Review: Horizon Forbidden West Complete Edition arrives on PC and it is a looker for sure

2022’s Horizon Forbidden West is still one of the best games available on PlayStation two years after its launch. Since then, it received an expansion in the form of Burning Shores and now the full package is finally available for PC players to enjoy as part of Sony’s continuing efforts to release their exclusives on another platform.

It’s true that in every way this is a superior game to the already quite decent Horizon Zero Dawn, most of the improvements come in the form of gameplay, which feels much tighter and freeform than it ever was in the first game. Protagonist Aloy is still as ego-driven as ever, but thanks to the new tools at her disposal and an entirely new and enormous world to explore, I can certainly overlook her faults. Come on, every game is at least 10x better with a grappling hook!

The story in the game takes place shortly after the events of Zero Dawn, wherein the rogue AI HADES was supposedly defeated by the united efforts of Aloy’s and the other human tribes. Now, with the world being taken over by poison and on the verge of yet another extinction event, it’s a race against time to find an answer to this problem. 

Lance Reddick’s Sylen who acted as Aloy’s guide in the first game points her to the Forbidden West, which has that name for a good reason as it’s populated by some of the most dangerous robot-beats around. It’s up to her to get down to the nitty gritty and in the process become even more powerful as ever, the answer to all of humanity’s toils and… you get it, she is indeed the chosen one and has no qualms in saying so to just about anyone.

horizon forbidden west
Whoa there, ever heard of personal space?!

In terms of narrative, if you’ve enjoyed what the first game had in story, you’ll find a lot more of it here, with even more tribe drama and sci-fi mumbo jumbo, and while I’m making light of it all, it’s clear that the folks of Guerrilla are incredibly passionate about the lore and have done a great job at making it all seem to matter not just in terms of the moment-to-moment gameplay, but also in how its world tells it. While some of that delivery can be a tad too scan-heavy as Zero Dawn at times, it’s still enjoyable.

The expansion, Burning Shores, takes Aloy to California in search of yet another clue in defeating the malignant forces behind the events of the main game. In it, you get to tool around the southern part of the state, the big L.A. It’s one of the highlights of an already drop dead purdy game and is well worth playing, especially if you are still hot on the heels of having finished the main campaign.

Gameplay-wise, Forbidden West is easily one of the most polished open-world experiences around, offering tons to do in the form of activities, and best yet, mind, with the caveat of you enjoying its story, there’s a lot of it to see not only through its main missions, but in side quests as well, along with all the exploring. 

The crafting and building of your arsenal is probably where the most has been added to Horizon formula coming into the sequel, as there are WAY more variety when it comes to weapons, perhaps a little too much if you ask me, over-specializing some varieties and giving much-needed firepower to Aloy but only effective in very specific moments in the game, forcing you to carry a kitchen sink’s worth of bows and casters in Aloy’s nearly bottomless pocket.

At this point, you’re probably wondering about the overall quality of this port after my gushing about it in the opening. As the owner of a 10-year old machine that’s gotten a few upgrades here and there since first putting it together, most notably some RAM and a new budget line 3060 graphics card, it’s shocking to see how well the game runs on my computer. Starting out on ‘high’ and quickly bumping it up to ‘very high’, because why in the hell not, Horizon Forbidden West ranks up there among the best looking PC games I’ve ever played.

horizon forbidden west
Ye’re a big fella, ain’t ya?

It’s hard to set this one apart from its PlayStation 5 version, and honestly, at times it does seem to look even better, which is saying much considering that it already pushed some impressive visuals then. Out of all Sony’s PC ports, this is the one that’s come out of the gate on release the most stable and well performing, which makes me excited to think about how detailed and dynamic the inevitable arrival of God of War Ragnarok on PC will be later this year.

Granted, I’m in no way as tech-savvy as some other sources on the web, so please don’t take my word as gospel when it comes to resolution and whatnot. Safe to say, through the game’s configuration settings, which there many of, I was able to pump out smooth performance on my rig without doing any fiddling at all, and having played a handful of hours of the port so far, I’ve seen zero drops in frames and absolutely no hang-ups running it off an SSD.

Horizon Forbidden West looks so good and plays so well on PC that I’m considering starting over and just playing through the entire thing this way instead of continuing on my 20 hours or so on PlayStation 5. That and knowing that the expansion is ready to go once I’m through the main stretch of the story are more than enough reasons to make that decision even easier at this point. Sony’s been on a roll with these ports, and I have to admit that the idea of investing on new console hardware in the future is seeming ever more unlikely if they keep going like this.     

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