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Horizon Forbidden West guide: Tremortusk elephant boss fight

How to kill the Tremortusk and the Rebels

The elephant tremortusk machine in Horizon Forbidden West
Oh, how we hate you, Tremortusk elephant
Image: Guerrilla Games/Sony Interactive Entertainment via Polygon

The Horizon Forbidden West elephant, aka the level 35 Rebel Tremortusk, boss fight was the single most infuriating part of the early(ish) game. The difficulty spike is enormous. We don’t want you to be frustrated like we were when we were told to “kill the Tremortusk and the Rebels” during Horizon Forbidden West’s “The Broken Sky” Main Quest.

In this Horizon Forbidden West elephant guide, we’ll show you how to defeat the Tremortusk by researching its strengths and weaknesses, bringing the best weapons, gathering resources around you, and making use of the environment.

Table of contents

Show up prepared

Do not show up to the elephant boss fight in Horizon Forbidden West unless your pockets are full. You’ve crafted every possible arrow. You’ve cleared out your Stash. You have potions and food to boost your health. You’ve killed every machine you need to until you have the supplies to make tons of ammo to replenish your full pockets. Preparing is part of this fight. You’re as good as dead with half-empty pockets.

Focus on the Tremortusk second

You know what’s annoying? Running around the battlefield picking off high-level human enemies for like five minutes, only to get trampled by an elephant and have to do it all over again. (Seriously, they’re all at a higher level than your recommended level for this quest.)

You know what’s even more annoying, though? Trying to fight humans and and a freaking mechanical elephant at the same time.

Sneak up on the battlefield and identify the locations of several human enemies. Silently kill those who wander close to cover. Use powerful weapons like the Cleaving Sharpshot Bow, which can tear through armor and pull off headshots, to take humans down from a distance. Yes, it’s an expensive way to fight. Yes, it’s absolutely worth it.

Also, save the human riding the elephant for last.

Tremortusk elephant strengths and weaknesses

Scan the Tremortusk with your Focus, and you’ll learn how outmatched you are against this level 35 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 defeat the elephant using your brain as well as your weapons. And machines really are puzzles.

Parsing so much information can feel as overwhelming as fighting the elephant, but it’s easy when you know what to look for. We’ve circled three areas on the first image in the gallery above.

  • On the left, you can see that the Tremortusk is weak to Frost damage and strong to Fire damage. The best weapons exploit weaknesses, and we’ll get to that soon.
  • At the top, you see the name of the part we’ve highlighted: Tusks.
  • The Attributes section at the bottom middle tells you a few things, like how you should attack them and what you get if you do. Turns out that Tear damage works well against the Tusks, and that knocking them off will get you a Key Upgrade Resource. This is entirely optional.

That’s it. Find a part, and match the damage from your weapon to that part.

Best weapons for the elephant Tremortusk boss fight

We bought new weapons for this fight, and it’s among the best decisions that we ever made in Horizon Forbidden West. The best weapons are those that cause rapid Frost damage (to freeze the elephant) and those that cause high Impact damage (to break off its parts).

Frostbite Warrior Bow

Behold, the Frostbite Warrior Bow, which we bought in Scalding Spear for 549 Metal Shards and 1 Elemental Clawstrider Circulator. If you don’t have the materials, just press Triangle while browsing the shop, and the game will create a Job that leads you to the closest Claswtriders to kill and plunder.

The Frostbite Warrior Bow for the elephant boss fight in Horizon Forbidden West
The rapid-fire Frostbite Warrior Bow is idea for turning the elephant Brittle, as long as you’re careful.
Image: Guerrilla Games/Sony Interactive Entertainment via Polygon

What makes the Frostbite Warrior Bow so special? Its high Frost damage and its ability to fire arrows rapidly. It’s the best, most reliable way we found to cause Frost damage, which causes the Brittle State, in which the Tremortusk takes more impact damage, meaning that every arrow you fire while the elephant is Brittle is worth more.

The only downside is that you’ve got to be relatively close to the elephant because this is a short-range weapon. Make sure you’re firing from cover — like, say, when peering around a giant boulder.

We should also point out that there are several dead Frost Bellowbacks in the area, which you can shoot to make explode with Frost damage, but we never had any particular luck with destroying these while the Tremortusk was nearby. It would often wind up destroying the Frost Bellowback corpses from a distance, or it’d discover our location as we shot at the corpses. The corpses are clearly there for exploiting, but the strategy is too risky and too inconsistent to recommend.

Cleaving Sharpshot Bow

The Cleaving Sharpshot Bow menu for the elephant fight in Horizon Forbidden West
The Cleaving Sharpshot Bow, which deals ridiculously high Tear damage, is perfect for damaging elephant parts.
Image: Guerrilla Games/Sony Interactive Entertainment via Polygon

We also carried the Cleaving Sharpshot Bow. You got it during Horizon Forbidden West’s “The Broken Sky” Main Quest. It deals shockingly high Tear damage, with the disadvantage that it sure takes a long time to load and fire each arrow. Our strategy with this relied on targeting a part like the Tusks, and slowing down time with Concentration while we aimed at those components to knock them off.

Aim for weak spots

You’ll scan enemies for weaknesses hundreds, maybe even thousands of times during Horizon Forbidden West. It doesn’t really matter to us which part your pick, but pick a part, and target it. (We gluttons for punishment chose Tusks, which are difficult to hit but get you some sweet loot.)

Scan the elephant, 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 Cleaving Sharpshot Bow and your standard Hunter Bow cause Tear damage, which makes them the perfect implement of destruction — ideally after you’ve caused the Brittle State with the Frostbite Warrior Bow first.

Take cover and hide

The area in which you fight the elephant is conveniently filled with boulders and structures. Use these as cover from the Tremortusk’s attacks. When the boulders turn to rubble, find another one to hide behind.

The area is also filled with with the tall, red grass that makes Aloy invisible. Stay here to hide from everyone in the area. If you’re spotted, use a Smoke Bomb to confuse everyone and get hidden again.

Gather and use resources and the environment

The arena around the Tremortusk is also conveniently filled with items like …

  • Medicinal Berries. Every Medicinal Berry you collect is one heal for Aloy.
  • Supply Chests. These contain items like health potions, Machine Muscle, and Chillwater — crafting components so that you can make more ammo.
  • Ravager Canon. If you approach the elephant from the front and turn left, you can find a Ravager Canon — a heavy, two-handed weapon — behind a boulder. It’s powerful. It causes lots of damage. It has very little ammo. It makes you a target. If you’re firing, fire from behind cover.

The next level of puzzles.

Take a break from your day by playing a puzzle or two! We’ve got SpellTower, Typeshift, crosswords, and more.