There are many side quests, errands, collectibles, and salvage contracts in Guerrilla’s massive, beautiful role-playing game, and I’ve played them all. If you’re short on time or attention, check out the 11 best side quests in Horizon Forbidden West for story and gear.
Note: This guide is as spoiler-free as possible with quests listed in the order you’re likely to come across them. Arrows indicate the names of follow-up quests that are so intertwined that I count them as one and the same.
1. The Bristlebacks
Part investigation and part town politics, you’ll guide Aloy through finding an answer to one of the Daunt’s biggest problems. This side quest’s story payoff is worth the time it takes to finish.
Where to find it: Head to the exclamation mark over Ulvund in the town of Chainscrape.
2. A Dash of Courage
Technically an errand, helping out the game’s first chef is truly a delight and will help you practice your hunting. (David loved this one.) Pro tip: When he offers you a comped meal, go big and order the best thing on the menu.
Where to find it: Check out the exclamation mark in the pub at Chainscrape.
3. A Bigger Boom > Boom or Bust
Technically an errand, A Bigger Boom features fun dialogue with two well-written sisters and rewards you with one of the best early weapons in the game, a Spike Thrower (great for throwing at corroded or frozen enemies). The follow-up quest will come much later (when you’re looking for #9 or #10 on this list), but you’ll want to check in with your friends because you’re gifted another excellent weapon, Boomer’s Shredder Gauntlet.
Where to find it: There’s an exclamation mark over two Oseram tinkers on the way out of Chainscrape.
4. Shadow from the Past > Shadows from the West
These side quests will be most enjoyable for players who were emotionally attached to the storylines from Horizon Zero Dawn and still really hate that one mean Shadow Carja guy. (What was his name? Who knows. Eleanor Roosevelt said people won’t forget how they made you feel, and damn, was she right about… that Eclipse guy.)
You’ll get to do some stalking, intense fights, and rescuing of nice locals. As a thank you, you’ll get a Whisper Hunter Bow that’s a good fit for stealth shots.
Where to find it: Head to the exclamation mark in the main fort of Barren Light.
A Note On Salvage Contracts
Once you leave the Daunt, you’ll have the opportunity to start doing salvage contracts. They are great ways to level up and, if you finish all enough of them, you’ll eventually (two thirds of the way through the game) land a legendary melee support armor that I wish was a bit better for all the grinding you have to do to get it.
If melee combat is your preferred playstyle and you love hunting machines, then do the Salvage Contracts; otherwise, they’re not worth it from a lore perspective and you’ll get enough experience doing other quests.
5. The Roots that Bind
This quest does a beautiful job with world-building as you help a small group of rebels stand their ground. Plus, you’ll get a special Sharpshoot Bow, i.e., Horizon’s equivalent of a sniper. This is the first of its kind available to you on a playthrough.
Where to find it: After you leave the Daunt, go check out Plainsong to see what it’s all about. At the top of the town will be an exclamation mark with Nel who wants your attention. Or, head straight there by going north of Plainsong to the top of the map.
6. The Burning Blooms > Need to Know
An epic adventure with an old friend will net you emotional highs and lows, a variety of gameplay, thoughtful world-building, and a sweet thank you gift.
Where to find it: Someone will give you the quest after you complete main quest “Death’s Door.”
7. Thirst for the Hunt > Wound in the Sand > The Gate of the Vanquished
Get in deep with clan politics and challenging hunts in the desert. You’ll level up quickly on the way as you fight some big bads, unlocking the super strong Firestorm Warrior Bow at the end.
Where to find it: As you head further west for the main quest pathline, you’ll naturally enter the town of Arrowhand and meet Drakka, one of the characters in this group of quests. Keep completing these quests to unlock the follow-ups.
8. The Deluge
Feel good about helping people out with a mix of platforming and small battles with machines. This quest goes on a little too long, but it’s worth it as your reward is one of the best armor outfits (both in style and stealth-friendly perks) in the game, the Tenakth Vindicator.
Where to find it: You’ll find it in Arrowhand, same as #7 “Thirst for the Hunt,” with an exclamation mark.
9. Lofty Ambitions
One of the most beautiful and entertaining quests in the game. I lowkey couldn’t believe it when I started it; you won’t either. These guys crack me up, and they’re not just a good time. For your efforts, you’ll also receive a hearty set of armor (good for players who enjoy mixing melee and ranged combat), the Oseram Striker.
Where to find it: After you’ve completed main quest “The Sea of Sands,” you can return to that area later and you’ll see an exclamation mark over one of your old friends.
Note: If you’ve been exploring the platform puzzles of the ruins and recovering relics on your play-through, when you’re back in this area, follow another exclamation mark for the errand “Nights and Lights” for satisfaction.
10. The Second Verse
This is the best side quest in Horizon Forbidden West, in my opinion, with challenging combat wrapped up in beautiful lore. At the end of this quest, I captured one of the only game clips I’ve ever recorded as a gamer. Come back to the area later after finishing to be pleasantly surprised. I hope you enjoy this one as much as I did.
Where to find it: After you complete enough main quests, you’ll have a chance to talk to your friend Zo regularly. Ask her about the land gods when given the opportunity to start this side quest.
11. The Way Home
This is a late-game side quest where the gameplay is, I’ll be honest, a little boring. But the reward is worth it: You’ll get an excellent legendary spike thrower, the Skykiller (how sick is that name), for helping out the locals in Legacy’s Landfall. If you haven’t been utilizing spike throwers, now is the time y’all. End game, here we come.
Where to find it: After completing main quest “The Wings of the Ten,” return to Legacy’s Landfall and go to the exclamation mark over the folks on the boat.