7 essential tips for playing Horizon Forbidden West

It's dangerous to journey in Horizon Forbidden West's world. These tips should help you along your way.
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Horizon Forbidden West is a stunning adventure, but it takes place in a world filled with danger. Whether you’re playing on easier modes or going for a challenge on hard, there are plenty of obstacles you’ll face along the way. The game’s upgrade system doesn’t help matters – it’s fairly complex, and requires you to understand multiple mechanics to improve a whole plethora of weapons.

If you’re looking to start the game with your best foot forward, you may need some (spoiler-free) tips to help you streamline your journey. Here’s everything you should know about Horizon Forbidden West as you begin your quest.

Collect everything you see, regardless of inventory limits

Horizon Forbidden West does not have a hard inventory limit. While Aloy can only carry a certain amount of items, anything extra is sent to a Stash that can be found in every major town and city Aloy journeys to. It means you can essentially grab everything you see – and you should. Resources like Medicinal Berries and twigs are essential to keeping Aloy healthy, and for keeping her arrows stocked.

As long as you pick up items as you encounter them, you should never run out of useful items. That said, you don’t have to go out of your way to forage for goods. Chests litter the world of Horizon Forbidden West, and they typically contain all the resources you need to survive.

Either way, you’ll never run out of space – so collect as much as you like. When stock gets low, visit your nearest Stash, and you can instantly replenish your inventory with necessary goods.

Never sell Greenshine Fragments or Slivers

horizon forbidden west greenshine
Screenshot: GamesHub

In your quest, you may come across green, glowing patches on the earth. Searching these spots will usually reveal a Greenshine Fragment or Greenshine Sliver – both of which are essential items. Do not sell these, even if you need the shards to buy upgrades. They’re fairly rare, and you’ll only find a handful in regular gameplay unless you take on specific quests or go searching off the beaten path.

When you find them, cherish them. They can be used to upgrade outfits and weapons, and are the most common rare ingredient needed for levelling up.

If you really need shards, sell everything from your ‘valuables to sell’ stash. These are largely useless items that can be sold for a great deal in shops.

Constantly check for upgrades to your gear

horizon forbidden west
Screenshot: GamesHub

Horizon Forbidden West will only rarely tell you when you can upgrade your weapons and outfits, meaning you’ll need to be vigilant about checking for yourself. Along your journey, you’ll usually pick up essential upgrade items – and if you’re not tracking what you have, you may end up being eligible for a major upgrade without knowing it.

Upgrading your outfits and weapons will give you more health, greater resistance, and more damaging attacks, which makes taking down machines much easier.

To track your upgrades, visit your nearest town and access its Workbench. Here, you’ll get alerts for what items can be upgraded, or create ‘Jobs’ to find the items you need. As you get towards the harder parts of the game, these upgrades will serve you well in battle.

As you travel, you should also check your stock of Coils. These items can enhance your weapons, with rarer Coils lending additional damage and effects to weapons. They can be applied via your Inventory, and don’t require a Workbench.

In your journey, every upgrade is a worthy one, but focus on upgrading your Medicine Pouch first. This will allow you to collect more health potions – and might just save your life in a pinch.

It’s okay to play Horizon Forbidden West on easy

horizon forbidden west tips
Screenshot: GamesHub

As a reminder, it’s always okay to play games on easy. While there’s a ‘hardcore’ sect of players that insist games should be punishing, and that players need to ‘earn’ victory, if you’re not having fun, there’s no point in playing at all.

The battles in Horizon Forbidden West can be very difficult, particularly because some boss fights go on for a long while and require plenty of well-timed dodging-and-rolling. If you find the fights are getting too much, just lower the difficulty. It’s easy to do, and it’ll make the whole experience more satisfying.

Don’t let anyone tell you what you can or can’t do in a game. Life is short; play on easy and feel no shame for it.

Focus on the Warrior and Survivor skill trees

Aloy’s Warrior and Survivor skill trees allow her to increase the damage of her attacks, and her health bar, respectively. Other skill trees focus on improving Trap abilities and Machine takeovers, but these aren’t critical to Aloy’s overall survival – so you’ll want to leave them in the background at first.

Instead of making a ‘balanced’ skillset, it’s best to spend skill points on the first few branches of Warrior and Survivor as soon as you can, which will unlock new abilities, greater damage, and better health potions that’ll aid you in those tougher battles.

Once you’ve secured these skills and gained at least one Valor Surge ability – a special move that grants a unique boost – then you can focus on the machine and trap-based skill trees (although you can also get away with avoiding them entirely).

In battle, focus on one piece of armour at a time

aloy skill tree
Screenshot: GamesHub

When facing down major enemies, the best tactic is to shoot their armour off, one piece at a time. Most machines have sturdy armour, meaning you’ll need to hit it multiple times – but if you lose focus and attempt to attack other parts of the machine, you’ll miss out on greater damage bonuses.

While it’s hard to maintain your aim and hit the same parts again and again, you’ll need to keep this up to knock off large health portions at once. For every piece of important armour hit, you’ll get a damage bonus, and an even larger one when you knock a whole piece off.

To see which armour is the most important, hold your Focus over a machine, and you’ll see a number of parts highlighted. Train your arrows on these, and you’ll find it’s much easier to damage and cripple your opponent.

When in doubt, listen to Aloy

There will be certain moments in Horizon Forbidden West where you lose your way. Sometimes, hand grips aren’t obvious, and areas will be maze-like or confusing. In these moments, the best thing to do is stay patient and listen to Aloy.

If the game detects that you’ve spent a while in one location and seem stuck, it’ll usually have Aloy give a helpful prompt – along the lines of ‘Hey, there’s a grip up here’ / ‘I haven’t checked this area yet’ / ‘I should stand back and have another look’.

These prompts don’t tell you exactly what to do, but they do provide very meaningful hints that’ll help set you on the right path. Even when quests are vague, there’s always a solution on the tip of Aloy’s tongue. Her advice will get you through the trickier parts of the game, and steer you on a course to victory.

Horizon Forbidden West launches for PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5 on 18 February 2022.

Leah J. Williams is a gaming and entertainment journalist who's spent years writing about the games industry, her love for The Sims 2 on Nintendo DS and every piece of weird history she knows. You can find her tweeting @legenette most days.