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Some possible location and combat mechanics spoilers for Horizon Zero Dawn


Played! And boy oh boy oh boy, I gave you a run for your magpie money.


Started out towards the main quest! I did! But, as we talked on, one needs a safe place to camp/save. So I found a bandit camp, cleared it, as one does. That took a while, but now I have a forward outpost in deadly machine territory. Fine.

But then, close, a tallneck!

So I investigated the tallneck cuz tallneck. Which also took a long while cuz I had to avoid snapmaws and glinthawks and died a couple times, but I did it! Huzzah!

But, as you are all too aware, nothing gives fuel to the magpie fire like a tallneck.

Cuz I saw it: I saw a cauldron. There is was, right on the map, beckoning. And it was the one for snapmaws and all sorts of shit. Buuuuuuut…….

It was far away. In the other direction. And on the other side of all sorts of dangerous, deadly shit.

But I could resist! I couldn’t! So last night I said to myself “Self? We [there’s two of me in my head] are getting to that cauldron!” and I set off. I didn’t want to die, so I was sneaky. Boy was I sneaky. I got a long ways towards it. I saw a “machine caravan” which was odd. Where is it going? I asked myself but NO! I would NOT magpie away from what I was magpieing towards! But then, I saw a bunch of Nora’s fighting it and thought “I must HELP them!” so I did and I died, and I had to start ALL OVER. I lost half an hour of game time. HALF AN HOUR!

BUT I TRIED AGAIN! And this time I said “Well, they may be my countrymen, but fuck those Nora,” and sneaked right by them and got to the cauldron. And got in. And fought. And fought. And fought. And killed something truly awful called a ravager (on hard!), and fought, and then I got to this fight that finally beat me down. I was tired. I hit a save point. I’ll deal with it later.


So I’m in the cauldron…rho…with the blaze….done it?

And really, really, really, I miss automatic save points.

But here’s what’s funny: Over an hour of play time last night. Didn’t advance % complete ONE DAMN BIT.


It was a cauldron-y night! I too did cauldron stuff. I was on an important part of the main quest, investigating the woman who looks like me, and on the way I wandered over to check out a blue symbol on the map and it was a cauldron! Then I said, “wait, that’s what that blue symbol means? I have two more of them on the map in other places I haven’t been yet because of the deadly deadly machines!”

So I, like you, set out to get cauldrons. The first one I discovered was rated 20. I was level 28 at the time. Piece of cake, right? So I got in, easy peasy, some stalkers guarding it but after that no real problems, except that the final machine, the one being built inside the force field that you have to defeat once you do the first override and let it out, was the T-rex thingie from the cover, which when I scanned it was rated 27.

So. Game. Let’s chat about difficulty levels! For instance, what are your thought processes when you call something a level 20 adventure and then have it conclude with a level 27 monster? I’m just curious here!

I’m wondering if maybe the machines scale up as you get tougher, independently of the rest of the adventure? Seems like an oversight if so, but…I mean, seriously, how is something with a level-27 machine in it a level-20 quest? Or maybe 20 just means “hard” and 20 is a sort of catch-all for everything that’s difficult? (But no, the fuel cell quest in the ruins is labeled 25.) I dunno.

Anyway, I was then level 28 so in theory I guess I should still have been able to defeat it, but I exhausted all my traps, all my tripwires, all my components for making more traps and tripwires, most of my ropes, and all my healing, and only got it down to half health, so…I left. I’ll go back later. Maybe there’s a trick I haven’t learned for dealing with the T-rex machines. (I killed one of them earlier!–but only by using a cannon, which was not available in the cauldron.)

That was cauldron Zeta, which has the overrides for large machines that I don’t know if you’ve seen yet, so it makes sense it would be hard. I’ll be back.

In the meantime, I hurried off to the closest other one, cauldron Xi, and got through it after some fierce fighting, and now I can override glinthawks and bellowbacks and stalkers. I got one stalker fighting a couple of other stalkers…it was pretty sweet.

Then I hurried off to cauldron Rho, and got inside the door, but haven’t gone any further because it was bedtime. So you’re ahead of me on that! And now I know it has a ravager in it. Hm. Those are nasty. Even at my level and not on hard I find them nasty. I’ll try to be prepared.

You saw a shallwalker convoy! I have seen a number of those. I always leave them alone, because I don’t want to get distracted. They probably have good loot, but…I have other things to magpie! I saw one near a cauldron, though, and wondered if maybe they carry components to cauldrons? Maybe they’re the supply chain for machine creation?


Dude….you’re….just grasping that about the map icons? That the symbols that look JUST like the symbols under “override” on the monster info screen are……oh. Wait. I get it. Cuz it was on an info screen. Check. All so clear to me now.

Oh my. Oh very much my. The COVER MONSTER? Dude, the cover monster is always the big, bad, end of the game monster. Not the “I was doing some random chore” monster. That’s a terrible surprise!

And yeah, 27….that’s a little off. That it is. More on this in a paragraph or two, as I, too, have opinions on this today.

I keep saying I’m going to give up listening to that shit, but I can’t.

Isn’t Zeta, like, Z? Like, the last? Fuck that. I’m nowhere near that.

Stalker override? DUDE! WANT! WANT BADLY!

I killed the ravager on level 19, on hard! Thank you, thank you, your applause is unnecessary. But since we’re on that…

So this cauldron, allegedly, was level 11. ELEVEN! And it wasn’t even guarded by stalkers! Just ordinary wimpy watchers. So I was cool. And I thought the exact wrong thing which was “Oh, snap, 11? Pfft. I’ll be done with this in no time,” when what I should have thought was “this 11 thing is bullshit, wimpy watchers or no, as this was in the middle of glinthawk central and this game LIES.” Too late.

So what happened was that these lies affected gameplay. When I first met the ravager, I, thinking this a level 11 place, did not think “That is new,” I thought “Ah ha, a sawtooth,” as it looks rather like a sawtooth, and things generally look the same when it’s dark and things are moving very quickly and things are trying to kill you. I tried fighting it as if it was a sawtooth, which would have been quite effective had it actually been a sawtooth, but it wasn’t, so I died a lot. It wasn’t for a while that I was sneaky enough to scan it.

So I scanned it, read the info, and saw that it has this icky machine gun attack that is vulnerable to tear. You know I do love me some tearblast arrows, so out those came and, after much running and trapping and tearing, I won. And I focused to find loot, and, what do you know, a heavy weapon. A ravager cannon. That I had torn off. And could use.

Ok, so remember a few days back when I was at that level 9 bandit camp that was killing the shit out of me until I killed the dude with the heavy weapon and took it, at which point things got really easy?

Well, I think these ravagers are pretty much the guys with the heavy weapon. Kill, take, and it’s all level 3.

Because later on (this is hardly a spoiler) there’s a really nasty fight. It’s where I stopped yesterday. There’s all sorts of things in there, but none are very, very tough, save the ravager. I keep dying, but I die cuz I tried to kill a mid level baddie first, then got seen, and ravager + lots of watchers killed me, though I ALMOST made it.

But I’m thinking, I get me that ravager cannon, this’ll be over right quick.

So maybe this is like the bandit camp: try to just bull through it, it’s hard, but once you see the trick, it’s not, and it’s level 11. Well, once you see and can successfully execute the trick, I should say. Though maybe executing the trick is level 11, and once you have, it’s level three. I certainly can see how having that would make this fight very, very easy.

There’ll be that and far more to chat on once you get a bit further on.

The convoy I saw was going vaguely towards the cauldron where I am now. It was on the road to it, anyway. So maybe. But, well, get deeper in.

We’ll talk. Later.


I knew you would understand that because this information about cauldrons was on an info screen, I would definitely not have paid any attention to it. I have other things to pay attention to! Like the location of mugs!

Your story about the ravager cannon is timely. I learned this trick at a hunting ground (oh, hey, I actually learned something useful!) and it is what enabled me to kill a T-rex in the past (actually they’re called “thunderjaws”…perhaps another time we can talk about whether or not we find some of the machine names to be fear-inspiring, or kind of silly).

But there were no ravagers in the Zeta cauldron. No no. (Ravagers DO look a lot like saw…teeth, don’t they? Sawteeth, I’m going with sawteeth. I have been known to run up to a ravager and try to override it, hoping to turn it against its fellows, and then be terribly sad about the mistake when I promptly die.)

You may well be right, that there’s a similar trick to the thunderjaw…maybe one piece that I can knock off and use against the machine itself. It does have a lot of components, including a quite nasty attack that MAYBE could be captured? I tried a lot of tearblast arrows, but all I could knock loose in my panic were sparkers. There must be something going on there, though, to let them call a level-27 cover monster a level-20 quest. I plan to return when I’ve studied the matter more. Defeated a few more of the damn things. Maybe another hunting ground would help.

Since I don’t remember anything I see on information screens, perhaps hunting grounds are the only way I can expect to figure out any of these tricks.


It’s probably for the best you ignoring screens. After all, what led me into this particular bit of magpie, which is completely in the opposite direction from where I’m supposed to be going, came from when I saw the mystery icon (which was no mystery to me) after doing the tallneck. If you knew where you could go, you’d never go anywhere else.

Or something.

Hunting grounds? Wow. They teach nothing. I tried to use one to learn how to get rid of glinthawks. It was all “Tie down some fucking glinthawks with ropecasters.” This taught me nothing. Well, it taught me how to fling ropes in the air like streamers going “Over here! I’m over here! By the streamers! Come kill me!” It taught me that very well.

Sawteeth it is. We really should’ve settled that sooner.

Dude, I wonder who in the lodge you have to piss off to get assigned to the Thunderjaw grounds. Even worse than the guy who smelled like fish who got the glinthawks.

Tearblast arrows, as awesome as they are, are finicky little buggers. Hit the component and BOOM, but you really, really have to nail that component. Close don’t cut it.

Concentration is key.

If hunting grounds are your plan, then you’re doomed. Unless you want to fling streamers in the air to attract certain death.


Ah, the streamers of certain death! I have done that. The ropecaster isn’t quite fair, because it doesn’t have that period where you aim using one trigger and THEN shoot. It’s all “I’m pointing in that direction and–oh, I shot in that direction. And here comes death.”

Although I have managed to tie them down a couple of times, after many wasted ropes.

Ooh, speaking of ropes…doesn’t the text say it will hold them down, but they will break free when taking excessive damage? Whatever ‘excessive’ means. (Hey, I do read the info screens OCCASIONALLY.)

So, does that mean…if you don’t actually damage them, they’ll just stay tied down forever? Because I could see that being useful. Maybe I don’t need to kill something, I just need to get by it. Hm. I will have to test this theory. (Although as we’ve discussed, there are times when the quest instructions are “kill all the machines,” in which case just overriding them doesn’t count, and surely just tying them down doesn’t either.)

In the heat of battle I’ve always figured “it’s down, hit it as much as you can before it gets loose!” but what if it won’t even get loose if you don’t hit it?

Or possibly I’m misreading/misremembering the text, and it doesn’t actually imply that at all. But I’m going to check it out, because yeah, that could work for me sometimes.

I do wonder about the life expectancy of the hunting ground Keepers. All those hostile machines stomping around 30 feet away from the cabin.


Yup. Nor does the ropecaster reliably indicate range. I’ve often done the “AH HA! Got you no I didn’t you were slightly too far away ok now you’re close I’m dead.”

That’s a fun one.

You tied one down? Great. And then what? You admire them, they break out, you die.

Tie them down AND leave them… Give that a shot. It does seem rather pointless if you tie them down to kill them only to find that if you try to kill them, you can’t keep them down.

Though, back to earlier, it would be useful if you needed to tie something down long enough to, say, grab their heavy weapon. I can see saying “give me that” THEN killing them.

I’ll try that. If I can pull it off.

That’s why the hunting ground cabins are up so high. So….uh….the glinthawks don’t get them….uh……

Suspend disbelief. ROBOT DINOSAURS!


Maybe the hunting ground cabins have some kind of machine repellent that they spray around?

And for some reason they don’t use it on, say, villages and towns, because protecting the umpire for a machine death sport training ground is more important than protecting the lives of civilians…


But hey, yeah, maybe we ARE supposed to be tying things down and then stealing their dangerous components which we can then kill them with! Or, perhaps, at the very least knocking off their dangerous components so the machines are less dangerous when they DO break free…it’s probably easier to aim your tearblast arrow at something that’s tied to the ground, right?

Try it. Let me know how it goes. I will do likewise. We will definitely figure out all the tricks right after the final battle.


Or we’ll try to execute these intricate plans until we die 23497834 times and say fuck it and turn the difficultly down. One or the other.

It has to be easier to hit them when they’re tied up. And there’s no doubt the game really WANTS us to care about all those components. They highlight them with focus, they write about them on the screens you never read, they each have a weakness, etc. Cuz it’s not only heavy weapons. You can disable attacks, defenses, etc. So maybe that’s it. Tie ’em down, weaken them, THEN move in.


It’s true, this game does want us to care about the components, so maybe we should. I did note the thunderjaw has about five different highlightable components, each with a weakness. I even tried highlighting one of them for a focused attack, but then quickly lost track of it in the panic. But if the machine were tied to the ground…

We’ll investigate. Between us, we’ll figure out something.


First time for everything.

It’s the panic. I usually get in one good shot. That first shot. Concentrating, aim….BLAM! and then panic run dive die.