Horizon Zero Dawn Is Not Running Well On Many PCs

Illustration for article titled Horizon Zero Dawn Is Not Running Well On Many PCs
Screenshot: Kotaku

Horizon Zero Dawn’s release on PC is welcome, but for a lot of people right now the game’s performance isn’t exactly ideal.


I installed and fired the game up on the weekend, excited to see what it looked like on my brand new PC (i7-9700, RTX 2070 Super, which was waaaaaaaay above the recommended specs). After a lengthy automatic configuration process it looked gorgeous, but it also ran like complete shit! I’m talking 20-30fps, with moments where the whole screen would just hang and stutter.

I’m always fairly forgiving of brand new games when this kind of thing happens, but this is a three-year-old PS4 game that had no kind of pressing release window (like it having to come out on other systems at the same time) to adhere to. It was both a surprise and a disappointment to see it release in this state, especially since the other big PS4 port of the year, Death Stranding, looked so good and ran so smoothly.

But that’s just me, and you can never say a PC game unequivocally “runs like shit” unless the same is true for lots of people. Which...it is. Digital Foundry’s review is critical, calling it a “disappointing port”, and you don’t have to travel far on Reddit or forums to find people complaining about the port’s bugs and poor performance.

What’s odd about it though is that things aren’t bad across the board. Certain hardware configurations are running beautifully, while other, more powerful systems could be struggling.

I’ve seen mention of a memory leak being present during the initial automatic configuration process, and that rebooting the game once this is done can help fix some of the issues. I have noticed on subsequent sessions that performance was slightly improved, especially in cutscenes, but it’s still nowhere near what I was expecting.

Hopefully things won’t stay like this for long. An update on the game’s Steam page says the team “are aware that some players have been experiencing crashes and other technical issues”, and investigating the cause of all these hiccups is their “highest priority.”

When the game is running well, it looks amazing!
When the game is running well, it looks amazing!
Screenshot: Kotaku

Luke Plunkett is a Senior Editor based in Canberra, Australia. He has written a book on cosplay, designed a game about airplanes, and also runs cosplay.kotaku.com.


Prime Directive

I’m running a 3900X and 2080Ti, at 3440x1440 on high settings. While performance is pretty scattered (anything from 50 to 100 fps), I haven’t encountered any stuttering, microfreezing, crashes or any other issues. I’ve had no texture or terrain pop-in, but occasionally character cloth physics will jump around suddenly when the characters are being loaded in to a cutscene shot.

My biggest issue actually, aside from the unstable frame rate, is that when you start to strafe while the camera isn’t pointed forward it puts a small bit of rotation on the camera. It’s not huge, but for some reason it’s enough to give me the slightest bit of motion dizziness when I do that thing where you look to the side, but hold strafe to keep your character going in the same direction it was before. I never get motion sickness or dizziness in games so this is an odd one.