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Horizon Zero Dawn Complete Edition: PC review

Horizon Zero Dawn Complete Edition: PC review
Horizon Zero Dawn Complete Edition: PC review

In this review, we will write about Horizon Zero Dawn Complete Edition PC version, the open-world action RPG game released exclusively for PlayStation 4 in 2017.

Developed by Guerrilla Games, a Dutch studio that had become known to the general public for the Killzone saga, the game was acclaimed by the public and critics as one of the best of the year for the Sony platform and became in one of those exclusive titles that by themselves convince the user to buy a console.

If we add that Guerrilla is developing a sequel that under the name Horizon 2 Forbidden West aims to be one of the star names at the launch of the PS5, we can understand the interest of this Horizon Zero Dawn Complete Edition, mainly to check the possibilities of an A-rated game on current PC hardware three years after the original arrived.

Horizon Zero Dawn Complete Edition requirements

The hardware requirements to run the game on PC are demanding even from the minimum, especially in storage capacity where you need more than 100GB free space to install the game and something more afterward. It also requires the use of Windows 10 64-bit and DirectX 12 libraries. We have already told you about these “requirements” and their problems. Simply, in this game (and in the vast majority), despite being already elevated as a base, totally forget about the minimums because you will not be able to play it.

Minimum requirements:

  • Processor: Intel Core i5-2500K at 3.3GHz or AMD FX 6300 at 3.5GHz
  • Memory: 8GB RAM
  • Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 (3GB) or AMD Radeon R9 290 (4GB)
  • DirectX: Version 12
  • Storage: 100GB available space

Recommended specs:

  • Processor: Intel Core i7-4770K 3.5GHz or Ryzen 5 1500X 3.5GHz
  • Memory: 16GB RAM
  • Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 (6GB) or AMD Radeon RX 580 (8GB)
  • DirectX: Version 12
  • Storage: 100GB available space

Console ports and lack of optimization

It must be remembered that the game has been “converted” or “ported” to a different platform, but without any change in its structure, operation, or improvement, except for the necessary support for the system where it is running (Windows 10 in this case) including the drivers.

With some honorable exceptions, console-to-PC ports usually don’t get good marks, although, in theory, the higher level of hardware should allow it. Suffice it to say that my PC’s graphics card alone cost more than the price of two PS4 consoles.

If you have seen the user ratings on Steam or on portals like Metacritic, you will be alarmed by the negative opinions, not of the game, but of its execution on PCs. Although we have not had as many technical problems as the user reviews say, there are to admit that the game is not well optimized. Note that the title has been published under the PlayStation Mobile label and not that of Sony Interactive Entertainment which puts the quality of these ports under more intense scrutiny we believe.

Has it been published ahead of time? It’s hard not to think about it. Guerrilla Games provided the media (testers) with a pre-release patch that improved some technical issues, but some major glitches have persisted at release.

Horizon Zero Dawn Complete Edition PC review
Horizon Zero Dawn Complete Edition PC review

The errors reported affect machines with different levels of hardware and are specified in failures in the adjustment of the anisotropic filtering; stuttering in world exploration, quest updates and other parts of the interface; animations at 30 FPS well below the frame rate at which the game can run; performance drop in some areas of high visual demand; crashes when the shader compiler does not check the available space correctly and crashes with output to the desktop in the most serious cases.

With being a shame that a perfectly executed game on a PS4 reaches PCs in this state, the best we can say is that Guerrilla has picked up on users’ concerns, encourages them to continue reporting bugs, and promises that their “highest priority »Is to deliver a patch that fixes all the game’s problems.

In this regard, the developer has already released a 1.01 (minor) patch that fixes several of these issues, the main one being a game crash when SteamUI was not initializing properly at game startup. We expect a more extensive patch because the title deserves it.

What Horizon Zero Dawn Complete Edition offers

We put aside the optimization and performance issues that we hope will be corrected in the shortest possible time and we focus on the game itself. The PC version includes the original title, expansion, and additional bonuses, specifically:

  • Horizon Zero Dawn
  • The Frozen Wilds
  • Carja Storm Ranger Outfit and Mighty Carja Bow
  • Carja Merchant Pack
  • Banuk Pioneer Outfit and Banuk Sacrificial Bow
  • Banuk travel pack
  • Nora Guardian Pack

For those who did not play the PS4 version, this is an action-adventure-role-playing game with a third-person view. It takes place in an open world and drinks from sources like Assassin’s Creed, Far Cry, Tomb Raider and even God of War in parts of its structure.

A huge beautiful map

The setting places us in a few centuries in a world dominated by hybrids between machines and animals that look like robotic dinosaurs. If the usual in these post-apocalyptic worlds are gloomy and radioactive environments, Guerrilla is committed to offering us incredibly beautiful environments, full of color, which are a pleasure to travel and are one of the greatest attractions of the game. Mixing the stone age with science fiction is a sign of Horizon’s identity among sandboxes and it is very well done.

The general map is enormous in size.  It covers forests, steppes, and deserts, and is full of settlements, kingdoms, ruins, bandit camps, or machine grazing areas. The inclusion of The Frozen Wilds expansion, as well as general (light) improvements, adds even more dimensions to the original game and a new frozen tundra region that activates mid-game.

The map is gigantic and there is a lot to explore. Part of the tour is done on foot and it can end up exhausting, especially because it is repetitive after a few dozen hours as it happens in other open-world games. Fortunately, you can “tame” machines and use them as mounts. There are also dozens of bonfires that serve as game save points and fast travel locations that make exploration easy.

The main quests can be completed in about 35 hours of playtime, while the side quests and “errands” offered by non-player characters (NPCs) will easily double your game time. The missions differ a lot and as often happens in this type of game there are some very interesting and other repetitive ones that would be dispensable if it were not for the bonuses they offer and for the opportunity to explore a visually impressive environment.

Horizon Zero Dawn Complete Edition PC review
Horizon Zero Dawn Complete Edition PC review

If on PS4 / Pro it looked phenomenal with impeccable technical workmanship with upscaling to 4K and HDR as standard, on a high-end PC the artistic design, unique to this game, and the possibility of pushing the graphics to the limit in resolution (native 4K) and FPS. Too bad about the failures in the execution, because the animations, the lighting effects, particles, modeling of characters and their faces, the representation of the different biomes, textures of bushes or trees, and the design of the machines even in combat are seen great.

Aloy

The game puts us in the shoes of Aloy, a young hunter, an outcast among her own who has the mission of discovering her past, uncovering the secrets of the world, and saving it from a catastrophic threat. A heroine to add to Sony’s collection of male protagonists, although the truth would have been the same gender.

We start with an introduction that puts us in a situation. We will soon see that Aloy is not a “normal” girl. She lives with a mentor in the middle of nature in a matriarchal tribe that does not accept children without a mother (known) like her. But it is special and soon you will find a device called ‘Focus’ that, placed in the ear, connects you with another world and changes your life completely.

The device can reproduce holographic data and allows you to view recordings of things that happened thousands of years ago. It is used as a scanner to discover clues throughout the adventure and to open doors and mechanisms. So important is another of its uses, discovering the weak points of the enemies acting as a game HUD.

After the corresponding training missions that serve as an introduction to the main mechanisms of the game, the girl soon turns into a beautiful young woman who from an outcast becomes an outstanding member of her tribe and must discover her past and face the looming threat.

Exploration, hunting, and combat

From there a journey begins with a couple of main plots and other minor ones. The exploration is a joy until you get tired of admiring the surroundings, although there are many other things to do. The game offers various levels of difficulty for players who want to bet more on combat or adventure. At the minimum level, it is really easy to follow and more if you activate the mission and/or route markers that will guide you to the location of the mission.

The hunting and gathering are one of the activities to be undertaken in a planned strategy that involves learning the use of traps, tame beasts, and collect components to industrial levels because many components are needed for anything. They are obtained by killing machines or enemies, solving missions, or exploring since they are available for almost all environments. There are all kinds, including medicinal plants to maintain the health of the protagonist.

The combat is another major activities. Similar to the melee hitbox system used by Ubisoft games like Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, it plays in large numbers against other rival tribes and machines and then increasingly powerful human and beast bosses.

Aloy begins with simple and limited weapons typical of the tribe where she lives. A spear as the main weapon, slings, bows, and traps. As you level up, you can improve yourself in multiple ways and get other much more technological weapons.

The stealth has an important role and the same game marks the degree of visibility of the character in different environments. It should be mastered because it will facilitate the task in many locations. For example, tall grass hides movements and allows you to narrow down groups of enemies before they notice you. Traps can be set to kill or hinder the movement of enemies and shoot from a distance with bows from hidden locations or high and protected positions.

Horizon Zero Dawn Complete Edition PC review
Horizon Zero Dawn Complete Edition PC review

The enemy AI is not particularly advanced and only the big bosses and machines really pose a challenge. The combat can become simplistic over time as it usually happens in this type of game, but it is fun with the addition of the forced use of the Focus to discover the weak points of the enemies.

Character

The game also has its role-playing section. As Aloy explores, fights, and solves missions, he gains experience and increases his level, which in addition to higher health capacity provides him with skill points to unlock additional abilities.

The skill tree is relatively simple but allows you to focus on multiple groups, enhancing the use of melee, ranged combat, or stealth depending on the style of play that each player prefers. Or improve collection and inventory capabilities. You decide where to spend the points.

The weapons can be modified quite a bit with the components that you loot from dead enemies, those that you discover in places like the ruins or those that you buy from merchants scattered throughout the maps. The protagonist’s outfit can also be personalized with increasingly better clothes that enhance different qualities.

The same with ammo, traps, and potions in a dedicated crafting section. It allows quite a few combinations and is another point of interest in the game to take a break from exploration and combat.

Horizon Zero Dawn Complete Edition PC review
Horizon Zero Dawn Complete Edition PC review

Aloy’s behavior in front of the rest of the characters can vary and in the conversations select by three main routes: methods of force, affectionate, or more intelligent. We are not clear that opting for one or the other changes the final resolution of the game.

As for the main character’s controls, they are fully customizable and although you can play with a controller as in the console version, on a PC the keyboard and mouse are the masters and the truth is that they are perfectly solved in this game, you gain fluidity and precision in combat zones, for example hitting an arrow directly into the eye of one of the machines.

Horizon Zero Dawn Complete Edition: Is it worth buying?

It’s hard not to fall in love with this game’s art style and stunningly beautiful visuals that score points on a high-end PC. The initial story is enough to hook any user and the mix between ancient ages and science fiction is well achieved as a sign of identity for this open-world sandbox.

The maps are large and there is a lot to do in exploration, gathering, and combat. The gameplay is equally remarkable and for our taste, it improves with the mouse and the keyboard especially in combat.

The problems come from the execution. Such a good game on PS4 deserved better optimization. It is not permissible for a $2500 PC to crash when running a 2017 console game. And it can also be a problem for Sony to bring more exclusives to PCs

Horizon Zero Dawn Complete Edition PC review
Horizon Zero Dawn Complete Edition PC review

The PS4 user who has not played it will clearly opt for the console version and whoever played it at the time will wait for the second part, a Horizon 2 Forbidden West.

And a PC gamer? The game is worth it. If Guerrilla Games – as promised – can overcome optimization and performance failures, it is a title that can also find its way into personal computers. Horizon Zero Dawn Complete Edition for PC is available on Steam for $49.99