Horizon Forbidden West: Tips and tricks for beginners

Horizon Forbidden West Chainscrape
Horizon Forbidden West Chainscrape (Image credit: Android Central)

Horizon Forbidden West is finally here. Guerrilla Games' latest adventure sees Aloy exploring a whole new region of the former United States as she seeks to stop a mysterious blight. There's wonder and beauty around every corner, but also danger. Aloy isn't on vacation, she's facing new challenges greater than anything before. As such, we've compiled a list of tips and tricks that'll help beginners out in Horizon Forbidden West. Don't worry, we haven't included any story spoilers or things that will tarnish your experience. Instead, this is just meant to make sure you get off on the right foot.

Stay on the main path for a bit

Source: Android Central (Image credit: Source: Android Central)

While it's tempting to start exploring the wide world of Horizon Forbidden West immediately, this isn't actually a good idea. Large amounts of side activities and side quests are locked off until you acquire a couple of pieces of equipment through the main game. Specifically, you'll want to have the Igniter, Diving Mask, and Vine Cutter upgrades.

These three pieces of equipment will allow you to open up Firegleam, open Metal Flowers, and go underwater indefinitely. Without them, you'll have a tough time doing much of the side content in Horizon Forbidden West, as surprisingly-massive chunks of the game's open world require one, two or even all three of these upgrades in order to progress. You'll unlock all three of these naturally as you play through the main quests, so just stick with it until you unlock them and you'll be good to go.

Valor Surges are new and critical

Source: Android Central (Image credit: Source: Android Central)

The skill trees in Horizon Forbidden West are vastly improved over prior skill trees that were present in Horizon Zero Dawn. There are separate trees that allow you to invest in skills like the ability to buff overriding machines or enhance your melee combat. No matter what trees you invest in, it's absolutely critical to use and upgrade the various Valor Surges.

These are a new feature in Horizon Forbidden West that give you a huge buff in combat, from boosting your melee damage to activating a protective shield. If you don't use Valor Surges, many fights are going to be challenging, even if you're playing on normal with great equipment.

You can only have one Valor Surge equipped at a time, so experiment with different types as you unlock them. In order to use Valor Surges, you'll build up your purple Valor Meter as you play by pulling off different combos, removing components, and hitting critical weak points.

Booby-trap your way to victory

Source: Android Central (Image credit: Source: Android Central)

Traps in Horizon Forbidden West can be devastating. If you know you're going to be fighting a group of machines or even just one large one, putting down a trap or three can be the difference between victory and defeat. Larger machines like the Tideripper or Thunderjaw have a massive array of weapons and a huge amount of health, so speeding things along by crafting and placing some traps is a sure success. However, to make the most of the traps, you'll have to make sure you know a machine's weaknesses...

Use the machine glossary

Source: Android Central (Image credit: Source: Android Central)

There's a long list of machines in Horizon Forbidden West, with most of Horizon Zero Dawn's roster joined by multiple new threats, large and small. It's very easy to get overwhelmed, so if you want to prepare appropriately, you'll need to make sure you're scanning every machine you come across. Scanning a machine adds it to the catalogue in your Notebook.

After that, not only can you check a machine's strengths and weaknesses, but you can also find the exact percentage chance of getting a particular machine part depending on the components you break or don't break. This not only improves your chances of survival against particularly brutal machines, but is vital for knowing where to hit in order to get upgrade parts.

Eat food

Source: Android Central (Image credit: Source: Android Central)

Another new mechanic in Horizon Forbidden West is the ability to stock up on food. Aloy can now buy meals from special merchants across the world, ranging from simple meals that only cost a few shards to special gourmet dishes prepared with rare ingredients. Meals increase your health and stamina, and depending on the kind of meal, add other beneficial effects.

Generally, the higher-quality meals will take longer to save up for, as you'll have to hunt down special meat and gather plants for the chefs to cook with, but it'll be worth it. You can store a certain number of meals, which like your ammo, potions, and traps, can be increased by upgrading your pouches. These meals are another huge factor that can turn the tide in difficult fights, making you deal extra damage or just having more health to soak up blows from dangerous machines. As such, whenever you're in a town, stop by a cook and buy a meal or three. Even if you don't need it right now, that could change in the future.

Have fun!

Source: Android Central (Image credit: Source: Android Central)

The most important thing to do in Horizon Forbidden West is to have fun! Guerrilla Games' latest is one of the best PS5 games, with a bigger world to explore, more machines to hunt, and an even more sprawling story. We're sure it's only going to get better over time with more patches and even possible future DLC.

In our review, Android Central games editor Jennifer Locke wrote that "Anybody who was a fan of Horizon Zero Dawn owes it to themselves to play Forbidden West. And for those that haven't played its predecessor yet, Forbidden West stands on its own as an outstanding action-RPG that players will be talking about for years to come."

Samuel Tolbert

Samuel Tolbert is a freelance writer covering gaming news, previews, reviews, interviews and different aspects of the gaming industry, specifically focusing on PlayStation on Android Central. You can find him on Twitter @SamuelTolbert