I’ve reached a point in Horizon: Zero Dawn where I have enough shards to start investing in something other than weapon upgrades and ammunition. And so, we turn to the question of Aloy’s attire. Early in the game, I picked up the Nora stealth armor, and when the opportunity presented, I upgraded that to the Heavy variant, and it’s been my daily driver. But it doesn’t really offer, well, anything, in terms of defense. I could use the two mod slots to provide some manner of reduction against one or two elements, but that doesn’t feel great either, since armor mods don’t seem very strong (or at least, the ones I’ve found haven’t.)

It seems like the optimal strategy is probably to get armors that have high defense against a single element and switch around, modding them to stack even more of that given element. But I can’t afford all of those outfits. So;

Which armor sets should I buy that will see the most use in the back half of the game? Which resistances should I seek to maximize, and how should I mod them?

(For reference, the main quest has told me to head to the Grave Hoard at my current point of progression.)

  • Do you have the DLC, and are you planning/willing to go to the DLC area before finishing the main game? Apr 9, 2021 at 15:34
  • Yes, and probably no respectively? That said, I’d be interested in answers that tell me why I should! Apr 9, 2021 at 15:39

3 Answers 3


There is an armor that you can't buy that is very strong on medium or lower difficulty levels (it is intentionally nerfed on higher levels). For me this armor did obsolete all other armors and I used it exclusively once I got it. You can get this armor once you progress further in the main quest, it is roughly 2 big quests from where you are now.

Spoiler for the exact quests you need to do:

You get this armor from the Ancient Armory side quest, and the last two power cells are in the Grave Hoard and the GAIA Prime facility.

Spoiler for what the armor provides:

The armor provides a shield that absorbs damage and refreshed automatically. It provides a lot of protection compared to the non-DLC armor with crappy mods, and also is a big boost to convenience as you need far less healing and herb gathering. It is significantly weaker on higher difficulties where it'll absorb only one hit usually.

If you use stealth, the stealth armor is still your best bet. When I played the game first, falling back to stealth was typically the way I resolved situations I failed at with brute force. For combat I prefer melee protection, for me when a machine got close enough to hit me that was generally the most dangerous situation. I found elemental damage protection too situational, so in the end I used the stealth armor with melee damage mods.

My impression is that unless you farm high-level mods and are in new game+ where you get an additional slot, the differences in armor are not that big until you get the armor I mentioned above.

The DLC added some more powerful weapons and armor, and a few very powerful non-random mods. It also added some enemies that are far more difficult than the ones in the main game, but you can do quite a few side quests in the DLC without hitting too hard of a difficulty barrier. In the DLC there are some very strong fire-based machines (and some ice-based as well), for these armor against fire is quite useful.

  • Also the Spear mod quest in the DLC helps boost spear damage quite a lot.
    – greg-449
    Apr 9, 2021 at 16:03
  • Ah, good old Shield-weaver :)
    – pinckerman
    Apr 9, 2021 at 16:09

It depends on the area you are going to face.
I bought and invested in Protector armor, which works well against melee attacks and it's useful in different cases. I found long range protections quite useless.

Surely it's good to have fire-protecting and ice-protecting armors in late game. Elemental defences are situational, when facing specific machines they are a must-have in harder difficulties. As a side note, I prefer to maximize a singular element, instead of using more general mods. It's better to do something at best.

As @Mad Scientist is asking, the DLC area is strongly based on ice element, but fire-based machines are pretty common, too.

  • 1
    Also, might be spoilerish but there are ennemies in the DLC that remove the forcefield of the Ancient Armory armor, making it good, but not broken as it is in regular play.
    – Fredy31
    Apr 9, 2021 at 17:40
  • @Fredy31 that's true, I didn't mention it because OP asked for armors to buy
    – pinckerman
    Apr 9, 2021 at 21:02
  • 1
    Arrow protection is great against human enemies, since they almost never go melee and you're heavily outnumbered in some of the quest scenarios.
    – Nelson
    Jul 6, 2021 at 2:13

Really, I would say the armors are pretty balanced with eachother, depending on what is the best type of armor you can buy at that point in the game.

So after that the answer of 'what outfit should you buy' is pretty much decided by how you want to play and what are you facing.

If I remember right there are basically 2 types. Stealth (To snipe ennemies from the shadows), Combat (More defense, so you can fight with ennemies easier). The combat armors are also split in a bunch of different resistances. So you can go stealth (which I find works well with human ennemies) and resistance for whatever element you find hardest to deal with or that section of the game is heavy in.

2 pieces of armor are not in the 'balanced' rule.

First, the ancient armory armor, which needs you to find 5 power cells that are hidden on the map. That armor has pretty good stats (but more general based), and gives a recharging forcefield that will take the damage before your health.

Then there is an armor you get for completing the DLC that also has good stats and gives you a small life regen overtime. But the DLC is really balanced so you do it after the main game. Its gonna be VERY hard or even impossible before finishing the main game.

Both those armors are very late game. So yeah, don't bother with them until you are very far or done with the story.

  • Just my two cents: While the ancient armor does provide good base defensive stats and forcefield, it comes at the cost of not being able to apply modifiers. On the hardest difficulty, the ancient armor is practically useless when fighting machines with elemental attacks. A single glint hawk attack would rip right through the shield AND knock off ~30% of your health Apr 9, 2021 at 18:08
  • Yeah its very useful because you can dip out of a fight, wait a little behind a rock, and recharge the shield instead of having to rely on herbs. (If I remember right I was basically picking every blade of glass i could find before, but after I just had a maxed herbs most of the time) But yeah on harder difficulties I guess that armor gets slapped out of you quick.
    – Fredy31
    Apr 9, 2021 at 18:12
  • I haven't seen any 'exploration' armor; I bought maps from a vendor that point out the major collectibles, and now I just have armor with every kind of defense under the sun availiable, plus the one suit of stealth armor. Apr 9, 2021 at 18:19
  • Played the game a while ago, might have another game in mind. Really wonder what tho.
    – Fredy31
    Apr 9, 2021 at 18:23
  • 2
    @Fredy31 you're probably thinking of Ghost of Tsushima Apr 9, 2021 at 18:30

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