Horizon Forbidden West Beginner Guide: Getting Started Tips and Tricks

In this Horizon: Forbidden West Beginner Guide, I will be sharing with you Tips to Getting Started and how to make your game experience more pleasant overall! If you are ready to tackle this enormous game and want to know what to do first: Here are the things I wish I knew before playing!. Be mindful that there are some mechanics and other mild spoilers.

Horizon Forbidden West Beginner Guide

Horizon Forbidden West Recommended Gameplay Progression

The first thing that the game will do is run you through a quick tutorial that teaches you how everything works in Horizon Forbidden West. But once you are out of this area, you have freedom to take off whichever way you like and engage with as much or as little content as you want. Many players gun down the main questline and ignore all side activities, while others may try to complete all activities in an area before moving on. Both of these approaches are not recommended, and here’s why:

A lot of the sidequest objectives include really tedious climbing or the sort of exploration and objectives that burns you out.  If you only do the main quest, you will be out of synch with level progression, miss out on additional weapons, and likely skip companion quests. So this brings us to our first tip:

Do the Main Quest First!

Your primary objective should be to progress the main story, but always talk to your companions and exhaust their dialogue whenever you’re back at the base. You should also do some of the larger sidequests or errands that give you special equipment, and not worry about contracts or such activities too much. The reason for this is that a lot of exploration is locked behind tools you only unlock with the story, and because at the end you will get a FLYING mount that makes traversal so much easier and enjoyable that it’s really a shame to have done the whole game by then. Following the main quest will also unlock the “diving mask” that gives you unlimited under-water breathing, making certain locations a lot easier. Once you have unlocked all extra tools and have your flying mount, you can thoroughly explore the landscape and access towers with ease, which is a lot more efficient and, for me, more fun.

Do the main quest first

Don’t Ignore Machine Strike!

There’s a mini-game called Machine Strike that sounds a lot more complicated than it is. I was initially baffled by the explanation of the mechanics, but if you persevere at it, you can complete a match in each town as you progress the game and get more pieces and enjoyment out of the difficulty curve. Here are some tips for how to play and how to win!

Don’t Ignore Machine Strike!

How to Play Machine Strike in HFW

First of all choosing the right machines is key, so make sure that you look at the board you’ll be playing on and pick machines that gain bonuses from playing on the terrain of that board.

Second, positioning your machines is also important. You can only attack from front or back and the sides, not at angles. Additionally, height plays a factor in ranged unit attacks, boosting their damage, so try to keep them elevated when possible.

Third, focus fire, focus fire, focus fire. You don’t need to eliminate all enemy units to win, just some of theirs faster than yours. Removing threats can prevent you from loosing units, so make sure you prioritize taking out a unit, rather than spreading around damage when possible.

Lastly, don’t be afraid to sacrifice health for additional attacks. Sometimes you will get enemies down to just 1 or 2 points of health when your turn is about to end. They will then attack you on theirs. Don’t be afraid to sacrifice some health they would have taken anyway to take another action. This will free up an action on your next turn that you would have had to spend attacking that unit anyway.

Traversing the Map: Horizon Forbidden West Mounts and Travel Packs

Getting a mount early on will save you a lot of time, particularly if you tell it to “follow road” (under settings!) and just speed on with X to go faster. It’s also important to buy Quick Travel packs, that will let you port back to any location for a very small fee. You can do it for free from campfires, but not having to run to one or climb a big ledge can reduce your burnt-out as you traverse the HUGE landscape.

Get a mount early to traverse the great landscape

Enjoying Combat: Do the Training grounds, they actually Help!

I usually avoid anything that’s an arena or training type mission because they seem tedious. In Horizon: Forbidden West, I’m actually quite happy to have done them. Whenever you see a melee pit, you should head over and learn from it, as it will teach you how to perform all the comboes in the game. If you’re struggling to execute (as I know I was with some), the key is to read the tutorials and observe the execution tip on the small in-game video. For example the game will tell you to press r1 – pause – r1 r1 r2. What it doesn’t tell you is that “pause” means “wait for Aloy’s spear to shine then continue. Other useful tips for completing the grounds include smartening up that you can chain one combo into the next! So if you pressed R1 at the end of the first combo, keep pressing it and release for the “Halfmoon Slash” or the Jump-off you may be struggling with.

Training grounds

Boost your Stats: Food & Quests

The game introduces you to food early on, but fails to make a point of how much of a difference it can make if you eat the “good stuff”. If you find yourself struggling in combat, try and find better cooks and use the special foods to optimize your stats before engaging a challenging section.

Boost your stats

Additionally, if you do all the Melee Pits you will be able to challenge a human boss, “The Enduring”, and obtain permanent + spear damage if you prevail.

Leveling Up and Gearing

The game has 6 unique skill trees, but with exploration and completion you can unlock every skill and boost every “ultimate” within. You can tailor these to your preferred playstyle, but your first order of business should be to put points into the Warrior and Hunter trees so you can unlock all the skills they have and be effective in open combat. The other trees are mostly “nice to have” so my order was to go for Hunter, Warrior, and then Infiltrator for Stealth. Trapper, Survivor and Machine Master were relegated to the “later” category.

Horizon Forbidden West Skill Priority

You should also be on the lookout to optimize your gear, and the easiest way to do this is to do the Arena Quests as soon as you get there. Because the arena is a series of challenging, timed machine matches, you may be thinking that you want to wait to level up some more etc. But earning those medals gets you Legendary equipment so they are actually really worth it. If you can’t be bothered with it, you can drop the difficulty down to easy or even story mode and you will earn the same amount of medals and be able to purchase Legendary Weapons and Armor right away.

My favorite equipment was usually Poison and Shock, as both elements are very efficient against most of the machines in the game. Shock is particularly fun as you can create critical hit situations and deal massive damage, and it is particularly useful against the annoying large enemies like the Slitherfang serpent machines.

Hunt for Legendary Upgrades

Your Legendary Sets will need Dreadwing, Frostclaw and Slitherfang parts, so make sure to challenge and collect these as often as you encounter them. You will be able to target them specifically in post-game once you have the whole map unlocked and know where things are, but it’s a good idea to get these early on so you can begin upgrading as soon as possible. Legendary armor and coils can make a huge difference to your performance, and they also look very cool.

Hunt for legendary upgrades

Questing & Exploring: What to do when stuck?

To be efficient in tackling the game, you’ll want to make sure to pick up as many sidequests, errands and salvage contracts as you can before you go out exploring. This will help ensure that you can 100% complete a location when visiting it, and you don’t have to come back later for some other task. Of course some areas will have you going back and forth, but minimizing that will increase your chances of actually exploring the whole map without getting tired of it.

It’s also common to get stuck trying to figure out what you should do next, as things are not always well explained. The main tip here is: ALL of your problems will ALWAYS be solved in one of these ways:

  1. You have to pull down a beam, vent or destroyable wall using your Ropecaster. It’s very easy to miss the beams or vents when trying to find ways up or around things, so always scan the room.
  2. You have to Pry open a door OR a rock wall – This happens often underwater and it can be hard to see. Look for any wall that looks cracked or crumbling and approach it for a “pry open” prompt.
  3. There’s a hidden Firegleam somewhere. Unfortunately, they don’t always show up on your scanner, but more often than not these are the reason you’re stuck, so scan each wall carefully.
  4. Some metal vines block your way. You won’t be able to solve these until late in the main quest, but they are usually easy to see.
  5. You can actually STACK crates on top of each other: most of the game gives you crates to push around, jump on and aim higher. But in some cases, you will have to stack two crates on top of each other to progress, so look for that as well.
  6. Move Trains and large Carts. Several locations have old train cars that can be moved and used as a platform to access further areas. Some puzzles even involved changing the remnants of train tracks and using the cart as a means to stop a door from fully closing.
  7. Underwater locations: Don’t do these until you unlock a special tool that allows you to breathe underwater indefinitely (Level 22 “The Sea of Sands” main quest)

Final Tips: Quest Type Solutions

Some of the quests weren’t immediately obvious on what to do. To point, you will be asked to:

  • Find all Drones: When you scan a drone, highlight it’s flight path with R1 then find a point near a wall and jump onto it – but don’t let go! Hold on and weight it down to the ground and you’ll then be able to access its innards.
  • Collect Items in High Places: A specific quest asks you to “Fly up a mountain” – you won’t be able to do this until endgame. Equally, you will want to delay collecting the “Signals of the Sun” until you have your flying mount, as it will save you a lot of jumping around and climbing.
  • Find Black Boxes: These are to be taken to the collector of voices near the Arena. You can identify the black boxes with your radar as you explore, they are always inside large crashed planes.
  • Get Tags: Rebel Camps don’t go away post-game, so you will be able to find these tags at all rebel camps simply by defeating and looting the leader. You don’t have to clear out the entire camp, just kill the leader and skip and it’ll count as completed!

If you follow these tips, particularly the one about waiting for your flying mount, you should have a much easier time getting around the world and completing many objectives without feeling like you’ll be at this for another year. I’d love to hear your ideas and tips that you want to share with others, maybe some you have from Horizon Zero Dawn, or your plan for interacting with the game. Will you aim for 100% completion? Or are you doing this just for the story? Let us know in the comments!

Want more Horizon Forbidden West? Check out our thoughts on the game in Horizon Forbidden West Review.

MMO raider by day and guide writer by night, Fex enjoys multiplatform gaming, good books and animes, and streaming with a cold beer.

View my other posts

Log in to leave a Comment