In closing, Horizon Zero Dawn is plagued with launch woes and despite a day one patch to update some things, the game still suffers from some performance issues that its Decima-brother, Death Stranding on PC, does not.
To start off, facial animations are still animated at 30FPS but unless you’re really looking, this is minor. It does cause weird stuttering that may take you out of the experience but from my personal playthrough, it just whiz past so unless its a lengthy cutscenes, you may or may not even feel it.
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That said, the game feels at home at 30FPS but in no way it is acceptable to have the game perform in that level. Going back to GPU performance, I was initially under the impression that NVIDIA didn’t have launch day drivers for this game hence I reserved review after launch only to find out that the game was already optimized for the July 9 GeForce drivers. The same situation applies to Radeon Adrenaline. Apparently, the drivers were ready a month before yet the game still runs like molasses on a top-end system.
Unsurprisingly, the Radeon RX 5700XT and RX 5700 put up impressive numbers for this game. Also worth noting is that this game is light on the CPU. Either on an i9 10900K or a Ryzen 9 3900X, the game barely breaches past 20% CPU usage on average and peaks at 46% on certain scenes but mostly just sits at the lower end making it easy to work with from a CPU perspective but the GPU demand of this game is incredibly ridiculous and I expect the devs to address them in the comings weeks following launch.
Our quality comparison shows us that Ultimate, High and Original are pretty much beautiful and rich already in terms of graphics while low removes the bulk of other details to improve performance and while still playable, just looks awful. Players may want to consider tweaking their settings to get the best balance of performance and details. As an AMD game, it’s apparent that DLSS 2.0 doesn’t make appear in this game despite its incredible performance gains from Death Stranding without degrading image quality. We hope that once the timed partnership expires, Guerilla Games might be able to utilize DLSS2.0 to improve this game further .
Based on an older Decima Engine version, Horizon Zero Dawn is in no doubt a great story and a great experience but its support for varying configurations proves to be the developers’ crippling flaw with many disgruntled players hitting the Steam boards’ looking for answers for their problems.
For those manage to run the game without a hitch or just don’t care about the graphical glitches, gameplay upwards of 30FPS is fluid enough for combat and this is one of the most robust improvements of the game over console. Despite the game’s native PS4 gamepad support, the mouse and keyboard control allows much more accurate aiming giving players a more refined method of hunting which is predominantly the main part of the game. Without a locking system, this game forces players to be wary of their surrounding and mouse look will always dominate stick panning. With that, it’s a much better experience for seasoned PS4 players looking to improve their Hunting Trials scores.
As with most PC ports, the discussion revolves around performance but despite the feedback, even a modest CPU/GPU combination will be able to deliver a decent gameplay experience for HZD in Original settings but still, given the amount of time from announcement till launch, it’s unforgivable for the game to be this troubled by graphical glitches and glitches in general, Random crashes and stuttering will find their way to anyone and my personal experience seems be on the low side, some have reported the game to be unable to proceed past certain points.
Having tested this on 4 machines with varying specs, ranging from an i3+GTX 1060 to a Threadripper 3960X with a 2080 Ti, the amount of problems appearing is still minimal and those that expected a lot for this game certainly put it through a microscope.
What cannot be taken away from this game is the amazing story of this new world with Aloy’s mysterious past. With Horizon Forbidden West already announced, it’s exciting to see this game eventually make its way to PC but for now, Horizon Zero Dawn gives us a glimpse of what’s to come and while its off to troubled start due to high expectation, it manages to maintain the same wonder it bestowed on the PS4 over 3 years ago and that brings a new audience who are force fed esports and redundant titles over and over again, that for adventure and action RPG seekers, the faults are is easy to overlook.