Horizon Zero Dawn is out today in America and practically everywhere else tomorrow, and it’s a monumental achievement for a studio traditionally relegated to making only first-person shooters. Not only is Horizon a great open-world title, it’s a great RPG-lite, combining crafting, skill management and preparation with fast, engaging combat. It can leave you a little lost then at the start, especially after Aloy gets free rein over the lands ahead. But with a few pointers, you’ll be bringing down Sawtooths and Snapmaws with ease.
Pick everything up, at least at the start
Horizon Zero Dawn has you starting with Aloy from absolutely nothing, so it goes without saying that you should be looting any little blip that pops up ahead of you. Plants are stored to heal you during fights, wood and metal is used to craft your ammunition and scavenged enemy parts are used to craft more specialised items. Horde these items from the get go so you never find yourself in need at the wrong moment. Only later should you start worrying about inventory space and targeting certain resources specifically to suit your style of play.
Keep a variety of weapons, even if you don’t always use them
Although Aloy can craft different types of ammunition for her bows, traps and more, it’s the weapons themselves that limit what you can and can’t use. As you purchase more rare items your options for specialised ammunition grows, but there’s never a single weapon that suits all situations. Keeping an assortment of damage-dealing bows and more utility slings is a good idea, as chopping and changing between them depending on your enemy will almost always make fights easier.
When in doubt, focus on Tear
Tear is a type of damage that Horizon Zero Dawn uses to distinguish between actual, health bar depleting damage, and more physical wounds on your enemies. All robotic foes you come up against are composed of different little bits, some of which are ripe for being knocked off and used against them. This could be a powerful weapon you can use for a short stint, or elemental damage that the enemy will inflict upon itself when you manage to dislodge a certain piece from its body. Tear is the be all and end all against Horizon’s toughest foes, and you’d do well to double down on it from the start.
Don’t forget to modify your gear
Getting your weapons and armour prepped for your style of play is also important, and that’s where modifications come in. It’s easy to forget about a weapon you’ve already slotted with some new fire damage or melee resistance, but given that they’re so bountiful in Horizon’s open-world you’d be better served by swapping them out frequently. Even if the skill to store used modifications can only be obtained much later in the game, don’t stress too much over breaking them down and trying new combinations. You never know how well they might work.
Try engage enemies with stealth first
Horizon isn’t a stealth game, but any good hunter knows that the fewer enemies attack you at once, the better. Once you get the Stealth Strike from your ability tree early in the game, you’re better off picking off smaller enemies such as Watchers from long grass around open areas. Stealth attacks also work on larger foes, but won’t immediately put them out of their misery, instead just taking off a chunk of their health. But Horizon’s combat is fast, and it becomes a real challenge if you choose to engage group of robot foes head on.
But always be prepared for a fight
most of the time though, you will be forced into a fight, and here preparation is key. Enemies all have their own strengths and weaknesses, and preparing the battlefield around you is pivotal to success in the early stages of the game. Setting tripwire traps and luring enemies into choke points will serve you well, as will having the right types of ammunition to counter their weaknesses. Unprepared hunts don’t always end in failure, but it’s the easiest way to see yourself fall with one or two hits before you even know what’s happening.
Never be afraid to explore
Some of Horizon’s most amazing moments are dynamic, in the sense that your individual hunts on the move make for the most stressful, climatic engagements. Going from point A to B is a treat given how visually pleasing the game is, but getting to see different wildlife along the way should always tempt you into taking a closer look. Before you know it you’ll be a professional at hunting particular prey, and a good hunter knows to never, ever stop practising.
Horizon Zero Dawn is one of those delightful games where your style of play is almost always catered too, but it does a good job of reigning you in and grounding Aloy within a dangerous world that easily knocks you on your back at times. These tips should be useful for the weary first time explorer, but Horizon is also a game about discovery. Don’t let that be lost on you as you enjoy it from tomorrow onwards.