GSY REVIEW | PC, PS4 Wednesday, August 5, 2020 | 2:01 PM

We reviewed Horizon: Zero Dawn on PC

We reviewed Horizon: Zero Dawn on PC

The arrival of Horizon: Zero Dawn on PC follows the release of a more recent game running on Decima Engine, Death Stranding. With no support of DLSS 2.0 in Aloy's adventures, we were curious to see how the game would perform in 4K so we recorded a bunch of HQ videos showing performance in various resolutions and with different graphics settings. As usual, our testing rig is composed of an RTX 2080 Ti and an Intel i9 9900K.
Note: The day one patch was released an hour before the embargo lifted so there might be some notable improvements regarding performance. As a result, the following videos should be taken with a grain of salt as they may not reflect how the game will run on Friday when it ships.

Verdict


Horizon: Zero Dawn is undoubtedly a game you should play if you haven't already, but you should keep in mind that it seems to be rather demanding, which means you might have to make some comprises to enjoy a perfectly smooth framerate. On our rig, even playing in 1440p with ultra settings would not prevent occassional drops or micro freezes. Selecting the original graphics settings (we assume they correspond to the PS4 Pro version) didn't allow for a smooth 60 fps in native 4K either and in our experience, only the lowest settings allowed it. The day one patch might help in this regard of course, but until we know for sure, we prefer to be clear. It's not surprising that such a game would be so demanding, but we expected our RTX 2080 Ti would be more comfortable in high resolutions. Thankfully, a resolution scale tool has been implemented, which gives a bit more possibilities when it comes to tweaking one's experience. From what we've seen, with a 70% render scale in 4K, lowering shadows and clouds a notch makes it possible to have a steady framerate, but lowering other settings can help too obviously, starting with the model quality option, which modifies the LOD. With an 80% resolution scale, the game seems to struggles whenever it starts to rain so 70 is probably the way to go for now. Now obviously, if you own a TV or monitor which supports G-Sync or Freesync, it might not be that much of a big deal, especially since the game allows for very high framerates. Aside from the few performance issues we have witnessed, the game remains a sight to behold, even on the lowest settings so it should be pretty easy to find the right balance between great visuals and performance. It's just a bif of a shame that the screenshots used in the graphics options should be so small as they do show the differences between each level of quality. All in all, the port looks solid overall, though we hope the day one patch which will come tomorrow will iron things out a little more to make it great. Too bad DLSS 2.0 isn't supported, it would clearly have done wonders.
  • On the upside
  • Visually gorgeous
  • Unforgettable game world
  • Appealing story
  • Epic combat against machines
  • Frozen Wilds is included
  • HDR is supported
  • An awesome PS4 exclusive on PC
  • On the downside
  • Human AI and melee combat
  • 60 fps comes with compromises
  • No DLSS 2.0 support
  • Resolution scaling every 10% only

For those who don't wish to look at all our videos and pause our footage to have the time to see all the different options that are available in the display and graphics menus, we thought you might appreciate to have a list of everything with as many details as possible.

Display



• Display resolution
• Field of view (70 to 100)
• Adaptive performance FPS
• FPS limit
• Render scale
• Aspect ratio
• Display mode
• Monitor
• Refresh rate
• V-sync
• HDR rendering
• HDR settings

Graphics



• Presets (favor performance/original/favor quality/ultimate quality/custom)
• Textures (low/medium/high/ultra)
• Model quality (low/medium/high/ultra)
• Anisotropic filter (low/medium/high/ultra)
• Shadows (no/low/medium/high/ultra)
• Reflections (low/medium/high)
• Clouds (low/medium/high/ultra)
• Anti-aliasing (no/camera based/FXAA/SMAA/TAA)
• Motion blur (yes/no)
• Ambient occlusion (no/original)

Details about the graphics preset called "original"



• Textures: medium
• Model quality: medium
• Anisotropic filter: medium
• Shadows: medium
• Reflections: medium
• Clouds: medium
• Anti-aliasing: camera based
• Motion blur: yes
• Ambient occlusion: original

Performance and graphics settings (PC/4K)
1440p/ultra gameplay (PC)
PS4 settings with ultra textures (PC/4K)
Lower graphics settings (PC/4K)

All comments

Commented on 2020-08-05 14:38:15
Drift, thank you very much for the very detailed review and videos.

Listing the graphical options was a great idea. It's sad to hear that performance wise it's worse than Death Stranding, which came out a month before it and they should have used that feedback and adjusted things. Though like you've mentioned, there's a day 1 patch coming tomorrow. Still, I don't think it will be as transformative as it should be, but will have to wait for tomorrow to confirm.

I will definitely play the game, but will wait for a Black Friday deal. I already spent almost 1k in games this summer, while I mostly ignored them and am now hooked on Destiny 2. Since it will take months until I've done everything I can in Destiny 2, I will wait for Black Friday. I will also buy Death Stranding at that time. By then I will probably have a new GPU/CPU or PlayStation 5 - depending on the price, so it will also perform better.
Commented on 2020-08-05 14:48:14 In reply to Sdarts
Actually day one patch was released a bit earlier today but since I won't be home until mid-August...
Commented on 2020-08-05 15:22:42 In reply to Driftwood
Cool. I hope the game performs well enough on PC, this way people will have less things to complain about it and will just enjoy the game. Which ensures that if the game gets a great reception, Sony might be more willing to release other PlayStation exclusives on PC - like Bloodborne.
Commented on 2020-08-05 20:27:12
Very sad performance..
Commented on 2020-08-06 00:37:10
Game runs great imho. RX 580 can run it maxed out with 60fps @1080p. It's only the 4k native thats an issue.
Commented on 2020-08-06 02:42:25
Posted by King_Grunt
Game runs great imho. RX 580 can run it maxed out with 60fps @1080p. It's only the 4k native thats an issue.
Not just 4k, the review even mentions that 1440p suffers too:

"On our rig, even playing in 1440p with ultra settings would not prevent occassional drops or micro freezes. Selecting the original graphics settings (we assume they correspond to the PS4 Pro version) didn't allow for a smooth 60 fps in native 4K either and in our experience, only the lowest settings allowed it. The day one patch might help in this regard of course, but until we know for sure, we prefer to be clear."
Commented on 2020-08-06 10:46:11
Looks like it needs a lot more optimization, I was expecting to see 80-100fps at 1440p with a 2080s at ultra settings. I have no interest in playing this using the "original" preset, kinda defeats the purpose of playing on PC for me, although a locked 60fps would still be an improvement over the 30fps on console.
Commented on 2020-08-06 11:02:00
There are problems with the port, the anisotropic filter option does not work for starters and as we said, some occasional micro freezes or stuttering happen once in a while (cutscenes, at the end of a mission, etc.). The devs have listed the main problems on Steam.
Commented on 2020-08-06 11:54:47 In reply to Sdarts
Bloodborne is pretty much confirmed. They just need to officially announce it. :)
Commented on 2020-08-06 11:59:19 In reply to Driftwood
That's disappointing. I'll wait for a Steam sale, hopefully they patch the bugs by then. I haven't seen anything from DF on this as of yet.
Commented on 2020-08-06 15:39:09 In reply to jmd749
Same, though I've waited 3 years and a half from its February 2017 PS4 release, so I can comfortably wait 3 months and a half more till Black Friday/Cyber Monday 2020. By then not only will it be discounted - hopefully heavily discounted, but it will also have been patched by the developers and/or the community. Plus I'm sure the modding community will have released mods and other things for the game. Plus I will have a better PC then.

Save money and get a much better end product for a much better experience. Best of both worlds really. Patience and waiting for us gamers is nothing since we have such huge backlogs that most of us don't even know what to play most of the time, like which games to play first, etc. Two months ago I made a list with all the games I had on Steam, Uplay, Origin, GOG, Epic Store and Amazon Games - you get many games and content for free if you're a Amazon Prime subscriber - and it's shameful to say I barely touched most of them.

I bought Red Dead Redemption 2 Ultimate Edition and stopped playing after you settle into the camp, I also stopped 50% through Maneater, and the list goes on... I don't even care about release dates anymore, not even hyped for Cyberpunk 2077, Assassin's Creed: Valhalla and Watch Dogs: Legion since I might play them a few months after release - unless I get an uncontrollable urge to play them sooner.

So I'm mostly ignoring they're coming out. For AC:Valhalla and WD:Legion, if I wait 3 months, I can get a 20% discount on each with 100 Uplay's Club Unit Coins, plus they will have been patched, new features added, Guides for annoying quests and puzzles, etc. Patience is a virtue and an excellent one at that.
Commented on 2020-08-06 18:10:50
Strange thing happens with these exclusives. They look impressive on consoles but once they are ported to PC they start to look average. Higher resolution and higher fps maybe the reason for this. For example, 30fps animations don't look as fluid anymore.
Commented on 2020-08-06 22:44:11
Digital Foundry just released their take on Horizon: Zero Dawn's PC port, bottom line:

"deeply disappointing "

Below is the YouTube video of Digital Foundry's analysis for those who prefer to watch or listen instead of reading. It's a must-watch to see just how utterly fucked up the PC port is.

Digital Foundry - Horizon Zero Dawn PC: An Amazing Game Gets A Disappointing Port
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7w-pZm7Zay4

The game being 4K, then downscaling to 1080p, to then upscale that 1080p image to 4K again has to be one of the most bizarre things ever. Then there's the multiple crashes during the shader caching process. And those are the most smallest of all the issues.

 I just don't get this. While it's Guerrilla's second PC game - the first was a game called "Shellshock: Nam '67" from 2004 and developed for Windows, PlayStation 2 and Xbox - this is still Guerrilla Games, they're one of the best developers in the world when it comes to games' technology. Were they only allowed to put 5-10 people working on the PC port or just new hires/interns or something?!

Black Friday deal it is. Was gonna wait anyway, but this just makes me more sure of it. Because of all of these issues, I'm sure many more people will wait for it to be heavily discounted, even if the developers do fix most of the issues. Hence why buying games at launch - even ports of old games - is very unwise.
Commented on 2020-08-07 00:37:37 In reply to Sdarts
Posted by Sdarts
 I just don't get this. While it's Guerrilla's second PC game - the first was a game called "Shellshock: Nam '67" from 2004 and developed for Windows, PlayStation 2 and Xbox - this is still Guerrilla Games, they're one of the best developers in the world when it comes to games' technology. Were they only allowed to put 5-10 people working on the PC port or just new hires/interns or something?!
yhea, bout that, this seminal work was Naughty Dog's first game, just don't see the relevance of a bygone game of a distant proto-company, to their current status quo.

now this port "doesn't deserve they money we spent in it" job sales money is racking in, maybe they can actually pay durante's dev team to come in and fix this shitshow.
Commented on 2020-08-07 02:15:13 In reply to Sdarts
Posted by Sdarts
Two months ago I made a list with all the games I had on Steam, Uplay, Origin, GOG, Epic Store and Amazon Games - you get many games and content for free if you're a Amazon Prime subscriber - and it's shameful to say I barely touched most of them.

I bought Red Dead Redemption 2 Ultimate Edition and stopped playing after you settle into the camp, I also stopped 50% through Maneater, and the list goes on... I don't even care about release dates anymore, not even hyped for Cyberpunk 2077, Assassin's Creed: Valhalla and Watch Dogs: Legion since I might play them a few months after release - unless I get an uncontrollable urge to play them sooner.
I can totally relate to this. I'm in a similar boat, I have almost 1k games on steam alone, not to mention ps4, origin, uplay etc. I will never be able to complete all these games in this lifetime, and i've come to accept that.

About the game


What's up?
  • nostradamus
    nostradamus Oh by the way, i had already written of an xbox for 2020-25, but... Prey 2. I will buy and xbox, damn straight, best game of the generation. (19 minutes ago)
  • Seth
    Seth @nostradamus: Arkane are amazing studio. btw It's kinda nuts how this deal got them so many good and varied IP's. (48 minutes ago)
  • Seth
    Seth @nostradamus: After this megaton Konami, Rockstar etc are trending on twitter. Everyone is like ''Sony pls buy these studios''. ? (51 minutes ago)
  • nostradamus
    nostradamus Maybe Sony should buy Sega or Capcom. (1 Hour ago)
  • nostradamus
    nostradamus but that is dead in and by itself so, eh. Nice aquisition, but not for me at all. (1 Hour ago)
  • nostradamus
    nostradamus Wolfenstein is awesome but i'll live, elder scrolls is hogwash,fallout in the hands of betshita the same. Eveil Within is eh, capcom wannabe. I really really loved Prey. (1 Hour ago)
  • nostradamus
    nostradamus Ha ha thank god i never GAVE a shit for Betshita&friends games. (1 Hour ago)
PreviousNext
  • Driftwood
    Driftwood GSY is getting some nice content at 3 pm CEST with our July podcast and some videos of the Deus Ex Mankind Divided preview build. :) (> 3 Months ago)
  • Driftwood
    Driftwood For once we'll be live at 4:30 pm CEST. Blim should not even be tired! (> 3 Months ago)
  • Driftwood
    Driftwood More Quantum Break coverage coming in a few hours, 9:00 a.m CEST. (> 3 Months ago)
  • Driftwood
    Driftwood We'll have a full review up for Firewatch at 7 pm CET. Videos will only be tomorrow though. (> 3 Months ago)
  • Driftwood
    Driftwood Tonight's livestream will be at 9:15 GMT+1, not GMT+2 as first stated. (> 3 Months ago)
  • Driftwood
    Driftwood New GSY Live dedicated this time to Just Cause 3 on Tuesday 9:30 GMT+2 (> 3 Months ago)
  • Driftwood
    Driftwood Join us tomorrow at 10 pm GMT+2 for a new livestream. We'll be playing Rise of the Tomb Raider. (> 3 Months ago)
PreviousNext
Top stories