In a bizarre far future that blends incredible technological advances with an almost stone-age tribal society, Horizon Zero Dawn protagonist Aloy must contend with bandits and rival tribes while defending her home from monstrous animal-like robots and questing to fulfill a greater purpose. It’s a unique setup for a game, and it offers up a similarly unique set of weaponry.
From primitive bows and slings to high-tech railguns, there’s a good bit of variety in Aloy’s arsenal. Horizon Zero Dawn is all about making the most out of the resources players have on hand, and, to that end, it’s best to figure out which weapons are worth upgrading and crafting ammo for.
Updated on July 11th, 2022 by Tanner Fox: Horizon Zero Dawn was one of the best IPs to debut during the eighth console generation, and it garnered enough popularity to receive a sequel in the form of Horizon Forbidden West in 2022. An escalation of the mechanics and stories established in the initial outing, Horizon Forbidden West doubles down on almost everything seen in the original title, including the pseudo-neolithic weaponry.
Though not technically present in the first game, some of the weapons found in Horizon Forbidden West are worthy of mention here. From the Forgefall to the Ancestor’s Return, Aloy’s never had a more badass selection of spears, bows, and slings.
Essentially a sort of shotgun capable of blasting compressed air at enemies, the Tearblaster is indispensable in the late game of Horizon Zero Dawn, as it’s able to effectively destroy the heavy armor worn by larger machines.
Only accessible after the “Hunter’s Blind” side quest, some gamers may miss out on this rare weapon. It’s certainly something first-time Horizon Zero Dawn players will want to make a deliberate effort to obtain.
The Ropecaster is yet another excellent weapon in the game, particularly for larger machines. It lets Aloy tie down powerful machines to keep them immobilized. Like the majority of weapons in the game, the Ropecaster has several different variations that make it more powerful.
The best version is the Lodge Ropecaster, which you can get after completing the hunting ground trials. The ranged weapon is particularly helpful when Aloy encounters machines that can fly, such as Stormbirds and Glinthawks, as it easily allows players to tie them to the ground so they can’t take flight.
Banuk Striker Bow
Players fond of the standard Hunters Bow will definitely want to make the upgrade to the Banuk Striker Bow. It isn’t available until the start of the Frozen Wilds DLC, as it is available to purchase in The Cut.
For those who like using arrows most of the time when fighting machines, the Striker Bow will come in handy. It’s also extra powerful because it has a feature that lets Aloy “overdraw” the bow so that the arrows are shot with extra power.
Similar to the Icerail and the Stormslinger, the Forgefire is another weapon players can get in The Cut during the Frozen Wilds DLC. Instead of ice or electricity, the Forgefire can unleash a wave of fire akin to that of the Bellowback’s fireball attack.
It is very strong, particularly when upgraded to the Improved version, and, in New Game+, players can also get the Adept version which is even stronger than that. It’s particularly helpful when battling the Frostclaws in Frozen Wild who are very hard to beat.
Sylens’ Lance is given to Aloy by Sylens himself toward the end of the game. It’s very strong and can inflict Tear and Elemental damage.
While the spear is a worthy melee weapon for the majority of the game, this feels like a necessary upgrade capable of tackling Horizon Zero Dawn‘s end-game challenges. It also has the potential to inflict shock damage against either machines or human enemies.
Shadow Hunter Bow
Aloy is great with a bow, but there are many different types to master in Horizon Zero Dawn. An essential tool for any player should be the Shadow Hunter Bow. This very rare bow can be purchased for a reasonable price from just about any Merchant.
In addition to the standard arrows, the Shadow Hunter Bow also accommodates fire arrows and hardpoint arrows, the latter of which are excellent for ripping components from the toughest machines. It’s a quick bow, too, so it works well in mid-range and close combat. Combine that with the precision aiming maneuver, and the Shadow Hunter Bow becomes one of the best offensive tools in the game.
The first Tripcaster Aloy receives is useful, but it has its limits. Only capable of laying down shock traps to trip up machines, its efficacy wears thin after the early game, as many of the later machines are immune to shock. However, the Shadow Tripcaster retains its usefulness by giving Aloy three different traps to throw down.
It provides an extra method for dispatching machines and humans, as well, affording Aloy a bit more breathing room when tackling multiple opponents at once.
Shadow Sharpshot Bow
Oftentimes, Horizon Zero Dawn will pit Aloy against opponents who are far away. Standard bows aren’t effective at that distance, so the solution is to purchase a snapshot bow, particularly the Shadow Sharpshot Bow. This bow packs a punch and allows for the use of three different arrows.
The precision arrows deal a lot of damage and allow for particularly powerful headshots. Tearblast arrows can rip annoying parts of machines, giving Aloy the edge against Thunderjaws and Ravagers. The only downside is that it takes a while to draw arrows on the bow, but it’s more than a worthy tradeoff.
The Shadow Rattler is one of the most unique weapons in Horizon Zero Dawn. Where most weapons are variations of primitive equipment, the Rattler is something that feels a bit more modern. It functions like a rifle, firing deadly projectiles to get the job done. It’s a weapon designed precisely for taking on machines, as its different ammunition types account for different weaknesses.
It deals a lot of damage, can penetrate armor effectively, and the status effects can make any fight a cinch when used properly. Many players can go through the entire game without ever using a rattler, so it’s important to keep it in mind.
Lodge Blast Sling
Slingshots seem like silly weapons when compared to using something like a bow. However, Horizon Zero Dawn ensures that these weapons hold their own compared to the rest of the game’s stellar arsenal, the greatest of which being its impressive blast damage. Slingshots can be used to attach bombs to machines, which deal massive damage and can cause them to stagger.
The best of the bunch is the Lodge Blast Sling which offers three different bomb types and excellent stats. However, this sling can only be obtained if Aloy makes herself known by conquering all 15 of the Hunting Grounds in the game. That’s a major task, but the reward is certainly worth it.
Banuk Champion Bow
The Frozen Wilds was the DLC expansion to Horizon Zero Dawn, providing a new area for players to explore along with Daemonic machines that were stronger than the Corrupted machines from the base game. To compensate for this difficulty spike, the game introduces some new weapons that give players an advantage in this new location.
Among them is the Banuk Champion Bow. A variation of the popular War Bow from the base game, this bow packs one hell of a punch. With the right upgrades, this bow can instantly demolish some of the stronger machines such as Rockbreakers.
Banuk Powershot Bow
Banuk weapons are some of the best in the game, as they were released to account for the increased difficulty of The Frozen Wilds expansion. Among those weapons is the Banuk Powershot Bow, which takes the best parts of the prior sharpshot bows and turns them into something extraordinary. Best at long range, this bow can deal amazing damage with just one hit.
Considering that The Frozen Wilds also offers a lot of powerful modifications, it’s easy to turn this into the strongest weapon in the game. Those looking to take down the fearsome Fireclaws will want this in their loadout.
Lodge War Bow
The Lodge War Bow grants the upper hand against the game’s many mechanized enemies. Each of its three arrow types sports a different element, which is used to stun or give players the right opening they need to secure a critical hit. The Lodge War Bow does all of these things on top of having some of the best stats for a War Bow.
The only way it can be obtained is by completing the 15 Hunting Lodges. Only then can it be purchased by trading in the blazing suns. While it might seem like a difficult task, there’s no denying that the Lodge War Bow is worth the effort.
Tinker’s Pride (Horizon Forbidden West)
The Legendary weapons in Horizon Forbidden West are universally great, and the Tinker’s Pride is no exception, though it’s best in the hands of stealth-minded players. A versatile weapon that can either make for an explosive start to a battle or a quick way to surreptitiously destroy a machine before the fight even begins, it’s a must-have for grassy knoll tacticians.
The major drawback, of course, is that this Horizon Forbidden West weapon can only be unlocked by one hundred percent completing the game’s Hunting Ground trials, a task that only the most committed players will be able to conquer.
The Improved Icerail, as the name might imply, can only be found in The Frozen Wilds DLC expansion. It’s one of the weapons rewarded to Aloy after she becomes Chief of the Werak.
The standard Icerail can then be upgraded by completing another side quest. Needless to say, the Improved Icerail is easily one of the best weapons in the game. Fully charged shots can dismantle machines quicker than most other weapons in its class. It became one of the most effective tools against stronger machines.
The Stormslinger is a weapon that can only be obtained in The Frozen Wilds. A shaman’s weapon given to Aloy when she decides to escort Ourea to Thunder’s Drum, the Stormslinger shoots out bolts of electricity that can quickly damage machines and apply shock damage to them.
Its standard form is strong and sturdy, but completing the side quest for Varga rewards the player with the Improved Stormslinger. Not only does the weapon look much more menacing, but it’s much more potent, able to down the health of machines in just a few shots. While it’s more geared toward ranged combat, it’s powerful enough that it doesn’t make a serious difference.
Forgefall (Horizon Forbidden West)
Horizon Forbidden West is less about the raw strength of Aloy’s weaponry and more about the various loadout options and combinations afforded to the player. Be that as it may, Forgefall is a must-have bow that shines in long-range encounters, and its ample plasma damage and armor-piercing abilities make it ideal for battling some of the game’s larger machines.
Grinding up the eighty arena medals to acquire this armament may be a bit of a drag, but it easily stands among the greatest weapons in either entry in the Horizon series.
Blast Forge (Horizon Forbidden West)
Another Legendary weapon that requires eighty arena medals to unlock, the Blast Forge is undoubtedly one of the most formidable weapons in the Horizon duology. A large ballista capable of firing arrow volleys, a single series of well-placed shots can take even some of the game’s tougher enemies down without a problem.
The weapon’s only drawback is its incredibly slow reload time, and it’s often better to switch to another weapon in the heat of battle, as rearming the Blast Forge mid-combat could be a recipe for disaster.
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