BySimon Rune Knudsen, writer at
A tryhard person enthusiastic about dad rock and weird beers.
Simon Rune Knudsen

The post-apocalyptic world of Horizon Zero Dawn is full of interesting machinery and advanced technology. Aloy can harness rare loot and resources she finds to craft powerful weapons, upgrades and mods that'll help you take on the robotic beasts of the game.

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But there are so many weapons and possibilities for upgrades when it comes to skills and gear-mods, it can be difficult to know where you should be focusing.

Best Weapons & Upgrades In 'Horizon Zero Dawn'

[Credit: Guerilla Games / Sony Entertainment]
[Credit: Guerilla Games / Sony Entertainment]

You don't want to spend too much time fussing around in your inventory—not when the game's huge world is this beautiful to look at. This will show you how to secure the best weapons in the game and the most efficient way to upgrade your arsenal.

Below you'll find out how to get the materials for purchasing the rarest weapons and upgrades in Horizon Zero Dawn.

A Guide To Getting The Best Weapons In 'Horizon Zero Dawn'

[Credit: Guerilla Games / Sony Entertainment]
[Credit: Guerilla Games / Sony Entertainment]

Like all items in Horizon Zero Dawn, weapons are color-coded to show their rarity. You'll begin the game with green, uncommon weapons and will eventually end up accessing purple ones of better quality, which are much rarer.

Purple weapons can be bought from Hunting Goods vendors once you reach Meridian in the game. You don’t have to worry about shopping around for the best deal; all gear in the game is sold at the same price, no matter which merchant you approach.

Here are the best, rarest weapons in Horizon Zero Dawn, listed from the cheapest to the most expensive.

Shadow Ropecaster

  • Type: A weapon that fires ropes to damage and immobilize enemies
  • Cost: 500 Metal Shards and 1 Snapmaw Heart
  • How does it work: Immobilize larger enemies with the ropecaster and continue whacking them with your other, more damaging weapons while they're tied down

Metal Shards are scavenged from defeating Machine enemies in Horizon Zero Dawn, and at some point you'll end up with a lot of them. The Snapmaw Heart is, like other Machine hearts, a random drop from the corresponding machine. In this case a Snapmaw, a big crocodile-like creature.

Shadow Sling

  • Type: Slings are the grenade launchers of the game. Slow rate of fire but high damage and large area of effect
  • Cost: 650 Metal Shards and 1 Crystal Braiding
  • How does it work: Slings bombs causing elemental damage (Freeze, Shock or Fire) based on the loaded ammunition

Crystal Braiding is dropped by some of the bigger Machines in the game like Rockbreakers, Behemoths, Stormbirds, Thunderjaws, or Deathbringers.

[Credit: Guerilla Games / Sony Entertainment]
[Credit: Guerilla Games / Sony Entertainment]

Shadow Hunter Bow

  • Type: A standard and very efficient bow
  • Cost: 650 Metal Shards and 1 Watcher Heart
  • How does it work: It's a standard bow that can fire Hunter, Hardpoint and Fire Arrows

This is the best basic bow in the game, and there isn't much to say about it. Its effectiveness speaks for itself. It's easy to get, since Watchers are everywhere, so it should be no problem getting a hold of one of their hearts.

Shadow Tripcaster

  • Type: The trap thrower of a sort. High risk, high reward weapon that requires some planning
  • Cost: 750 Metal Shards and 1 Scrapper Heart
  • How does it work: The Tripcasters are able to lay out traps, and this one can fire Shock, Explosive, and Fire Traps. Lead your enemies into the traps and watch the world burn

Scrappers are pretty easy prey so a heart isn't hard to come by. The Shadow Tripcaster comes with shock ammunition, which you need to change out if you intend to use the weapon for defeating larger enemies.

[Credit: Guerilla Games / Sony Entertainment]
[Credit: Guerilla Games / Sony Entertainment]

Shadow War Bow

  • Type: A specialized bow loaded with elemental power
  • Cost: 800 Metal Shards and 1 Trampler Heart
  • How does it work: Unlike a standard bow, the Shadow War Bow causes elemental damage only, depending on the ammunition used on mods loaded. It can fire Shock, Freeze, and Corruption Arrows

This bow does low damage, but is very helpful against enemies that are vulnerable to elemental attacks. Tramplers are found in herds, so they can be dangerous, but if you can single one out you'll easily obtain a heart.

Shadow Sharpshot

  • Type: It's like a sniper rifle. Slow rate of fire, high damage and high accuracy at long range
  • Cost: 800 Metal Shards and 1 Sawtooth Heart
  • How does it work: A bow that does heavy damage but has a very slow rate of fire. It's effective if you've unlocked the ability to fire three arrows at once. It's able to fire Hardpoint, Tearblast, and Harvest Arrows

Getting a Sawtooth Heart can be difficult as defeating a Sawtooth is a challenge unless you're well prepared. This particular machine is inspired by saber-toothed cats, it's fast and its only non-protected body part is the belly. Use traps to damage it from the right angle.

[Credit: Guerilla Games / Sony Entertainment]
[Credit: Guerilla Games / Sony Entertainment]

Shadow Rattler

  • Type: The rattler does high damage at close range, but suffers in accuracy as you get further and further away from your enemy. It's like a shotgun basically
  • Cost: 950 Shards, 1 Board Skin, 1 Rabbit Skin and 1 Fox Skin
  • How does it work: A bow that has the ability to unleash rapid fire volleys of standard, Shock, and Freeze rounds.

This weapon is basically the machine gun of Horizon Zero Dawn, and it's pretty hard to obtain simply because skins are rare. Both rabbits and foxes are small and quick, and if you want to get their skins you need to notice them, catch them and kill them.

Shadow Blast Sling

  • Type: Slings are the grenade launchers of the game. Slow rate of fire, but high damage and large area of effect
  • Cost: 1400 Shards and 1 Lancehorn Heart
  • How does it work: Launches bombs that causes high damage and a large area of effects. Be careful not to blast yourself.

This is the most expensive weapon in the game so far and for good reason. It can cause a lot of damage, and is particularly effective when facing multiple enemies at once. Lancehorns roam in packs, so try to lure one of them off or lay traps for defeating more than one at the same time.

3 Tips To Mod Your Weapons In The Most Efficient Way

[Credit: Guerilla Games / Sony Entertainment]
[Credit: Guerilla Games / Sony Entertainment]

Modifications aren’t a rare commodity in Horizon Zero Dawn and you’ll find a lot of them as you progress through the game. The weapon mods turn your different pieces of gear into specialized Machine-destroying tools. If you want to create the most powerful weapons, you have to think deep about which combination of mods to use.

Modifications give Aloy an edge by boosting the stats and damage of your gear. There isn't a mod that's universally better than the others in any situation, but some are safer bets than others.

[Credit: Guerilla Games / Sony Entertainment]
[Credit: Guerilla Games / Sony Entertainment]

Most weapons in Horizon Zero Dawn comes with open slots for mods. The better the weapon, the more slots it's likely to have. Mods can have various bonuses; most have elemental damage bonuses like shock, fire, or tear, while others have standard damage bonuses.

Remember that the Tinker skill allows you to reuse mods from older weapons. Without it, mods are destroyed once they are replaced. Make sure you invest in the Tinker skill early if you plan on doing a lot of weapon customization.

1. Fill Elemental Weapons With Elemental Damage Mods

A good approach for modding weapons in the game is to first figure out what the specific weapon is good at, boosting that strength through mods. Each of your weapons can then become a master of its own class.

You could, for example, create three Shadow War Bows and mod each of them to deal the maximum amount of damage of a particular elemental kind. One could be maxed out on Corruption, one on Shock and one on Freeze. When you encounter an enemy vulnerable to one of these, you'll make extremely short work of them.

  • TL;DR: Stack mods with elemental damage on weapons with elemental damage for a specialized weapon.

2. Use Your Standard Damage Mods Wisely In Your Most Used Weapons

The mods with standard damage bonuses are the rarest, so make sure to spend those wisely. A good move is to stick flat damage boosts on the standard Shadow Hunter Bow, which you'll be using most of the time in the game. It's Aloy's all-purpose Swiss Army Knife, and useful in most combat scenarios.

Once you get your hands on a standard bow with more mod slots, continue to boost that damage with additional mods.

  • TL;DR: Standard damage mods are rare. Only use them on your most precious, well-used weapons.

3. Fire Mods Are Good In General And Pretty Common

[Credit: Guerilla Games / Sony Entertainment]
[Credit: Guerilla Games / Sony Entertainment]

Out of the elemental types of damage, fire is probably your safest bet when it comes to modding. Fire arrows are unlocked early, and supporting their damage through mods is very useful. Most Machines have a weak spot that is vulnerable to fire. It's a good idea to put a fire mod or two into your standard Hunter Bow if you don't have the rarer standard damage bonus mods to fill up the slots.

  • TL;DR: Fire is the most all-around elemental damage mod and therefore the safest bet.

What is your strategy when modding weapons in Horizon Zero Dawn?


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