers of equipment: Green “common” items, Blue “Rare, items, and Purple “Very Rare” Items. Each tier is an improvement over the last, and in all cases besides the hunter bow, add another ammo type and mod slot per tier increase. All “basic” upgrades come from merchants. There are 3 “special” upgrades for the Ropecaster, Blast Sling, and Warbow, obtained by completing the Hunter’s Lodge trials. These versions have higher handling, and gold trim.
- Upgrades – Stats: It’s important to note, that all equipment within the same weapon “type” have the same base stats. The green sharpshot bow will have the same damage, handling, tear, etc. as the purple sharpshot bow. The difference comes from the additional arrow types, and mod slots. I see people saying “I’m getting my ass kicked, I need a stronger bow”, but that isn’t the case. Making fights easier relies on learning to use your equipment more effectively, and the strengths/weaknesses of what you’re fighting. Also Mods significantly increase weapon effectiveness, but only at the purple “very rare” tier, you won’t feel much of a difference before that.
- Spear: You use the same spear the whole game. Upgrades for it can be found by doing Sidequests.
- Bows: There are 3 specific bow types. Hunters Bow is your basic bow, with access to Normal, Fire, and Hardpoint arrows. Warbow is your elemental bow, with access to Shock, Freeze, and Corruption arrows. Sharpshot is your Sniper/Utility bow, and has access to Precision, Tearblast, and Harvester arrows. Again, you are meant to carry all 3. You will not be upgrading from a hunters bow to a warbow. You’ll use them both, and when the time arises upgrade from a hunters bow to a higher tiered hunters bow.
- Ropecaster: The Ropecaster fires tethers that will tie an enemy down. The tethers work like a status effect. As you apply more and more tethers, eventually the enemy will be put into a vulnerable status. The status lasts a set amount of time, and doing ANY damage to the tethered enemy will reduce the time they are tied down. So your options are, Crit Strike them for heavy damage, start applying an element (frost is great), or ignore them and focus on another machine while they’re tied down. There are 3 tiers of Ropecaster ropes, light, medium, and heavy, used by green, blue, and purple ropecasters respectively. The stronger the rope, the less shots it takes to bring them down. With ropecasters, the most important mod you can put on them is Handling. Handling decreases the time between shots. With 3 purple tier handling mods you can fire enough ropes to bring anything down in seconds.
- Trapcaster: The Trapcaster fires two pins at the locations of your choosing, forming an elemental tripwire between the two. There are Shock, Blast, and Fire tripwires. Not much more to say here.
- Slings: There are two slings, the base one, which fires elemental bombs (Shock, Ice, Fire) and the Blast sling, which fires Exlosive, Sticky, and Proximity Bombs. While charging them increases the distance they travel, they are also effective at close range, able to be fired off rapidly by tapping the trigger, instead of holding it.
- The Rattler is a burst type weapon, mainly useful for quickly appling the shock/freeze status. You get access to Standard, Freeze, and Shock bolts.
- The Tearblaster is a shotgun like weapon that fires strong sonic waves capable of easily tearing off enemy parts & armor. Not meant for damage.
- Stat details: Damage brings up the flat damage of a weapon the number you see when you shoot them. Tear makes it easier to remove parts and armor, letting you damage the weaker flesh beneath them. Handling effects how fast you reload and ready your weapon, pretty much increasing your rate of fire. Elements/Corruption increase how much of the respective element is applied, allowing you to inflict that elements status faster.
- Elements: Elements work like the status effects in the soulsborne games. Hitting an enemy with an element will fill up a little circle above their health bar with that elements image. Filling the circle completely will apply that elements debuff. Fire causes Burning, doing damage over time, and panics enemies. Ice causes Frozen, increasing all other damage done to the enemy and slowing them down. Shock causes Paralysis, immobilizing enemies for a short duration, allowing a critical strike or precision shot to a weakpoint. Corruption causes the enemy to berserk and attack anything around them, including you, for a limited time.
- There is a variety of armor in this game. Like weapons, you can increase your effectiveness by carrying multiple armors for every situation and switching accordingly.
- Stealth armor is a great general use armor, reducing the range you can be seen from, width of the enemies detection angle, and speed at which you are both detected, and able to lose detection. When stealth fails you can enter your menu and change to another armor, even during battle.
- There are two Physical defense types, Melee and Ranged. Melee is great for Machines with no ranged attacks, Ranged is great for bandit camps and human engagements, as they will very rarely be in melee range, and will shoot you with bows instead.
- Elemental Gear: There are Fire, Shock, and Ice focused elemental gear. Using them against enemies that heavily use that element works great.
- Corruption Defense: Corruption is the “poison” of HZD. Wearing this will reduce the damage you take and corruption buildup.
- There is an unlockable armor that gives you a regenerating shield, that pretty much makes all other armor obsolete. I find the other moddable armor more interesting however, plus you wont get the Shield Weaver armor till the game is almost finished.
Mods are applied to gear via mod slots. Applied mods cannot be removed & reused without a specific perk. Until then applying another mod will overwrite and destroy the already equipped one. They follow the same Green, Blue, Purple rarities as your other gear. Purple mods provide a SIGNIFICANT increase in weapon effectiveness.
- Weapons: When modding weapons you can only add mods that already contain the stat the mod increases. So you cannot ADD shock damage to a hunters bow, but you can ENHANCE the shock damage already on your Warbow. You will almost always want to focus on enhancing your weapons strength, adding more elements to elemental weapons, more damage to raw weapons, etc. Very Rare purple mods can have Multiple stats (up to 3), and finding a good one skyrockets your weapon effectiveness. For example, my Warbow, which has Shock, Freeze, and Corruption arrow, has 3 mods: A strong ICE mod that provides medium boosts to shock and corruption, A strong SHOCK mod that provides medium boosts to ice and corruption, and a strong CORRUPTION mod that provides medium boosts to shock and ice. It applies these statuses crazy fast with these.
- Non-Elemental weapon mods: For the less obvious non-elemental weapons, here are a few tips. For Ropecasters, go with HANDLING. Handling reduces the reload time/time between shots, allowing you to rapidly tie down you enemies. For the Sharpshot bow, using a Damage, Tear, and Handling mod will increase its effectiveness all around, letting your precision shots do more damage, tearblast arrows to remove weapons and armor faster, and help improve the bows very slow reload speed. Hunter bows are good candidates for skipping the fire mods and pumping straight damage, and there are better ways to apply burning, which is already pretty easy to do with the HB.
- Armor mods: Unlike weapon mods, you can add ANY stat you have mods for to ANY armor. This means you can buy an elemental armor and add physical/ranged resist to it to round out your defenses, or just stack more of the same, increasing that single defense to insane levels. Stealth is particularly effective when stacked, with 3 purple stealth mods added to a stealth armor making you nearly invisible.
Now that we have a better idea of what your gear is capable of, you might be wondering “How the hell am I going to afford all this”?
- For early game farming, repeating the first hunter lodge trials are the way to go. Every time you start the mission an entire herd of grazers respawns. You can stealth kill them all easily, then loot their bodies, and sell everything to the merchant right next to the trial giver.
Once you hit Meridian, you can get fully decked out in purple gear in about an hour by doing the following:
- Buy the Shadow Sharpshot Bow
- Craft Harvester Arrows
- Return to the first Hunting Ground you run into (The one with the watchers and the grazers)
- Choose the “Shoot X Blaze Canisters off the grazers back” trial.
- Take the rope down, then Stealth Kill the entire herd with your spear.
- Once they are dead, go to each of their bodies, and shoot off all 4 Blaze Canisters with the Harvester Arrow.
- Loot all the bodies and canisters off the ground.
Harvester arrows cause each blaze canister you remove to be worth (6) instead of (1). At 24 canisters per grazer, and about 8-10 grazers, you end up getting around 200 canisters per 5 minute run. Every 50 canisters sell for 200 shards, in addition to the hearts and lenses you can sell, so in about an hour you can amass nearly 10,000 shards.
You can make this go even faster by investing in the stealth armor (so you can just walk up to the grazers and kill them as fast as possible, no whistling needed), and by putting “handling” mods on your sharpshot bow, as the wait in between harvester shots is pretty long without it, and at 4 canisters per grazer, you save a loooot of time.
From there you just buy the machine lenses/hearts you need from the merchant in Meridian, then trade those parts and the shards for whatever gear you want.
FARMING PURPLE MODS:
The best way to farm purple mods is Killing Thunderjaws. Each kill is guaranteed to give you 3 purple mod, and with that new gear you just bought, it won’t be difficult at all.
- First, find a Thunderjaw near a bonfire. If you took the main road to Meridian, you’ll have passed a bonfire with ta Thunderjaw less than 50 feet away.
- Your main strategy will be to use tearblast arrows to rip off the two hip cannons, which then become heavy disc launchers you can pick up and use. Once there off you shoot him to death with it. If you’re having trouble, use the rope caster to tie it down, then freeze it. The “Frozen” status slows enemies and increases all damage they take. From there pick up the disc launchers and go to town. Once you’ve looted your mods, return to the nearby bonfire, quick save, and then hit the pause menu and choose “reload last save”. You will be dropped in front of the bonfire seconds later with a fresh new Thunderjaw waiting for you.
- There are other bonfires with multiple thunderjaws near them for quicker farming. In these cases the only change would be Corrupting one of them with arrows so they’re distracted while you tear off their cannons and take em down.
Whelp that’s all I have for now.
HAPPY HUNTING EVERYONE