Two weeks on from when Horizon Zero Dawn launched its PC port and the experience of playing, has been a real mixed bag. The game is wonderful and a lot of fun to play, but due to some lingering performance issues, it can also be an extremely frustrating experience. That said, the experience is getting better, so there is real hope of everything coming together.
Since my initial impressions two weeks ago, I have made it further in HZD, and so far, nothing about the gameplay or story has let me down. One of my favorite things with Aloy is in certain moments, I can choose how she reacts to various situations or people. The choice is to be clever, caring, or to confront the challenge head-on. Although these choices don’t have an impact on the overall story, they do change how she interacts with specific characters and how they view her. Even in my short time making progress through the story, I was able to see several instances where these moments came around again. There’s one point where a bully confronted me, and because of how I chose to handle that moment, when I ran across that person later, I had some satisfying dialogue options. It might not be a massive thing to some people, but little moments like that go a long way to making everything feel more authentic.
I still love all of the ranged weapons, and hunting with the bow feels incredibly satisfying. Since I spent so much time wandering and hunting before the proving, I had a ton of metal shards early on, which allowed me to buy a lot of new weapons quickly, including a sharpshooter bow. As implied, this bow provides for more precise shots, which also deal a ton of damage. There was one point where I was sneaking around, clearing out a bandit camp through a mix of headshots from hidden spots and silent attacks from the bushes. I felt as if someone had taken Assassin’s Creed and Tomb Raider and mashed them together in a very satisfying way.
As great as silent kills and archery feel melee combat feels very hectic and not at all smooth. Whenever I’m accidentally spotted and find myself in melee, I feel tempted to reach for my gamepad. Trying to hit the ctrl key while moving is not a standard key combination for me, and I nearly always end up just jumping around instead, which is, oddly, almost always as effective as dodging. It’s probably different for other people, but melee feels like the last option and something be avoided whenever possible. This is problematic because, in some story bits, I have been forced into relying on melee.
I am happy to say the FPS issues I had been struggling with have pretty much cleared up over the last two weeks. Most of the time, I stay at or near 40 FPS with occasional drops to 25 FPS. However, I think I have figured out something in my system, which seems to be a contributing factor in those drops. Therefore, at this point, as long as your system meets the recommended specs, most people shouldn’t have much of an issue with FPS.
Unfortunately, the area which has only slightly improved over the last two weeks is the random crashes. I’ve been tracking every crash and logging what I was doing when they happened, and I realized when I was at 8 hours played, I was sitting at 17 crashes. To be clear, that’s eight hours of play as the game itself reckons it, not Steam’s tracking. This figure doesn’t include the time I spent trying to recreate certain crashes to see if it was any specific things causing them. Most of the time, I couldn’t recreate the crashes, though.
As I said, this has gotten a bit better. At this point, I can generally play for at least an hour before the game crashes, which is an improvement. However, this is still not good, and I’ve had to waste a ton of time running back and forth between campfires to save to minimize progress loss. In the section after I entered the village and was talking to people before doing the proving, I crashed six times. It was cool and a lot of fun to have those conversations in the first couple of times, but it got old very quickly.
I know fixing these crashes is a high priority for them and I have no doubt they will get it sorted, it’s just a question of how long it’ll take. It’s also worth mentioning crashes at the rate I have been experiencing them isn’t universal. I’ve talked to a few people who were able to get through the game with only 3 – 5 crashes. However, since these issues seem so unpredictable, I can’t recommend the PC port for Horizon Zero Dawn yet. I’ll keep checking in with it and will update when they get everything under control, but in the meantime, PS4 is still the way to go for playing HZD.