Horizon Forbidden West

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Horizon Forbidden West: Complete Edition (PC) – Review

Horizon Forbidden West launched on PlayStation 4 and 5 in 2022 to high acclaim, fast-tracked to the near future of 2024, and it’s now launched on PC. Guerilla Games and Sony released the game in its ultimate form: Horizon Forbidden West Complete Edition, which includes the DLC, Burning Shores, and a few additional digital goodies, including a digital comic, art, and OST. Nixxes Software has set a new benchmark for PC ports, taking an already visually stunning game and turning it into a graphical marvel.

Horizon Forbidden West Complete Edition keeps the base game the same. Instead, it enhances it visually with mostly practical functionality. Let’s start with a quick recap. It still follows Aloy’s adventures through the post-apocalyptic United States in the far future, but very shortly after the events of the first game, she travels further into the brand new region, The Forbidden West, in her quest to save a world that’s on the brink of another extinction, with the impending doom of a blight infecting the land, it’s a task only she can take on, with a bit of help from her friends.

Like its predecessor, Horizon Zero Dawn, the sequel is another masterclass in world-building; I remember gazing in wonderment at the vast mechanical creatures of the first game and my first time scaling a Tallneck to oversee valleys. This game is more enormous and ambitious, but nothing beats the first time. This game could be more innovative in improving upon the first title in the series.

However, it still adds some new gameplay mechanics, including the Shieldwing Glider for traversal and combat additions, including the Resonator Blast, focus skills, and more expansive skill trees. Of course, you can still override machines to get around or climb up almost anything, but the camera can get a bit too finicky when adjusting.

However, apart from some key moments, the main story feels weak, and the characters I know and love from Zero Dawn feel underutilised. There were some exciting developments in Aloy’s story and massive implications for possible future games, but overall, it felt on par with what the original had to offer. With the incredibly immersive gameplay, stunning visuals, and audio talent, the pros hugely outweigh any shortcomings I found.

As expected, the characters are expressive, and this game’s sheer amount of voice talent is awe-inspiring. Ashly Burch plays Aloy impeccably, and the late, great Lance Reddick reprises his role as Sylens with absolute mastery, the love-to-hate frenemy alongside new and returning allies.

Of course, there are plenty of mechanical beasties to encounter and new enemies in the Tenakth tribe and Far Zenith. Sometimes dialogue, gameplay, and cutscenes drag out too long, especially the opening mission, which could have been faster-paced and more enjoyable. The soundtrack is a superb orchestral score of beautiful, epic and haunting music to accompany your journey.

Very few games rival the beauty of the Horizon world, and like its previous entry, the Forbidden West is just as staggeringly beautiful. One of my favourite moments during my gameplay experience was exploration. Travelling across post-apocalyptic United States, including Utah, Nevada, Las Vegas and San Fransisco. Post-Game The Burning Shores is set in Los Angeles, California, in a coastal area rife with volcanic activity, to mix it up a bit.

Running through lush green forests, into rocky regions, golden beaches, snowy mountain tops, and various terrains spoils players with all the vast map has to offer. Like the first game, exploring the world and finding relics and data from the past, it’s easy to get sidetracked, but it’s worth it, and it’s perfect for creating an overall view of the past, present, and future in the Horizon world.

There are some new gameplay elements, too. Even more so, the emphasis on underwater sections, which are surprisingly tolerable compared to other titles, it’s a whole different approach to what I was used to from the usual verticality required from Aloy, especially the underwater stealth sections; they’re terrifying. Thankfully, as a side note, there’s a Thallasophobia mode for those less fond of being engulfed in deep bodies of water.

Underwater stealth sections with creatures like Snapmaws can be pretty terrifying, but this mode alleviates this stressor with ambient lighting and breath-holding mechanics. This isn’t the only revelation in accessibility this game has; there are options to adjust button-mashing sequences, contextual reminders and ways to adjust specific difficulty elements to your liking – difficulty can range from the super easy Story mode all the way to Ultra Hard. I can’t help but commend the amount of customisation in graphical, performance, and accessibility options. In the future, games will consider some of the considerations that Guerilla Games have had.

This game is visually stunning, and the PC port only further enhances it beyond the mighty PlayStation 5. Using Guerilla Games’ in-house engine, Decima, the full capabilities of Horizon Forbidden West are on full display. Landscapes are stunning, from rendering to the tiniest detail, every speck of dirt or dust, to capturing light rays, lens flares, dynamic weather, and particle effects; with the help of their Decima engine, the port looks and feels fantastic to play.

I played on my mid-high tier PC with a GeForce RTX 4080GPU, AMD 3600x and 16 GB RAM and rarely encountered technical issues. I played with all settings set to high, with an uncapped framerate, and I was hitting primarily between 60 and 110 FPS. On the highest settings, I was sitting anywhere between 55-80 frames, though I found the game to be gorgeous enough on high to keep the framerate up. There’s a decent amount of graphical settings to tweak to suit the optimum settings for most people’s gaming rigs.

Drops below 60 were rare, mainly during intense combat moments, such as fighting a Thunderjaw, where there were quite a few projectiles and particle effects or in overly-populated areas. Load times are fast, not quite so much as the PlayStation 5 equivalent, but by a mere few seconds. In my experience, there were no game-breaking issues and very little to complain about.

Graphical performance for me was excellent. There were a few moments of slow texture load-in, but overall, apart from a starter shader compilation that took seconds on each launch, texture pop-in in real-time gameplay wasn’t too noticeable. I played at 1080p on a 4K OLED monitor with DLSS, thanks to the inclusion of Nvidia DLSS3 upscaling, which brought out the vibrant colours and textures of the world in brilliant, crisp detail and massively contributed to the beautiful performance of the game. Overall, the game is well-optimised and runs well for PC gamers with all types of hardware.

Horizon Forbidden West’s PC port can be played on the controller (wired or wireless) or keyboard and mouse. With the PS5 DualSense controller providing haptic feedback and adaptive trigger functionality, I still preferred to play on a controller for the additional immersion of trigger resistance and haptic vibrations during combat and interactions. Keyboard controls can take some adjustment for seasoned players, but with fully remappable keybinding, players can choose what suits them.

The most significant benefit of the mouse and keyboard was increased accuracy while aiming the bow. Still, I brought sensitivity way down on both the controller and keyboard. There are enough options to cover all preferences of how to play. The in-game tutorials and hunting grounds are perfect for familiarising players with controls and how to use them.

Nixxes Software has taken a massive leap forward in PC porting compared to some PlayStation PC ports released over the years. This game has set a new standard for PC ports, abundant in graphical and performance options, and improvements to the original. Horizon Forbidden West Complete Edition retains the spirit of the PlayStation version and brings an already incredible game to a broader audience on PC; its incredible visuals, exciting gameplay, and technical marvel make it a perfect must-play for fans of story-rich action-adventure games.

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The Good

  • New tools and skills enhance combat and traversal
  • Visually and audibly stunning world
  • Strong performance and graphics

The Bad

  • Occasional performance drops during intense moments
  • Story and character development are much weaker than in the first game
  • PC controls can be difficult to adapt to
8
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10

Written by: Yasmin Noble

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