I've been trying to solo AT Zorah Magdaros but I haven't gotten the right run to actually beat him. If you'd like to attempt to do what I couldn't then continue reading. (If you want to just beat him normally then destroy the three cores, repel nergi, and make sure you run around activating cannons.)
Weapon of choice is GS. You can try HBG Glutton or DB. The Hammer, LS, and CB all have issues with their main power attack so they probably won't work.
The early strat is simple. You can probably ignore this paragraph. Break the 3 cores with your weapon. Learn to tackle the explosions or guard them. There are two types of explosions. One is a fast explosion that will leave a few open places where you can freely stand (you can see these spots / not glowing). The second attack is a slower explosion that will hit a 360 around it. I usually either tackle, guard, or run off to do a sliding attack while I wait. If you're running mantles I like to put on the Temporal mantle for the first ones and at the big third one I use the Rocksteady Mantle to heal aug my way to destruction. The reason I use Rocksteady here is because sometimes Zorah will "erupt" and reset your location so in order to prevent this you can either wait a while, leave the zone, or just break the core before this happens. Kill nergi like normal and then go to a core and shoot some DMC bullets at it.
The Barrier Defense section is the part you really need to Ace.
ZM will always start with a charged beam. Three of these means game over. If you're going Hunter weapon only then you're not allowed to use a binder or dragonator to stop this, but if you did use one try to use it when they say "zorah magdaros is charging an attack blah blah blah" so that you will cancel it.
ZM will always do a headbutt afterwards. He always transitions between charged beam and headbutt unless otherwise noted. When ZM does headbutt you can go to where his head is and climb it. Go up a little bit so that you don't fall off or clip back onto the barrier. Like I said earlier ZM will do a charged beam after a headbutt. You need to stop this right away! Usually when he pulls his head up after the headbutt I will run to the head's core and do a Triangle – Triangle lvl3 – Triangle lvl3. The TCS should destroy the core on his head and prevent the charged beam attack. The problem here is that when reeling from the pain, ZM has a chance to clip you back onto the barrier so if you time it wrong you will be softly laid onto the barrier. Wait too long and Zorah will send you off his head during the charge. You can't stay on his head long so get the timing right.
After you break his head core his pattern will change. He will now do hand slaps on the barrier instead of headbutts. He will also sometimes regenerate his cores (Head core and the big core in the middle). Note that the "regenerating cores" animation will knock you off his head and arm (arm part is very important). You can opt to not break his head core so that he repeats the headbutt + charged beam combo. Why would you do that?
You can go to ZM's side and jump onto his arms. He will cradle you as you give him a nice shave on his chest. At first you will be doing normal damage, but once you get a chest part break (I might consider slotting this in) you will start doing 800+ dmg per TCS or about 210 per Glutton shot (30ish per pellet). This is the part where I pray and hope ZM doesn't finish any charged beam attacks because I'm not too familiar with the flinching rules for ZM and the AI will sometimes ballista binder him and knock you down.
The second option, which I feel is too slow and also bugged me into his body, is to go from head core to the middle core. They both regenerate when ZM regenerates a core, which happens seemingly randomly when his head core is broken. The benefits of this method is that you won't get knocked off if you're careful of when you approach the head core (avoid binders and staying too long during the charged beam). The downside is that there is a lot of travel time.
With the first option you can pray that wailing on his sides will do enough to kill him and that you are not knocked off. You can be knocked off by his core recharge or binders. You can stay on his hand when he does the charged beam as long as he is not hit by an AIs binder. I've managed to get a kill but I cheated and used a dragonator to stop the first charged beam. I did it to see if I could get enough DPS and I finished the hunt at just over 19 minutes with the HBG Glutton.
Anyways if you have any AT ZM strats that will help me in this endeavor then please send them to me or leave them in the comments. I would love to hear them.
TLDR: ZM does headbutt, jump on his head and break head core maybe. Wail at his sides or at the cores and pray for rng.
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