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12 Hidden Gameplay Mechanics in Horizon: Zero Dawn That You Probably Missed

4 Mins read


Along with The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, the Horizon: Zero Dawn is probably one of the best RPG games released in the last ten years. Featuring incredibly exciting and interesting story, as well as dynamic and challenging gameplay, this game will keep you coming back to it for hours. Although at the beginning of the game you learn basic controls and gameplay mechanics, as well as how to effectively lay traps and hunt down robots, Horizon: Zero Dawn doesn’t explain trading, combat, and all those numerous skill perks in-depth. In this article we are going to list 12 hidden gameplay mechanics of Horizon: Zero Dawn which you might have missed.

Must read: Horizon Zero Dawn: PC Benchmark and Graphics Settings Guide for Radeon RX 580 and GeForce GTX 1060

1. Unlimited reward boxes

Once in a while killed soldiers and robots drop reward boxes which usually contain useful items such as wires, blaze, shards, and other components required to craft arrows, bombs and traps. Some merchants in Meridian also trade special reward boxes for rare items like luminous braiding, or metal flowers. Unlike resources, which consume your inventory space, you can store unlimited amount of reward boxes without fearing of filling up all of your carry capacity. This is a great feature, since it allows you to hoard extra resources, and only take out reward box’s contents if you really need those resources. You can even open reward boxes and check what’s inside, without taking the contents out. This greatly saves inventory space, since your resources would otherwise take up slots.

2. Performing attacks from above

Performing powerful stealth attacks in Horizon: Zero Dawn isn’t difficult at all. Once you unlock the Strike From Above perk, the only requirement to successfully perform this attack is to be above your enemy, so you can use it in and out of combat. While literally standing on a steep hill, you only have to jump in the air to activate this powerful strike. This also works on rocks and other things that put you in an elevated positon.

3. Striking opponents in mid-air

Did you know that you can perform melee attacks while being in mid-air? Once you jump in the air, you can perform light spear attacks on airborne and ground enemies as well, and you can also cancel the strike by rolling to the side. Unfortunately, you can’t perform heavy strike attacks while being in mid-air.

4. Easy stealth

Although at first stealth mechanics in Horizon: Zero Dawn might seem quite difficult to master, in practice they’re a very easy to employ. Did you know that breaking enemy’s line of sight while being in combat for only 1 second will allow you to return to stealth mode? If your outfit stealth points are high enough you can go around a tree and crouch to lose enemies, even if you’re not standing in the bushes. In bandit camps you can even hide behind or below wood structures or stand above them to go back into stealth mode. The main advantage of being in a stealth mode is having the ability to perform powerful silent strikes which can result with one-hit kills.

5. Easy mounting

You don’t have to press a button to get on your mount. You can simply jump on it.

6. Dismount strike

Although this isn’t a very hidden gameplay mechanic, it is commonly overlooked. Like silent strike, dismount strike is a very powerful one-shot kill attack that can be used at any time. All you have to do is get on your mount, and strike your enemy while being mounted.

7. Verbal cues

Although Aloy can get a bit annoying with her frequent talks to herself, these small monologue lines serve as very important cues about Horizon: Zero Dawn’s world. Alloy will frequently say a couple of words when something important will be nearby, and she will often give suggestions about what kind of armor or technique should she employ in certain combat situations.

8. Pulling the bow to the maximum

Pulling your bows to the maximum while aiming any enemy will not deal extra damage. The only exception are Banuk weapons, like the Banuk Culling Bow. However, pulling the bowstring to its maximum limit will greatly increase accuracy. In other words, you can simply spam the fire button, as it will make no difference if Alloy pulled the string to the maximum. You’d be still doing full damage.

9. Death tips

If you die to a powerful enemy, the game will show you tips on the loading screen how to better combat them.

10. Easter eggs

Although this isn’t a gameplay mechanic, it is worth to mention that Horizon: Zero Dawn is full of Easter eggs. In various underground bunkers you can find collectibles from the world of Hideo Kojima’s Death Stranding, and near the mining camp where you find War Chief Sona you can spot two rabbits with names Jack and Jazz. In the game’s world there is also a mug depicting a soldier from Guerrilla Games’ Killzone series, and south of the Tallneck in the western part of the world you can find a campsite with two skeletons upon whose discovery music will start being creepy.

11. Invincible armor

If you collect all of the power cell scattered throughout Horizon: Zero Dawn’s world, you’ll be able to unlock the Shield Wearer armor located in the bunker north of Nora’s Embrace. The armor will make Aloy almost invincible to the enemy attacks, as it will project a virtual shield around her. It’s only weakness is that it has to be charged from time to time. Unfortunately, to unlock this armor you’ll we have to go to great lengths, as power cells required for opening the secret vault in which armor is located are scattered in many different underground bunkers.

12. Tearblaster gun

Last but not least, the Tearblaster gun is one of the most powerful weapons in this game. Functioning as a shotgun, this weapon is extremely useful for tearing components and armor off enemy machines. It can also detonate flammable fluid canisters on the back of machines, and knock out flying pest, such as Glinthawks. In order to obtain this weapon you will have to complete side quest called “Hunter’s Blind”, as this weapon cannot be purchased from merchants.

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Emma is an avid lover of cats, Japanese anime, deep existential works, and video games. She graduated with a master's degree in anthropology and occasionally writes articles for ViCadia.
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