Horizon Forbidden West

Horizon Forbidden West (PC)

Has the PC version from Nixxes been technically refined and is the game still recommendable? We take a look.

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It hasn't been that long since Horizon Forbidden West was released for the PlayStation 5, or at least two years. I played through it back then and enjoyed much of my time with it. Aloy's journey through the Forbidden West was colourful and full of cool experiences, but I also thought there was a lot of padding that wasn't necessarily that interesting. Now a PC version has been released, and I've been playing it for the last couple of weeks, and I'd like to talk about that experience a little more here, both to give the game another round in the spotlight, but also to shed some light on this specific version.

I've got myself an overpriced new PC, which has drained my savings, but it can run games in 4K/60fps, and Ray-Tracing runs reasonably well too. So, when I got Horizon Forbidden West, I thought, let's see what my fancy graphics card can do.

Horizon Forbidden West was gorgeous on the PlayStation 5, and it's only got better on the PC. Almost every modern graphics technology imaginable is on full display. Horizon Forbidden West runs like a dream on my PC and is not too demanding for smaller machines, as the resource hog Ray-Tracing is not used in the game. However, this doesn't make the game uglier by any means, and when you take a little break between battles against the animal-like machines, a sunset over the beautiful world can take your breath away. It's a fantastically atmospheric game when the graphics are at their best. The machines are still super impressively made and are both immensely detailed but also terrifying, and with 60fps, their animations are even more impressive than before. Most of the characters are also impressively made, but there was a tendency for the ones you meet at the beginning to seem more elaborate than the ones you meet the further you get into the game. That's not a good thing. Additionally, later in the game there are some very ugly flaws in some of the textures that I didn't notice when I played the game on PlayStation a few years ago. Overall, however, the conversion to PC has been excellent, and Nixxes, who did the conversion, has done an excellent job that other developers could learn from.

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Horizon Forbidden West

Another thing Nixxes has managed to get an A+ in is the controls, which can now be done with mouse and keyboard, but of course also with the controller. I've played with mouse and keyboard, just to try it out, and for the most part it works perfectly. However, I found that especially shots from the bow can seem imprecise, where shots that you expect to hit don't quite end up where they should. This isn't something specific to the PC version, but something I also noticed on the PlayStation 5. And then there are just a lot of buttons to control on the PC. This is probably a general problem when console games come to PC, but I often found myself hitting the Windows button on my keyboard when I was sneaking, which minimised the game. This is quite annoying when it happens in the middle of an adrenaline-pumping sequence where you have to sneak around a herd of grazing Snapmaws. However, it's a minor thing that you can easily survive, as it fortunately pauses the game when it happens, but the buttons are just not laid out quite appropriately. I've experienced this in many games before Horizon Forbidden West, so it's probably just a problem that's hard to avoid in certain situations.

Something that didn't play as well for me was the story. The main story and Aloy's fight to save the world from becoming extinct again is fantastically entertaining and fascinating. In this sequel to Horizon Zero Dawn, you can feel the responsibility weighing heavily on Aloy, the red-haired heroine. She seems very pressurised throughout most of the game by the responsibility given to her by her creator, Elisabet Sobeck, of whom she is also a clone. This responsibility also makes it completely ridiculous when Aloy arrives in one of the many small tribal towns and is tasked with finding one of the obviously oblivious NPCs' bag filled with flowers that one of the monsters has stolen. Aloy is called the saviour of Meridian, and everyone in Horizon's version of North America knows this, so how these tribesmen can bring themselves to use her as an errand girl is downright insulting that Guerrilla Games, the original creators of the game, have been so unimaginative with some of the tasks Aloy is tasked with. Additionally, some of the characters you meet are just super boring, which I didn't notice on my first playthrough on PlayStation 5. Their writing is dull, their voice actors are poor and unengaged, and you want to skip their idiotic tasks that they could have had their sick uncles do. You only do them to gain new skills, not because they're inspiring in any way. The good thing about it is that it makes you want to experience the super cool main story more. I don't know if the contrast between the mindless tasks and the insanely awesome story is intentional, but if it is, it works.

Horizon Forbidden West
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There are many things to do in the vast open world of Horizon Forbidden West, and it can be overwhelming to look at the map and see the many icons for things to do. However, not all of them are equally exciting. For example, there are these metal flowers that you can only open towards the end of the game. Once you finally get the tools to open them, you find that they often only contain resources and sometimes even small bits of story. The same goes for what the game calls Firegleam, which are these red spots on the walls that Aloy can blow up. These also often store resources, but they get used more than the flowers do. My point is that there is a lot of padding in the game, and personally, I think it could have been shorter and more focused without all these more or less trivial tasks. The cool thing is that there's good content hiding behind some of these icons, but you have to go through them all to find them, which is a bit of a pain in the arse. I hope the final game in the trilogy has more substance than Forbidden West. Not every game needs to have a hundred hours of playtime if you can get good entertainment in half that time. However, it's not just Forbidden West that suffers from this disease, it's generally too many games with open worlds.

So, is Horizon Forbidden West worth playing on the PC? Yes, very much so. The game is overall an excellent conversion of the PlayStation game. The main story is super cool and the graphics are gorgeous. There are a few niggles here and there, but Horizon Forbidden West is an excellent game that should be experienced by as many people as possible. It deserves it.

09 Gamereactor UK
9 / 10
Gorgeous graphics. Solid central story. Solid controls. Excellent enemy versatility.
A few technical glitches in the PC version. Some boring page content here and there.
overall score
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