There isn’t much depth to the weapons in Horizon Zero Dawn, but the variety of weapons allows for vastly different tactics when taken on enemies. One of the first things I can recommend is skipping the rare blue weapons and saving for the more expensive purple very rare weapons. I’m going to give you my favorite loadout for any situation when playing Horizon Zero Dawn.
Save Your Metal Shards and Collect Everything
If you keep your metal shards and hunt the right machines, you will be able to afford the very rare items once you reach vendors that sell them. The bow you start with is good enough to take on most of the machines until you reach Meridian. I still recommend buying a green Ropecaster and a green Tripcaster to help manage your earlier encounters with machines.
Shadow Hunter Bow
Once you have the shards available to buy a Shadow Hunter Bow, that should be your first purchase from the very rare purple items. This is going to be your primary weapon and has three arrow types in its arsenal. You will have Hunter arrows, good for hunting wildlife and taking down weaker enemies, Hardpoint arrows, useful for stronger enemies and knocking off machine parts, and Fire arrows that burn machines which have a weakness to fire.
The bow has three mod slots, and I recommend a damage increase, handling increase, and a fire damage increase. Once you have the Tinker skill, you will be able to change out mods without losing them. You can do two damage increase mods if they have a secondary attribute boosting fire damage, but I would keep one handling mod since it increases Aloy’s fire rate.
Shadow War Bow
The second weapon to buy is the Shadow War Bow which is perfect for elemental attacks on machines. Since your Shadow Hunter Bow has fire damage covered, the Shadow War Bow focuses on frost, shock, and corruption damage. I prefer the Shadow Hunter War Bow over relying on the Tripcaster, Ropecaster, or setting traps to deal elemental damage to machines. The War Bow gives you more mobility allowing you more opportunities to strike instead of trying to bait enemies into your traps. Once I had the War Bow, I was able to switch back and forth from my Shadow Hunter Bow to my Shadow War Bow on the fly depending on what type of damage I needed to do.
I suggest modifying the Shadow War Bow with elemental boosts for more damage over time. You can increase the handling if you want, but once you’ve put the machine in an elemental stun, switch back to your Hardpoint arrows fired by your Shadow Hunter Bow is the better way.
Shadow Sharpshot Bow
The third weapon I recommend purchasing is the Shadow Sharpshot Bow for clearing Bandit camps and sniping human enemies. You can use the Sharpshot on Machines, but I generally found myself engaging machines in close to medium range combat where the Sharpshot is useless. Where the Shadow Sharpshot Bow shines is when clearing out the Bandits one by one without triggering an alarm. Once you have marked all the enemies with Aloy’s Focus, you should be able to pick off each enemy with being alerted if you do it right. I suggest starting with enemies in the sniper towers and working your way down from there. Remember, enemies with skulls over their heads are not one shot kills, so make sure you finish them off before they alert the camp.
I suggest increasing the damage and handling of the Sharpshot Bow but don’t use your best mods on it since this weapon is the least used in this recommended loadout.
What you have in your fourth weapon slot is up to you, I usually care the Shadow Sling but rarely use it. The Shadow Rattler sounds cool on paper, but I found it to be ineffective. The three bow set up really is ideal for any situation, and you still have traps as part of your arsenal. I’ll list out the remaining weapons and what you need to buy each, but it’s up to you what order to buy them in. You can test them out and may even like them more, but in my opinion, you can win any battle with any combination of the three Shadow Bows.
So, what do you think of those weapons? Have your own suggestion? Feel free to comment below!