A shocker to many, Horizon Zero Dawn is probably the most unexpected first-party title from Sony to see a release anywhere other than its own PlayStation 4 console. I was excited to play the game on the PS4 back in 2017, and I am stoked to revisit it again three years later on PC.
Thanks to an early preview build provided by Sony, I was given the opportunity to play Horizon Zero Dawn: Complete Edition on PC prior to its release. The game will launch later today on 7 August 2020, and is available via Steam and Epic Games Store.
The Waiting Game
The first thing you should note is that the game will run an optimisation tool once you boot it up for the first time. Depending on your hardware, it may take around 10 to 20 minutes and there is no way to bypass this. So make sure you have your phone or a book nearby to keep you entertained before actually diving into the game. After that, you’ll be greeted with Horizon’s unskippable opening cutscene before reaching its title screen, just like in the PS4 version.
Settings, Oh My!
Now that the game’s introduction is finally out of the way, you’re free to choose what to do next from the main menu. And if you’re a fussy bloke like me, the first thing you may want to check out is the game’s settings – especially in the visual customisation department.
In the Display section, PC users could customise the game’s resolution, FOV, fps limit, refresh rate and V-sync, among other things. As for graphics customisation, there’s actually not much to work on here – unlike the wide array of options found in other games, such as Rockstar’s Red Dead Redemption 2.
Despite being three years old, Horizon Zero Dawn is still a visually impressive game. Even more so on PC, with the ability to take the game’s Decima engine several notches higher by increasing its resolution up to 4K, uncapping its frame rate limit, and even experiencing the whole game on an ultra-wide screen. No ray tracing support, sadly.
On that note, I’m actually running it in full HD for this review due to the limitations of my own device.
Horizon Zero Flaws?
Unfortunately, it’s not all bells and whistles in terms of optimisation – at least for the preview build. I did experience instances of stuttering and frame rate dips during cutscenes and through random moments while playing the game.
Other outlets have reported the same issue in their own hands-on or reviews, therefore it’s confirmed that this isn’t an isolated problem. In response, Sony said that a ‘day one’ patch will be made available which would hopefully remedy this issue on launch day.
Old Dog, Some New Tricks
Gameplay-wise, Horizon Zero Dawn works like a dream when handled with the mouse and keyboard. Especially the fact that accessing certain actions such as weapon switching, healing, and activating Aloy’s focus mode are just a few keys away. Which, at least in my personal opinion, feels more responsive than what I experienced on the console version. Like a majority of games out there on PC, you could further customise the controls in the settings to fit your personal preference if required.
Besides that, Horizon Zero Dawn on PC is no different from the PS4 version that debuted three years ago. Since it is the Complete Edition, the Frozen Wilds expansion DLC is also included as part of the package. This portion of the game is implemented together with its core content, so you can actually access it at any time.
And like the original, Photo Mode is accessible in the pause menu to satisfy your in-game photography needs. It is one of my favourite features, and is the one I tend to spend a lot of my time on – that is, when I’m not hunting gigantic machines or realising that there’s a story mode to finish.
Is Horizon Zero Dawn worth purchasing again on PC even after completing the original on the PS4 a while back? Most definitely. For me, playing the game again on PC felt fresh and there’s a lot to appreciate in this version – especially the ability to further enhance its visual experience.
Furthermore, this would be the perfect opportunity for a lot of non-PS4 owners to finally play the game for themselves. If you fancy games such as Red Dead Redemption 2, The Witcher 3, the recent Assassin’s Creed titles and even Monster Hunter World, then you should definitely add Horizon Zero Dawn to that list.
I’m really hoping that this game will be the first of many Sony first-party titles to be made available on PC. Granted, platform-exclusivity is a major factor in terms of boosting sales for its current and upcoming generation consoles. But if all it takes is a couple of years to see games such as the Uncharted series, Ghost of Tsushima or even Horizon Forbidden West to find their way to PC, I’ll gladly wait for them.