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Horizon Zero Dawn guide: How to kill every machine

Gotta kill ‘em all

Jeffrey Parkin (he/him) has been writing video game guides for Polygon for almost seven years. He has learned to love just about every genre of game that exists.

Horizon Zero Dawn has 26 types of machines for you to encounter throughout the world. Each behaves a little differently, has different weaknesses and requires a different approach. In this guide, we begin with some general advice that you can can use to fight any machine. Then we walk you through the tactics and techniques you can use to beat them all.

Table of contents

General advice

Each type of machine you encounter is different, with their own weak points, weaknesses and necessary tactics, but there are some general rules you can follow when fighting any machine.

  • Always start stealthily. When they see you, machines tend to either attack or turn their more heavily defended sides toward you. When they’re attacking, machines are moving fast and bounce around a lot, making it hard to land a strategic shot. When they turn toward you to defend themselves, their weakest points tend to be hard (or impossible) to get at. Sneaking up on machines means you take fewer shots and end fights faster.
  • Take out the guard dogs first. Herds of machines tend to be escorted and patrolled by either watchers or longlegs. Taking out the smaller enemies first lets you focus on their bigger, more valuable charges without worrying about the aggressive little protectors.
  • Shoot things that explode. Freeze or blaze canisters and power cells will explode when shot with the corresponding type of arrow (freeze, flame and shock, respectively). When the canister explodes, it will deal a large amount of damage to the machine as well as all those around it (including you). For example, a couple of well-placed flame arrows can take out an entire herd of grazers in a really, really satisfying explosion.
  • Shoot off parts and armor. High tear damage weapons — like the tearblast arrows and the tearblaster — will remove components and armor from the machines you’re fighting. Taking these pieces off — like the stormbird’s lightning gun or the behemoth’s force loaders — are sometimes required to best a machine because they disable the machine’s attacks. Beyond that, removing heavy weapons from ravagers or stormjaws lets you pick up those weapons and unleash a lot of firepower.
  • Listen. When a fight inevitably gets up close and personal, you’re not out of options. No machine that you face will attack you unannounced — they all make some sort of screech or mechanical powering-up sound before they charge or attack.
  • Get out of sight. When a fight with a machine drags out, tactics kind of go out the window, and you’ll find yourself in a dodging and swinging-filled war of attrition. Getting into tall grass probably isn’t going to hide you from any machine for very long. When this happens, use the terrain to your advantage. Look for rocks or hills to hide behind. Even trees can hide you briefly. Use your hidden time to regroup or to plan a new angle of attack.
  • Damage is damage. Below, we’re going to talk about the ideal way to defeat the machines — usually focusing on components and exploitable weaknesses. This is just the fastest and (arguably) easiest way to take them out. Any weapon will deal damage and, with enough time, destroy a machine. If you’re having trouble with machine or you get into trouble during a fight, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with switching to general damage weapon and just unloading everything you have. Also, bombs for your sling are expensive to make, but can finish off a tough fight definitively.
  • Modify your weapons. All of those extra perks you get with your modifications really pay off in machine fights. Modifications like extra elemental damage, adding tear damage to generic damage arrows or simply decreasing reload times with handling all become invaluable.
  • Use your ropecaster. With enough ropes, you can tie down just about any machine and give yourself either some breathing room or an opportunity for a critical hit.
  • Override machines. A great help in any fight, but especially one where you’re outnumbered, is to get at least one machine on your side. Hide, then use a lure call to get one to approach you.


Watchers are the most common machine you’ll encounter in Horizon Zero Dawn, and you’ll find them everywhere. They are also the weakest enemy, but that doesn’t mean you should (or can) ignore them.

How to fight watchers

Shoot them in the eye.

That’s kind of it. Even with your earliest bow, you can usually knock out a watcher with one shot.


Striders are strange machines to fight. It’s surprisingly difficult to get the blaze canister on their back to explode and, when attacked, they have a tendency to become very aggressive and tenacious. They’ve got a wildly bucking kick attack that is not a lot of fun to receive, but they’re not very well armored, so you can usually drop them with regular arrows before the fight gets too personal.

How to fight striders

Try for the blaze canister on their back. If that doesn’t work, just shoot them.


Grazers are a lot of fun to blow up. The problem is, if they see you or get spooked (say, when their neighbor explodes), they turn to face you. They’re not overly aggressive, but this positioning makes it basically impossible to hit the blaze canisters on their back.

How to fight grazers

Target the blaze canisters on their back with flame arrows. For added fun, hit multiple blaze canisters on multiple grazers for an impressive fireworks show. If there are any left standing after the explosions, target the tips of their antlers to deal a lot of damage.


Scrappers are small (for machines), cat-like scavengers — sometimes a pack of them will show up after a large fight and ruin your parts collecting. They are small, fast and have a really annoying laser cannon on their heads. They also have a radar dish that allows them to find you even when you think you’re out of sight — they can’t find you if you’re not moving, though.

How to fight scrappers

Target the radar — that thing sticking up off of their shoulders — and their power cell — that orange fanny pack — with high damage arrows.

Redeye Watcher

Redeye watchers are tougher versions of watchers. Don’t let their similarity to regular watchers fool you — these are much better armored and won’t drop as easily as their cousins.

How to fight redeye watchers

You fight redeye watchers the same way as watchers — shoot them in the eye — but you must be prepared to cut through some armor before you can get a clean shot.


Broadheads are one of the game’s three mountable machines, so you probably won’t find yourself fighting them very often. More likely, you’ll be looking to hack one for a ride or just ignoring them.

How to fight broadheads

The blaze canister on their butts is armored, so your best bet at dealing a lot of damage fast is to target their horns. You can finish them off with generic damage arrows after that.


Lancehorns may seem like the antelope companions to the deer-like grazers, but they’re a bit more complicated than that. Where grazers will run away, lancehorns will rush straight at you and attack with their laserhorns.

How to fight lancehorns

Target the freeze canisters on their backs with freeze arrows to create a nice explosion that effects all of the machines around your target. Attack the horns of any left standing.


Longlegs are likely the first machine you’ll encounter that have a wide array of attacks. Combine that with their aggressiveness and (for lack of a better word) curiosity (in that they’ll come find you if they even suspect that they know where you are), and they’re an imposing enemy even in the late stage of Horizon Zero Dawn.

How to fight longlegs

We like this picture because it shows how to target the concussive sac, but there’s also a bunny in the bottom right corner.
You can see the shockwave from the concussion sac exploding. It’s no joke.

If you hit the power cell on their back with a shock arrow, you’ll cause an explosion that electrocutes the longleg and any neighbors it has. We didn’t have a lot of luck with this approach, though.

We had a lot more success targeting the concussion sac on their chests with high tear damage arrows. It’ll take a few hits, but you’ll see it start to vent and a couple more hits will make it to explode. (Try to get some distance between you when this happens because it’s a big explosion.) This explosion will knock down the longleg — and anything else in the vicinity. If you can get close enough, rush in for a critical hit. If it’s still standing after that, your best bet is to target the wings


Tramplers are a lot like the other herd machines — striders, grazers, chargers, broadheads and lancehorns — but they’re a lot tougher and much more aggressive. They wander in herds and, when you upset them, those herds quickly become a swarm of freight trains. Getting close to a trampler for a critical hit is dangerous — they have a flame damage area attack that they’ll use when threatened.

How to fight tramplers

Sometimes they’re a herd of flaming freight trains.

Tramplers have a bank of power cells on their backs that you can convince to explode with a shock arrow. While the trampler is electrocuted, hit the horns with high tear damage arrows to deal a lot of damage. You can finish it off with shots to its stomach processing unit.


A sawtooth is the first very difficult machine you take down in Horizon Zero Dawn and, frankly, they don’t get a ton easier as you progress. They have no exposed weak points and become very aggressive very quickly. They’re fast, and they have a long leap. However, sawtooths (sawteeth?) patrol a set path that you can track with your focus to lay a trap or lay in wait for them.

Overriding sawtooths and letting them fight for you is usually a really good idea. All of the things that make them hard to kill make them great allies.

How to fight sawtooths

Start with traps and tripwires. You’re not going to kill it this way, and you’ll just make it angry. But — if you’re lucky — you’ll knock the armor off of its belly and expose the blaze canister inside. Just be careful when targeting the blaze canister because sawtooths have an annoying tendency to jump at you and stand right next to you while they explode.


Shell-walkers are crab-like machines that guard supply crates on their backs. For some reason, they seem grumpy to us (this might just be because of how difficult they are early on). They’ve got a super annoying lightning gun and a shield that they’ll deploy, making it near-impossible for you to land an arrow.

How to fight shell-walkers

Your first goal when facing a shell-walker should be to get rid of that damn lightning gun. The best way to do this is to hit it with a tearblast arrow or two.

Your second goal — if you didn’t accidentally do it during step one — should be to get rid of the shield claw. If the opportunity presents itself, you should try to shoot off the crate holders to release the shell-walker’s cargo container. This isn’t required to defeat it, but it drops a little extra loot.

The final attack should be on that power generator underneath its body. It’ll cause a nice explosion if you hit it. If you can’t get a clean shot, aim for the eyes — you’ll do marginally more damage than with body shots.

Fire and freeze bellowbacks

Bellowbacks are admittedly difficult, but a lot more intimidating-looking than dangerous. Their ranged attacks are slow, giving you time to get away. Their other dangerous habit is to breathe flame or freeze in a ring around themselves when you get too close.

How to fight bellowbacks

Your first two targets — and really the only targets — are the giant cargo sac on its back and the gullet on its throat. When you take out the gullet, the machine loses its ranged attack and it causes an explosion. When you take out the cargo sac, it causes another huge explosion. The cargo sac is an easier (larger) target, but you can only hit it when the machine isn’t facing you, so keep your options open.


Chargers, like striders and broadheads, are mountable machines (after you override them, obviously). They’re not overly aggressive, nor are they difficult to take down — and those big antlers are an inviting target.

How to fight chargers

Chargers follow the formula of the other herd machines above. Shoot the tank, then shoot the horns.


Stalkers have cloaking technology that hides them from sight and from your focus. Also they have a gun. Stalkers are all kinds of fun.

How to fight stalkers

There are three stalkers in the image above (we think). You can see a white reflection where the cloaked ones are.

The first step in a stalker fight is finding them. Once you’ve figured out where one is (usually after you’ve gotten shot), your next goal should be to just start knocking parts off.

Fights against stalkers tend to be more about survival than finesse. Equip a high tear damage arrow and unload. If it stays visible long enough, you can target specific components, but there’s no component that’s weak to any elemental damage — it’s just tear damage all the way down the list.


Full disclosure: Our first draft of this section had a lot of swears in it. Glinthawks are airborne scavengers. They tend to show up in a flock at the worst possible time — usually after a rough fight when you’re already on the ropes. Their flapping and flitting around makes them hard to hit, they don’t have any real weakpoints to speak of and, in addition to all of that, they have a freeze damage area attack. We really, really hate glinthawks.

How to fight glint hawks

Your first (and really only) goal in fighting glinthawks should be to ground them. They’re weak to fire damage, so a couple shots from a flame arrow should do the trick. Your ropecaster will also work here. Once you get it on the ground, go in for the critical hit. If you can’t get close enough (or don’t want to), just try to keep it on fire for as long as you can.

Glinthawks are just the worst.

The problem with glinthawks is that they come with friends. Focusing all your attention on one will give the rest time to ruin your day with their freeze damage area attacks. There’s no perfect solution to taking on multiple glinthawks — just try to light as many of them on fire as you can until you start to thin the herd, er, flock.

We cannot stress enough how much we hate glinthawks.


Corruptors are a bit different than (most of) the rest of the machines you’ll encounter — and this makes sense in terms of Horizon Zero Dawn’s overarching story. They’re not based on animals, but designed for a purpose. A [SPOILERS] purpose.

The first few corruptors you meet will feel like mini boss fights. The last dozen you meet will just be nuisances.

How to fight corruptors

Your first goal when up against a corruptor should be removing the spike and grenade launchers on either side of its head, er, body, er, cephalothorax. Once those are out of the way, setting a corruptor on fire will temporarily expose a heat core that you can destroy to deal a lot of damage. If it’s still standing after all of that, just throw whatever you have at it.


Ravagers are like sawtooths but with a frickin’ laser beams attached to their heads.

How to fight ravagers

The ideal fight with a ravager starts with shooting the cannon off of its back, then picking up that cannon and laying waste to everything around you. That cannon is delightfully powerful and has enough ammo to take down several machines.

If you don’t feel like getting that close or just can’t get to the cannon in time, ravagers have power cells on their back that will explode after shock arrow hits and a freeze canister in their belly that you can expose and attack. Handle them like you handle sawtooths — lay traps and tripwires to start the fight, then stay out of the way while you look for those weak points to target.


These deinosuchus-looking machines are terrifying the first time you encounter them, but they were the machine that cemented the "focus on the weak points" philosophy for us. Their weak points are obvious and (relatively) easy to hit.

How to fight snapmaws

Ideally, your first goal should be to destroy the freeze sac on its throat to disable its ranged attack. In reality, though, this is a difficult target to hit, and you’ll almost never pull it off. Instead, you should focus on the two blaze canisters on either side of its head. You’ll have to remove the armor first with a high tear damage arrow or two (like a tearblast arrow) to get at them, but they’ll each knock out nearly half of the snapmaw’s health.


Rockbreakers are tough enemies that are huge, fast and have the annoying habit of disappearing underground. When they burrow down, your best bet is to make like the kwisatz haderach and walk without rhythm. Also, something something Tremors reference.

Translation: They will burrow up beneath you and attack if you run along the ground.

Your best options are to crouch and walk slowly to some high grass (which is hard to do when a giant, subterranean, robotic mole monster is hunting you) or, better yet, look for some rocks to climb onto. This won’t protect you from a rockbreaker’s ranged attacks — it tosses rocks and debris at you — but at least you’ve got more warning.

How to fight rockbreakers

There is no such thing as an easy rockbreaker fight, but you can do a few things to give yourself an edge.

First, hit it with freeze bombs — its body is weak against freeze damage. This has the added benefit of helping you track it while it’s underground — that condition marker doesn’t go away.

Then, target the claws on its arms and legs to keep it from fleeing underground. After that, focus on the exhaust port on its hips and the fuel sac on its belly.


The first thing you’ll notice about behemoths is that they are appropriately named. The second is probably that there are several of them you’ll have to face at once because they travel in a herd.

How to fight behemoths

It’ll take a few shots with tearblast arrows, but you first goal is to get rid of those force loaders on its head. This will disable one of its main attacks and deal a fair amount of damage. After that, target the freeze cells on its butt. Once you get it slowed down, that big yellow and white cargo container on it’s belly is a great way to deal a lot of damage and finish it off.

(You may notice that there’s a power cell between the behemoth’s shoulders that we didn’t mention. A combination of armor shielding it and a lack of angles — because of the behemoth’s height — makes these hard to even see, let alone hit with an arrow.)


There is no such thing as a quick or easy thunderjaw fight. They are always, always hard to take on and even exploiting all of their weak points won’t finish the fight. You’ll be capable of defeating them by the time you encounter them in the game, and there’s very little more satisfying than taking one of these down.

How to fight thunderjaws

Even after removing all the weak points, a thunderjaw still takes a lot of work and ammo.

Thunderjaws have a wide variety of weapons and attacks that will all ruin your day, so your job is to strategically remove them.

There are two cannons on its hips that you can shoot off (and pick up if you’re so bold) and getting rid of these first will remove a couple of really annoying ranged attacks.

Your next target should be the two cannons on either side of its mouth. You can’t pick these up, but making it so the thunderjaw can’t shoot you with its facelasers just feels like a good idea.

You’ll also want to remove the end of the tail to disable its sweeping attack.

After that, your options are pretty limited so it’s just about dealing damage — grenades and your toughest arrows will finish it off after a while.


Stormbirds are bullet sponges, and they have a range of brutal attacks. Also, they fly. They’re like giant glinthawks — in that they are also terrible and we hate them (but not quite as much as glinthawks).

How to fight stormbirds

First, use high tear arrows to knock out the lightning gun because that thing sucks. A few tearblast arrows into the big yellow target on its chest should do the trick. You can disable its dive attack by knocking off the six engines (you can pick those up after the fight for echo shells).

There are freeze canisters on the stormbird’s neck and blaze canisters on its hips that you can try to hit, but the way it moves makes them almost impossible to target.

We had a lot of luck with using the shadow ropecaster to tie down stormbirds, then using the brief respite this gave us to target the canisters.


Deathbringers are like corruptors in that they’re clearly not based on an animal. Instead, deathbringers are heavily-armored mobile weapons platforms. Fighting them is like fighting a heavily-armored mobile weapons platform.

How to fight deathbringers

It’s tempting to try to focus all of your firepower on disconnecting the various guns that the deathbringer sports, but we’re here to tell you it’s a waste of time and ammo. Your only goal in a fight with a deathbringer (of which there are mercifully few in the game) is to get it to expose its weak points — which it does when it overheats. And the obvious way to do with is with fire bombs.

When a deathbringer overheats, it exposes a four cooling rods, its core and half a dozen vents. Get it to overheat — you’ll see the temperature gauge fill up — and then pick one of these to focus on (they helpfully glow bright red) until you destroy the component. Lather, rinse and repeat for every target you can find.

A deathbringer will occasionally open up the armor on its legs and expose weak points on its knees (which also glow red). Watch for this to happen, and target the weak point to briefly knock the deathbringer over.


We’ve talked about tallnecks in several of the other guides, so we won’t spend any time on them here. They’re the largest machines you’ll meet in Horizon Zero Dawn, but they are utterly unconcerned by you and won’t attack (or even notice that you’re there).

How to fight tallnecks

You don’t. You can’t. Why would you want to? Look at it!

Corrupted machines

Corrupted machines are like regular machines, but they’ve been corrupted by [SPOILERS], making them much more aggressive and harder to kill. Their corruption leaks out and will poison you if you touch it. But that same corruption makes them vulnerable to fire.

How to fight corrupted machines

First, set them on fire — all corrupted machines are vulnerable to fire, which gives you an edge. Beyond that, you can take them out just like their non-corrupted counterparts.


There are five cauldrons in Horizon Zero Dawn, and each unlocks a new set of machines you can override. You can find the cauldron locations by overriding tallnecks.

  • Cauldron Psi. Watchers, redeye watchers, tallnecks, striders, chargers and broadheads
  • Cauldron Sigma. Grazers, scrappers, lancehorns and sawtooths
  • Cauldron Rho. Longlegs, shell-walkers, tramplers, ravagers and snapmaws
  • Cauldron Xi. Glinthawks, stalkers, fire and freeze bellowbacks and behemoths
  • Cauldron Zeta. Rockbreakers, stormbirds and thunderjaws