The machines of Horizon Zero Dawn are majestic and dangerous mechanized creatures that you’ll constantly tangle with throughout Aloy’s world. Often separated into small groups that roam across the landscape guarded by aggressive protectors like the Sawtooth or Ravager, these mechanical marvels are the single most valuable resource available to the humans who inhabit Earth thousands of years following the destruction of ancient civilization by an unknown enemy. Every machine is dangerous in its own way, often requiring a group of skill hunters or one of Horizon’s many armies to bring down. As Aloy, you have the opportunity to hunt and best just about every machine roaming the wilderness with your bow and arrow, but as you might expect, some hunts are more rewarding than others.
Here are some of our favorite machines from Horizon Zero Dawn, and how you can best handle them in combat.
Chargers closely resemble a cattle-like grazing creature from the old world, and these somewhat passive beasts are one of the only three machines you’ll be able to tame and use as a mount in the game. A single Charger can deal with an entire group of small enemies by itself or it can serve as a formidable partner in combat against a larger machine (provided you keep the enemy’s attention on you). These machines are one of the smaller variants you can override, but with a powerful rear kick and a charge attack using their horns, they can pack quite a punch. Sure, Chargers are relatively easy to bring down, but they’re a valuable buddy to have.
Tramplers, as the name suggests, are Horizon Zero Dawn’s equivalent to a gigantic, hundred-ton bull. They’re dangerous creatures that will aggressively rush you (and anyone else in the area) with a series of charge attacks before spitting gas around them, igniting the gas to cover an entire area in fire. Combine this with their ability to send fiery shockwaves in any direction from a distance, and you have a combat formula which can be quite challenging to get around without sneaking up and overriding them. Freeze and Tear weaponry are perfect for taking them down, but Chargers are always worth having on your side in combat — just be careful making your approach.
The Snapmaw is a relatively relaxed machined that’s usually found collecting minerals from the sediment near bodies of water or solar enemy using the panels on its back. It’s essentially a much larger mechanical crocodile capable of spitting super-cooled liquid that can instantly freeze enemies, allowing them to move in for the kill. Often, Snapmaws operate in small groups and are extremely fast swimmers, able to catch you while in the water with ease. Despite being dangerous at a distance, they can be easily abused with fire weaponry; hitting the cyro sac located underneath their jaw will also disable their mortar. Getting in close enough can prove to be a bit of a challenge, though.
Built from the ground up to closely resemble apex predators like a tiger, the Ravagers are a militarized machine designed for the sole purpose of combat against hostile targets. They’re armed with a shoulder-mounted cannon which causes devastating amounts of damage from longer range, and they’re hard to track in combat due to their speed, making both Shock tripwires and Freeze bombs the best weapons to use against them. Always try to remove their shoulder-mounted cannon first with a well-placed arrow, which works wonders when used to tear through their plated armor.
Stalkers, one of the only stealth-focused machines you’ll encounter throughout Horizon Zero Dawn, are modeled after panthers and are often found scattered about the jungles in the lower reaches of the game. While Stalkers usually hunt alone, you’ll find them in packs in their natural habitats, meaning that you should always be prepared to fight more than one in open combat. Thanks to their optical camouflage, you should be on the lookout for their eyes hiding among the brush or the red glowing mines they used to let them know about incoming prey. Just remember to aim for the stealth generator near the front legs; otherwise, you won’t see them coming in close quarters combat.
The biggest aerial threat you’ll go up against in the game, Stormbirds are highly mobile flying creatures armed to the teeth with shock-based weaponry that rains damage from above. Complete with a set of claws, wings, and beak, these mechanical birds of prey hunt alone in wide-open areas of the map where they can keep an eye on their enemies. Even though they excel in the air where they can use the Lightning Gun stored in their chest to annihilate enemies, they are just as formidable on the ground, capable of using its tail and beak to punish anyone who gets too close in combat. The key when dealing with a Stormbird is to whittle away at its wings to disable its ability to fly, followed by the weapon implanted in its chest so you can close the distance.
The Thunderjaw is by far the most dangerous machine in the entirely of Horizon Zero Dawn. It’s a massive, bipedal machine that bears the likeness of a militarized Tyrannosaurus Rex with a bulky body, large legs, and a huge tail to maintain its balance while moving. Unlike many of the machines on this list, the Thunderjaw is a mobile weapons platform armed with energy-based weaponry and ballistic launchers it uses to pulverize anything stupid enough to go up against it one-to-one.
When dealing with a Thunderjaw, you must systematically take advantage of every weakness it has while dodging the myriad of attacks it uses. First, target the disc launchers above its legs, and use those to rip into the hard armor coating its body. Then, work on the exposed legs, body, and other circuitry with fire weapons to bring it down slowly. Don’t forget to knock out the heavy cannons and radar mounted along its head and neck too, which will make you harder to detect at a range when you need to back off and heal.
Photos via Nicholas Bashore