Horizon Forbidden West 1
Image: Forbidden West

Horizon Forbbiden West PC review – A port to rule them all

And I'm not even exaggerating.

If there is a video game franchise that I have close to my heart that’s the Horizon franchise.

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When I bought my PlayStation 5 after things began to come back to normal after a traumatic period during the pandemic – and its impact on our daily lives – Horizon Zero Dawn was – alongside God of War 2018 – one of the few games in the PlayStation Plus Collection – may it rest in peace – that accompanied through a period of silence, shutdowns, and end of the world vibes.

No wonder it captivated me. After all, the game touches on subjects such as AI and its dangers, the apocalypse, and the worst of human nature which are my favorite themes in movies and media in general.

Horizon Forbidden West was one of the first games in a while that I pre-ordered and enjoyed on launch date and it took what made Aloy’s first adventure and expanded it in a way I couldn’t believe was possible.

From the story’s stakes to the graphics, the animations, the characters’ arcs, and, of course, the sheer amount of plot twists – which can arguably get a bit too much for some. The game was beautiful to the extent that its ultimate visual experience was a victim of the 30fps constraint of today’s console gaming – which some are unwilling to experience in favor of a Performance mode more akin to the 60fps standard.

Well, now that Forbidden West is available for all the PC Master Race folks – which includes apparently – there’s only one thing that I can say about it: it is the ultimate game port I have ever experienced. Hyperbole? I don’t think so. Join me today and discover why Nixxes Software has reached a milestone in PC ports, PC gaming, and PlayStation exclusives with Horizon Forbidden West.

Visual achievement

First of all, we cannot start this review otherwise. Forbidden West – even in PS5 – looks as gorgeous as modern gaming can get. The upgrade from Zero Dawn was pretty evident, especially during dialogue sequences in which the “cursed empty stare” was replaced with animations that exuded life in every single pore and every single strand of hair that moved with the wind.

Horizon Forbidden West Aloy And Varl

I always wondered how would the game look if we could unlock all its graphics potential and experience in an environment only a 4090 could provide. Thankfully, my investment in a gaming PC was worth the investment and the “what are we going to do now” talk with my wife. Thanks, honey.

Not only is the game optimized to perfection, but it incorporates modern-day technology like DLSS 3, FSR, NVIDIA Reflex, AI Upscaling, and even Ultrawide support, providing the ultimate Horizon experience to date – and yes, I’m including the VR game as well. Again, experiencing the game with every single graphics option dialed to eleven was the best visual experience I’ve had with a game in a while. The smoothness of having a stable experience in my 120hz TV and 144hz monitor almost forced me to throw my PS5 out the window – now that’s a hyperbole for you.

Horizon Forbidden West Hekarro 1

Now, don’t think that you will miss out on this port if you don’t have a 4090 inside your case. By sacrificing a bit of graphic fidelity and detail this game is perfectly playable in every single PC range available in the market. You don’t have to throw two thousand dollars down the PC purchasing drain to have a great time with Forbidden West, with Steam Deck players even having their share of the pie.

A – too – focused experience

Gameplay-wise, the game feels as good as it felt back in the day, if not even better. Of course, the graphics were going to be upgraded given the powerful nature of modern-day GPUs and CPUs, but the framerate unlocking made me a more than-average player against a selection of machines that continue to amaze me even to this day. The DualSense controller with its adaptive triggers and haptic feedback once again blew me away, with me wondering every second how is that I can control a character in a world as detailed as the Forbidden West in a post-apocalyptic world.

Horizon Forbidden West Fight

However, how the game incorporates the DualSense capabilities will make every other controller and even a keyboard and mouse configuration sub-standard, to say the least. Don’t get me wrong, to use the left mouse click to attack – which feels more natural than using R1, at least for me – and get to aim much better with the natural movement of your hand is as satisfying as a game can be, but at times it can feel a bit unnatural and forced.

That applies to the actual gameplay and also to the design of the weapons menu and overall UI as well.

To sum up, the greatest asset for Forbidden’s West – the DualSense controller – is also its bigger curse. You can certainly enjoy the game with an Xbox Controller or even with a mouse and keyboard, but if you want to immerse yourself in the core of Forbidden West, then you should strongly consider buying a DualSense controller.

Horizon Forbidden West Silens

Forbidden West and the future of PC gaming

As the final part of this review, other than drawing conclusions and talking about the story and other things where Forbidden West shines, I want to take a moment to acknowledge Nixxes’s track record in PC ports in general, with this latest one in particular.

The console wars have their roots in whose console it’s the most powerful of the bunch – the bit wars, they called it -, but it slowly and naturally transformed into what the system can offer in terms of exclusives, which is arguably the only criteria that should matter whenever picking a system. With the dawn of PC gaming and its evolution from a niche experimentation and programming platform to the behemoth it has become, there is a case to be made that involves the two non-Nintendo giants in the industry: perhaps exclusives are dead, and they should stay dead.

Horizon Forbidden West Hollywood 1

Don’t get me wrong, console exclusivity will still be a thing for Sony and Microsoft – at least to an extent – but study cases like the absolute internet domination by Helldivers 2 and now this perfectly optimized version of Forbidden West should be the banner for simultaneous releases on the blue brand’s home console and computers all around the world. And while Sony has yet to deliver first-party IPs on the same day for both platforms, I’m certain this is the way to go on an ever-changing video game landscape.

All in all, we are experiencing an achievement in video game porting and video games altogether. If you have the chance to pick this out and have never experienced the Horizon franchise – Zero Dawn is available on PC as well – due to you not having a PS5, then this is a great investment and a great sneak peek of what gaming will look like in the future.

Oh, and be sure to future-proof your gaming by investing in a PC if you have the means to do so.

9.5
Horizon Forbidden West PC
With its previous visual and gameplay quality vastly improved, Horizon Forbidden West's PC port not only is the ultimate Horizon experience but is also an accomplishment in porting and video game development.

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Author
Alejandro Josan
A musician with a heart of a gamer, Alejandro's life has always been accompanied by adventures on Nintendo platformers, countless hours of fantasy RPGs and several third-party FPSs. Currently, he is studying Game Design and Development and Creative Writing, preparing for a long career in the video game industry.