Horizon Forbidden West: Tips For Beginners

How to stay a step ahead of the machines in the Forbidden West.

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In Horizon Forbidden West, Aloy's latest journey will be her most difficult, and if you remember the original game, that is no small feat. Set a few months after her previous adventure, Aloy has not managed to save the planet, but merely postpone its death. She will need to grow stronger, smarter, and braver to face what's next, and so will you as the player. That's where our Horizon Forbidden West tips come in. We've played hundreds of hours collectively across the GameSpot team, so take these tips as things we wish we knew before we dove into the Forbidden West.

Bring variety to your weapon wheel

Once you make a few hours of progress in the game, the number of weapons you can carry into battle will be greater than the number of weapons you can keep on your weapon wheel. With that in mind, it's important to diversify what's in your weapon wheel for quick and easy access. You should plan to keep at least one weapon with each status effect equipped, such as a flame bow, a shock tripcaster, and a plasma bow. This allows you to always take on (and take down) whatever threats you face. Customize your weapon wheel from your inventory menu and bring a bit of everything to the battlefield.

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Use tear weapons to break down machines faster and salvage rare parts

Arguably the most important of all weapons is the hunter bow. This standard-looking bow is actually the go-to when wanting to do tear damage. Tear damage is what dissects machine parts for salvaging. Rather than simply depleting a machine's HP, focus on doing tear damage can shed machines of valuable crafting ingredients, salvageable items to sell, and even temporary-use weapons to unleash on remaining foes.

Be careful with what you sell to merchants

Like most action-RPGs, you'll collect a lot of junk on your journey. Though you may be inclined to sell it back to merchants, it would be best to be a bit more cautious than that. A lot of machine "hearts" end up in the junk pile of Aloy's inventory, but these are actually valuable crafting itemswe highly recommend you hang onto. Some upgrade recipes require hearts from various machines, so keep them on-hand and you'll better off for it. This appears to be a mistake on the developers' part, so hopefully in time, hearts are given their proper labels so players don't discard them.

Study each enemy, both human and machine

We all have our weaknesses, and in Horizon, that's on full display. Aloy's Focus (click and hold on the right stick) allows her to scan and scout every hostile target she comes across, be they machine or organic. You should get in the habit of using this feature routinely--really it's best to do it before any fight that allows it. Scanning enemies with your focus will let you view their weak points, detachable weapons, and valuables that you should detach before you blow them up. If you're using the wrong status effects on enemies, or blowing them up before you salvage their best bits, you'll be doing yourself a huge disservice.

Use smoke bombs underwater to escape enemies

Forbidden West adds lots of underwater gameplay to the Horizon series. While a lot of that is optional, some of it is mandatory. Some of it even puts you up against powerful ocean-dwelling machines that are much better swimmers than Aloy, so use smoke bombs to even the playing field (or puddle?). you can't fight underwater, you can only evade and hide, and smoke bombs are the surest way to reset an enemy's chase and give yourself some breathing room.

Traps are very powerful, so use them often

Very early on in Forbidden West, you'll receive trap recipes, allowing you to booby-trap the battlefield in the heat of battle. However, the best use case for these traps is placing them before things get chaotic. Like Kevin McCallister in Home Alone, you can smartly set your enemies up to fail spectacularly with traps, and they're so powerful in Horizon that you really do owe it to yourself to make a habit out of it. Combining traps with scouting via the Focus, as mentioned above, can mean making very quick work of enemies.

Melee combat always fills Aloy with joy.
Melee combat always fills Aloy with joy.

Find the right Valor Surge for you

Valor Surges are new ultimate abilities for Aloy, and they are both the best abilities in the game and quite diverse. With several kinds of Valor Surges within each skill category, you'll quickly build the Aloy that plays to your strengths. You can make her go invisible, deal extra damage with arrows, become a damage sponge and shake off even the hardest hits, and more. There's something for everyone in this exciting new element of the Horizon series. Read more about Valor Surges, including our favorites, here.

Explore the massive skill tree to its fullest

Speaking of skills, even when you're not opening up a new Valor Surge for yourself, the skill tree is massive and demands your close attention. Skills can get pretty pricy, with some even taking up to five skill points to unlock the farther you go down a particular branch, so you'll want to be sure you're budgeting correctly for the skills you want. Plenty of early skills are awesome and as cheap as a single skill point, so don't hold back on spending to get some of Horizon Forbidden West's best early skills.

Complete whole categories of some activities to receive legendary weapons

Like a lot of games of this nature, weapons in Horizon come in tiers identified by colors such as blue, green, purple, and greater. The best weapons are legendary (orange), and though you'll have your work cut out for you, there's a pretty reliable way to earn legendary weapons: Finish different categories of activities. Things like solving Relic Ruins, finding black box recorders, and completing the fighting arena reward legendary items when you beat them. Though we're still working through some other activities, we expect this to hold true pretty much across the board. Tick those boxes and earn your rewards. Here are all the legendary weapons we've found so far.

Mark Delaney on Google+

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