[ Editor’s Note: This entire guide was written based off playing the game on ‘Hard’ difficulty. ]
The Stormbird is one of the toughest enemies in Horizon Zero Dawn and is ranked in the ZETA Cauldron category. Once you make it past the Daytower, you’ll suddenly come upon a Stormbird spawn site with a nearby campfire. By the time the average player encounters their first Stormbird, they will probably be around Level 16 or so. While the game recommends players to reach Level 27 before attempting to fight the Stormbird and some enemies are best left alone until Aloy becomes stronger, there is always a way to overcome these tough machines with a clear-cut strategy. The Stormbird is no exception.
The first thing you’ll need to do is prepare Aloy for the fight. Talk to the merchant nearby the Greatrun Hunting Grounds and purchase a Shadow Hunters Bow, one of the strongest bows in the game. Next, go ahead and purchase a Carja Ropecaster or Shadow Ropecaster, which will help tie down the oversized Stormbird and help you win the fight. Make sure you are fully stocked on ammo, along with the resources required to instantly craft more ammo. Lastly, stock up on a few Health Potions, Medicinal Herbs and Resist Shock Potions in order to heal during the fight and resist as much shock damage as possible. Save at the closest campfire once you’ve done the above.
Make your way to the Stormbird hovering the skies and wait for it to notice you. The Stormbird has three noticeable attacks—it can dive toward you and deal a great amount of physical damage, use its lightning gun and hit you with shock damage from a great distance and it can also use its whirlwind attack to push you back and deal some damage. The most dangerous component on this machine is the lightning gun, so that means we must destroy that component by any means. The lightning gun component is weak to Tear damage, so it would definitely help if your Hunters Bow is equipped with a +Tear Damage weapon modification.
The strategy to the fight is straightforward but may take some getting used to. Make use of your dodge roll and wait for the Stormbird to charge at you or shoot you with its lighting attack. You can scan and tag the Stormbird during this moment. After a minute of this, the Stormbird will lower its altitude and appear near the ground. At this point, take out your Ropecaster and tie it down with 5 or 6 charges. The ropes may break loose but if you came prepared, there should be no issues with crafting additional ammo in the midst of battle and continuously tying it down. Once the Stormbird is tied down, equip your Shadow Hunters Bow and and start dealing damage to the lightning gun with Hardpoint Arrows.
If you have blast traps, I would suggest putting them down on the nearby ground where the Stormbird is tied up. At some point during your fight, switch it up by equipping Fire Arrows and aiming for the Blaze Canister component. Dealing enough fire damage to that will cause a nearby explosion and the Stormbird will intake a great amount of damage. Once it’s low on health, the Stormbird will start fighting on the ground without the need for a Ropecaster to tie it down.
During this phase, I ran out of items that could replenish my health and ended up kiting the Stormbird to nearby NPC hunters who helped me defeat it. There are a few ways to wrap up the fight and it’s best to adapt your own endgame strategy here. The Stormbird will drop some extravagantly rare loot, such as multiple Fire and Damage weapon modification coils with high-end stats on each coil. Equipping these coils on your Shadow Hunters Bow will help you mow through some of the machines that were once considered a threat. Defeating the Stormbird will not cause it to permanently disappear and it will respawn once you travel back to this area.
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