Horizon: Zero Dawn remains one of the best releases in this current console generation. The world is breath-taking, the narrative is poignant, and the graphics are beautiful. It certainly helps that the gameplay is fantastic. Guerrilla Games knocked it out of the park, and the newest title is highly anticipated.
There is so much to do in the game, and it's easy to miss some of the content on the first go-round. The map is vast, and the opportunities to expand Aloy's story are numerous. But there are some quests, outside of the main plot, worth more than others. Here are the best side quests that Horizon: Zero Dawn has to offer. Warning: spoilers ahead.
10 Hunting For The Lodge
The Hunters Lodge is an organization whose mission revolves around tracking and hunting the machines. Prestige and power stem from the prowess of the hunter. While there are story elements that weave through the trials and characters in the organization, the real value of the quest lines in the practical skills that Aloy learns.
These trials involve a variety of maneuvers and traps that bestow the advantage upon the hunter. Many of the machines can be difficult to kill, but learning their weaknesses is crucial. This quest does just that.
9 Hunters Blind
Once Aloy passes the trials of the Hunters Lodge, she has learned enough to navigate the dangerous world around her with enough care to not get trampled. However, there are big beasts lurking that demand a lot more respect and pack a much harder punch. "Hunters Blind" offers Alloy the chance to fight stronger machines and to decide how she responds to conflict.
The ultimate goal of the quest is to impress Talanah and rise in stature among the hunters, but there is also an opportunity to develop Aloy's character as she reacts to stubborn and hostile people.
8 Deadliest Game
Advancing further in the Hunters Lodge forces Aloy to seek out greater challenges. This quest thrusts her in the path of both Stormbirds and Thunderjaws. The reward here is two-fold; Aloy will return to Alanah with the success of her hunt, but, more importantly, she will have conquered two of the most difficult creatures in the game.
Stormbirds and Thunderjaws are terrifying new levels of machinery compared to the weak enemies that Aloy encounters early on. They will appear as the game progresses, and it's important to know how to bring them down.
The finale of the Hunters Lodge quests that Aloy undertakes. In a way, Aloy has more in common with these hunters than with the other characters that she encounters throughout the story. She matures into a powerful woman and a predator over the course of the game.
"Redmaw" enables Aloy to demonstrate the well of knowledge she's accrued through her journey, and her skill is put to the test as the biggest Thunderjaw around stomps its feet. Killing Redmaw proves that Aloy is not someone to be trifled with, and the act establishes a new chapter for the Hunters Lodge.
6 A Moment's Peace
In Meridian, Aloy meets an interested party by the name of Vilgund. He informs her of a Banuk tribe in the north that has domesticated the machines and engages with them peacefully. He dispatches Aloy to investigate.
Part of the allure of "A Moment's Peace" is the expansion of the world in which Aloy lives. The player meets members of the Banuk tribe as the trek north leads her away from the urban environs of Meridian and into the wild. The quest showcases the depth of the land and peers into the mystery regarding the machines.
5 Traitor's Bounty
Political intrigue and assassination attempts! What's not to love? The narrative in Horizon: Zero Dawn is woven together with care, and it's a joy to be amidst the conflict as Aloy once again finds herself waist-deep in trouble.
In "Traitor's Bounty," A woman approaches Aloy and insists that a Shadow Carja traitor is innocent. When Aloy goes to confront the man and discuss his situation, they are attacked by waves of mercenaries. The quest wraps up with the death of a high priest and the relocation of the "traitor" and other political figures.
4 Queen's Gambit
The end of "Traitor's Bounty" leads directly to this next quest. With the death of High Priest Bahavas, there is a chance for two political fugitives, a queen and her son, to escape.
Aloy's help is requested to ensure the safety of the fleeing royals. The quest tests Aloy's skills as it throws escalating waves of humans and machines at her, and she must navigate the fight with skill. It's a good test of strategy against machines, and the end of quest expands Aloy's understanding of the peoples that populate her world.
3 Heap of Trouble
It's rare that Aloy finds a woman who is equal in power and ingenuity. The protagonist has been blazing a path through the world at a fearsome rate, but the inventor Petra Forgewoman is an impressive peer.
The quest doesn't require Aloy to engage with the big brutes of the game. She must defeat bandits and Scrappers. But, when Aloy returns with the goods that Petra requires, the leader of the settlement constructs a destructive prototype that Aloy uses to defeat attacking bandits. It's always nice when the girls get together.
2 Sun and Shadow
Who knew? Horizon: Zero Dawn has its own version of Romeo and Juliet, and Aloy is in the middle of it. She untangles the web of mystery while in Brightmarket. A concerned father sends Aloy searching for his daughter, and she discovers the young woman, on an island, waiting for her lover.
On different sides of a civil war, they are unable to display their love for each other in the open. The story ends in tragedy, however, as Aloy rescues the boy from torture, and he dies shortly after. She imparts his final words to the distraught young girl, and the horrors of war continue.
The main quests introduce Olin, and he becomes a conflicted character that Aloy discovers has betrayed her. How she deals with Olin can differ, but there is the chance to save his family, and it's a quest that can help define Aloy and the woman she's becoming.
With all of the pain and sorrow that she's experienced, the quest is a window into the strength and beauty of a woman that won't stoop to the schemes of those around her. It's a touching moment in the game, and the brevity of the quest does not lessen the impact.