Horizon Forbidden West soars onto PC with finesse

Posted on April 2, 2024

Aloy’s journey in the Horizon series has become a favourite for many, including myself. Lured in with the promise of taking down sentient machines, Aloy portrays a real purpose and heart that has made the first two instalments what they are for players today. With Horizon Forbidden West launching on PlayStation consoles just over two years ago, it’s now time for its PC debut. Since its release in 2022 I’ve played through it on both PS4 and PS5 and I have to say, seeing this game’s sheer beauty and scale on the next-gen was already such a treat. Being able to return to this game on PC has followed suit in this pattern, as I feel the game eagerly pulling me into the rich environment and story once more.

Returning to this game as a PC port is somewhat of a pilgrimage as I hold this series quite dear to myself. When I originally played Horizon Zero Dawn, I felt as though the game came to me at a time when I was primed to disappear into an expansive open world. Similarly, Horizon Forbidden West promised me that same salvation anew, stacked with adventure and escapism. Few games have been as restorative to me but Aloy has become a character I look up to in many respects. Being able to return to this game again on PC, I feel that same need to immerse into it fully. Having the Burning Shores DLC included also is a very welcome inclusion as I’ve never gotten to play right the way through both the main game and DLC in one hit.

When we first got to review Horizon Forbidden West, we scored the game as a 10 which is no small feat. As a sequel, it carries the torch well from its predecessor, not only increasing the knowledge gained from its lore but also showing off a whole new incredible area. To say I’m also quite smitten with the franchise is an understatement. What many don’t expect is how this game conveys meaning through everything in this world. While it’s a post-apocalyptic story about global warming and saving humanity, it’s also a tender reminder of how fragile our own world is in the current day. The Horizon series tackles some weighty questions and while the answer in the games seems farfetched, it’s not hard to understand the stakes, especially when on a robotic planet. There’s also something quite poignant about how this game frames Aloys narrative around finding her purpose and finding a way to protect humanity.

Experiencing Horizon Forbidden West again on the PC feels a lot like catching up with a friend you haven’t seen in ages. Things are different but the familiarity of returning to an adventure you’ve previously played is a hearty dollop of nostalgia for sure. The game looks flawless once again. Having originally played it on the PS5, it’s no surprise that the PC port can hit that benchmark. I am lucky that my graphics card is fairly new, but even while testing on the lower settings the difference in gameplay quality and visual fidelity didn’t feel like any sort of constriction on enjoying the game.

Returning to the game on this platform, one can’t help but try out the keyboard controls but having seen how the game handles on a controller it didn’t last long for me. For anyone who has played the game on PS5, you’ll be very familiar with the game’s adept use of the iconic DualSense Controller adaptive triggers. It’s an impressive feat to have it feel as though you’re notching every arrow on a tense bowstring. Sadly, I doubt a keyboard could ever live up to that from the start. I did experiment with using an Xbox controller and a Playstation Dualsense but had no initial luck activating the adaptive triggers on the port. I do feel as though this could still be possible with some trial and error and possibly a 3rd party application. I did give the keyboard and mouse controls a try but it just wasn’t the same. Remembering the keybinds just isn’t the same as the feeling on the controller and the muscle memory also doesn’t help.

“My best memories with the series are long sessions on the couch sinking into the story…”

It’s not that I don’t enjoy this port to the PC but I’m left wondering if it was necessary. My best memories with the series are long sessions on the couch sinking into the story and feeling this world consume me. I can’t speak for everyone who’s using a PC but sitting at my desk for long periods with this game wasn’t quite the same as before. This is less the game’s fault and more of an external factor considering the port does allow many new fans to finally experience this epic sequel.

What this port does exceptionally well is that it ties together the original game and the added story DLC. PC players can experience this entire chapter in Aloy’s story so conveniently. The original game plus the Burning Shores DLC is a real treat. As ports go, it’s a perfect way to dive in if you’ve been waiting on a ‘complete edition’ of the game. Unlike other big open-world games, Horizon has never had an in-game store either. It leaves the game feeling content complete from a play perspective because there aren’t any expensive flashy cosmetics in a store locked behind microtransactions to fawn over.

Considering the series’s recent foray into VR with Call of the Mountain, I still much prefer the feel of a meaty open-world RPG where Horizon Forbidden West feels at its best. Aloy is the heart and soul of what, at face value, is a game about smashing robots. The developers know how integral exploring and venturing into the game world is so it feels only right to have this game in all its glory. For those unsure if it might be too difficult, it’s also worth mentioning the game’s customisable difficulty levels and other accessibility features.

For me, this port isn’t the best way to enjoy Horizon Forbidden West, but given the cost of next-gen consoles and if someone is comfortable on PC then it’s a no-brainer to dive on this one. Horizon still does feel at home on the controller though, so if you’re still set on an adventure to the Forbidden West at least do yourself a favour and play on a controller. Aloy’s story is as poignant and important as ever no matter where you play it. Hopefully, it’s not long before we see a new adventure with Aloy in this untamed world!