ByMichael Mitchell, writer at
Former Staff Writer for Now Loading. Currently tweeting things here:
Michael Mitchell

The Horizon: Zero Dawn hype train is leaving the station and there's nothing that can slow it down. (Except maybe the and ... but let's forget about those for now.)

For all passengers aboard, there are a lot of things to do in the game, and it might be a bit overwhelming at first. Thankfully, we're here to help break down all of the different quests and objectives. Need to know if chasing down that Longneck is worth your time? How about choosing between a bandit camp and a corrupted zone? Fear not, for we have you covered!

Main Quests

  • Difficulty: It doesn't matter, you gotta do 'em if you wanna beat the game!
  • Rewards: Sense of closure. Oh, and a new, more difficult mode called "Zero Dawn."
  • Time: Reportedly 20 hours bare minimum if you ignore everything else on this list.

Really, there's not a whole lot to say here. Unless you bought the game with the express purpose of not playing the main story, you're going to complete these. And if you did do that, uh, congrats? That's odd and I've never heard of it, but kudos for being your own person!

Side Quests And Weapon Tutorials

  • Difficulty: Side quests' difficulty varies, tutorials are very easy.
  • Rewards: Decent XP, resource boxes, occasional skill points, and four tactical benefits from side quests. Small XP from weapon tutorials.
  • Time: Medium to long for side quests, short to medium for tutorials.

Side quests not only help expand the world Aloy lives in and all of its people, they're also typically good ways to gain a variety of resources you need. While you don't technically need to do them, it's probably not a bad idea to at least do some as they appear. Unless you're a completionist, doing all of them will take a lot of time (adding potentially 20+ hours to your game time), but even doing half will net you some nice rewards and plenty of lore.

The tutorials, however, aren't all that exciting. In fact, they're probably exactly as exciting as you'd expect from anything labeled "tutorial." If you really want to learn how to use a weapon, go ahead and do them — but given how much you'll be using them during normal gameplay, you can probably skip these.

Errands And Bandit Camps

  • Difficulty: Easy for errands, variable difficulty for bandit camps — however, the game will tell you how difficult you should expect an individual camp to be before charging in.
  • Rewards: Mostly small amounts of XP for errands. Merchants, fast travel, bonfires, and catharsis for bandit camps.
  • Time: Medium to long for both.

Errands are to side quests what side quests are to main quests. In other words, they're a step even lower than side quests in terms of actual information and lore-building. They exist as motivation for seeing the world's nooks and crannies and for bringing everything more to life. Doing a few here and there isn't bad, and they may be a nice distraction now and again, but they're not vitally important.

Bandit camps, meanwhile, allow you to add a fast-travel location to your map as well as unlock merchants and bonfires. Plus, you get to kill a lot of bad guys in whichever way you see fit (not unlike , if I do say so myself). You'll never go into one not knowing if it's too tough for you, either, which makes clearing these places out well worth your time.

Cauldrons And Tallnecks

Via YouTube
Via YouTube
  • Difficulty: Easy to medium, and medium.
  • Rewards: Learning how to override new enemies via cauldrons, more information on your map from Tallnecks.
  • Time: Short to medium for both.

There are four cauldrons — insert dramatic Professor Kukui motion — in the game, and they pretty much serve one purpose: learning how to override new creatures. You know those mechanical things that are basically everywhere? You can override them to make them aid you or to make fighting them easier. If that sounds like the approach you like to take to Horizon, these are perfect for you! If not, they don't really offer any other incentives for you to complete them.

If you've seen any of the promotional material for Horizon: Zero Dawn, you probably know what I'm talking about when it comes to Tallnecks. They're the ones that look like long-neck dinosaurs... but with a flat disc for a head. Tallnecks aren't typically too tough to tackle, and defeating them reveals plenty of areas on your map — both good and bad areas.

Hunting Grounds And Corrupted Zones

Via GameSpot
Via GameSpot
  • Difficulty: Very Difficult
  • Rewards: Weapons and tactical expertise from hunting grounds, decent XP and rewards from corrupted zones.
  • Time: Long to very long for a good hunting-ground time. Long for corrupted zones.

Hunting Grounds are a bit opposite of the of Tallnecks. They're time trials that take a lot longer to beat than you'd ever expect and only unlock weapons that are on-par or slightly better than weapons you can get elsewhere. For those who love a challenge? Go for it. Everyone else, maybe give one a try to see if it's your thing and then save the rest for later.

Corrupted zones are similarly very difficult challenges located throughout the game. You'll have to do two of these while completing the main story, but you have the option of doing nine additional ones. In terms of value for your time, the rewards are admittedly very good — but just know you're going to be in for a heck of a fight when you approach these.

For more Horizon: Zero Dawn guides and helpful hints, be sure to check out our guides on the best weapons, all the rare loot, and, of course, a fashion-tastic guide to the game's outfits.

Which of these do you consider worth doing in Horizon: Zero Dawn?


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