The amazing thing about Horizon Zero Dawn is that it’s the perfect balance of open-world with an enchanting main story. The player can choose to focus only on the story at hand, playing casually so they don’t need to do any grinding to get through it, or they can choose to explore the side quests.
Although missions on the side are arguably not worth it in games (sometimes), there’s one addition to this game that is: the Cauldrons. The Cauldrons are spaced throughout the map and will give you huge advantages when it comes to playing the rest of the game.
Though, do remember they don’t automatically appear on your quest list until you get close to them, so wander close to their spot on the map for the objective to pop up. From there, you can activate the quest and follow the markers that will now have appeared.
7 What Are They?
There are four Cauldrons throughout the map and no, they aren’t something for Aloy to brew potions in. Instead, they’re almost like dungeons; underground layers that might take you a while to get through and will require a combination of good navigation, puzzle-solving, and combat (because of them containing pretty tricky machines!).
Unlocking each Cauldron will give you powers that can advance the main quest a lot more quickly than if you skip them. So, although it might seem like a pain to put your story on hold and work out how to get to the center of these, we promise it’s worth doing.
6 Cauldron SIGMA
The first Cauldron you’ll come across is SIGMA. It’s located slightly North of Mother’s Crown on the map.
Eliminate the machines in front of the gates and then enter the Cauldron. Follow the path down to the bottom and kill the machines you come across — stealthily, if possible!
When you arrive at what looks like a jump, don’t attempt that leap. Instead, use your focus to find the sensor and override it, creating a path. It will eventually seem as if you’re stuck, but you aren’t. Jump up to catch one of the handles that are passing by above you, and then you can drop down into a new area.
Follow the paths to the upper level and, again, override any gaps with bridges. Do not attempt to jump! Eventually, you’ll reach the core, which is guarded by a Fire Bellowback (and two Watchers, but those should be easy). Defeat it by using shock traps and your trusty bow and arrow, then override the core.
5 Cauldron RHO
The next Cauldron you’ll come across is RHO, located a tad south of Daytower.
Like the previous Cauldron, the gates are guarded by machines and you’ll have to take them out first. Follow the path to the back of the Cauldron, take out the Watchers and the Ravager, and keep going. You’ll find Watchers, Longlegs, and more Ravagers that you’ll have to take out.
You’ll then reach the core room and have to take out a Snapmaw and another Ravager. A handy tip to remember is that Blast Wires do a lot of damage to Ravagers, so if you’re struggling, this is the way to go.
4 Cauldron XI
The third and penultimate Cauldron is located south of Meridian, and it’s called XI.
The good news is, this one isn’t very challenging navigationally, like SIGMA. The bad news is, you’re going to need a lot of ammo.
Squeeze through the door (it looks like scaffolding) and follow the path down to a cave-in while picking off cultists as you go. You’ll get straight to the core, but be pretty much ambushed by both machines and cultists. You then have to climb out, but you’ll be faced by more combat all the way out, so keep crafting arrows and overriding machines to help you where possible.
3 Cauldron ZETA
The final Cauldron is north of Cut-Cliffs: Cauldron ZETA.
The entrance is hidden here, so climb the stone tower in front of what looks like should be the entrance, and then follow the path to a much smaller one.
Again, this one isn’t a navigational challenge, but you will have to face off with a Thunderjaw. The Sharpshooter Bow will be your best friend here, being the best way to defeat the Thunderjaw. The good news is, once this boss is down, that’s it: you can go straight forward and override the core, unlocking all the rewards that ZETA offers. Well done!
2 The Rewards
So you’ve been granted XP, found some loot, etc. But, of course, that’s not the main reason the Cauldrons are worth doing.
Every time you override a core, you’ll hear Aloy saying she now has the ability to override new machines. And that she does. SIGMA will grant you the ability to override Sawtooths, Scrappers, Grazers, and Lancehorns; RHO will unlock Shell-walkers, Snapmaws, Longlegs, and Ravagers; XI will unlock Glinthawks, Stalkers, Behemoths, and Bellowbacks; and ZETA will unlock Stormbirds, Thunderjaws, and Rockbreakers.
Overriding can be used to turn machine against machine and is sometimes simply just much easier than killing if you can be stealthy about it. So, once all four of these are completed, the game should get easier.
1 And You’re Done!
Now you’re done and have unlocked all of the overrides in the game!
Here are some final tips!
If you get lost, particularly in the initial two Cauldrons, retrace your steps. Sometimes, there’s a turn you missed or a bridge that needs to be overridden to appear.
If there are a bunch of monsters and you’re having trouble, remember you can lay down some Shock Wires for them. Ravagers need Blast Wires to be affected, but Shock Wires are handy for most other types of machines.
And lastly, doing the Cauldrons in order will help immensely since each one grants a lot of experience and levels you up. The recommended levels for the Cauldrons get higher; eight, 12, 18, and 20, respectively.
They don’t have to be done in order, but you’d be wise to.