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Horizon Forbidden West guide: Slitherfang boss fight

Kill the boss with your weapons and your brain

Slitherfang, the first boss in Horizon Forbidden West Image: Guerrilla Games/Sony Interactive Entertainment via Polygon

In this Horizon Forbidden West Slitherfang guide, we’ll show you how to defeat the game’s first boss by researching its strengths and weaknesses, exploiting its weakness to Frost damage, using the only two weapons you have available, gathering resources around you, and making use of the environment.

Slitherfang boss fight strengths and weaknesses

Scan the Slitherfang, and you’ll learn how outmatched you are against this level 28 combatant. But you’ll also learn how to defeat it, because every machine in Horizon Forbidden West is a puzzle, and scanning them with your Focus teaches you how to solve the Slitherfang boss fight.

We won’t lie: It kind of felt like a chore at first to stop playing the game and instead read about the game from inside the game we weren’t playing. But here’s the thing: That’s kind of Horizon Forbidden West’s whole thing. Machines really are puzzles.

Sure, you could probably brute force your way through this fight and many that come after it. But then you’d be playing it like any other game. And this isn’t any other game. Combat puzzles are what make it special. And you’ll also be a lot less frustrated when you’re killing enemies in seconds instead of minutes because you know what works and what doesn’t.

Take a minute to learn your enemy’s weaknesses, and spent the next five minutes exploiting them. Believe us: It’s better in the long run (for you, not the bad guys, because they will be super dead because of your weapons but also because of your brain).

Exploit its Frost weakness

Unfortunately, because it’s so early in the game, your offensive options are highly limited. You’ve got a Hunter Bow with Hunter Arrows and a Frost Blastling with Frost Bombs. Fortunately, they’re exactly the things you need to defeat the Slitherfang, who is weak to Frost damage, as you can see in the Weak Vs. section in the images above. And your Frost Blasting causes Frost damage. How convenient!

If you hit it enough with Frost Bombs, you will cause the Brittle State, in which the Slitherfang takes more impact damage, meaning that every arrow you fire while the Slitherfang is Brittle is worth more.

If you hit it a bunch, but you haven’t caused Frost damage yet, then it’s time to gather resources from around the arena and craft more ammo.

Aim for weak spots

You’ll scan enemies for weaknesses hundreds, maybe even thousands of times during Horizon Forbidden West. The first boss fight should be no exception. Get used to it.

Just like it’s weak to Frost damage, plenty of the Slitehrfang is weak to Tear damage, too — and that's where your Hunter Bow with Hunter Arrows come in.

At this point, you don’t really have to worry about collecting loot. There will be plenty of time for that later. Just focus on things that you can detach as you’re scanning, as denoted by the word Detachable and an icon showing a torn shield next to it. It’s in the middle of the screen under the Attributes heading in the gallery above. Detachable means that, if you shoot it enough, it’ll fall off. Sometimes that earns you loot. Every time, that hurts your enemy.

Scan the Slitherfang, use left and right on the D-pad to pick a Detachable target, and then press Triangle to highlight it. That’ll make it glow purple, which’ll make it easier for you to aim at. Your Hunter Bow’s Hunter Arrows cause Tear damage, which makes it the perfect implement of destruction.

Take cover

The area in which you fight the Slitherfang is conveniently filled with boulders. Aloy is conveniently smaller than boulders. Use these as cover from its attacks. When the boulders turn to rubble, find another one to hide behind.

Gather and use resources

The arena is also conveniently filled with items like …

  • Medicinal Berries. Every Medicinal Berry you collect is one heal for Aloy.
  • Ridge-wood. Collect these barren trees and turn them into arrows.
  • Supply Chests. Often found behind boulders, these contain items like health potions, Machine Muscle, and Chillwater — crafting components so that you can make more ammo (which you’re going to need a lot of).
  • Coil Blaster. In the latter phase of the fight, you can find multiple Coil Blasters — heavy, two-handed weapons — scattered around the arena. Make that your priority. Find them. Use them. Kill that snake.

Remember to use the resources that you gather. Heal. Drink potions. Craft more ammo. That’s how you survive and thrive in Horizon Forbidden West.