Horizon Forbidden West Guide: 11 tips and tricks you need to know before you play

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Horizon Forbidden West is here and it’s huge! Here are 10 must-know tips and tricks before you play.

As you can read in our Horizon Forbidden West Review, This is a near-perfect sequel and (in my opinion) the PlayStation version of Legend of Zelda: Breath of The Wild. While you’ll learn many of the ropes through tutorials, there are some things that aren’t so clear. That’s where we come in.

So while you wait for that massive install to complete, read through our list of 10 Horizon life hacks that will ensure you’re the best Aloy possible.

1. Get quick travel packages

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(Image credit: PlayStation)

The Forbidden West is absolutely massive. Walking from one end to the other takes about an hour. I know because I tried. It takes a while!

While there is beautiful countryside to explore, sprinting over a mile round trip to complete a fetch task can get a little tedious. There are plenty of bonfires dotted around that you can fast travel from for free (assuming you’ve visited them before), but the increased number doesn’t really make up for the sheer vastness of the landscape.

Keep your fast travel packs replenished by merchants so you can come back in those moments and complete any epic quest you’re on in a hurry.

2. Keep your stash stocked

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(Image credit: PlayStation)

One of the most welcome new additions to the Aloy’s Adventures sequel is the Hideout: a chest in each settlement that contains whatever you pick up but can’t carry due to packing restrictions.

The easiest materials to find are Gratwood Sticks and Metal Shards, which are great to secure in your stash given the number of arrows you’ll progress through this game.

But probably the most important item is medicinal berries. Similar to Zero Dawn, machines can quickly drain your health, and as you advance further and further into barren deserts, they become difficult to find. Having a large supply of these will be very helpful in the final stages of the game. Especially when the level of difficulty increases.

3. Watch out for any ladders you can step down

This is a small trick, but one that can mean the difference between a small mistake and a big, drastic mistake that will set you way back.

With the new climbing mechanic and grappling hook, Guerrilla Games has added some great platforming sections that combine with some unique puzzles to add extra depth to the exploration.

Once you get past each major section, the developers usually give you a way to easily get back there if you make a mistake. In some sections, this is a ladder that you can step down. You’ll want to search for it as if you’re falling down without lowering the ladder, you have no choice but to take the awkwardly slow path back to the beginning of this section to do it all over again.

4. Your grappling hook is your friend

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(Image credit: PlayStation)

The grappling hook may not be as freeform as the hook in Halo Infinite, but it adds an additional tactical layer to combat and a new way of traversing terrain.

It is certainly particularly effective in combat. That extra verticality can put some distance between you and those particularly aggressive machines – giving you valuable time to either refill your medicinal berries or snap a few shots.

Most combat areas have at least one of these, so always keep an eye out for a circle and dot for those ledges and poles.

5. Don’t skip Machine Strike and Melee Pits

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(Image credit: PlayStation)

Bringing some serious Gwent vibes to the Forbidden West, Machine Strike offers an almost chess-like board game that can provide a welcome respite from the chaos.

Not only that, it’s also a metaphorical gold mine with special items and shards, so take the time to learn and play the game as you progress through each settlement.

Alongside this, you can kill some time in the Melee Pits, which give you access to learning special moves and combos, as well as a safe space to practice against the variety of human enemy types in practice mode. The challenges are a great source of XP as you beat increasingly difficult battles to get each Pit Master token.

Simply put, if you just want to bang through the main campaign, think again. These distractions are damn fun and a quick way to boost your stats.

6. Know your enemy (tag him and find his weaknesses)

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(Image credit: PlayStation)

In Takeover of Zero Dawn, you can use your focus to scan machines before attacking them to find out their weak points, elemental weaknesses, and any pieces you can rip off.

For example, a Clawstrider’s tail allows him to perform some pretty devastating attacks. Using Precision Arrows to take this down removes an important part of his arsenal. At this point, you should move onto shock-based weapons to reveal his elemental weakness.

Once you start approaching each enemy strategically like a list of attack points instead of spraying and praying, everything becomes a lot easier.

7. Choose two Valor Surges and switch between them on the fly

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(Image credit: PlayStation)

One of the biggest additions to the reinvented skill tree, and one that many Zero Dawn pundits might forget, is Valor Surges.

Personally, I used them once in the beginning when the tutorial told me to, and then completely forgot about them up to about 60% of the way into the story. The fight was tough as nails at this point and remembering it was a breath of fresh air. In total you have six surges:

  • Critical Boost: Delivers huge increases in melee damage
  • Elemental Rage: Increases elemental and trap damage
  • Ranged Master: Increases damage from ranged attacks
  • Hardy: Increases health recovery and provides an overshield to absorb damage
  • Stealth Stalker: Activates a stealth cloak and triggers a radial explosion that damages enemies in a radius
  • Part Breaker: Deals more damage to machine components and weak points, and deals damage to enemies within 15 yards.

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(Image credit: PlayStation)

Regarding which are the best, the answers vary wildly depending on which publication you are reading. Personally, I’ve focused heavily on warriors and hunters, but the answer comes in a pair. Why? Because you can switch Valor Surges on the go, and while there’s a recharge based on you hitting critical attacks and weak spots that earn you Valor Points, you can strategically chain them together.

For me, I used the Hunter Surge to take down some enemies from afar, then get in close and activate warriors for extra melee damage. You can also see other effective pairings: Infiltrator and Trapper, Warrior and Survivor, Machine Master and Hunter. Each combination will individualize your approach, but make sure you choose wisely.

8. Don’t fight with your back against a wall

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(Image credit: PlayStation)

This is a simple but effective tip that is absolutely adopted by Zero Dawn. You spend 50% of your time dodging in melee combat.

Be aware of your surroundings, otherwise you’ll just roll into a wall without actually rolling anywhere and fall victim to one of the many deadly attacks without going anywhere.

9. Note the level recommendation

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(Image credit: PlayStation)

Horizon tells you what level you should be at for its main quests, side quests, contracts, and other activities. Ignore this at your own risk.

I got a little overconfident and tried to continue the story two levels above my own, and the end result was the fight of my life, which I inevitably lost in a literal firestorm.

10. Upgrade and specialize

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(Image credit: PlayStation)

Pay close attention to your playstyle and be selective about which parts of the skill tree and which weapons you upgrade first.

For me, like I said above, I used some ranged attacks and followed with melee to finish them off. This requires a lot of elemental damage and some sniping, increases your spear’s damage, and increases the healing power of medicinal berries.

I focused on these and this resulted in a more effective Aloy when the going got tough. However you want to play, be it stealth or using traps, be sure to level them up.

11. Weapon techniques are more important than it first appears

There are four types of upgrades in the skill tree: the prowess boosts we’ve covered earlier, passive boosts (upgrades to your stamina, health, technique speed, and damage amount), weapon techniques, which unlock new moves using weapons you already have, and active skills, which make attacks good associated with additional damage.

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(Image credit: PlayStation)

At first I focused on improving the stats I already had – utilizing the passive boosts – but as I delved into weapon techniques, combined them with the appropriate weapons, and also added the extra layer of active abilities, I became an unstoppable machine.

Make sure to match your techniques to your playstyle and you’ll be spot on. For example, in my case, Splitting Spike turns your Spike Thrower into a powerful, good mid-range grenade launcher-like weapon with multiple projectiles that hit a large area.

This is great for early crowd control, which then prepares me well for two melee techniques: the melee detonator (special arrows from the warrior bow that explode on impact), the destroyer combo, which deals a massive amount of damage, and a leveled resonator blast , which binds the bow and melee damage for a huge amount of damage.

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