In Horizon Zero Dawn, there is a skill tree system which expands with each level you gain. After concluding the prologue and learning a few basic combat moves, you’ll be ready to start leveling your skill tree and purchasing the best gear for Aloy to rock. Many players often have a hard time deciding which skills they should put their points in first, as leveling the wrong skills can have a negative impact later into the game. The easiest way to obtain skill points is by completing sidequests and leveling up.
There are three skill-trees and four tiers to each tree—called Prowler, Brave and Forger. Prowler contains stealth-based skills, Brave contains combat advancement skills and Forger contains passive health and support skills. The skills within the first tier only cost 1 skill point, while the other tiers gradually increase the cost of skill points required to unlock them as you go down the list. Whether or not you enjoy using stealth mechanics or going all-out with weapons, the skills listed in this guide will help assist both playstyles. We will tell you about the best skills you can obtain early into your journey based off of our hands-on experience with the game.
Silent Strike: Press R1 to perform a silent takedown on small machines and humans, or deal high damage to medium enemies.
This is the best skill in the entire game and you will be using it very often. It’s also one of the earlier skills you can choose after leveling up for the first time. The Silent Strike skill works great on smaller machines such as a Watcher or Strider, instantly killing them in a single blow while being undetected. All you have to do is wait for the machine to turn around, sneak behind them and press R1 to instantly deal a Silent Strike attack. This skill is also effective on bandits but may not work as great on large machines, since they have an increased amount of health. Later in the game, you can pick up the Strong Strike and Strong Strike+ Skills, which increase the amount of damage dealt from Strike attacks. This will help you one-shot some of the larger machines, which you also encounter late into the game.
Low Profile: Further reduces your visibility to enemies when crouching.
The world of Horizon: Zero Dawn isn’t always going to contain large patches of grass for you to hide in. That’s where the Low Profile skill comes handy. When raiding bandit camps, you will usually have to make your way across a small village populated with tough enemies and little space to hide. By obtaining this skill, you will decrease the amount of time it takes for these bandits to notice you in their presence. This usefulness of this skill can also be applied towards other objectives, such as traversing through Cauldrons which contain a large number of machines in a compact area.
Dodge Prowess: Hold circle for a long dodge roll, or tap circle for a short dodge roll.
This is one of the most important skills to obtain because you’re constantly fighting machines and dodging is key to winning each and every fight. By having a longer dodge animation, you will be able to successfully avoid being hit by wide attacks from deadly machines. This is especially useful once you’re 12 to 14 hours into the game, as you’ll be hunted by Ravager’s that sport a dangerous beam attack which requires Aloy to constantly dodge. To add on to this, once you’re 18 to 20 hours into Horizon, you will face off against Rockbreaker’s whom are absolutely enormous. This skill is practically a requirement if you want to ease towards victory against them.
Concentration: While aiming toggle with R3 to slow down time.
Similarly to the Silent Strike skill from the Prowler skill tree, the Concentration skill is also one of the most useful skills in the entire game. Each machine has various components attached to their armor, which can be removed after receiving damage from a high amount of bow and arrow attacks. Since most of these machines are constantly dodging your arrows at great velocity, the Concentration skill will help you slow down time and aim your arrows at their components. You can also use this skill with other weapons such as the Ropecaster or Slingshot, both of which are convenient for taking down specific machines.
Precision / Precision+: Light spear attacks have an increased chance to knock off armor and components.
While fighting machines, you will be using the Hunter Bow for ranged damage and the Spear for melee damage. By obtaining the Precision skill, your light spear attacks will help you take down machines rather quickly by knocking off vital components. This is a great skill to obtain early into the game if you enjoy the melee combat and want to rapidly finish your battles, so you can move along with the questline. Precision can be upgraded into Precision+, which deals even greater light spear damage. The real reason you should get this skill is to unlock the Knock Down skill, which we will explain further in this guide.
Critical Hit: Press R1 for a high damage attack on downed enemies.
Upon dealing a constant amount of hard damage to a machine, it will be temporarily knocked out and allow you to attack its components without worrying about being hit back. If you have the Critical Hit skill, you can instead walk up to the machine and press R1 to perform a critical strike on their body, resulting in the machine losing a great amount of health. On most machines, this skill can easily deplete half of their health bar. The Critical Hit skill is best used in conjunction with the Knock Down skill detailed below.
Knock Down: Heavy spear attacks will knock down machines faster.
The Knock Down skill will thoroughly increase the chance of your heavy spear attack, temporarily downing a machine. Every other heavy attack on a single machine will knock it down, granted it is not a Thunderjaw or another large machine. This attack is most effective on Watchers, Striders, Ravagers and Sawtooths, but also works on bandits. You can continuously knock down machines and then perform the Critical Hit skill over and over again, making this a very effective combo that will weaken your opponent in no-time.
Lure Call: Use (!) from the tools menu to lure a single enemy to your position. The target will be the closest, most centered in Aloy's view.
If you’re within an area that contains multiple enemies and no way to stealthily walk by them, this skill is exactly what you need. Using Lure Call will make Aloy whistle, which attracts a single nearby machine to walk towards her. It’s best used when laying low inside a patch of grass and then using the Silent Strike skill to instantly take out a machine once they get close. There is no cooldown on the Lure Call skill and you can whistle as many times as necessary. It is possible to clear an entire area with this skill and remain undetected.
Healer: Speeds up healing from the medicine pouch.
This is a basic yet effective skill that will provide itself to be useful during any kind of battle, even if it’s against a machine or bandit. Healer is a passive support skill that will help Aloy recover her health faster over a short period of time by using medicinal herbs or health potions. During your travels, you will come across various plants which can be picked up. Some of these plants are medicinal herbs and gathering enough of them will fill up your medicine pouch, which is shown underneath the health bar. The medicinal pouch can be stacked and will constantly heal you until either you are full health or the stack is depleted. Health potions on the other hand can be purchased from merchants, picked up off of bandits or crafted by gathering the proper resources.
Gatherer: Additional natural resources when foraging.
You will spend an ample amount of time picking off plants and gathering the resources they contain. The most common resources you’ll come across include Ridge-Wood and Medicinal Plants. The entire crafting system relies on resource gathering and the Gatherer skill will help speed up the process, so that you may hastily get back to the objective at hand. This skill will be filling up the storage space in your resources pouch rather quickly, so we recommend crafting an upgrade for a larger pouch or you will easily run out of space.
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