Horizon Zero Dawn offers a wealth of options for approaching combat and exploring the world. We will detail how and where to obtain rare materials, and how they can be used. Loot and equipment in Horizon Zero Dawn comes with color-coded rarity: gray (common), green (uncommon), blue (rare), and purple (very rare).
Shards double as a crafting material and vendor currency, and are the most common material in Horizon Zero Dawn. You will most often find shards on downed enemies or machines, or in loot boxes scattered throughout the world. You can obtain more shards by selling excess Resources. Machine Cores, which sometimes randomly drop from robots, are only used for selling at a high value.
If you have enough shards to take a gamble, merchants also sell Shard Gambler's Boxes for 10 shards apiece. The prizes inside vary from only one shard or even a rock, to 250 shards. Purchasing all ten at a vendor will cost a hefty 100 shards, but the chances that one of them will hold 75 or 250 shards is high enough that it usually works out in your favor. Just be ready for possible disappointment, and don't take the risk if you can't afford it.
In the crafting menu, make sure to visit the Crafting Capacity sub-menu. Upgrading here will let you carry more equipment (Weapons, Outfits, Resources, Modifications, Potions, and Traps) and every type of weapon ammo. New weapon Carry Capacity options will open up as you purchase new types of weapons.
Generally these are crafted with animal parts, along with common materials like Shards and Blaze. The lower-level carry capacity upgrades use more common animal drops, while the higher tiers require less common drops like Skins and Bones. Unfortunately, there is no easy way to tell where animals will frequent. They aren't marked on the map like robots. You'll just have to explore nature to find animals. Be sure to Focus scan with R3 and look around for small blue highlights.
Fish can be among the trickiest to find, since they're only in water. Meridian Village is on the water, and provides an easy way to find fish. Simply scan and mark them with your Focus and mark them, and use that to guide your aim. Then you can jump into the water to collect the bounty.
One of the most handy items is a Golden Fast Travel Kit. For this, you need a Fox Skin and 20 pieces of Fatty Meat. Fatty Meat is the rarest kind of meat drop, so you'll probably need to go hunting for a long while to find it. It will be worth it, though, once you can fast travel around the world without keeping tabs on your number of disposable fast travel kits. Just make sure you don't accidentally sell it at a shop, because it will always appear in the Sell menu.
Ammo for your weapons is vital, and often you'll find yourself needing to craft more in the heat of battle. For this reason, it's important to keep a solid stockpile of materials that you can use to craft ammo at a moment's notice. Here is a listing of ammo crafting materials, and where they can be found. Keep in mind that most materials can also be found at vendors, but that's hardly needed since they're found in the world.
If you need a particular type of machine to appear consistently, try venturing to the correct Hunting Ground. These challenges spawn the correct machines every time, and you get to keep the drops from the machines even if you've already completed the Hunting challenge itself.
Ridgewood - Ridgewood is the most common material, found on every tree. You'll find it often while exploring. Pick it up whenever possible, but once your Resources pouch starts to fill, check and make sure you haven't picked up too much of a surplus. It comes in blocks of 250 so it's easy for it to take up several blocks, when you only need one or two to have a safe amount.
Wire - Wire can be found on all machines. It's another of the most common crafting materials, and also the most used. Be sure to have plenty, especially if you're making heavy use of the Ropecaster to take down bigger machines.
Sparker - Another comon crafting material found on all machines, Sparker is used mostly for Shock weapons, like the Shock Bomb and Shock Wire.
Metalburn - Metalburn is a less common material, only found on corrupted machines or rare encounters with Deathbringers. As such, it's used for ammo crafting less often. As long as you venture into some optional corrupted zones and play through the campaign, you should have plenty.
Blaze - Blaze is used for Fire both Blast and Fire ammo types, so it's found on many machines. Specifically, you can find it by hunting the following machines: Strider, Grazer, Broadhead, Sawtooth, Fire Bellowback, Snapmaw, Rockbreaker, Stormbird, and Thunderjaw.
Chillwater - The inverse of Blaze, Chillwater is used for freezing ammo and traps. You can find it on the following machines: Lancehorn, Glinthawk, Sawtooth, Ravager, Freeze Bellowback, Snapmaw, Behemoth, Stormbird, and Thunderjaw.
Machine Parts and Hearts
The strongest outfits and weapons usually require machine parts to trade, in addition to a hefty price of Shards. If you have enough shards to afford it, a vendor in Meridian sells these Hearts for a price, but that tends to nearly double the price of the outfit itself. You can use Machine Lenses (green) to trade for some lower-level outfits, and Machine Hearts (blue) to trade for the strongest, very rare (purple) outfits and weapons.
To reliably obtain Hearts, purchase the Shadow Sharpshot Bow. That will give you the Harvest Arrow ammo type, which is weaker than most other arrows, but increases the chance of rarer drops. If you scan an enemy, you can also aim at specific parts with the Tearblast arrow from the Carja or Shadow Sharpshot Bow, which will often rip components off the machine entirely.
You can modify both Weapons and Outfits from the Crafting menu. Your equipment has more slots based on its rarity. Green weapons have one Mod slot, Blue has two, and Purple has three. Outfits differ slightly, in that Green outfits have 0-1 slots, Blue has 1 slot, and Purple has two slots. A few outfits, the Silks and Stalwart types, are marked "highly customizable" and have one additional slot per rarity.
Keep in mind that until you purchase the high-level Tinker ability, you cannot remove mods! That means whatever mod you slot into a weapon or outfit will stay there until later in the game, and you'll have to prioritize your skill points toward it.
Generally, you should try to buy a wide variety of weapons and outfits to be prepared for a wide range of situations. In that case, try to use Modifications to further enhance the abilities it already has. Putting additional Stealth mods on a Stealth outfit, for example, will make you that much harder to spot when you're in stealth situations. Earlier on the game, when you can't afford as many outfits and before you have the Tinker ability to swap at will, you may want to make your outfits more general purpose with mods that go against-type.
Check out our full listing of Horizon Zero Dawn guides for more on the open-world action game from Guerrilla.