Starting a new open world game can be overwhelming. There’s so much to do and so much to see that you might start to become concerned that you’re playing the game in the wrong order or missing out on some important information. In Horizon Zero Dawn, there’s another threat — you might get so distracted staring at the unimaginably detailed world that you forget it’s infested with angry machines.
If you read my review, you know that I think Horizon Zero Dawn is the best game on the PlayStation 4 and one of the best games of the current console generation. Below, I’ve put together a series of tips and tricks that I wish I had known before I started playing. And don’t worry; no spoilers.
Upgrade your Resources Satchel
- You will run out of room within the first few hours if you don’t collect the materials necessary to upgrade your Resources Satchel. This will become a massive headache as you collect more weapons, which use different materials for ammo, which means you need to gather more resources while you’re running around the open world. So do yourself a favor — check and see what you need to upgrade the satchel to at least Upgrade 3 and prioritize those resources.
Never stop using your Focus
- It can be tempting to charge into battle once you feel like you’ve gotten a hang of the combat and have a grasp on which enemies are weak to which weapon, but I implore you to ignore that impulse. Both human and machine enemies travel in packs, and if you don’t at least take the time to tag them before rushing in headfirst, you might not see that last enemy sneaking up behind you.
Don’t let mods go to waste
- More powerful weapons (which you’ll acquire sporadically throughout the game) have more modification slots. You’re going to find dozens and dozens of mods as you run around the world of Horizon, so be sure to fill those slots every time you upgrade. (P.S. I had to learn this the hard way, but modifications will be destroyed when you replace them. Thankfully, there’s a skill you can unlock that allows you to safely remove them, but it’ll cost you a whole bunch of skill points. Don’t wait until then to replace crappy mods with better mods, but just be mindful before you start replacing mods willy-nilly.)
Spread out your skill points
- You can focus on a specific branch if you like, but basically every skill on the top row of the skill tree will come in handy early and often. Throughout my playthrough, rather than work toward one specific skill at the end of one of the branches, I just picked the next coolest thing I could unlock. I’m not saying that that’s the best route to take, but it served me well.
Play stealthy, but don’t play scared
- Aloy is more fragile than your typical action hero, but if you’re light on your feet (i.e. have your finger on the dodge button at all times), you can take on a few machines at a time. That said, the stealth in this game is very forgiving, especially when Aloy’s whistle only ever attracts the attention of one enemy at a time. Certain sections of the game are undoubtedly going to be easier if you rely on stealth, but if you have enough ammo and your medicine pouch is full, no battle is unwinnable.
- A couple dozen hours into the game, I still feel like I have a lot to learn when it comes to the combat system, but one habit that I’m glad I developed early on is to constantly dodge roll out of the way. Enemies in this game are incredibly persistent and are constantly in your face. Remember, most of them are GIANT ROBOTS, so unless you want to get crushed, you need to roll out of the way, line up a shot, take that shot and then start rolling again.
A.B.G. (Always Be Gathering)
- Never stop picking up material. I’ve managed to avoid ever running into a scenario where I’m unable to create arrows because I pick up virtually everything I pass by. In the late game, even if your Resources Satchel is fully upgraded, you’ll still find yourself at capacity on a fairly consistent basis, so the second part of this tip is to sell what you don’t need to merchants, or just trash stacks of resources you don’t need if you’re not near a merchant.
Pick up purple stuff
- There is a rarity system in Horizon Zero Dawn (green = uncommon, blue = rare, purple = very rare) and the very rare stuff is extremely valuable, extremely powerful, or both. If you see a dead enemy or a cache on the ground with a purple symbol over it, go grab its contents. Every time.
Pick up every side quest
- There’s no limit to how many quests you can have active at once, so grab them all. It allows you to plan out a path to complete as many as you can on the way to the next main story mission. The rewards are often middling, but completing side quests that are on your path is a good way to level up.
Enjoy the world
- The post-apocalyptic Earth of Horizon Zero Dawn is one of the more cohesive, dynamic and visually impressive open worlds ever built. The sights, the sounds, the ecosystem of living creatures — you owe it to yourself to take some time off from solving the planet’s mysteries to trot around on the back of a Charger and take in the game’s beauty.
Buy the Golden Fast Travel Pack
- It’s in Meridian. Trust me. You’ll thank me later.