✔️PlayStation Perfection now for PC with enhanced performance. ✔️Aesthetically rich. Benchmark breaking visuals that run silky smooth. ✔️An incredible narrative, backed by spectacular gameplay.
❌In-game dialogue still bears some robotic gestures and body language.
OS: Windows 10 64-bit CPU Processor: Intel Core i7-6700K CPU @ 4.00GHz (8 CPUs) Memory: 32 GB RAM DDR4 Graphics: Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 Super DirectX: Version 12 Storage: 100 GB
Please note, this review is based on a Pre-Patched build of the title for PC.
The game has changed ladies and gentlemen. PlayStation’s prominence is about to be felt on an entirely separate platform, other than their own in-house commercially developed unit. Not only are we seeing title’s make their way across to PC, but some of the biggest hits of Sony’s current generation. PlayStation 4 is on the precipice of a transition phase as we near ever-so-close to the next generation of gaming. Sony Interactive Entertainment (rebranding to PlayStation Studios) are weighing their options and are now open to porting their stellar first party titles to other platforms for the first time, ever. It had been heavily rumored that Death Stranding had been a timed exclusive for Sony, and was set to make an appearance on competitor platforms soon after it’s launch on the PS4.
However, rumors swirled in late 2019 that Guerrilla’s latest masterpiece, Horizon: Zero Dawn would soon be heading to the ‘Master Race’ platform with PlayStation themselves publishing the title. Of course, the notion of the Japanese development studio allowing for one of their biggest hits of 2017 to be redeveloped and remastered for PC seemed preposterous, but here we are in 2020 and you could label this year completely unconventional. So the question you’re all asking is, do I purchase Horizon again on PC? Is it any different performance-wise on an entirely different platform to the home console? Are there any exclusives that may entice me into repurchasing this title, or even diving into its utter extravagance for the first time ever. To all this I say, Yes. An emphatic, Yes.
From Dusk 'til Dawn...
For those uninitiated with Horizon’s central plot-line, our story begins in the 31st Century in what seems to be a post-apocalyptic (or you could wager a post-pandemic) setting, with surviving humans living in a dispersed pre-historic like, tribal camps. Ancestry is commonly known as the “Old ones”, with tribes believing that they had shaped the entire world they now live in. The earth’s land mass has been bestrewed in greenery, and lush plantation, with pre-existing architecture renaming underground. The earth movement over the thousands of years had buried buildings, along with knowledge of society as we know it. Remnants of experiments are preserved, with existing data showing humanity’s progression in advanced technological studies, and other major factors that come into play as you progress through your campaign.
Horizon: Zero Dawn follows the story of Aloy, a young outcast of the Nora tribe who had been delivered to fellow her guardian Rost, after she was “sent” shortly after her birth. Aloy’s fascination with other young children of the Nora tribe, leads her on a path of self discovery, on finding who exactly her biological mother was. The tribe label Aloy as “motherless”, after the sudden appearance of the child. As Aloy grew, her curiosity began to grow where she experienced the heartbreak of being bullied by children, and shunned by adults. Rost, an outcast himself had grown to accept his own fate, and did his best in convincing our young female protagonist to do the same. After a day of exploring the surrounding forest, a young Aloy had found herself trapped underground in what seemed to be an abandoned laboratory. While parts of the lab had been layered with shrubbery, it was mostly intact with little corrosion.
Aloy explores the cave-like aesthetic, the lab had ascertained through the earth swallowing its surroundings. The child stumbles into a corpse that had looked to be decaying for hundreds, if not thousands of years. She collects an earpiece from the deceased, and places it on her ear. In complete shock, Aloy throws the piece to the floor but is lured by its prosthetic appearance. The earpiece, or “Focus” registers old footage from what we presume would be the corpse himself, sending a Happy Birthday message to his son, Isaac. The “Focus” would be best described as an assistant, that displays augmented information on surrounding objects. With the help of the cybernetic prosthetic, Aloy is able to exit the cave with Rost urgently looking for the lost child. As he reaches for her, he notices the Focus on her ear and demands her remove it. She refuses and shy’s away with the piece remaining firmly attached.
With the child reluctant to follow her guardian’s instructions, Rost informs Aloy that it was time to be trained and that they would begin the following day. Cynical, Rost perceives the Focus as just a “plaything”, and despises the youngster using its enhanced capabilities. The following evening after Rost had trained Aloy, they are followed in tow by a youngster from the Nora tribe. The lad parkour’s through many obstacles in the surrounding area, with confidence. After traversing a while further, they hear the cries of a distressed teenager. They identify the young male as the leaping lad from earlier. He slips off a mountainside, finding himself surrounded by “machines”, large robotic creatures that roam the earth like our natural wild, but are bio-mechanically engineered. Rost explains to Aloy that the teen was helpless, and the machines were set to hunt him down.
Horizon takes a seat among the PC elite, demonstrating that Greatness has been on-hand, for an entire generation. Horizon: Zero Dawn is, and will forever be a masterpiece.
Refusing to accept this, Aloy leaps into action with the support of Augmented Reality at her disposal. With Rost previously teaching the child on avoiding the bio-beasts, Aloy guides herself through the tall underbrush of the blood red hedges, with her Focus displaying the machines’ preset paths. She rescues the teen, guiding him back to safety. Reuniting with Rost, the father figure begins to comprehend the extent of the Focus, understanding that it was no toy. Aloy demands Rost tell her why she was an outcast, with her elder refusing to inform her. With persistence, he instructs her that the only people that could tell her are the matriarchs, but she would have to be trained for The Proving; the tribe’s council for the rite passage held annually. This would be the only way for Aloy to be accepted into the tribe.
After multiple years of training, it was time for Aloy to proceed to The Proving, leaving Rost behind. Aloy is greeted by Tribe Senior Teersa, informing her that Mother’s Heart had welcomed her. She leaves her to get acquainted with other Nora, and bumps into the young teen she saved from years ago. He introduces himself as Teb, a costume designer that offers Aloy an outfit for her Proving. After meeting numerous tribe members, including a Nora fitted with a Focus himself, she is then introduced to other participants of The Proving, whom she will be bunking with. She is confronted by Bast, a young male that attempts to antagonise Aloy. Bast reminds Aloy of how he bullied her as a child, however she rebuts stating that he had motivated her to proceed with her training, and sarcastically thanks him. It’s from this point forward that we dive deep into the campaign.
An outcast no more...
Horizon’s narrative is fitting for its port to PC, with its exclusivity to one brand broken and now accepted among others on a universal platform. It’s fascinating to rediscover the extravagance of Horizon: Zero Dawn, if applicable. Minimal specifications of the title suggest that owners of dated hardware may see some poorer performance in terms of visual fidelity, but those who are fortunate to own the latest tech fitted within their rigs, will immediately grasp Horizon’s significance, that Guerrilla’s first “fauxpen” world presented. Horizon left a statement heavily influencing title’s that came after. Its immaculate display, regarded as PlayStation 4’s graphical gold-standard, setting the bar for other title’s to reach levels Horizon accomplished, only to graze their fingertips, and sit side-by-side the conquering Queen of the current console generation.
With release of Sony’s final first party title for the PlayStation 4, the home console has sung its swan-song, and concluded its triumphant takeover this generation. In its epilogue, players salivate anticipating the sequel to Aloy’s first outing in Horizon: Forbidden West. Albeit, there is a large audience whom never experienced the beauty, appeal, charm and grace Zero Dawn gave Sony’s devotee’s. But now with the title releasing on PC, this gives PC owners the chance to truly experience why Horizon was such an integral piece of software that redefined the way we play most open world action-adventure title’s, and the way we consume the medium as a whole. An amalgamation of strong storytelling, creative writing, balanced with fluid action, a charismatic cast, and an aesthetic appeal to make gamers gush endlessly, only furthered Horizon’s impending legacy.
Translating Zero Dawn across to the PC, and analysing Horizon’s blueprint on an experimental scale has been compelling. Playing the title on a keyboard and mouse has reaffirmed the title sitting comfortable with its newly found PC associates. The traditional WASD configuration control’s your protagonist with the ability to simply snap-motion the in-game camera left and right using your mouse. This is a welcome feature given the expeditious action that unfolds while in battle, giving extra focus and potentially reformulating stratagem and scheming unseen tactical manoeuvre’s like never before. While the title’s inital framework has been lifted entirely from its PS4 rendition, Horizon’s PC revision improves on optimal alterations, graphical amendments and overall performance restructure that aberrate’s it from being labeled “a port”.
Horizon integrates a weaponry upgrade system, seen in title’s like the later Tomb Raider franchise, with the ability to purchase goods from a grey-market vendor, that seems to trade in-secret with outcasts. Without relying on the shady salesmen, you may collect gears for building additional skills and other add-on’s. Side-quests will award you with similar items that will elongate its perfectly paced campaign. The only gripe that remains is dialogue interaction with NPC’s throughout the experience. The bland, emotionless discourse between Aloy and a compatriot tends to display a lack of conviction in statements made between both parties. While Ashly Burch (Life is Strange, The Last of Us Part II) supplies her sublime vocal range bringing Aloy to life, the in-game monologue between two character’s abridge body language, and convey insufficient emotion.
Beyond the Horizon...
Controlling your narrative is akin to the Telltale engine without limits. While the majority of each conversation will spark a short investigation with a range of three to four questions, there are moments throughout the campaign where you will have to make a single choice, depending on the story’s outcome. Each choice will have some impact on your campaign, however it omits from modifying any fundamental story-beats that shape Aloy’s story. There is a clear and concise vision to Guerrilla’s proficiency, and their technique in adjusting character relations within the title that could be seen more from the perspective of relationship growth, similar to Persona 5’s social links. Aloy’s survival is dependent on how dexterous you become. Initially complex you will adapt to the Horizon’s sleek control scheme within an hour or two. It does take some time, but once you get in that groove you will be sliding down a muddy slope, shooting arrows at machine’s in no time.
Plotting attacks against the bio-behemoths can be a tedious task, but one that is all so satisfying when you land your target with perfection. Powering your Focus exposes a machine’s weak spot, the best strategy from afar would be to hit its highlighted body part, then do your best to avoid rushing in. With smaller creatures, a one-shot kill can be achieved by simply aiming for their eye. Beware, most machines’ are currently suffering through the “Derangement” and has caused them to be aggressive towards humans and larger machines that they may deem a threat. If you strike them quick, you may defeat them with ease; hit them wrong, and they will come hunting. One of my favourite technique’s is to use Aloy’s bow, as a spear for close range attacks. Simply charging an enemy machine or foe, you may sling your a spear for an immeasurable amount of damage.
While Horizon Zero Dawn depicts a bleak outcome for humanity’s existence, its display of gorgeous terrain and intelligent puzzle design does wonders for its overall experience. Its aesthetic juxtaposition between a prehistoric haven, to a technological underground territory is not only crafted with brilliance, the elegance of how this connects with its overall narrative is done with resplendence that some would consider unimaginable. The implementation of lavish backdrops, stellar shading, comprehensive landscapes, and majestic mechanical creatures, are a spectacle. The elegance that has been arranged and concocted by the developers at Guerrilla is nothing short of grandeur. This is a universe crafted with love, and for PC owners who have the horsepower, crank those GPU’s up to 100, you’re going to be using Photo Mode, a whole lot here.
Its legacy now carries onto PC, with a newfound lease on its glorious lifespan. PlayStation have delivered some incredible experiences exclusively to their home console’s, and now allowing PC gamer’s may have been awaiting greatness for quite a while, but it has finally arrived. Horizon: Zero Dawn arrival to the universal platform allows a portal for those who impatiently anticipate its sequel’s arrival on Sony’s next generation platform, PlayStation 5. Reveling in its allure, basking in its glory, and indulging in its refinement, Horizon takes a seat among the PC elite, demonstrating that Greatness has been on-hand, for an entire generation. Horizon: Zero Dawn is, and will forever be a masterpiece.
Horizon: Zero Dawn - Guerrilla
Horizon Zero Dawn is an action role-playing game developed by Guerrilla Games and published by Sony Interactive Entertainment. The plot follows Aloy, a hunter in a world overrun by machines, who sets out to uncover her past.