While Horizon Zero Dawn offers a wealth of upgrade abilities for Aloy at the beginning of the game, this Horizon Zero Dawn skills guide will help you decide on the best skills to focus on first, and which ones to save for a later point in the game.
If you instead need help on other areas of the game, we have other guides on how to find all six Banuk figures that are scattered throughout the world of Horizon Zero Dawn, as well as how to acquire the Ancient Armor, the best armor set in the game.
Best Skills to Focus On First in Horizon Zero Dawn
Silent Strike: This should be the first skill to unlock. Most enemies at the beginning of the game can be eliminated with a successful Silent Strike, and most combat scenarios are best approached with stealth, making Silent Strike an essential tool for making a stealthy approach. It only costs one skill point to unlock, so unlock it as soon as you have the opportunity.
Concentration: When stealth doesn’t work, Aloy is going to have to bring out the bow and arrow. The Concentration ability slows down time, making it much easier to line up a shot. Many of the game’s machine enemies are fast, or have very small targets that have to be hit in order to maximize damage. Concentration is a good skill to have when trying to land those tricky shots. This is another one that only costs one skill point, so unlock it early.
Gatherer: The Gatherer ability in the Forager column is useful because it squeezes more resources out of the different trees and flowers Aloy finds. If you unlock this skill early, it will pay dividends all game.
Critical Hit: Critical hit lands a punishing blow to downed enemies. Staff combat plays a larger role toward the beginning of the game compared to later, when you're pitted against larger enemies. Early smaller enemies will be knocked down easily, and the Critical Hit will likely eliminate them.
Skills to Focus On After That
Tinkerer: The Tinker ability in the Forager column is arguably the most useful skill in the game. This allows Aloy to remove and reuse weapon modifications across her arsenal. Without the Tinker skill, mods are destroyed once they are replaced. Unfortunately, the three skills that need to be unlocked before reaching the Tinker branch of the tree aren’t great, but it’s certainly worth the investment. With Tinker unlocked, you’ll be able to equip the best mods, and you won’t lose any rare ones as you progress.
Scavenger: This is the skill to unlock right after Gatherer. It grants more loot from downed machines.
Low Profile: As the game progresses, you’re likely just going to want to sneak by enemies without even engaging. Low Profile helps Aloy stay hidden, which will remain useful throughout the game.
For more tips, strategies, and guides for navigating the mechanized world of Horizon Zero Dawn, check out our Horizon Zero Dawn Guide with tips and item locations. For more info on the mechanics, check out our guide to the Horizon Zero Dawn's mods, as well as how to get the best weapons in the game.