Horizon Forbidden West Complete Edition – PC Port Review

A sequel epic in scale and a PC port with epic scalability

Arriving two years after its debut on last and current-gen PlayStation hardware, Horizon Forbidden West Complete Edition on PC is another successful outing for Sony’s PC push – both in terms of the quality of the game and the port. There have been a handful of small post-launch patches, but even at launch, it demonstrated a level of polish that was severely lacking in the PC port of Horizon Zero Dawn. It also benefits from being a significantly better game, taking Guerilla Games’ inspired but formulaic concept, and expanding the size of the world, the scope of the narrative, and the mechanical depth. When you throw in the substantial Burning Shores post-game expansion and a lower price-point, it’s a great package for PC gamers.

Horizon Forbidden West PC Ultra Settings

I’ll start with a brief overview of the sequel as I’d recommend it even if, like myself, you lost interest in Horizon Zero Dawn before the end. The rampant HADES AI was seemingly defeated at the Spire, and both Meridian and the surrounding tribal lands are safe again – for a time. Robots reprogrammed to be hostile to humans remain a threat, while damage to the biosphere has triggered the spread of a red “blight” – infecting plants before entering the rest of the organic food web. This sets Aloy on a quest to find a functioning back-up of the GAIA AI, but that task becomes complicated when she discovers her supposed ally Sylens stole a copy of Hades before fleeing into the titular Forbidden West, where she encounters other survivors from humanities distant past after the same goal.

From a gameplay perspective, Horizon Forbidden West is more of the same – just with significantly improved structure and access to a liberating traversal option near the end-game for completionists. You’ll still be moving through settlements that Aloy feels compelled to aid despite her pressing quest. You’ll stalk robots in the over-world, stealth-stabbing small ones from conveniently placed patches of grass and picking apart massive ones by targeting weak-spots and removing components. You’ll collect an inordinate amount of plant-life, animal products, and techno-junk to craft specialised ammunition and upgrade Aloy’s gear. With each level, you’ll earn points to sink into one of six skill-tress that allow you to tailor your approach – think stealthy predator or resilient brawler – while forays into techno-tombs unlock new abilities. Both the minute-to-minute gameplay and progression systems are satisfying, but a sense of familiarity and repetition sets in quickly if you’re someone who systematically clears regions before moving on.

What Horizon Forbidden West does better than its predecessor is structure each story mission so they feel less like running between open-world markers, following the Focus scanner like a trained lab rat; while also digging deeper into the history of the world without forcing you to stand around listening to a pile of audiologs. This does mean long cutscenes and more restrictive walk-and-talk sessions at times, but these are interspersed with more varied stealth scenarios, dramatic platforming sequences, and spectacular boss encounters. If you’re someone who can focus on the main story and sidequests without fixating on a map full of icons, it can feel like a classic wide-linear cinematic action game – just with really impressive backdrops. What remains underdeveloped are a few flashpoint moments that allow you to better define Aloy’s personality and, in the Burning Shores expansion, her romantic interests, but these choices ultimately have no impact on how the overarching story plays out.

When it comes to the PC port itself, it’s all positives – so long as you didn’t you expect the implementation of newer technologies like ray-traced shadowing and reflections. Expansion aside, Horizon Forbidden West started life as a cross-generation project and that comes with tangible advantages for anyone with an older PC – to the point you can scale it down to the level of the already stunning-looking base PS4 version. For those with newer PCs, you can instead push the native resolution and framerate far higher than the PS5 – with cleaner upscaling options and frame generation. You can also enable ultra settings for an insane levels of environmental detail and refined post-processing effects – just not to the level it looks fundamentally different to the PS5 quality mode settings.

Horizon Forbidden West PC Settings

There are all the visual settings you’d expect – like native resolution targets, several v-sync targets based on your display, and multiple upscaling options that can adjust quality levels on-the-fly to maintain a target framerate. You can select between five pre-sets – from very low to ultra – or tweak visual settings on a granular level while observing the outcome in real-time. Texture, shadow, and reflection quality are easy targets to boost performance; you can tweak a half dozen environmental details like terrain, water, cloud, and crowd quality; and then there are more aesthetic options like field-of-view, HDR levels, motion blur, sharpening, and even ultra-wide 21:9 and 32:9 support for cinematics and/or gameplay (with black bars an option on 16:9 or 16:10 displays). Load times were excellent on an NVMe SSD, and the shader pre-compilation step meant I only experienced slight pauses when transitioning between regions during cutscenes, never during gameplay.

In addition to the common audiovisual settings, Horizon Forbidden West offers extensive accessibility options that cover the visuals, audio, gameplay assists, and both control schemes (mouse and keyboard/gamepad). Oh, and there’s full support for Dualsense haptic feedback and adaptive triggers if you’re using one for PC gaming. For reference, my 2021 gaming laptop has a 3.3GHz i7-11370H, an 8GB RTX3070, 16GB DDR4-3200 RAM, and NVMe SSD – with the CPU and GPU running at lower clocks and power draw than their desktop counterparts – but I was still able to choose between 1080/60 on my monitor or 4K/30 when hooked up to my TV, both using high settings. Of course, there was some help from DLSS temporal upscaling and a VRR display, but it was a far cry from last year’s Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart PC port that was both unstable at launch and brutal on older CPUs – with or without ray-tracing features enabled.

So, wrapping up, Horizon Forbidden West Complete Edition is an excellent, feature-complete PC port. If you game on both PC and PS5 already, there’s probably not enough of a technical leap here to warrant buying the PC version if you prefer couch gaming and console features. If you only game on PC, this port is well worth your time and money, and you don’t have to worry about the same technical issues Horizon Zero Dawn had at launch. If, like me, you played Horizon Forbidden West on PS4 before moving to PC this generation, it’s a great way to re-experience the base game at PS5-quality levels, and gain access to the next-gen-only Burning Shores expansions – though I wish they’d just unlock it from the start for those who have played the base game already.

Horizon Forbidden West Complete Edition was reviewed on PC using a code provided to gameblur by the publisher. It is also available on PS5 and PS4 (base game only).

Horizon Forbidden West Complete Edition – PC Port Review

Horizon Forbidden West Complete Edition – PC Port Review
8 10 0 1
8/10
Total Score

The Good

  • A bigger, more complex, and more diverse sequel
  • The gear and upgrade system feels more fleshed out to support the length of the game
  • More player-choice moments (though they have little narrative impact)
  • The environments are more diverse with an insane level of detail
  • The PC port is incredibly scalable for older gaming PCs and should be Steam Deck verified soon

The Bad

  • The scan/track/stealth/boss fight mission structure becomes formulaic over time
  • Lengthy cutscenes and walk-and-talk sequences can annoy
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