Horizon Zero Dawn On PC Is Magical

Illustration for article titled iHorizon Zero Dawn/i On PC Is Magical
Screenshot: Sony

Aloy wasn’t originally designed to roll around post-apocalyptic jungles, deserts and snow peaks at 120 frames per second, but it definitely suits her.

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This week marks the release of Horizon: Zero Dawn on PC through Steam and the Epic Games Store. It’s the base game with the Frozen Wilds DLC, plus the extra features patched into the game over the last couple of years. That includes the additions to Horizon‘s already excellent photo mode.

For those playing on PC, there’s plenty of excellent options. Along with ultrawide support, there’s a customizable FOV slider that goes all the way from 70 to 100. HDR support is included — although you’ll have to enable HDR in Windows first, so it’s not quite as user-friendly on that front as, say, The Division 2.

But there’s plenty of support beyond that. There’s a render scale for fine tuning on low-end PCs (it doesn’t go beyond 100 percent). You can set an adaptive performance FPS limit, controlling at what point the game’s dynamic resolution slider kicks in. PC games have had dynamic resolution toggles before, but it’s usually on or off, not something you can fine tune to maintain a specific frame rate.

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Horizon’s PC options has some very handy tools, with a second tab for specific graphic presets, anti-aliasing options, shadows, and ambient occlusion.
Horizon’s PC options has some very handy tools, with a second tab for specific graphic presets, anti-aliasing options, shadows, and ambient occlusion.
Screenshot: Sony

There’s an inbuilt benchmark too, although it’s probably not the most representative of actual Horizon gameplay. It’s a flythrough of Meridian, going around the edges before a trip past all the markets, NPCs and guards that fill the city. It does help stress test your PC, though. Even on a Ryzen 9 3900XT with a GTX 2080 Ti, the game wasn’t hovering that much above 60fps with all settings maxed out. Horizon really does push your PC to the limit, and there’s no DLSS option here like there was with Death Stranding, although hopefully Nvidia helps out on that front.

Still, even when it’s not at 4K, Horizon is an incredible experience on PC. The speed at which Aloy moves does introduce a bit of clunk to some of the animations. Occasionally very occasionally — Aloy will run and spin around a little too much for the game to handle, and your inputs will stall for the slightest fraction.

There are a couple of graphical quirks too. Some changes of scenery and environment can happen within an instant, like a light switch has just been toggled:

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But they’re minor quibbles on what otherwise is an astronomically good PC experience. And if you have the rig for it, you can really get some incredible shots out of this game. When you’re walking through the jungle and the fog descends before transitioning into a heavy rain, it’s beautiful to look at.

Here’s a bunch I took with the game’s photo mode, as well as snippets from live gameplay.

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Illustration for article titled iHorizon Zero Dawn/i On PC Is Magical
Screenshot: Sony
Illustration for article titled iHorizon Zero Dawn/i On PC Is Magical
Screenshot: Sony
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Illustration for article titled iHorizon Zero Dawn/i On PC Is Magical
Screenshot: Sony
Illustration for article titled iHorizon Zero Dawn/i On PC Is Magical
Screenshot: Sony
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Illustration for article titled iHorizon Zero Dawn/i On PC Is Magical
Screenshot: Sony
Illustration for article titled iHorizon Zero Dawn/i On PC Is Magical
Screenshot: Sony
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Illustration for article titled iHorizon Zero Dawn/i On PC Is Magical
Screenshot: Sony
Illustration for article titled iHorizon Zero Dawn/i On PC Is Magical
Screenshot: Sony
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Illustration for article titled iHorizon Zero Dawn/i On PC Is Magical
Screenshot: Sony
Illustration for article titled iHorizon Zero Dawn/i On PC Is Magical
Screenshot: Sony
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Absolutely stunning.

The game’s functionally the same as what released on the PS4. Which is a good thing, because Horizon is easily one of the best console exclusives . It’s basically the super streamlined version of one of the best open-world adventures from the current generation, except you’re dealing with robot dinosaurs, a sci-fi story with enough meat to dig your teeth into, and some solid performances throughout. It is the epitome of polish, and even the combat, something open-world adventures usually struggle to nail, is really well done.

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If you haven’t played Horizon Zero Dawn yet, you should have absolutely no qualms about grabbing it now. And if you’ve already played it on PS4, but don’t mind discovering Aloy’s past all over again…trust me, you’re in for a treat.

Horizon Zero Dawn launches on PC through Steam and the Epic Games Store on August 7.

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This post previously appeared on Kotaku Australia.

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DISCUSSION

mortal-dictata
Mortal Dictata

God setting up HDR on pc is a fucking nightmare. I use a 4K HDR10+ 43” tv as my monitor for all gaming but since the latest Win10 update it no longer accepts it is capable of HDR.

Worked fine before but now HDR in any game that relies on Windows having it turned on doesn’t work. Also it still bugs me how GeForce’s game capture software doesn’t work with HDR enabled.

Also does anyone else not see the difference when playing between 1440p upscaled and native 4K?