Horizon Forbidden West Beginner Tips You Need to Know Before Starting the Game

Horizon Forbidden West Beginner Tips You Need to Know Before Starting the Game
Image credit: Guerilla Games

Horizon Forbidden West is the highly anticipated sequel to Horizon Zero Dawn. In Horizon Forbidden West, Aloy is on a journey to save the world from a degrading biosphere. Despite defeating HADES, a new threat has emerged, forcing Aloy to venture out west to find the remnants of the GAIA AI system. Naturally, this new territory introduces new threats and tribes for Aloy to handle.

The gameplay of Horizon Forbidden West is very similar to the previous entry in the series, but they have made some small changes. Also, if you haven’t played Horizon in years, you might have forgotten the unique nuances of playing the game. Either way, it never hurts to go into the game well prepared.

So, let’s get into the beginner tips you should know before starting Horizon Forbidden West.

Spend Your Skill Points Right Away

Skill points in Horizon Forbidden West

At the start of Horizon Forbidden West, Aloy is fairly underpowered. Fortunately, some of the early skills in each category improve her abilities. The best skill trees to invest in at the start are Aloy’s melee combat, ranged, and stealth skills. These will go a long way at the beginning of the game and help Aloy defeat machines and humans more efficiently.

Your melee combat will help you fight against smaller machines and humans. On the other hand, your ranged skills will help you take down larger machines. Finally, your stealth skills will help in most combat encounters.

You will level up pretty quickly if you play the side quests as you progress through the campaign. So skill points are not a precious resource and should be spent almost immediately. Tune your skill points investments to your playstyle, but don’t forget to diversify your skills and invest in other categories.

Go Into Your Inventory and Equip Better Weapons and Armor

Armor in Horizon Forbidden West

The game will not remind you to equip new weapons and armor after you unlock them by completing quests. So, every now and then, take a look into your inventory to see what you can equip. You will want to reequip armor with higher stats or one that helps your preferred method of combat like ranged or stealth. 

You will want to make sure your weapon wheel is complete. That way, you are maximizing your combat options. So if you have a bow with different elemental arrows, assign it to an empty spot. If you have a couple of tripwires, a precision bow, or any other weapon you prefer, make sure it has a spot on your weapon wheel. An empty section on your weapon wheel does not help you whatsoever.

Even later in the game, make sure you are swapping out your armor and weapons for rarer ones with higher stats.

Scan Enemies and Take Note of Their Weaknesses

Focus in Horizon Forbidden West

Using your focus is a massive part of Horizon Forbidden West. The game will prompt you to use it all of the time, but when you are about to fight a machine, you can often forget to scan them before shooting them. When you scan a machine, you should note its components and weaknesses. 

Knowing where to shoot a machine and what to shoot it with will make fighting them significantly easier. You can also note rarer components on a machine and precisely target them to collect them for crafting. The message here is, do not randomly jump into fights with machines. Have a strategy, and execute that plan every time you fight. 

Eventually, you will memorize what tactics work best on different machines. But when you start, make sure you take the time to learn about them.

Don’t Leave Barren Light Until You’ve Done Everything in the Valley

Map in Horizon Forbidden West

It might be tempting to rush through the story, especially at the beginning of the game. Once you reach the first valley, where Chainscrape and Barren Light are located, try to complete as much side content as possible. The reason is that this area is a great tutorial section to learn about most of the side content in the game.

If you leave through Barren Light, don’t worry, you can also come back. But completing these easy side quests and mastering the core mechanics here is helpful in the long run. Plus, this area is a lot of fun to explore and very rewarding, so why not.

Stealth Should Always Be Option One

Stealth in Horizon Forbidden West

Aloy is undoubtedly a powerful warrior in combat, but when she is in stealth, she is nearly unstoppable. Stealth is an optional part of the game, for the most part, but almost every combat area has tall grass for Aloy to hide in. While in stealth, Aloy can deal extra damage and keep the upper hand on her enemies.

If you invest your skill points into stealth, you can increase stealth modifiers and make Aloy even more powerful. Even if you don’t manage to take out all of your enemies from stealth, you should be able to lower their numbers before getting into direct combat. This strategy is very effective against enemy hideouts.

Upgrade Your Pouches

Pouch in Horizon Forbidden West

There is not a huge tutorial on how you can upgrade your pouches, so it can be easy to forget that they’re even there. As soon as you can, go to a workbench. In the workshop menu, create jobs for all of your pouch upgrades. These typically require you to hunt for animal resources, like raccoon fur.

The rest is simple, go out into the wilds and start hunting animals. As soon as you’ve gathered all you need, get to crafting better pouches. These pouches will let you hold more ammo, meds, traps, etc. Which, in the long run, will help you out more than anything else.

Explore the World and Get Lost in Side Quests

Side Quest in Horizon Forbidden West

Throughout the game, it is always useful to complete side quests. Side quests are the easiest way to earn experience and unlock new weapons and armor. But these sidequests are more than places to grind out experience or collect valuable rewards. The side quests in Horizon Forbidden West have great storytelling and offer lots of lore to the game.

Part of the magic of the game is the incredibly detailed open world, and mainlining the campaign won’t give you much of an opportunity to savor the game. But let’s not kid ourselves. The better loot from doing side quests is worth it, and that’s why we want to help the people of the forbidden west. 

Loot Everything, and Then Craft and Upgrade Whenever You Can

Looting in Horizon Forbidden West

Looting enemies is a no-brainer, but it is critical in a game like Horizon Forbidden West. There is so much stuff to craft in Horizon Forbidden West, from traps to upgrades. So make it a habit to pick up everything off of corpses and loot every chest you spot. Also, make it a habit to gather wood and plants in the wild.

Being resource wealthy is not a bad thing. And even if Aloy’s pockets are full, new resources will get sent to her stash. These stashes, which are special chests, are found in settlements and campsites. When Aloy interacts with them, she can refill her supply. So the lesson is, always be collecting.

If you keep this habit up, you will have a much easier time crafting supplies and upgrading equipment down the road. 

Quick Scan to Find Climbing Markers

Climbing in Horizon Forbidden West

There’s a lot of climbing in Horizon Forbidden West, but it can be hard to tell which walls are climbable and which are not. If you press the focus button (R3) quickly, you will do a quick scan of your environment. This quick scan will highlight every nearby climbable ledge as a yellow X or a yellow bar. This technique can be handy when you are climbing cliffs because it is very hard to tell which ones have climbing mounts or not.

Your quick scan can also spot nearby plants, animals, and enemies. While it is not as detailed as using your complete focus view, it is a much more efficient way of getting more information.

Choose and Use Your Valor

Valor in Horizon Forbidden West

When you start investing skill points into your skill tree, you might notice some bigger skills that you can unlock after completing one section of the tree. These skills are called Valor, and they are a special move you can activate in combat. Valor needs to recharge, so don’t expect to use it a lot. You can activate Aloy’s Valor by pressing R1 (while you have the weapon wheel open).

That said, your valor move enhances one stat for Aloy during a limited amount of time. Keep in mind, you can only pick one Valor at a time. This decision is like investing in any other skill point, so choosing which Valor you want to use is very subjective to your playstyle.

Those are all of our beginner’s tips for Horizon Forbidden West. Do you have any beginner tips that you would like to share? And how are you enjoying Horizon Forbidden West?


  • Anton Charpentier

    Anton is freelance games writer from Canada. His work also appears on TheGamer. He is a fan of action-adventure games, strategy games, and all things indie.

Anton Charpentier

Written by Anton Charpentier

Anton is freelance games writer from Canada. His work also appears on TheGamer. He is a fan of action-adventure games, strategy games, and all things indie.

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