Horizon Forbidden West PC Review – A New Bar for PC Ports

The PC version of Horizon Forbidden West might just be the new benchmark to compare other PC ports against.

Posted By | On 25th, Mar. 2024

Horizon Forbidden West PC Review – A New Bar for PC Ports

When it comes to PC ports of its PlayStation games, Sony and its development partner Nixxes have been on something of a roll. Nixxes has made quite a name for itself with its work in porting over formerly PlayStation-exclusive titles on to the PC, kicking things off by assisting with the PC release of Horizon Zero Dawn all the way back in 2020, and more recently, having worked on the PC releases Marvel’s Spider-Man and Miles Morales back in 2022 and Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart in 2023. With the release of Horizon Forbidden West and its DLC on PC, both Sony, as well as Nixxes have continued this hot streak of excellent PC ports. Before we get to all of that however, let’s get the biggest thing out of the way.

There isn’t really much that can be said about Horizon Forbidden West from a pure gameplay point of view that we haven’t already talked about in our original reviews for the base game as well as its DLC, Burning Shores. Nothing’s really changed, and even just switching to mouse and keyboard rather than a DualSense controller doesn’t bring about any difference in gameplay that can be too dramatic. Sure, aiming Aloy’s bow with a mouse does allow for a lot more accuracy than aiming with a controller would, but the game itself provides plenty of assistance in that regard anyway (like the ability to slow down time while aiming with a bow).

It is worth noting, however, that using a mouse and keyboard for a game that was developed with a controller in mind actually does create some headaches when it comes to things like how the UI was designed. While the inventories, skill trees and map are all perfectly usable with a mouse, they were quite obviously designed with controllers in mind. There are also quite a few things in the menus that will have you hold down a button to confirm something, like when spending skill points for example, that just feel unintuitive and incredibly pointless when playing the game without a controller.

"Sure, aiming Aloy’s bow with a mouse does allow for a lot more accuracy than aiming with a controller would, but the game itself provides plenty of assistance in that regard anyway."

The flip side of this is that the game works rather excellently with a DualSense controller on the PC. You don’t even need to keep the controller connected to your PC with a cable like you would with the Remote Play app—Bluetooth works just fine, and you get all the fancy DualSense features you would want, be it the haptic feedback, or even the adaptive triggers.

Now for the most important aspects of the PC release of Horizon Forbidden West—how well it runs on PC. It’s safe to say that the game is a downright fantastic, and a generally excellent example of what an almost-perfect PC port looks like. Performance is downright phenomenal, and even my mid-range PC, which runs on an AMD Ryzen 5 3600 CPU, an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 Ti GPU, and 32GB of RAM had no problems pushing the frame rate up to the 90s without breaking a sweat, all with graphics options sitting somewhere between the High and Highest presets and running at 1080p. The game looks downright fantastic, and I was even able to get a few more frames per second by making use of DLSS, taking full advantage of my 144Hz monitor.

While Horizon Forbidden West can look rather fantastic on a mid-range PC, it’s also worth noting that the game runs quite well on much slower hardware. I was able to spend a fair bit of my time with the game on the Steam Deck, and while I did have to be more careful about which settings I was tinkering with to what extent, I was able to get a solidly playable frame rate of up to 60 FPS with settings hovering between medium and high. It certainly also helps that the Steam Deck doesn’t really benefit from pushing the resolution higher than 1280×800, so there just weren’t that many pixels for the game to push.

horizon forbidden west pc

"While Horizon Forbidden West can look rather fantastic on a mid-range PC, it’s also worth noting that the game runs quite well on much slower hardware."

All told, Horizon Forbidden West’s PC version is a downright amazing release, offering just about everything a PC gamer could ask for. It provides plenty of graphical options to tinker around with, and when it comes to scalability, the very fact that it ran just fine on a Steam Deck without too much tinkering means that the game has also been optimized incredibly well for a wide range of hardware. The only downside—an admittedly minor one at that—is the fact that mouse and keyboard is a less than ideal way to play the game. It really is best enjoyed with a controller, and if you have a DualSense lying around, you’re going to get some of the best uses of the controller’s feature set you’ll find anywhere.

Just about every other aspect of Horizon Forbidden West, as well as Burning Shores, is essentially unchanged. The game’s story picks up shortly after the events of its predecessor, Horizon Zero Dawn, and an interesting form of escalation happens quite early on in the scope of problems that protagonist Aloy has to deal with. While the story itself is quite well done and fun, the game certainly features some rough spots here and there. For example, Aloy has a real hard time keeping quiet sometimes, to the extent where she’ll happily spoil puzzle solutions for you if you happen to take more than ten seconds looking for a solution.

I should reiterate that these aren’t really major problems with Horizon Forbidden West, none of what I’ve said above means that the game is fundamentally broken by any stretch. The game just seems to be very scared of a player possibly facing any friction while playing. While this can be an admirable trait, especially when it comes to reaching a wider audience and offering a greater level of accessibility, it also makes for some incredibly annoying parts where the game ends up making you feel ignorant because it was too impatient to let you figure out the answer to a potential puzzle.

horizon forbidden west pc

"The game just seems to be very scared of a player possibly facing any friction while playing."

Twp years later, Horizon Forbidden West and its DLC, Burning Shores, is still a fantastic open-world game, and quite easily sits up there as one of the best alongside other heavyweights of the genre. With its more story-focused approach, the game also has plenty of memorable characters and fun interactions, and Aloy continues to be an incredibly interesting protagonist, especially in light of her coming to terms with her “destiny” from the end of the first game.

The PC release would probably be the first time some players would be exploring the world of Horizon, and it will make a great first impression on them. It’s downright gorgeous, has virtually zero gameplay or performance related bugs, and has been optimized incredibly well for a wide range of hardware. The only real downside is the game’s controller-first approach to gameplay and UI design. While playing with a mouse and keyboard is possible, playing on a PC with a DualSense controller feels like the definitive way to experience the continuation of Aloy’s journey.

This game was reviewed on PC.


THE GOOD

Excellent gameplay; Fun story; Incredible optimization for a wide range of PC hardware; Looks better than the PS5 version.

THE BAD

UI design feels controller-centric; Aloy has trouble keeping quiet sometimes.

Final Verdict:
AMAZING
Horizon Forbidden West's PC port offers plenty of options for tinkerers to play around with, delivers great performance and plays on a wide range of hardware. It wouldn't be an exaggeration to claim that Horizon Forbidden West sets a new standard for PC ports.
A copy of this game was provided by Developer/Publisher/Distributor/PR Agency for review purposes. Click here to know more about our Reviews Policy.

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