Tips For Playing Horizon Zero Dawn

Tips For Playing Horizon Zero Dawn

Turns out, kickin’ robot dinosaur arse is kinda hard. If you want to make it in the untamed wilds, you’re going to need some cunning, wit, and fast reflexes. Here’s what you should know.

Adjust your HUD

Horizon has a highly customisable HUD, where you can tinker each and every individual aspect of what shows up on your screen. If you pause the game, select options, and scroll down to HUD, you can either finagle your specific preferred settings via “Custom” or you can set-up a dynamic HUD. I prefer the latter, because it gets rid of everything unless I press the touchpad — so I only see the HUD when I need it. Otherwise, my screen looks like this:

Tips For Playing Horizon Zero Dawn

It’s way more immersive to play without the HUD cluttering your screen. Highly recommended.

Use your focus

Tips For Playing Horizon Zero Dawn

Before you take anything on, pause and take stock of the situation by clicking in the right stick. The game should show you any immediate threats, as well as elemental or armour weaknesses. You can also use this menu to ‘tag’ enemies with R2, so that you can follow them outside of your Focus with ease.

Aim for component parts

Tips For Playing Horizon Zero Dawn

You’re going to have a tough time if you simply unload all your ammo on the dinosaurs. If you want to deal heavy damage, you should be aiming for specific components, highlighted by your focus — they will appear in a yellow-ish tint. The more you can chip away, the more damage you can dole out. Some components are actually explosive, giving you extra incentive to aim with precision.


Tips For Playing Horizon Zero Dawn

Those tall patches of red grass are there for a reason. Somehow, enemies won’t see you in there, even if you’re practically next to them — so make use of it! Worth noting that, if an enemy does spot you, if you go out of their line of sight and into tall grass, you’ll lose them again. Pull that trick off when you’re overwhelmingly surrounded.

Use traps

Shooting first and asking questions later will get you killed. Instead, take the time to scope your surroundings out, sneakily laying out traps that you’ll lure enemies into once combat initiates. Traps can explode on contact, stun your enemies, and more. You can craft or buy traps, but whatever you do, make sure to actually use them. They’re a lifesaver as things get tough. Note that any traps you carry are reachable via D-Pad, just press left or right.

Aim for the head

Oh yeah, there are humans in this game too. Their heads are squishy.


If an encounter is going south, or if you don’t want to deal with the headache, chances are good that you can just get out of there if need be. There’s no shame in running, especially if you accidentally run into some of the hardest enemies in the game as you explore aimlessly — which can totally happen.

Upgrade Your Skills

Tips For Playing Horizon Zero Dawn

Lots of choices here, but the first skills you should gun for are ‘Concentration’ and ‘Concentration+,” both of which slow down time and help you aim for specific armour components. From there, you can’t go wrong with Fast Reload, Quiet Sprint, Ammo Crafter, Dodge Prowess, and Herbalist. Combined, these abilities should make you more flexible in battle, and give you more resources to fight and heal with.

Use every campfire

It might seem like overkill, but you’re probably going to die a lot in the early game, so it helps to not lose progress. Also, you can fast travel to camps, which is useful.

Pick up medicinal herbs

There are many items to scavenge in Horizon, but the most important ones replenish your health. If you see a bright red flower, chances are good it’s a medicinal herb. Pick it up, and use it when low on health by pressing up on your D-pad.

During boss battles, loot your surroundings

Big fights can drain you of all all your resources, but fortunately, those battlefields are often littered with healing items, too. As you’re dodging attacks and trying to stay alive, make sure to keep an eye out for things like herbs and healing mushrooms.

Hunt real animals

Horizon has a variety of flesh and bone wildlife (rabbits, turkeys, etc), and you’ll want to keep an eye out for them. If you kill actual creatures, you can loot their meat, which you can then use to make potions under the crafting menu.

Make quests for items you need

Tips For Playing Horizon Zero Dawn

You could buy potions, but it’s way better to just craft ’em instead. You won’t always have all the materials you need, but that’s OK. If you go into your crafting menu, select the item you want to make, and then press square, you can create a job that tracks what you’re missing. Useful.

Use the ropecaster

As the difficulty ramps up, you’ll have multiple enemies coming after you at once. It’s much easier to deal with crowds when you can literally pin threats to the ground until you have time to deal with them. The ropecaster is especially good when dealing with flying enemies, which are otherwise tricky to hit. Ropecasters can be purchased from merchants.

Use the Rattler

Sometimes, dinosaurs like to get up in your face. For that, you’ll want the close-quarters rattler, which fires off quick rounds to whatever is right in front of you. I’m especially fond of my Shadow Rattler, which has done some serious work against the hardest enemies in the game.

Modify your weapons and gear

Tips For Playing Horizon Zero Dawn

As you play, you should find items called ‘coils,’ which are basically rune items that you can slot into your gear, depending on available slots. You can check that by clicking your touch bar, going into the crafting menu, and then perusing ‘Modify weapons’ and ‘Modify gear.’ You should equip the best coils you have — they’re denoted by colour. Common ones are green, super rare ones are purple. Coils can add anything from more power to new elemental damage. Equip according to your playstyle preferences. Just know that, unless you gain unlock a special skill, you can’t reclaim any equipped coils.

Upgrade your carrying capacity

The first things you’ll want to unlock are larger Hunter Bow Quivers, and bigger Potions Pouch. You’ll be running out of your main ammo often, after all, and it never hurts to have more healing items. Other upgrades are useful down the line, depending on how you like to play.

Look for Tall Necks

Tips For Playing Horizon Zero Dawn

Once climbed, these majestic beasts give you more info about your surrounding area. More importantly, they’re cool as hell. When you come across one, try to find a high vantage point so that you can jump on it. Just make sure not to get caught on their hoofs: they will trample your arse.

Clear bandit camps

While it might seem like stock content, Guerilla Games makes it feel fresh by giving you an interesting character who will accompany you during these missions. I found myself clearing camps just to learn more about him. That, and, cleared camps can turn into towns where you can stock up, save, and use as fast travelling waypoints.

Sell extra resources

You’re not going to need everything you carry. Once you get a feel for what ammo and traps you want to use, sell anything that’s not useful back to vendors for extra cash.

Get the sample box

Tips For Playing Horizon Zero Dawn

Each store carries a box full of resources that they will give to the player, free of charge. Just scroll down to the ‘Treasure Box’ section and take it!


The quest level recommendations can be misleading, and I sometimes found myself having trouble with missions the game told me I was ready for. I always found it useful to gain some more skill points and health by completing a few sidequests before taking on a main story quests. You can never be too careful.’

Find Cauldrons

While these are completely optional dungeons, they’re also some of the coolest portions in the game. Don’t miss em. Cauldrons are denoted on your map through a special blue icon.

Use photo mode

At any moment, you can pause the game and go into photo mode. From there, you can do anything from adjusting the angle and aperture, changing the time of day, adding vignettes, and more. It’s killer. You’ll definitely want to mess around with it.

[referenced url=”” thumb=”×231.jpg” title=”Horizon Zero Dawn’s Photo Mode Is Great Fun” excerpt=”You won’t be able to get Horizon. Zero Dawn until March 1 in Australia and New Zealand. But when you do – which seems likely given how many of you voted for Horizon – make sure you play with the photo mode.”]

Get The Shield Weaver Armour

If you want to spoil yourself on how to get the most advanced armour in the game, GamesRadar has you covered in the video above.

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