Hunting Grounds are a set of activities in Horizon Zero Dawn and Horizon Zero Dawn: The Frozen Wilds. There are six known hunting grounds. Five are are maintained by Keepers from the Carja Hunters Lodge of Meridian. The sixth is located in the Banuk territory known as The Cut and has no connection with the Hunters Lodge. All hunting grounds offer trials at which hunters are able to test their skills.
At each of the Lodge hunting grounds, hunters are tested via trials on different hunting skills used against machines, such as tools (blast wires, etc.), elemental ammunition (fire arrows etc.), stamina, stealth, and leverage (use of one machine's weaponry against others). The Banuk hunting ground tests the skills of hunters who have completed the journey known as The Shaman's Path, and has a special trial reserved only for Banuk chieftains. Each hunting ground has three trials. Judging of a hunter's performance in a trial is done by the groundskeeper.
At the Lodge hunting grounds, a hunter’s performance is judged based on the hunter's ability to complete the trial in an allotted time. The hunter is awarded a mark called a sun, the rank of which depends on the time taken to complete the trial. Each trial has a certain time limit for each sun rank; the shorter the time limit, the higher the rank. The ranks are as follows:
Failure to complete the trial in at least the time for which a half sun is awarded is considered a failure of the trial.
At the Banuk hunting ground, a hunter is awarded first place, second place or third place in a trial depending on the time he/she takes to complete successfully complete it. Failure to complete the trial in a time that earns at least third place is considered a failure of the trial.
If a hunter is awarded at least three Half Sun marks or higher from trials at any of the five Lodge hunting grounds, he/she is eligible to gain admittance to the Hunting Lodge in Meridian.
Completing a Lodge trial at any rank will reward a Sun Box of the given rank; finishing at a higher rank does not reward the treasure boxes of lower ranks. However, all trials can be repeated infinitely in order to obtain multiple boxes of any rank.
Earning all three Half or Full Suns at a hunting grounds will reward an additional All Half/Full Sun Box, while all three Blazing Suns will instead reward a Skill Point. Once a higher overall rank reward has been earned at a hunting grounds, lower overall rank rewards become unavailable.
At the Snowchants hunting grounds, the reward boxes are earned similarly, but are instead called first, second or third place boxes. Additionally, earning first place in all three trials will reward an All First Place Box as well as a Skill Point. Notably, the All First Place Box contains the Veteran's Weapon Coil and 2 Bluegleam.
If the hunter completes all fifteen trials across the five hunting grounds, he/she is awarded up to three specially upgraded Lodge hunting weapons, depending on rank. These are given out at the Hunters Lodge upon presentation of the suns to Aidaba, the Lodge's weapons keeper.
- 15 Half Suns or higher: Lodge Ropecaster
- 15 Full Suns or higher: Lodge Blast Sling
- 15 Blazing Suns: Lodge War Bow
Known Hunting Grounds
- Nora Hunting Grounds
- Valleymeet Hunting Grounds
- Greatrun Hunting Grounds
- Spurflints Hunting Grounds
- Sun Furrows Hunting Grounds
- Snowchants Hunting GroundsFW (Banuk hunting grounds)
Each Lodge hunting ground is managed by a keeper selected by the Hunter's Lodge. The Banuk hunting ground is managed by Lauvuk, who was once a runner for an exclusively female werak.