Horizon Zero Dawn

Icon - Calendar Released: 28 Feb 2017
Icon - Edited Reviewed: 14 Feb 2021
Platform: PC

Horizon

HZD is pretty special. The story holds it together, but really exploring the world and it's past, and fighting metal dinosaurs is brilliant. It's genuinely interesting to go from not knowing anything, to discovering what happened to humanity 1000 years ago. Combat, crafting and exploring are all excellent and make a really memorable experience. I played the PS4 version first, then the PC port. I guess it goes without saying, but it's 10x better on PC. It looks better, and the controls are good. A game about precision aiming with a bow and arrow doesn't belong on a console.

Pros

  • Beautiful music
  • Unique setting. Who doesn't love robot dinosaurs?
  • Multiple weapons and ammo types
  • Stealth
  • Human enemies as well as robots
  • Engaging way of taking down enemies. Instead of just shooting them, you're encouraged to scan them for components and shoot those off, which you can then loot and craft with
  • Voice acting, particularly Aloy, is really good
  • The game world is huge, and there are all sorts of beautiful places to discover

Cons

  • Console: Loading times are ridiculous; it literally takes 3 or 4 minutes when fast-travelling to the main city
  • The UI for using potions and traps during combat requires you to scroll through a dozen items to find the one you want using the left/right buttons. So if you want to distract something, put a trap down and use a health potion, you have to stand there for 30 seconds getting shot at scrolling through a menu. This hasn't been improved on PC and works exactly the same way, AND you can't use your mouse wheel
  • Console: A game entirely based around a bow and arrow doesn't belong on a console. For the whole game, I was just annoyed that the combat would have been a lot more enjoyable using an accurate input method. If I hadn't constantly felt held back by controller, I would have thought it was enjoyably challenging. As it is, I just gave up and turned the difficulty down to easy
  • Only 4 weapon slots, but 9 different weapon types in the game. On PC, I'd expect to be able to equip all of these
  • Night time is too dark
  • Movement is actually a little clunky. You get used to it, but it's quite jumpy
  • There's too much gathering. After every fight I need to pick another 15 health herbs before the next one, potions take tons of meat. The game would be a good 10 hours shorter without having to gather so many flowers and animal parts

PC Port Notes (2021)

After a rocky launch with lots of optimisation issues, they have continued to patch it and it now runs really well, which is great news. I'd highly recommend playing it on PC over console, as the primary mechanic is precision bow & arrow shooting, which is terrible on a controller. Having now playing both versions, it's just so much more of a joy on PC, both controls and graphics.

  • As expected, playing with a mouse for aiming is 10x easier and more enjoyable than on console
  • Any time you change the graphics settings, and periodically after that, it wants to "optimise shaders" which takes 6-7 minutes. Probably part of the porting process, and not something you'd see if it had been built for PC originally
  • Also as expected on PC, much better loading times (once that optimising shaders has finished)
  • It's absolutely beautiful. The optimisation issues from launch have been resolved. It's still graphically intensive, but the adaptive resolution handles that really well
  • Ultrawidescreen support (32:9)
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