Review: Horizon Zero Dawn: Complete Edition journeys on to PC and it’s beautiful

Horizon Zero Dawn was one of the reasons I got a PlayStation 4, and once I finally got to play it a year later from buying mine, a few months after its release, it did not disappoint. Dutch developer Guerrilla Games’ first non Killzone project in over 13 years proved to be quite a spectacle, as it introduced us to an extremely gripping far future world where humanity’s thirst for power almost wiped it out, leaving only remnants scattered in primitive tribes and machines eventually developing into wild animals.

As a third-person open-world game, Horizon plays like your usual affair: you open up new dots on the map to explore and engage with side activities, craft a whole bunch of stuff, and upgrade your gear, all the while unraveling a surprisingly good story involving protagonist and Nora tribe outcast Aloy and how she came to be “born out of the mountain”, as her tribe’s elders say. There’s much more to the game’s story than that, though, and as you’d expect, the underlying mystery to Aloy’s origins takes her on an explosive adventure through ruins of the forgotten world, rival tribes’ territories and toe-to-toe with some deadly mechanical creatures that really help set it apart from the bunch, even if it’s not exactly a whole lot different from what came before it in terms of gameplay. 

Photo Mode is sure to be put into use.

The Complete Edition (like the one already released on PlayStation 4 previously) includes all of the DLC released following the base game’s original launch. That includes the Frozen Wilds expansion that interweaves more story into the main one as well as opening up an entirely new area of the map which naturally connects into your adventure and is recommended to be played when you reach character level 30 as it’s suited for that level range. I’ve yet to get to that point in my time playing this PC release, and since it was something I never really got to partake back on PlayStation 4, I’ll certainly be doing so as soon as possible.

Following Sony’s new strategy of bringing PlayStation 4 hits to PC, which yielded the fantastic port of Death Stranding a little while ago, Horizon Zero Dawn: Complete Edition is as well optimized as Kojima Productions’ blockbuster, and as expected but not usually delivered for an older game from a few years ago, it runs quite well on even a modest configuration such as mine. My computer sports an i7 7600k, 24GB RAM, a GeForce 970, and a 500TB SSD it’s been capable of keeping with the game on high settings, near stable 60 FPS as configured by the in-game benchmarking tool. I toyed with the options and even bumped a few settings to ultra, which took a slight toll on the FPS, but not much.

Even on not max, I’m awed with how sharp and colorful the game looks. I remember having it on my then working PlayStation 4 as one of the first instances of playing a game with HDR and being impressed by what I saw, but I’m way more impressed with how the dynamic lighting is handled in this new port. There’s a notable bursting out of colors especially when the sun sets that are absolutely Photo Mode-worthy, not to mention the way light sources interact with the environment and characters.

Aloy observes her next prey.

There’s still a bit of stillness to some of the animations and the way textures load in whenever you turn around too fast or when a cutscene suddenly pops up, and I remember having some of that occurring on the PlayStation 4 version every so often. Unfortunately, I have no way of testing that out to see if my memory isn’t playing tricks on me, but they’re relatively minor quibbles in an otherwise incredibly well put together and stable version of the game that in the six hours that I’ve played so far only crashed once due to a conflict with another tabbed-out program running on Windows 10.  

Graphical options-wise, Horizon Zero Dawn: Complete Edition doesn’t have nearly as many as the previous port of Death Stranding and thus doesn’t get as granular as that game when it comes to customizing all of the visuals, but what there is to be tweaked, like ambient occlusion, shadows, textures, and the amount of detail characters and the world can have do a decent job suiting the needs of your average player, along with a bevy of resolutions up to 4K. Just don’t expect to get some crazy next level hair rendering for Aloy beyond what the base options allow you to pick like the recent Tomb Raider games since you won’t find any here.

Considering how well these last few ports have turned out, I’m extremely curious to see what else Sony has up their sleeve in regards to bringing more PlayStation 4-only releases to PC. God of War’s been rumored to be in the works and I’m already biting at the chance of playing through one of my favorite games from 2018 again. It would’ve been crazy to think of Sony doing something like this only ten years ago, but it’s definitely been paying off for them taking into account how popular Death Stranding’s been on Steam so far. If the quality of these ports is any indication, we only have to win if they keep coming out as good as Horizon Zero Dawn: The Complete Edition and it’s also a good way of amping even more of the gaming audience up for its recently announced sequel’s release sometime next year. 

Horizon Zero Dawn: Complete Edition will be available on Steam and the Epic Game Store on August 7th.


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