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

Like any other game with RPG elements, earning XP quickly to reach the maximum level is one of the key aspects of Horizon Zero Dawn. It allows Aloy, the game's protagonist, to become more powerful, gaining more health, strength and skills to help her in increasingly difficult battles.

See also:

The max level in is capped at 50, although that may change with future DLC updates.

How To Earn Experience Fast And Reach Max Level in 'Horizon Zero Dawn'

As we're used to from RPGs and open world games, there are a lot of different ways to gain XP like killing enemies, completing quests and training yourself in the game's different weapons. Some ways are faster than others. Let's break them down for you and show you the most efficient ways to level up in Horizon Zero Dawn.

1. Learn To Use All Weapons With The Tutorial Quests

[Credit: Guerilla Games]
[Credit: Guerilla Games]

One of the first things you should do is to complete Horizon Zero Dawn's tutorial quests. When you get your hands on a new weapon type you'll unlock a new tutorial quest for that specific item type.

These are all the weapons in the game with a related tutorial quest:

  • Sling
  • Ropecaster
  • Hunter Bow
  • Tripcaster
  • War Bow
  • Sharpshot
  • Rattler
  • Blast Sling
  • Tearblaster

These quests are optional, but aside from teaching you how to efficiently use the weapon, which will boost your leveling speed by itself, the quests also reward players with a good amount of XP. They're definitely worth doing, especially if it's your first play-through. You will need to activate the quests in your Journal in order to initiate them.

  • TL;DR: There's a tutorial for every type of weapon in the game. Do them, they grant experience.

2. Time And Strategize The Completion Of Main And Side Quests

[Credit: Guerilla Games]
[Credit: Guerilla Games]

This is the main way to level up in Horizon Zero Dawn. Completing quests, whether they're a part of the main story or a side mission, reward you a hefty amount of experience.

The main quests are especially lucrative, but don't rush through them too fast. Unless you want to backtrack and complete side quests you've outleveled. Keep a track of your journal and all available quests; if locations correspond between main and side quests be sure to complete them together before you turn them in.

And keep an eye out for the Errand-missions since these are super simple and give a nice experience boost.

  • TL;DR: The quests of the game, especially the ones in the main quest lines, are hands down the fastest way to level. Be sure to coordinate all the quests in your journal. Erran-missions are great.

3. Clean Out Corrupted Zones And Bandit Camps

[Credit: Guerilla Games]
[Credit: Guerilla Games]

When travelling around the world in Horizon Zero Dawn, you'll come across two special kinds of areas that can reward a lot of experience if dealt with correctly. The areas, Bandit Camps and Corrupted Zones, are filled with hostiles that need to be eliminated if you want to cash in the clearance experience bonus.

The areas show up on your minimap, where you can check the level of the specific zone or camp you encounter. Be sure you're high enough level to handle the enemies in the area, as spending a lot of time clearing the area because you're underleveled will net you a poor experience output.

  • TL;DR: Clearing out Bandit Camps and Corrupted Zones gives a big XP reward on top of what you get from defeating all the enemies there. It's worth it.

4. Add Finesse And Skill To You Killing Methods

[Credit: Guerilla Games]
[Credit: Guerilla Games]

Enemies in Horizon Zero Dawn do not reward a set amount of experience. Exactly how much a kill will net you depends on the way you dealt with the threat.

Taking down enemies with headshots, removing their armor through special ammunition or freezing them to death with your weapon modifications all result in a nice little XP boost.

So be sure to train your skills in stylish killing, master the opportunities given by Concentration's slow-motion, and try to sneak up on your enemies to do silent, precision and critical strikes as often as possible without wasting any time.

  • TL;DR: A kill isn't just a kill. The more experimental you are in your killing methods, the more XP the kill will reward. Get the Concentration skill as fast as possible.

5. Speed It All Up Using The Best Weapons Available

[Credit: Guerilla Games]
[Credit: Guerilla Games]

Always make sure to have the best weaponry for your level in your inventory. To cause as much damage as possible and make it easier taking down tougher, more experience-heavy enemies consistently.

It might not feel like a big difference when you go from fight to fight, but over a couple of hours you can speed up the process of killing enemies in droves quite a lot by having a weapon equipped that deals just 10 to 15 percent more damage.

Oh, and make sure to have the right arsenal of weapons stocked at all times as well. You need to have that ropecaster and blast sling when it's needed so you don't have to go back and find it.

  • TL;DR: Make sure to upgrade your weapons so you do as much damage as possible at all times.

6. Use The Fast Travel Excessively

[Credit: Guerilla Games]
[Credit: Guerilla Games]

A good way to speed up your leveling in general is to get access to fast travel as quickly as possible. In Horizon Zero Dawn, fast travel becomes an option as soon as you reach Meridian where a vendor sells the Golden Fast Travel pack.

Next to the Special Vendor who sells “Vessels” you’ll find a merchant with a couple of Resources and Weapons. If you browse to the Resource Tab, you’ll find a Golden Fast Travel Pack; an item that allows Aloy to travel between previously discovered campfires and settlements without limits.

Which is of course a lot faster than riding your robot ox-creature all the way. Get this item asap if you want to reach the level cap quickly.

  • TL;DR: Reaching max level isn't about raw XP numbers only. Getting from A to B as fast as possible is sure to speed up the process as well.

7. Prove Your Skills In The Hunting Grounds

[Credit: Guerilla Games]
[Credit: Guerilla Games]

The Hunting Grounds isn't just a place to prove your exceptional hunting skills. Solving the puzzles and taking down the enemies you face in the right way will net you a nice experience boost that is definitely worth it as long as you don't spend to much down completing the task.

Therefore, Hunting Grounds aren't recommended as an effective leveling method if you're a new player. But if you're already familiar with all the aspects of being an effective machine-killer in this post-apocalyptic world, get to the Hunting Grounds and prove yourself.

  • TL;DR: Hunting Grounds are good for experience, but can be difficult to complete. Only enter them if you're sure yoube able to handle the task.

Other Ways To Be Efficient

We're sure there a plenty of other, undiscovered ways to speed up the leveling experience in Horizon Zero Dawn. We hope you found these five tips helpful, and if you have anything to add on leveling up in the game, let us know in the comments!

What is your secret to grinding experience in Horizon Zero Dawn?


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