Horizon Zero Dawn – PC Review/Impressions

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HZDPC

Horizon Zero Dawn is an already established action RPG developed by Guerrilla games and published by Sony on the PS4. The setting is a post-apocalyptic world, which has been done before, but never in this way with mechanical creatures roaming about the land like deer in a forest. Released in February 2017 it was extremely well received by both critics of the genre and casual gamers. If you haven’t already, head over to our own review and check it out.

The story is engaging which keeps you wanting to play more, and the world around you supplements this by going from open fields and forests, to destroyed cities of old. You just never want to put this game down and see what else there is in the expansive world.
But enough of that, let’s get down to gameplay. As far as this goes, it’s the same as the PS4 version, which is an extremely positive thing! The PC version feels just as good with responsive controls, a variety of skills and weapons you can upgrade. If anything, this version immerses you even more in the world with the new graphical settings you can adjust, if you have a PC that can take advantage of it. That’s taking nothing away from the PS4 version, which still looks amazing, especially on a PS4 Pro and a 4k TV.

The system specs I used to test this game are as follows:

RTX 2080 Ti 11GB
AMD Ryzen 9 3900x
32Gb of DDR4 3200Mhz RAM
LG 27GL850 monitor (2560 x 1440 @144 Hz)

Now, the main difference between the PC version and the PS4 version is the graphical options and frame rate. The PS4 was locked to 30FPS however, on the PC version, it is only limited by your system hardware. There will always be a trade off though, you either go for the game looking as pretty as it can, or you try and get more FPS for a smoother experience. Normally I would take framerate over visual fidelity any day, but when you have a game which can look this good, you can’t help but admire its beauty.
At 1440p, I was aiming for at least 60FPS with everything maxed out except motion blur (only because I dislike that visual in games), as I wanted to try for the best visual experience at 60FPS, which I did get almost all the time. It did slightly dip below that value now and again, but not enough to impact on the experience. At those settings, at that resolution, the game is very playable and looks amazing.

At 1080p with the same settings, the game still looks stunning and plays even better in my opinion. The much higher frame rate helps with respect to fighting the mechanical creatures, enemies and pulling off some crazy, jumping, slow motion bow and arrow headshot to an unsuspecting sentry.

Now if you have a PC which can’t run the game at those kinds of settings then not to worry, the game has a few options to help. Alongside all the usual suspects such as texture detail, shadows etc etc, the game has a few new settings which have been added to other games recently. Render scale and adaptive performance FPS; The render scale slider will allow you to change the render resolution of the textures, without having to change your screen resolution. This will set the render resolution to a set value. This slides from 0 to 100.
Adaptive performance FPS slider will change the render resolution automatically to keep the FPS you have selected. So if you select 60FPS, the game will change its render resolution throughout the gameplay automatically to maintain that FPS. This slider moves from OFF to 120. However, these 2 options cannot be used together

The game also has a benchmarking test, which I personally think every PC game should have. This allows you to test your settings via a pre-set map to which the game automatically plays to see what FPS you get, without having to jump in your saved game. Even though they have those settings, the game is very graphically demanding and not gonna lie, I was hoping for a bit more performance out of the game. But it’s still early days for the PC version and I’m very hopeful that once there are a few updates for optimisation for the game and GPU drivers, there will be a few more FPS to squeeze out of it.

I personally had a few crashes playing this game. About 3 in a 5 hour session. I am not going to hold that against the game though as I think it’s possibly down to Nvidia drivers.
There is no denying it, the game looks fantastic, even on medium settings at 1080p, and coupled with the gameplay, it’s a game any action RPG fan should play. Horizon Zero Dawn also comes with Frozen Wilds DLC, if you needed another reason to check it out.

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