Despite the snowy landscapes of The Cut, my first piece of advice is not to wrap up warm. You’ll soon find out that there are far worse things to worry about in Horizon Zero Dawn: The Frozen Wilds than Aloy getting a bit chilly. Its harsh environment is host to a whole new range of threats to our favourite flame-haired Seeker - namely, new machines, powered-up bandits, more difficult fights...and that’s just the beginning.
1. Things are WAY harder. No, seriously.
I’m not joking: The Frozen Wilds is tough as hell. Fair, but tough. It’s definitely made for those of us who reached the level 50 cap in Horizon Zero Dawn, as the new machines you’re fighting - as well as the ones corrupted by the Daemon - are much harder to take down. The new robots might look like they should lumber around with the grace of a hippo, but they actually leap into incredibly fast attacks in the blink of the eye. Plus all of them have devastating ranged attacks, meaning you’ll have to keep moving until there’s a pause in their onslaught. Oh, and they can clear stretches of ground in a heartbeat. Even though the recommended starting level for the DLC is 30, I entered it at level 47 and had my fair share of deaths. So, yeah...tough.
2. Banuk bows are better than Shadow
You might be used to Shadow Bows - especially the sharpshooter - doing the most damage in the main game. Those days are over. You’ll want to get yourself the Banuk versions of the Sharpshooter, Hunter, and War bows ASAP. As well as having nifty feathers sticking out from each side, they deal a ton more damage and can have one extra modification more than the Shadow variants. But wait, there’s more! If you hold down the right trigger for longer, they charge up to deal even more damage. You’ll be able to tell when they’re fully powered up thanks to the new clicking noise your controller will make. Trust me: with the new kinds of enemies around, you’re going to want all the extra firepower you can get. But remember...
3. Bluegleam is your new currency
To stop you from strolling in and using your accumulated shards to buy the best weapons in the DLC straight off, the Frozen Wilds has a new type of currency. It’s called bluegleam. To get your hands on the powered-up bows and armour you’ll need quite a bit of it. Aloy can harvest it from old corpses of machines scattered around the map, so make sure to keep your eye out for bright blue splotches on the white snow. The telltale purple diamond hovering above each robot corpse is particularly handy too. Warning, though: once you’ve harvested bluegleam from one corpse, it’s gone. It won’t respawn, so make sure you think carefully about what you want before you buy.
4. More pouch upgrades are available
To take on all the high-level machines prowling around the cut, you’re going to need a ton of ammo. Thankfully there’s a whole new selection of pouch upgrades so you can carry around much more ammo than before (most certainly a good thing, because you’re definitely going to need it). It’s best to get these upgrades as soon as possible. They require the same kind of resources as before - animal bones, skins, and some shards. With the addition of owls, goats, and squirrels to the game, you’re going to have to keep those eyes peeled if you want to stock up on ammo.
5. Get the animal resources perk ASAP
To get those sweet, sweet pouch upgrades you’ll need to hunt for a while. Unless, of course, you invest in the perk that increases the likelihood of looting bones, skins, and animal talismans from the fluffy critters you kill. The usefulness of this new perk can’t be underestimated, as it’ll cut the time you spend stalking badgers and goats and whatnot in half. That means higher ammo capacity, which means more time fighting without having to stop to craft halfway through, which means you have a better chance of not ending up dead.
6. Overriding doesn't work
Thanks to the Daemon corrupting most of the robots in the Cut, your override tool won’t be nearly as useful. What a nuisance. That’s because anything that has the telltale purple tentacles coming out of its neck is possessed by the Daemon, meaning that like the corrupted robots in the base game they can’t be reprogrammed to fight for you. Once you’ve completed the main quest, however, some of these Daemon-infected robots will be replaced with normal ones. Meaning you can create your very own squad of friendly robots just like before. Aww.
7. Bandits are tougher...and smarter
Like their machine counterparts, bandits are different this time around. Firstly, they’re tougher. Obviously. Secondly, there are two new types that you’ll want to watch out for: the Scanner bandit, and the Marksman bandit. The Scanner has nicked the sensory pulse device off a Longlegs. They use it to send out a light blue pulse which can detect if Aloy’s closeby - even if she’s hiding. It’s a major pain in the behind. The Marksman bandits are incredibly handy with a bow and will twig onto where you’re hiding much quicker than their buddies, meaning the yellow ? goes to a ! real quick. Also not entirely pleasant.
8. Your spear can be modified
Joy of joys: this improvement is for those of you who like to get up close and personal and bash things in instead of staying at a distance. If you do a particular quest for a shaman loitering by the dyeing pools near Song’s Edge, you’ll unlock the ability to modify your spear. Like the mods you can add to your other weapons, you can make the spear do more damage, handle better, or have specific elemental damage. Look out for the triangle-shaped mods on your travels and you’ll have a powered-up pointy stick in no time.
9. Override control towers rather than destroying them
Although the temptation to destroy the otherworldly control towers is strong, resist it. These odd giant robotic flowers send out pulses of purple Daemonic energy, healing any nearby infected robots and depleting your shield if you’re using the shield-weaver armour. A yellow bulb will pop up when they’re vulnerable - but don’t shoot it. Instead, get close by sneaking your way towards the control tower, and override it using your spear. It’ll render it useless as well as making the control tower send out a pulse that’ll stun all the infected robots in the area. Considering how deadly these robots are, that’s majorly useful. If you’re quick you can run round and do a takedown strike on most of the downed machines before they recover, taking off a significant chunk of their health.