Surviving in Horizon Forbidden West, an open-world game about what happens when Elon Musk funds one too many projects, is only partially contingent on skill. But if you want to thrive in the robo-dino apocalypse, you’ll need to equip yourself with the best gear around.
Gear in Horizon Forbidden West, out now on PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5, largely falls into two categories: outfits, or armor that grants you various defense stat and offensive perks, and weapons, which mostly consist of various categories of bows and arrows. Of course, what qualifies as “the best” is contingent on taste, playstyle, and preferred builds, but there are certain weapons and outfits that are situationally agnostic and terrific across the board. Here they are.
Where to find it: Complete the side-quest “the Souvenir,” in Legacy’s Landfall
Standard ropecasters, which allow you to temporarily tie machines in place, are enormously helpful for managing a crowded battlefield. For that, you’ll want to get a solid canister ropecaster. These rare weapons allow you to affix elemental canisters to machines. Shooting a canister with an arrow of a corresponding element from another bow will then detonate it, dealing massive damage. The strongest (at least that I’ve found) is the elite canister ropecaster, which can shoot canisters of three elemental types—acid, frost, or plasma—and deals 100 more damage than the base-level canister ropecaster.
Where to find it: You automatically receive it during the “Broken Sky” story mission
In Horizon Forbidden West, sharpshot bows are basically sniper rifles: long-range, high-damage, slow-firing weapons saddled with painfully small quivers. But when the cleaving sharpshot bow is fully leveled up, it has a 65 percent faster draw speed, which you can amplify even more by equipping a coil—augmentations that amplify a weapon’s stats by up to 25 percent—meant to boost draw speed. The result is a sharpshot bow that’s twice as powerful as a standard hunter bow but fires arrows just as quickly.
Where to find it: Complete the three missions affiliated with the side-quest chain that starts with “Thirst for the Hunt”
Warrior bows don’t deal much damage but sport a tremendously quick fire rate, making them effective in triggering elemental status effects on enemies (and for hitting the canisters affixed by canister ropecasters). In my mind, the firestorm warrior bow is the best warrior bow. For one, it has three different elemental types—acid, fire, and shock—that neatly happen to be among the most common weaknesses for Horizon Forbidden West’s enemies. For another, by upgrading it, you can open up three coil slots, allowing you to buff all of its ammo types without eschewing one. And, finally, its name. “Firestorm?” “Warrior?” So freakin’ cool.
Where to find it: Buy it from the hunter vendor in Thornmarsh (it costs 1,437 shards, one bellowback circulator, and one large machine core)
Once you wrap your head around the fact that boltblasters—miniature arrow turrets—even exist in the first place, get thee to Thornmarsh and buy the icestorm boltblaster. Most boltblasters have at least one arrow type wasted on “standard” damage. The icestorm boltblaster, on the other hand, is all elemental, able to shoot frost, plasma, and shock arrows. It starts with a perk boosting your damage when you’re in concentration (basically, Horizon Forbidden West’s version of slow-mo aiming). And if you upgrade it, you’ll deal 15 percent more damage when you fully draw the weapon.
Where to find it: By completing every Salvage Contract mission
You’ll spend most of the game assembling the Oseram artificer outfit. After you leave the town of Barren Light, you’ll meet Larend, an Oseram armorer who’s competing with his peers to forge the “best armor in the West.” But, see, Larend and his peers need supplies, which you can source from Salvage Contracts, hunting-focused missions strewn around Horizon Forbidden West’s vast map. Once you complete every single one (they range from level 8 through level 30), you’ll nab the melee-focused Oseram artificer outfit. In addition to some serious defensive bona fides, it also comes with perks designed to enhance your resonator blasts, powerful explosions you can detonate with your spear if you’ve invested in Forbidden West’s warrior skill tree.
Where to find it: Buy it from the prize master, just outside of the arena’s entrance in the Maw of the Arena (it costs 54 arena medals)
Once you open up the arena, earning enough arena medals to nab the Nora thunder warrior outfit should be your first order of business. I’m not sure if it’s the best outfit in the game, but it’s certainly the most versatile. Not only does it minimize your damage from melee and ranged attacks, it’s also tough against four of Forbidden West’s six elements (fire, shock, purgewater, and plasma). Best of all, though, it’s imbued with four perks that enhance your concentration meter, allowing you to spend more time aiming your weapon in slow motion. And you can further level it up to deal more damage in stealth, or while wielding a heavy weapon. Hmmm, actually, I’ll take it back. The Nora thunder warrior outfit is the best outfit in the game.