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Horizon Forbidden West Complete Edition review for PC — Beauty of the wilds

When I first played Horizon Forbidden West back in 2022, somehow it just didn’t click with me. I adored the first game and this was a bigger, better version of that. It’s a finely crafted experience and a worthy sequel, but at the time I just wasn’t feeling it. With the release of the PC version, however, I’m hooked on Aloy’s journey in a gorgeous, well performing package ported to computers by Nixxes Software.

I’m going to mostly talk about the port here, so if you want the deets on the game itself check out Lead Editor David Burdette’s review here. In short, the game follows Aloy as she attempts to restore the Old World AI, Gaia, to stop a mysterious blight from destroying the world. You explore the game’s open world, fight robot dinosaurs, complete quests, and get new gear. It’s pretty standard for AAA games nowadays, but it’s done so well here as to remain interesting and fun.

Horizon Forbidden West Benchmark - Tower Climbing on the GeForce RTX 4070 | Max Settings 1440P

Horizon Forbidden West Complete Edition opens with a launcher on Steam. Here, you can adjust graphical settings, view digital extras, launch the actual game, or disable the launcher and go straight to the game in the future. Graphics settings are under two tabs, Display and Graphics. Under display, you can choose your window mode, resolution, aspect ratio (supporting ultrawide displays up to 32:9, it’s also 16:10 on Steam Deck), and HDR. More importantly, however, are the upscale options including FSR 2.2, XeSS, and DLSS. In my testing, I mostly used DLSS on the Quality preset, giving me a range of 60 to 120 fps depending on the area on an RTX 4070. It usually ends up in the 90s or low 100s during gameplay at 1440p. In certain cutscenes, that can drop to the mid 50s or even below if there’s enough complex geometry or NPCs on screen. I could probably completely remove those dips on the Performance or even Balanced presets, but these drops almost never happen during gameplay and the game is so pretty that I don’t really want to.

Speaking of pretty, you have a ton of graphics options at your disposal to further customize fidelity and performance. These include Texture, Shadow, Hair, Terrain, Crowd, Water, Clouds, and Translucency quality, Ambient Occlusion, Texture Filtering, Screen Space Shadows and Reflections, the general level of detail, depth of field, bloom, motion blur, lens flares, the vignette, radial blur, and chromatic aberration. Some have a few levels of quality to them, from Very Low to Very High, while others have a shorter list or are even just on or off like the vignette and radial blur. I put every setting to the max, save for motion blur and the vignette, both of which I turned off.

Horizon Forbidden West Benchmark - First 30 Minutes on GeForce RTX 4090 Super | Max Settings 4K

It’s a great suite of settings, but I find the game just looks wrong with some things like Screen Space Shadows turned off. Depth of Field is also used to great effect in certain cutscenes, so it’s an interesting situation of decreasing graphical quality meaning you miss out on some of the artistic intent. On Steam Deck, I managed to get a fairly stable 30 fps by setting everything to low and using FSR on Ultra Performance mode, but I do feel like something is lost there. So, I ended up sacrificing a few frames occasionally to get that artistry and craftsmanship back.

Really, the game is so optimized for PC that your method of upscale will be what actually determines your performance. Using DLSS and Frame Generation and Reflex Low Latency + Boost I was very satisfied with how the game ran. FSR will certainly help for non-NVIDIA cards and though I don’t know much about XeSS, I imagine that would help too, but you will get the most out of the game if you can take advantage of DLSS and all the features that come with it on the 40 series of cards. Even so, the game is perfectly playable without them, given the mostly stable experience on Steam Deck. I’m certainly willing to sacrifice fps for portability in that case.

We tested a few of the 40 series cards to demonstrate this. Ron, running an RTX 4090 got over 120 fps at 4K and Quality DLSS, with DLSS off that dipped to 85 to 90; still respectable, but a big jump. Meanwhile the 4080 Super could put out 111 fps on Quality, and 60 with DLSS off.

As for controls, I’m happy to report that you can seamlessly swap between keyboard and mouse or a gamepad at any time, with menus supporting mouse cursors too. You can rebind just about everything as well, except for the start and select buttons or Escape key If you have a DualSense, you can also fully experience all the little touches that controller provided for the game on PS5 – so long as your connection is wired, at least. I did also notice that when used for the first time after booting the game again or after a long amount of time has passed without using it, audio from the controller’s speaker would be slightly cut off at the start. Nothing truly important comes out of that speaker, but it was certainly noticeable in my testing. This could just be due to my rig or my USB cable, so your results may vary.

Horizon Forbidden West Benchmark - First 30 Minutes on GeForce RTX 4080 Super | Max Settings 4K

My favorite controller feature has to be the motion aiming though. If your gamepad supports it, you can turn motion controls on in the settings to fine tune your aim. I even got my 8bitdo controller to work with it in Switch mode, with in-game button icons automatically changing to match. It’s something that, since Splatoon released, I have wanted in just about every game involving shooting, so I’m happy it made the transition from PS5.

David is the kind of person to wear his heart on his sleeve. He can find positives in anything, like this is a person who loved Star Fox Zero to death. You’ll see him playing all kinds of games: AAAs, Indies, game jam games, games of all genres, and writing about them! Here. On this website. When not writing or playing games, you can find David making music, games, or enjoying a good book.
David’s favorite games include NieR: Automata, Mother 3, and Gravity Rush.

100

Phenomenal

Horizon Forbidden West: Complete Edition

Review Guidelines

Horizon Forbidden West Complete Edition is an incredibly polished PC port with all the bells and whistles you could possibly ask for. It looks and runs incredibly, with the ability to tweak visuals and performance to suit your device. Nixxes continues their perfect streak of ports, and this is a fantastic way to experience Aloy’s second adventure.

David Flynn

Unless otherwise stated, the product in this article was provided for review purposes.

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