Horizon Zero Dawn: Complete Edition PC updated impressions

Platform: PC
Also On: PS4
Publisher: PlayStation Mobile Inc
Developer: Guerrilla
Medium: Digital
Players: 1
Online: No

When Horizon Zero Dawn released on Steam August 7th, it was immediately hit with negative reviews, all citing frequent crashing, inconsistent framerates, and generally poor performance. The review embargo lifted right before launch, and reviewers also had a lot of negative things to say about the performance. I figured throwing one more negative review on the pile didn?t really help anybody and decided to give the game a month to patch, fix, and overall improve the performance. The developers were transparent with upcoming patches and seemed receptive to the feedback from both reviewers and the community.

When Horizon Zero Dawn originally launched on the PS4 in 2017, we said ?If you own a PlayStation 4 or are thinking about getting one in the near future there are not many excuses to not pick up Horizon: Zero Dawn. The five years of time and effort that Guerrilla Games poured into the title is evident, and it?s certainly one of the best open-world action RPG experiences in recent memory.? This all still holds true, and Horizon Zero Dawn ended up being one of the most successful and important exclusives that the PS4 had. Going into the launch of the PS5 later this year, Horizon Forbidden West is high on everyone?s list of most anticipated titles. This speaks to the importance of the property, and the decision to port Horizon Zero Dawn to PC comes in at just the right time to potentially sway PC gamers to pick up a PS5 and check out the sequel.

If you are not familiar with Horizon Zero Dawn, it is a post-apocalyptic game, centered on Aloy, a woman raised as an outcast in the wilderness by her adopted father Rost. Horizon Zero Dawn takes place so far past the apocalypse that destroyed civilization, it is spoken about in the religious, hushed tones of legend. The world is populated by tribes of survivors and the wildlife is made up of giant robot dinosaurs. The game will have you fighting against humans and dinosaurs alike, with the latter of the two being the real selling point.

Horizon Zero Dawn is not the first big PS4 exclusive to get ported over to the PC, but it is probably the one that had the most anticipation behind it. Instead of being handled by a third party like Death Stranding, which was excellently ported over by 505 Games, Sony handled publishing on this themselves. That is a big step toward more games making their way to PC, and another big reason so many people had such high hopes for this release. The launch issues were so glaring that a lot of customers on Steam were getting refunds and reviewing it poorly. Reviews after the numerous patches are getting better, but it is still sitting at a ?Mixed? rating on Steam, with almost 22,000 verified reviews. This is not the best look for Sony obviously, but I will give them credit where it is due, they have been incredibly transparent and receptive to feedback, addressing issues openly and doing their best to fix them, all while still working mostly from home in the middle of this ongoing global pandemic.

I have found that the performance has stabilized substantially since launch, and I have gone several days without any crashing. There are still some serious performance hitches, specifically when approaching a large story point. As I run-up to an NPC to progress my missions I still find framerates dip to below 30 FPS which is an incredibly specific and strange issue. Overall though, as long as I keep my resolution to 1440p, I can achieve 80+ frames consistently. If I choose to play in 4k, I still struggle to achieve more than 30. I am playing on a GTX 1080 with a Ryzen 7 3700x CPU, so the 4k is not entirely the fault of the game itself.

The final big point here is the pricing. Horizon Zero Dawn: Complete Edition is $49.99 on PC. Compare that to the $10-$20 on PS4 (depending on sales, used copies, retailer, etc.) and a lot of consumers that have access to both platforms don?t have much of an incentive to pick up this edition. I think a $50 price tag, even for such a great game, should come with a flawless launch experience and incredibly well-optimized performance. Even with that though, $50 is still a steep price to pay for a game that is over 3 years old and available for so much cheaper.

For new players, Horizon Zero Dawn: Complete Edition on PC is finally starting to deliver performance that is consistent enough to be worth buying. If you are not dying to play it and can wait a while for a sale, even better. For repeat players though, people who already own it or have played it on the PS4, there is just not enough here to justify another purchase, especially one at almost full price. I am hoping that these issues do not prevent Sony from bringing other exclusive titles to the PC in the future (looking at you Bloodborne), but rather that they learn from this and figure out how to better optimize future titles before releasing them.