- Note: This blog was originally posted by German Fandom Staff Meike. You can find the original blog on the German Horizon Zero Dawn Community Blogs.
Typically, I try to follow the main quests in open-world games, and I am embarrassed about the fact that it takes me an inordinate length of time. Side missions on the way - no problem; but when I have to run long routes - no, thank you. Not so in Horizon Zero Dawn. For hours I jumped from one side quest to the next or ran directionless. This is because of the beautiful appearance of the game, the interesting places, and hunting machines to gather resources.
The hunt for machines and related battles are exciting, no question, but often I have simply perched in the thick grass, let my inner Jacques Cousteau take over for a while, and watched the mechanical animals. Thanks to a handful of unique weapons and tools, such as traps and potions, I spent a lot of time chasing increasingly lethal machines to get more valuable resources. The landscape offers something for every taste. Bottlenecks to trap, high grass to sneak up for melee, and snipers always find a suitable place for their distance attacks.
Horizon Zero Dawn is very accessible. Even large mistakes are forgiven at the beginning, and tutorial quests help immensely in paving the way to becoming a professional hunter. But the opponents are bigger as the game progresses; corrupted machines are more dangerous and stalking and hiding is more difficult. This inevitably leads to the use of ever-changing tools (traps, weapons, ammunition) in order to master the most diverse challenges.
Focus Scan is the key to survival. Aloy found this small, technical device as a child in an underground ruin. With the Focus, machines can be marked, their movements or paths can be predicted, and weak points identified. In some quests you have to read traces.
Another important aspect in the fight against machines are their separable parts. Especially the bigger opponents. The Thunderjaw, one of the most dangerous enemies in HZD, can be damaged with special arrowheads, gathered by Aloy. "How do I find this disc with a Thunderjaw bearing down on me?" Here again the Focus Scan helps. Yellow highlighted parts are the primary targets. This makes hunting much easier!
Powerful weapons paired with appropriate ammunition, focused on the scanned weak points, are the most effective way to defeat opponents. Fire makes constant damage, ice weakens the machine's defense, and lightning makes them motionless for a short time. Direct "I just hit it" damage simply is not effective.
Aloy's tribe, the Nora, view any technique from the old world as blasphemy. But Aloy, free from such conventions, is capable of hacking machines. This means she can take control of them. Mostly to provide for distraction. Some can be used as riding animals, like the Broadhead.
Aloy's skills improve over the course of the game; attacks cause critical damage, targeting functions improve, and much more. It is advantageous to peruse the trees before blindly putting points in them. There are three main sections: Prowler, Brave, and Forager. Dumping all points into a single section might seem an attractive prospect, but there are many skills that would be missed along the way.
Weapons and outfits have up to three modification slots. If you want to play Aloy as a melee fighter, weapons and clothes should match. Through the skillful use of modifications, weapon damage can be increased. With outfit modifications, Aloy gains additional protection against various types of damage. If you prefer ranged attacks, there are appropriate modifications, outfits with resistance, and weapons like the sniper bow. Modification parts can be dropped from machines or alternatively can be purchased from dealers.
As if this were not enough, players can make various items with the crafting system, such as simple traps, arrowheads, and potions (healing and damage resistance).
Preparation is everything! Fighting against machines with a high challenge level can be really nerve-racking. If arrows run out in the middle of the fight, traps are badly placed, and the medicine pouch empty, Aloy can die quickly. In order to prevent this, equipment should be checked prior to engagement. This makes the battles fun, with the varying behaviors and attacks of the machines bringing in additional tension.
There are more than enough interesting side quests to complete, instead of going hunting. Alternatively, the giant, giraffe-like Tallnecks are always worth a trip. Aloy can climb them and use their disk as a platform to survey the area, not unimportant for a good hunter.
Horizon Zero Dawn is bristling with unique possibilities, and this overview was really just the tip of the iceberg.