Horizon Zero Dawn has its own particular place of honour in a phenomenal line-up of PlayStation 4 first-party exclusives – an open world delivered with some of the best technology in the business, combined with the gameplay finesse and polish of a more linear experience, humanised with some of the most impressive character rendering of the generation. When Hideo Kojima went shopping for a game engine to deliver his vision for Death Stranding, it was Guerrilla Games’ Decima technology he settled upon – and can there be any higher praise than that? In the wake of Kojima Productions’ generally excellent Death Stranding PC port, expectations were sky-high for Horizon’s PC conversion. With that in mind, it’s both baffling and extremely disappointing to see the port fall so far short of expectations.
Make no mistake, the core game is all there. It is indeed the Complete Edition. It’s still a unique experience for PC users, simply because multi-platform projects and even the odd PC exclusive aren’t built quite like this. Horizon Zero Dawn looks and feels a class apart in many ways – and yes, you can increase graphics settings and improve resolutions and frame-rate compared to the PlayStation 4 and PS4 Pro originals. However, where the game falls short is in its many technical failings.
When a game is content-complete but requires polish and bug-testing, it’s considered beta code – and that’s the impression we got from this conversion when we tested it, to the point where much of the reviewing process has been a case of testing and re-testing the game on multiple pieces of hardware to answer a simple question – is there something wrong with our kit or is the game at fault? It’s a little bit of one and a lot of the other, but the bottom line is that there are many technical issues that need addressing to the point where not all of them can be included in this article. A 35GB day one patch arrived on the same day as the embargo lift – hence the delay in publishing our review – but the many and varied problems are still in effect in the code that makes its way to players.