So you want some tips for hunting robot dinosaurs, huh?
There’s a great science fiction story buried deep within Horizon: Zero Dawn, and we’ll be thrilled to talk about it when spoilers are less of an issue. But for most people right now, Horizon is “that robot dinosaur game.”
One thing you realize not long after starting: hunting robot dinos is hard work. You’ve got an array of weapons with their own ammo types, mountains of crafting materials that help keep you in good fighting condition, and a whole ecosystem of machine-o-saurs that behave and react in a stunning variety of ways.
Needless to say, it’s a lot to take in. And the game doesn’t always do a great job of explaining itself. But that’s what we’re here for! Read on for all the advice you’ll need to give your early adventures in robodino hunting an extra edge.
Understanding your tools
There are five basic weapon types, with different variations available for each one. Knowing how each weapon behaves and what it works well, or poorly, against is critical to hunting robodinos in Horizon.
The five weapon classes are:
Bows: There are three types Hunter Bow, War Bow, and Sharpshot Bow. Each one serves a different purpose and there is value in owning all three.
Slings: There are two slings to choose from the basic version and a Blast Sling. Both are used to lob explosive rounds a short distance, with the latter being more focused on direct damage.
Ropecaster: There’s only one kind of Ropecaster, and it only serves one purpose: immobilizing robodinos. Shooting a machine creature with the Ropecaster tethers it to wherever you were standing when the shot connected. Multiple shots are necessary to immobilize larger threats.
Tripcaster: There’s also just one of these. You use the Tripcaster to lay down tripline traps that produce an increasing variety of effects as you get your hands on more powerful Tripcasters.
Rattler: The Rattler amounts to a primitive shotgun. You’ll find a couple of these scattered throughout the game including at least one that Aloy receives as a quest reward but they all operate under the same basic rules that IRL shotguns do: short range, wide spread, high damage against large targets in close proximity.
As you delve deeper into Horizon‘s world you’ll notice that weapons are color-coded. Green ones are your entry-level items, picked up early and at a low price. Blue ones offer more power and ammo variety. Purple weapons represent the pinnacle: collect them all and you’ll have access to every damage type in the game.
When it comes to inventory management, there is no point in keeping a lower-level weapon once you get your hands on its higher-level equivalent. So if you pick up the blue Carja Sling from the early game vendor, you can sell or skip buying the green one.
It’s also worth noting: while each weapon has value in different situations, you’ll get the most use by far out of Aloy’s bows. Prioritize upgrading those first, especially the Hunter and Sharpshot.
Each weapon is defined by the ammo it uses
Horizon doesn’t do a great job of explaining this: the ammo you can use is specific to each weapon, which in turn affects what you have quick access to when you’re in combat.
Let me say it again, in bold letters, to really drive the point home: ammo is everything in Horizon: Zero Dawn. So the Sharpshot Bow, for example, isn’t Horizon‘s take on a sniper rifle. In truth, its ability to fire Precision, Tearblast, and Harvest arrows all of which are useful for stripping machine enemies of their components makes it a go-to weapon when you’re facing one of the larger robodinos.
The elemental attacks Fire, Shock, and Freeze work best against machines that are weak to those elements. Obviously, right? Because video games. They also have added effects: fire comes with low damage over time; shock locks machines in place; and freeze slows them down while also boosting the damage taken from regular arrows.
There’s also a fourth element in Horizon, called Corruption. Machines that have been corrupted turn and fight their own kind for as long as they remain in that state. It’s essentially the ranged version of Aloy’s ability to hack nearby machines and turn them over to her side.
Elemental effects stack, so the more you pelt a machine with, say, freeze arrows, the more that freeze effect builds up and the longer it lasts. Because of this, it’s often a good idea to rapid-fire elemental arrows rather than wait for full-strength shots to build up.
Aloy also has special “tear”powered attacks on some of her weapons. Tear doesn’t deal direct damage, but it’s got the ability to strip components including heavy mounted weapons off machines of all sizes.
Tear is quietly one of the most effective tools in Aloy’s robodino-hunting arsenal. Not only does it rip away armor plates exposing the weaker machine innards it also strips off weapons that you can then pick up and turn against your opponents.
Hoard all the crafting materials
It’s possible to buy just about everything from Horizon‘s vendors, but ammo especially tends to come and go so quickly that it’s important to keep crafting materials on hand. Inventory management is one of the game’s big puzzles, so we thought it might be helpful to run down key resources.
Ridge-Wood is obviously essential for any arrow crafting. Metal shards which double as Horizon‘s currency and don’t actually take up inventory space are also essential. But with Ridge-Wood, try to make sure your supply never dips below 500. It’s an easy resource to find, so just grab it when you can.
For anything that applies fire effects, you’ll need Blaze canisters. It’s not a naturally occurring resource like Ridge-Wood, but a wide variety of robodinos drop it, including the most common varieties like Striders, Grazers, and Broadheads.
There are similar drops for Shock, Freeze, and Corruption Sparker, Chillwater, and Metalburn, respectively. To find materials like these, look for machines with the right elemental canisters. Glinthawks and Lancehorns, for example, carry Freeze canisters and often leave behind Chillwater. Shell-Walkers, on the other hand, use a lightning gun; look to them (among others) for Sparkers.
Rare crafting materials are often color-coded green or blue, but the common materials which covers all of the above, and then some aren’t. As a general rule, try to keep a healthy supply of those common materials on hand at all times.