5 Self-Discovered Ways to Better Enjoy Horizon Zero Dawn

By Bryan Terng on Mar 19, 2017


Image source: GamesRadar+
Image source: GamesRadar+

Currently the biggest selling new IP for a PS4 game, Horizon Zero Dawn is a great start for a new franchise that the gaming world desperately needs, in an era where plenty of AAA games are sequels, spin-offs, or reboots, or brand new AAA games that flat out disappoint us gamers (and our wallets. Weep!).

With a large quantity of Horizon already in the hands of many PS4 gamers, I’m sure a number of us have read up on tips in playing the game better, like Kotaku and GamesRadar+. Fret not, for this article isn’t a rehash of those tips you’ve read.

So I present to you, five original ways that you can implement to improve your experience in Horizon Zero Dawn, discovered by yours truly.


Play it like Dark Souls

Image source: GamesRadar+
Image source: GamesRadar+

Once I clicked the Start in Horizon’s main menu, I was presented with a choice: to enjoy the game like a sane person and play at Normal difficulty, be an ambitious player and choose Hard difficulty, or get admitted into a mental asylum and set the difficulty to Very Hard.

I chose the third, after pondering over this choice for two minutes (I counted). And it has improved my experience with it ever since.

Horizon Zero Dawn emphasises strongly on gameplay that utilises the human brain, due to the strategically determined weaknesses for each machines. As most players would know by now, running around like a savage and shooting arrows at the metal enemies simply aren’t effective.

However, if you play it on Very Hard difficulty, you will need to use all your brains and brawn to defeat the machines, because this is when the machines are as menacing as the tribes people make them to be. At this difficulty, machines can kill you in just two or three hits – even the Watchers, the most basic machines you encounter. And to make it more exciting, you deal less damage to enemies in the game.

Moreover, the percentage for each medicinal plant you obtain to refill your medicine pouch is noticeably less at this difficulty. Even the chances of getting rare resources from animals you kill, such as boars and turkeys, are lower, making it more tricky to obtain them.

With the added difficulties above, it prevents you from slacking in combat, and truly immerses you into the dangers of the wilds. What a better way to make you feel as tense as Aloy when battling those gorgeous and hostile machines.

But if you play it halfway in Very Hard difficulty and don't enjoy it as much as I have, you can change the difficulty on the fly in the settings. Thankfully, there's no trophy for completing the game in a certain difficulty.


Spear those animals!

Image source: Horizon Zero Dawn Wikia
Image source: Horizon Zero Dawn Wikia

If you’re a noob like me, you probably suck at using the bow and arrow most of the time and constantly miss your target. But even if you’re bad enough to not be the perfect machine huntress, there’s one more species that truly smacks you in the face and reminds you how bad of an actual huntress you really are: wild animals.

Granted wild animals aren’t predators that can kill you, but they play a worse role than that: reminding you how bad you actually are at this game.

So you know what can be done? Screw stealth, and embody your inner savagery by running towards them and nailing them with your spear (war cries during this is optional). Not only does this make you feel less of a buffoon, but you’ll also save time and resources in doing so by not wasting arrows. And you run faster than all of the wild animals so chasing them isn’t an issue.


Some NPCs are worth the talk

Image source: SE7EN Solution
Image source: SE7EN Solution

About 90% of the non-playable characters (NPCs) you encounter are there to pretend to make the Horizon’s world more alive, which works to an extent, until you try to interact with them. And that’s alright, because developer Guerrilla Games wouldn’t want you to go through the hassle of talking to every single NPC you encounter to get more information. That would be a bore.

But the other 10%? You should totally talk to them. Sure, you lived in isolation prior to The Proving and probably lack people skills, but it’s easy as pushing the △ button and selecting from the conversation wheel.

These NPCs will give you the information you need to better understand the game world and access more goodies. And you can find these MVPs anywhere, from villages to the wildlands you explore.

For example, Cren is an NPC Aloy encounters in the sacred land after she’s been anointed Seeker and set out to discover the world. She ask about a recent injury he received on his head, and he says that he got it from participating in trials given by a Hunting Ground nearby. By talking to him, Aloy knows of the existence of Hunting Ground trials just by talking to him.

Another example would be finding out about the existence of mechanical dungeons called Cauldrons by talking to an NPC in Mother’s Watch.

If you’re not sure which of the NPCs you encounter are the 10%, just use your Focus. Your focus will highlight people of interest, and if the highlighted person has a name instead of a label like Nora Brave, then you know you’ve found one of the 10%.


Finish all side quests before doing the last main quest

Image source: Horizon Zero Dawn Wikia
Image source: Horizon Zero Dawn Wikia

At some point in the game, you'll probably get tired of completing the side quests after sidetracking multiple times and want the main game to be over with. But hold your Striders/Broadheads! (Get it?) You'll probably miss out on getting the (supposedly) best ending for Horizon, and also a trophy.

Apparently, there's a Bronze trophy called All Allies Joined, which can be gained after completing all the side quests and gaining the trust of various NPCs in the game. So I assume that there's going to be an epic battle at the end of the game, and everyone that Aloy helped in the previous side quests will join forces with Aloy and make a last stand. Sounds thrilling and heart-warming at the same time, like the people Aloy helped trust her enough to die and fight alongside her.

Want to feel the warmth and excitement? Complete all those side quests!

Source: SE7EN Solution


Remember power cell locations

Image source: Eurogamer
Image source: Eurogamer

If you read about the powerful ancient armour you can obtain, then you know that you need five power cells to unlock the doors to obtain it. And the locations of these power cells are secret, unless you’ve already Googled “Horizon Zero Dawn power cell locations”. In which case, remember the locations before playing the game further, especially if you’re still in the early stages.

This is because one of the power cells can only be obtained in an area that will be blocked off after you exit that area. There have been some successful attempts at entering the area even after you exit it, but there’s still a chance that you might not be able to access it, not until after you finish off all the main quests.

But if you’re cool with using it after completing the main game, then you can forego this advice. As for me, I plan to use it during the main quests and have an advantage in the last moments of the game that should be tough.

Bryan Terng
About the Author
An ex-wannabe hispter who recently just started writing gaming stuff, and is calculating how many meals (or dates?) he has to skip to fufill his gaming appetite.
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