Hunting machines of Horizon Zero Dawn is a challenging affair. Even late game, when you have the best gear and all skills unlocked, some of these mechanical beasts can take you out in one hit if you are not careful. Consider the following, our tips on how to best the most challenging machines in the game.
If you want to become a master of the hunt and maximize the damage you can deal to the machines, you should work on unlocking the following skills.
Silent Takedown + skills that increase its damage – this skill allows you to deal a huge amount of damage to machines from stealth or when they are knocked down, outright destroying smaller ones with one hit
Dodge prowess – this skill enables your roll dodge to go a bit farther and it is a necessity when you are being chased by a dinosaur-sized machine
Double and triple shot – what it says, this skill enables you to fire double or triple arrows to help you maximize damage and apply status damage to machines faster (burning, freezing etc.)
Knock down – a must skill when going against small and medium-sized machines. It enables your heavy spear attack to knock them down for an easy override or strike attack
Heavy lifter – heavy lifter enables you to move faster while wielding a heavy weapon. Considering that weapons you pick off from the machines do the most damage, they won't do you any good if you are trampled because you can barely move
Best weapons to use and the ones you should always have in your loadout are the following:
Shadow sharpshoot bow – save early on for this bow buy it as soon as it is available. Why? Because this bow, even though it is slow, dishes out the most damage with ordinary piercing arrows which are easy to craft and I found myself relying on its damage dealing capabilities the most. It also has the tearblast arrows which remove machine weapons, and you want to get those to quickly dispatch them.
Tripcasters – Tripcasters enable you to set up traps that will do a great deal of damage and sometimes even knock down the machines so you can close the distance and make the kill, or override them.
Ropecasters – ropecaster is a necessity if you want to give yourself a breather for taking out other enemies that aren't tied down, heal yourself or pick apart the tied machine piece by piece
The best way to approach any machine is from stealth, set up your traps using the trip caster, override and/or kill machines from stealth if possible. When you begin your all out attack, it's best to use tearblast arrows first to remove the heaviest weapon from the strongest machine in the area and try to use it to kill the said machine with it. This will minimize the danger from that weapon and enable you to take out the strongest machine fairly quickly.
If you complete cauldrons, you gain the ability to override certain machines. This will be of immense help as overridden machines can help you destroy other machines. It is also sometimes easier to override a machine than fighting it, so keep it in mind when the objective doesn't require you to destroy or you don't need the parts.
Watchers are the weakest machines in the game and fairly easy to take out, even in the beginning. A well placed shot in their eye and they drop. Later in the game, you can easily dispatch them with light and heavy melee attacks. Even groups of them fall in one hit if they line up.
Striders are horses of Horizon Zero Dawn. They have a seemingly low range attack where they go mad with their back legs and hit while spinning in circles. I say seemingly because they can be fickle and still surprise you with the amount of damage and range of their attack. It is best to aim at the blaze canister on their back or their eye if they are charging you. That usually drops them in an arrow or two.
Grazers more often get spooked and make a run for it when they spot you. Still, if they decide to attack, they are pretty fast and can charge you for a surprising amount of damage. They don't have a sweeping attack so they are easy to dodge but watch your blindspots. They drop easily from either arrows or melee attacks but they have huge, easy to spot blaze canisters on their back, so shoot those with fire arrows to dispatch them even faster.
Scrappers move in packs, fire lasers and have a radar to spot you even when out of sight (you are still safe in the grass while not moving). Although they can sometimes overwhelm you from all directions they are easy to dispatch by using high damage arrows on their radar or battery pack. They can also charge you and a well placed hit in the jaws can also do a lot of damage. They are not very armored so later in the game you can take care of them with melee attacks easily.
Broadheads are similar to striders in the manner of their attack. They swat wildly with their legs and can charge you pretty fast. They are a bit more aggressive but they drop in the same way. Shoot them in the head or the blaze canister on their back.
Chargers are similar to striders and broadheads. Shoot the head or the blaze canister to take them down.
Lancehorns are what broadheads are to striders. A bit more aggressive cousin that charges. They also have canisters on their back, so shoot those to affect them and the surrounding machines with freeze damage and drop them easily with arrows.
Shellwalkers are surprisingly difficult to take down. They have high armor, a shield and short and long range shock type attacks. Tearblast arrows are your best friend as they can take their cargo off in one hit, as well as other armored parts that will expose a power generator underneath them which you can shoot for heavy damage.
Sawtooth is a first bigger machine you face. The game explains really well how to best take care of these mechanical beasts. They are highly aggressive and do high damage so it is best to keep your distance. Use traps from tripcaster that do fire damage and if you can, shoot off the armor from their belly to expose the blaze canister underneath which you can shoot for heavy damage. Late game I found myself knocking them down and using strike attacks more to quickly take them down.
Corruptors are pretty unpredictable machines. They tend to jump all around, throw giant rocks at you for heavy damage and be a general pain. They are highly resistant to all types of damage and your focus should be on catching them on fire, with fire arrows or traps to expose a power core which you can shoot for high damage. If all else fails, use high damage arrows from a sharpshooter bow to take them down using run and gun tactics.
Tramplers move in groups and they are highly aggressive. Often times they charged me together and trampled me together with my mount as they are fast despite their size. Because of that they are tricky to deal with in groups but have easily spotted canisters on their back that are weak to shock attacks. Their horns and stomach are also weak points so target that with high damage arrows. Just don't stay in the open and shoot them from behind cover if possible to avoid their charge attack.
I initially had a lot of problems with Longlegs. They are aggressive, jump over tripcaster traps and have an attack that can stun you, leaving you to easily be killed. What you want to do is target the sacks on their chest with arrows from sharpshooter bow. These sacks explode when hit with enough damage and they fall so you can dispatch with strike attack or override them. Later on, in the game, I found myself still relying on shooting these sacks but like with Sawtooths, going a bit more up close and personal since you can get them in a rhythm of knockdown – strike attack with your melee (and requisite skills) for a fairly quick dispatch.
Bellowbacks are machines with a fairly obvious weak point. Huge sacks on their backs. Keep your distance and shoot those, as well as sacks on their throats to cause explosions that will take these beasts out.
Stalkers are equipped with a cloaking device that hides them from your vision, even your focus. There are often multiple stalkers in an area and they can surprise you if you are not careful. Best to approach the area you suspect them to be in from stealth and look for visual clues of their presence. Set up traps, use tearblast and high damage arrows to shoot off components. They are also susceptible to knockdown and strike attacks so use those whenever possible or when they gang up on you.
Ravagers are basically Sawtooths, but with some heavy, long range weapons to boot. Take them out in the same manner as you would a Sawtooth or use tearblast arrows to rip the laser from their backs and then use that.
First flying machines you will come across and boy are they able to deceive you. Despite their smaller size in comparison to Stormbird, they can harass you to no end and even kill you if you are not careful. It is best to use fire arrows and shoot their belly to catch them on fire and make them fall to the ground. If you have a double or triple arrow skill, use that so they drop faster. Once they are on the ground you can strike attack them to kill them fast.
Snapmaw can appear terrifying but keep your distance and target blaze canisters near their head to do massive amounts of damage, leaving just a few more high damage shots to take them down.
Taking on a Rockbreaker is always a time-consuming affair. They are highly armored and resistant to regular damage. Roll dodge is your best friend here as he burrows in the ground and hits hard when emerging and lunging at you. They freeze easily so use any weapon with freeze damage on them when they are above ground to stop them going underground for a while and hit it with all you got. You can target its claws to permanently stop it from going underground but I found myself not doing this as its attacks are easy to see and dodge if you are careful and it gave me a bit of breathing space when he was underground. Instead, try to target its belly and exhaust ports to do a bit more damage.
Behemoths are fearsome machines and they can kill you with one hit easily. What you do with them is basically pick them apart piece by piece. Destroy the armor on its head first to disable the charge attack, then freeze them by shooting canisters on its backside (alternatively you can use a ropecaster to pin in in place) and then destroy large yellow canister on its belly for a huge explosion and the Behemoth should be down.
Stormbirds are probably the most difficult machines to dispatch. They are giant armored flying machines of terror. They have a wide variety of attacks and can kill you with a single hit. Use a shadow ropecaster to tie it down as you will have a hard time hitting any of the engines or canisters on its underside since it flies around like crazy while attacking you. The best way to deal with a Stormbird (if you don't have to kill it) is to knock it down and override it and I found myself doing this almost every time I faced one.
Thunderjaw is almost like a titular machine of the game. It is like a childhood fantasy. Take a huge dinosaur and mount it with as many heavy weapons as possible. Fighting one is a tough job, no matter your skill level or gear. It can take you out in one hit easily. Tearblast arrows are your best friend and make sure to first target huge disc launchers on it's back (there's two) and try to use those do deal massive amounts of damage to Thunderjaw (heavy lifter skill FTW). The rest is just using traps and dealing high damage while doing your best to avoid it. Run and gun is the name of the game.
Deathbringers are the not enemies you meet regularly in the game. They are tied to the game's story. When facing them you expose their weak points and pick them off one by one with fire arrows. A more time-consuming method is to aim huge rocket launchers on top of them with triple heavy damage arrows (from a precision bow) which can deal high damage and ultimately bring them down.
Corrupted machines are regular machines but they have red tentacles in their circuitry. You apply the same strategy you did for their regular counterparts but keep in mind that they can take a bit more damage and are more aggressive.