Is Horizon Zero Dawn's PC Port Good Or Bad? This question was arguably one of the most debated topics of the past week. Our colleagues from PC Games Hardware put the game through its paces and wrote an extensive report, which you here finds. The game ran wonderfully on my system; I have a GTX 1080 TI, an AMD Ryzen 7 2700x and 16GB DDR4-3000 memory. With Ultra settings I got an average of 79 FPS on 1080p, with the settings optimized by the game I got an average of 90 FPS on 1080p. I didn't do a test with 4k resolution because 4k has left me cold so far and I prefer a gaming experience with 60FPS to a higher resolution.
I have to say in advance that I have Horizon Zero Dawn (buy now € 24.24 )(HZD) not played on the PS4 and so I cannot make a direct comparison. At the same time, I am not biased by the memories of the original. Let's take a look at the points that struck me negatively. The game has crashed three times so far. That was when you fast save, fast travel, and exit the game. In none of the cases did I lose playing hours. The FPS never dropped below 55 FPS and were mostly stable at 60. I didn't use the included FPS Limiter or VSync for this, but RivaTuner. I only played in borderless window mode. But what can be said very clearly is that the game looks wonderful. I would lean as far out of the window as possible and claim that the system load could look a little better, but it works Guerrilla already working on a performance patch. After the patch, I think the game will look like the actual requirements.
From here on out, the review will mainly focus on the game, not the port itself. It may well be that I address things that are different from the original. You are welcome to report in the comments whether these things also existed in the original.
What didn't you like so much?
As always, I start with the negative things and then work my way to the positive. There is one thing that bothered me in particular and that was the asynchronous dialog. Sometimes the speakers were already finished with the dialogue when the character moved his mouth for about five seconds. This fact is immediately followed by the fact that the voice output comes across as rather monotonous. While Aloy speaks to me very sympathetically, there are some other speakers who I had the feeling that they had not paid attention to the facial expressions and gestures of the character in their work.
Another point that struck me negatively is the lack of an option to vary the camera speed when aiming. While there is an option to adjust the regular camera speed for the mouse and gamepad, this affects both the regular camera and the camera when aiming. With the game's hunting theme, I am given the option to use a sniper bow. While there were almost no problems with larger machines, I had extreme problems with smaller opponents and, for example, humanoids, aiming well at the head or a weak point while moving. The first three days I took a lot of time aiming. It often happened that I only controlled the right analog stick very briefly over the dead zone, and the camera panned directly from the right side of the head to the left side of the head.
I could only get around this with the time lapse when jumping or by pressing the R3 key. Soon I almost completely renounced to act like a tried and tested hunter and just rushed towards the enemy. As soon as you are in close combat or at medium range, the combat system becomes surprisingly comfortable and precise. So far, I've kept my hands off the mouse and keyboard because I don't want to get used to them before the second part of the series comes out on the PS5. But I can well imagine that this problem does not exist with the mouse.
And what did you particularly like?
The multitude of opponents, their weaknesses and that I can defeat each opponent very quickly. To do this, you have to deal a little with your opponents, watch out for dialogues here and there that reveal things and use the weaknesses revealed. In the case of many opponents, the tan tanks can be exposed and ignited with fire arrows. After a few seconds, they will cause a large explosion and damage everything around them. There are similar things with body parts of opponents. For example, you can destroy the breastplate of the long leg and thus generate an extreme pressure wave, with the armor-piercer there is an area on the underside that you can destroy, whereupon it discharges and causes very high damage. You can let off steam with the various weapons, traps and enemy mechanics. I cannot yet say whether this is still possible or even a requirement on ultra difficult.
What I also really liked was the game world. It's big, but not too big, and the various reports and collectables scattered around the world keep your eyes open. However, what always presented me with a little challenge was to recognize where you can hold on and which you can't. I'm used to exploiting games. So I like to jump up a mountain, and not in the usual way. That happened a lot here, simply because I couldn't find another way, but I didn't look very long either. In the meantime I've got a feel for how the brackets were placed on the walls, so it doesn't bother me anymore.
Is the story told well or is it rather monotonous?
Opinions differ here. I think she tells very well what she wants to tell. Horizon is obviously set in a post-apocalypse. You see machines, cars, tanks, streets everywhere and yet everything is handled in a very medieval way. Spears and bows are used for hunting, and there are wild tribes that claim their own territory. The further you move in the story, the more you notice that you are actually in a post-apocalyptic world. There are more and more machines to fight against and even the human opponents occasionally use rifles after a certain time. Even if the style is very medieval, you won't find any swords or massive armor here. One or the other armor contains metal plates and, as I said, there are spears. So it seems like the tribes have an understanding of metals and how to process them.
You'd think at the beginning of the story that it's all about finding Aloy's mother. However, over time you realize that it's much more about how the world got into this state. An emotional bond is actually only established here with Aloy and her foster father Rost. You can often determine the resolution of important and emotional moments in dialogues yourself. Often there is a choice between three answers. It is all about intelligence, emotions and aggression. In one or the other sidequest you can lose or win a comrade with Aloy's decisions.
How would you rate the game in terms of difficulty?
I like challenges, but not everyone does. In the first round, HZD already offers you all levels of difficulty and also the possibility to adjust these in the options. This function is deactivated in the New Game +. Here we have the option of a "story" level of difficulty up to ultra difficult. The game feels nice on normal – not too difficult and not too easy. So if you want to follow the story more, you can simply reduce the level of difficulty, and if you want a challenge, you can increase it again. Important for Achievementhunter: A trophy requires an NG + passage on Ultra Hard.
So be prepared for the fact that the game will be a lot harder here. The game offers a number of sidequests for the first round, which provide you with enough experience points. So if you don't just go through the main story, you will always find yourself slightly above the recommended level. If you then take care of the spoiled areas and also complete the hunting tasks, you are quite quickly on a higher level and have a decent number of skill points to unlock a lot of comfort functions. These are different things such as:
- Strong ambush attacks
- Shoot multiple arrows at once
- To summon a mount
- Sprinting quietly to get closer to opponents without being noticed
- Gaining more resources from plants or opponents
The skill tree is not that big, but offers you the opportunity to make the game experience a little easier at any time. Likewise, the possibilities are not so important that you have to be very careful with your points.
The game looks nice, but currently has a few performance problems. However, this is already being worked on, so you can take a deep breath here. The game offers a beautiful view and plenty to explore as you follow a post-apocalyptic story and Aloy goes from an outcast to a seeker and is given the task of exploring the surrounding lands. In doing so, she looks for answers about her mother and the various events in the prologue. It offers a sophisticated combat system, which is varied with many firearms, ammunition types and traps as well as different enemy types and corresponding weaknesses. The game gets a clear buy recommendation from me, but it's best to wait a little longer and see how the performance patch affects the game.
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