Information about Weapon Techniques in Horizon Forbidden West, including how to unlock them, how to switch between them, how to use them, and information about Stamina.
What Are Weapon Techniques?
Weapon Techniques are special skills Aloy can use to perform unique attacks, and they typically modify a weapon’s base attack at the expense of Stamina. For example, High Volley allows Aloy to rain several arrows down on a target and Triple Notch gives Aloy the ability to nock three arrows at once and fire them simultaneously, instead of just firing the [Hunter Bow] normally. Generally Weapon Techniques deal more damage, affect more targets (or a larger area), strike more times, or inflict debuffs as opposed to using the weapon’s normal attack.
All Weapon Techniques are usable by a specific class of weapons, and only by that class of weapons, but all weapons of that class can use all Weapon Techniques for it. For example, all Hunter Bows can use High Volley, Triple Notch and Knockdown Shot, while Double Notch can only be used with Sharpshot Bows.
How to Unlock Weapon Techniques
You can unlock new Weapon Techniques by buying them in various skill trees, where they are indicated by large pentagonal icons. Weapon Technique skills are usually located on the edges of skill trees, are typically connected to other Weapon Techniques belonging to the same weapon type (all three [Boltblaster] Weapon Techniques are connected, allowing you to buy them all sequentially), and they typically cost more Skill Points than nearby passive skills. Each weapon type typically has several unique Weapon Techniques you can unlock - usually three.
How to Use Weapon Techniques
Once purchased, you can typically use Weapon Techniques by holding down L2 to aim and R1 to use the equipped Weapon Technique. Some Weapon Techniques, like Triple Notch and Double Notch, just load additional arrows when used, and aren’t discharged until the bow is fired normally (with R2). In this case, Stamina is consumed when the arrows are notched, allowing you to prepare these skills ahead of time.
If you have more than one Weapon Technique learned for a specific weapon, you can switch between them by holding down R2 and pressing the D-Pad left or right. There is no penalty for swapping between Weapon Techniques on the fly, but all Weapon Techniques share the same Stamina bar.
Weapon Techniques and Stamina
Weapon Techniques are quite powerful and their abuse is therefore mitigated by Stamina, a yellow bar on the bottom right of the screen. Different Weapon Techniques consume various amounts of Stamina, described in vague terms such as “Small”, “Medium” and “Large”. Without any boosts to Stamina, you’ll be able to use Weapon Techniques that consume “Small” amounts of Stamina several times, “Medium” twice and “Large” once. The “Weapon Stamina+” skill in the Hunter tree and on armor will increase your maximum Stamina, with significant investments in both being capable of doubling your maximum Stamina. Stamina will recover gradually over time, and like your maximum Stamina, the rate of Stamina regeneration can be increased via the “Stamina Regen” skill on the Hunter tree and on armor.
More maximum Stamina and faster Stamina Regen will, of course, allow you to spam Weapon Techniques more often, and can result in a significant offensive boon with the right build.
In addition to consuming Stamina, some Weapon Techniques also consume varying amounts of ammunition. Triple Notch will consume as many arrows as you notch (2-3), Braced Shot will use three arrows, Spread Shot will unleash five arrows at a time, Ultra Shot will use ten bolts, and Sustained Burst will unleash an entire Boltblaster clip! The damage output is almost always worth the expenditure… provided you hit what you’re aiming at.