Something you'll soon discover after playing Horizon Zero Dawn - or even just watching the trailers and various bits of promotional material that's been circling ahead of launch - is that you can override machines and use them to your advantage.
Whether that advantage comes via riding machines as mounts or using them in combat as allies, overrides are a massive help to you.
Being such a huge help though, they are of course gated behind your own progress, in this case via the unlock system known as Cauldrons and a series of override tiers: Psi, Sigma, Rho, Xi, and Zeta overrides, which let you control increasingly powerful machines as you unlock them.
So, it's time for some answers. Here in this guide we'll talk you through answers to questions like where are the override Cauldron locations, plus how do you override more powerful machines, and which overrides out of Psi, Sigma, Rho, Xi and Zeta let you control which machines?
Horizon Zero Dawn overrides explained
Overriding machines in Horizon Zero Dawn requires you to unlock the relevant Override tier. You'll unlock the first, Psi, within the first few hours of the game during the main story - for more on that, you can check out our Womb of the Mountain mission walkthrough - and this will let you override some basic machines like the Walkers and Striders you'll find in most areas of the world.
The practice of overriding is relatively simple, at least in principle: you need to approach a machine undetected - or at least without the little circle turning from yellow to red - in order to access your override ability. Once roughly close enough for a melee attack, you just need to hold down the Triangle button until the bar fills up along the bottom of your screen, where you get the prompt for Stealth Strikes, Strikes from Above, and of course Overrides.
While every machine - minus the Corruptors and Deathbringers - can be overriden, that doesn't mean you can use all of them as mounts. Only Striders, Broadheads, and Chargers can be used as mounts. So yes, you can ride a robo-pony, but no, you can't ride a giant metal eagle.
Horizon Zero Dawn Psi, Sigma, Rho, Xi and Zeta overrides and unlock tiers for riding machine mounts
As we've mentioned above, the ability to override machines is split up into tiers, based roughly on a machine's general power.
The tiers are unlocked via completing special dungeons called Cauldrons, which we walk you through below, but here's how those tiers are made up:
- PHI - Tallnecks, Watchers, Stiders, Broadheads, Chargers
- SIGMA - Sawtooths, Scrappers, Grazers, Lancehorns
- RHO - Tramplers, Shell-Walkers, Snapmaws, Longlegs, Ravagers
- XI - Glinthawks, Freeze Bellowacks, Stalkers, Behemoths, Fire Bellowbacks
- ZETA - Stormbirds, Thunderjaws, Rockbreakers
Horizon Zero Dawn Cauldron locations and solutions
The ability to override Phi-tier machines doesn't require you to complete any Cauldrons. You simply need to complete the main quest Womb of the Mountain, which is fairly early on in the game, and you'll then be able to override all of the Phi-tier machines.
After that however, you'll need to start heading to Cauldrons. The first of these, Sigma, is marked on your map after talking to a lady called Dral in Mother's crown, and the quest Cauldron Sigma is also started, too.
The Sigma Cauldron is located fairly close to your starting area, due north of Mother's Heart and nestled in the side of the mountain. It's guarded by Watchers, primarily, and requires you to solve a series of minor platforming puzzles before you reach the core, which is guarded by a Fire Bellowback and several more Watchers.
Override the core, and that's the Sigma Cauldron unlocked!
Rho is located in roughly the centre of the map, a little to the south. It's pretty much due east of Meridian, again nestled into the side of a mountain.
This one's guarded by more Watchers both inside and out, and features some moderately more complicated puzzles inside. The main one involves large, spinning wheels with handholds: it's not explained to you anywhere, but shooting these big mill-like wheels with any arrow from your bow will cause it to stop and turn the other way, which at one point is essential for you to progress.
This time, the core is guarded by a Snapmaw, some Watchers and a couple Ravagers.
The Xi Cauldron is right at the bottom on the west end of the map, due south of Meridian and deep in the forest.
This one's guarded by a large number of Bandits as well as Watchers. There are several areas inside that act as kind of mini bandit camps for you to clear, but there are plenty of Blaze cannisters and Deathbringer guns for you to use to help you on your way.
The core itself is guarded by Bandits, but once activated, you'll need to fend off the bandits and machines which come to attack. Use your newly-acquired overriding capabilities to get some machines on your side and have a little fun with the gormless bandits, if you feel like mixing it up.
On exiting, you'll find yet more Bandits being swarmed by attacking Glinthawks and Bellowbacks. It's fun to watch, and even more to wreak a little havok with by using your overrides and ranged attacks.
For more tips, explainers and advice on Horizon be sure to check out our main Horizon Zero Dawn guide and walkthrough hub, which includes advice for things like Horizon Zero Dawn's override Cauldrons and which machines they let you control, getting hold of the Golden Fast Travel Pack for unlimited fast travel, finding and unlocking the very powerful Horizon Zero Dawn Shield Weave Armour and Power Cell locations, and then for DLC players there's our main Horizon Zero Dawn Frozen Wilds walkthrough and guide, a page on how to earn Bluegleam quickly, and finally, a page on the handy A Secret Shared quest and how to upgrade your spear in Horizon Frozen Wilds.
Finally, the Zeta Cauldron is a far shorter dungeon with a simple guard of a few Watchers.
The secret entrance is up and to the left - out the front, on the ridge where a Watcher will try to attack you from range. A pillar nearby has a clear climbing path on it for you, which you can use to hop across up to that Watcher, and head down a slope to the side entrance which works via manual override as usual.
Inside, it's only a short way to the central core, which is guarded by none other than a Thunderjaw, along with a few smaller machines. It's best to come prepared with Tripcaster ammunition for this, whilst we strongly recommend use of the Tearblast Arrows which are available from the Carja and Shadow Carja Sharpshot bows. These are superb at stripping away chunks of armour and weapon attachments, and perfect for removing high-threat attachments like the Disc Launcher from the Thunderjaw.
With or without those arrows, remove the launch first, then use it against the Thunderjaw to quickly reduce it to low health and expose its most vulnerable parts. After it's down, that's your final Cauldron unlocked, meaning all machines other than the slightly unusual Corruptors and Deathbringers are now capable of being overriden. Time to go cause some chaos!