9 things you must do in Horizon Zero Dawn

Horizon Zero Dawn came out of nowhere to become a legitimate early contender for Game of the Year (well, at least first runner-up to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild). This beautiful open world action adventure game took what seemed like a Michael Bay fever dream (Pretty female protagonist! Robot dinosaurs! Huge explosions!) and turned it into one of the most enjoyable video game experiences I’ve had in a long while. But while you can of course blow through the main storyline in a little under 30 hours, to do so would be to miss out on all there is to do in this incredibly sweeping and expansive game world. So before you decide to plow through the main quest line and move on to the next game, make sure to at least do the following nine things while you’re exploring this alternate future of the earth.

1. Kill a Thunderjaw with the Disc Launcher

Horizon Zero Dawn thunderjaw

The Thunderjaw is without a doubt one of the most difficult beasts you’ll encounter in Horizon Zero Dawn. In addition to having massive amounts of hit points, his melee attacks can nearly one shot you and he has a number of ranged attacks that make sniping difficult. But the two-disc launchers on its back are easy to knock off and do a ton of damage. And there is nothing more satisfying that taking off chunks of HP using the Thunderjaw’s own weapon.

2. Visit All of the Cauldrons

Horizon Zero Dawn caultdrons

These out-of-the-way side quests are not needed to finish the game. However, they add a very strong layer of depth to the overall story of Horizon. Going through the cauldrons more closely pulls you into the mythology of where these machines came from and how they are created. But most importantly, completing a cauldron gives you the ability to override various beasts in the wild, bringing them over to your side to fight for you. Which directly brings us to our next item…

3. Override a Sawtooth and Set It Off Among a Pack of Bandits

Horizon Zero Dawn sawtooth

One fantastic option you get later in the game after completing the various cauldrons is the ability to override various mechanical beasts in the wild. Although generally, this is used to override a Charger so you’re not hoofing it through the world, the trickier (but much more fun) gambit is to override a big creature like a Sawtooth. And every once in awhile, the game presents you with an opportunity to fight both Sawtooths and bandits at the same time. But rather than picking away at bandits from range, the far more satisfying solution is to override a fast and powerful Sawtooth, and let it wreak havoc on a group of bandits. Just sit back and enjoy the show.

4. Shoot a Blaze Canister Off a Grazer Among a Pack of Grazers

Horizon Zero Dawn Grazers

Grazers are generally pretty docile in Horizon. Although they will attack you if provoked, any explosion will have a pack of them bounding away like scared deer. So it’s pretty convenient that they have a set of explosive canisters on their backs. Find a pack of these grazers, shoot a canister off one if their backs, and watch them go running. It also doesn’t hurt that you get a free blaze canister out of it for your troubles.

5. Get the Shield-Weaver Armor

horizon zero dawn Shield-Weaver Armor

If you’re paying close attention, you’ll start to collect power cells at various spots throughout the game. These power cells will help to unlock the Shield-Weaver Armor, the most powerful armor in the game. Unfortunately, some power cells are pretty hard to find. And the last one won’t show up until pretty late in the game. Even so, make sure to collect all of them and return to the ancient ruins near the starting zone. Unlocking this armor basically gives you a huge damage shield, making you invincible to multiple attacks until the armor starts to shimmer. And even then, all you need to do is avoid taking damage for a few seconds and the armor will recharge. This will save you many, many health potions towards the end of the game.

6. Throw a Rock at Bast’s Hand During the First Flashpoint

Horizon Zero Dawn aloy flashpoint

Okay, so it doesn’t really matter in terms of story, but if you throw it at his head, Rost will shoot it out of the air before it hits Bast. And if you drop the rock on the ground, someone else stops Bast from hurling more rocks at you. There is an option that actually inflicts a little pain on that jerk. That is the option where you can knock the rock out of his hands. The world is bleak enough as it is. Take pleasure in these small victories.

7. Collect All the Vantages in the world of Horizon Zero Dawn

Horizon Zero Dawn

Horizon Zero Dawn is a game filled with an engrossing backstory that slowly parcels out little clues about the past throughout its game world. Nowhere is this more evident than in the holographic vantages. They give a small snippet of what the world was like before robots took over. If you care at all about the story, you should take the time to seek out these vantages to learn more about the past of this world that Aloy was born into.

8. Take a Photo from the Top of a Tallneck

Horizon Zero Dawn includes a pretty robust photo mode that lets you set up some truly stunning shots of the game world. But one of the best vantage points to take photos from is from atop the giant mechanical Tallnecks. So after you’ve climbed one of these magnificent beasts, make sure to take a moment to enjoy the views, and take a photo or two. You’ll appreciate it when you’ve finished the game.

9. Get the Unlimited Fast Travel Pack

Horizon Zero Dawn Golden Fast Travel Pack

I remember hoarding fast pack resources and trying to parcel out when to fast travel and when to just walk to the settlement that I had previously visited. And then, I found the blessed merchant that sold me the unlimited fast travel pack. Suddenly, I was fast traveling to go 100 feet just because I could. I was also selling all my extra packs for blades. Yes, there is a lot to be said to actually traveling through this world and enjoying the scenery. But when I’m going back and forth between Meridian and Mother’s Heart on some random fetch quest, the unlimited fast travel pack is always a welcome item.

Horizon Zero Dawn is available exclusively for the PlayStation 4.

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Brian Chu
Brian Chu 221 posts

Brian Chu is a Staff Writer for Nerd Reactor and aspiring Jeopardy contestant. He thinks Picard is the best captain, Cumberbatch is the best Holmes, Bale is the best Batman, and Tennant is the best Doctor. Follow him @chumeister