Horizon Zero Dawn: Complete Edition PC Review – The Perfect Open-World Game?

Horizon Zero Dawn got a lot of attention when it first launched on the PS4. A vast and captivating open-world, a unique sci-fi setting, and a compelling story. Polished, mostly bug-free, and truly fun and enjoyable with a solid amount of content. Today we’re taking a look at Horizon Zero Dawn: Complete Edition on the PC to see if it’s a perfect open-world game.

But first, what is Horizon Zero Dawn: Complete Edition? It’s a single-player action-adventure game set in a fantastic post-apocalyptic land filled with menacing mechanical creatures. Humans formed tribes and battle each other while avoiding the land’s new overlords. We assume the role of Aloy, an outcast of the Nora tribe that embarks on a journey to unravel her own past while exploring the deeper secrets of this world and the civilization that inhabited it in a time long forgotten.

This is basically the Horizon Zero Dawn Ultimate Edition, meant for people that want to fully experience this world and its characters in both the base game and the expansion. First, we will go over the remarkable world that Horizon Zero Dawn: Complete Edition brings to PC with an unlocked framerate and greater graphical performance.

An insanely immersive and stunning open-world

Style over substance is what they say, but this title brings both. Carefully crafted animations, immaculate details on characters, environments, and VFX combined with legendary sound design and beautiful soundtracks make HZD a visual and audio masterpiece that will impress everyone and anyone.

Otherworldy visuals that show both a prehistoric and futuristic land

It’s rare to see an open world these days that looks natural. You know, one second you’re running in a snow biome, and the next you’re in a swamp. Not realistic at all. However, HZD handles those transitions perfectly. The world makes sense, so moving from a rocky hill down into a luscious green valley doesn’t take you out of the experience. As hills and valleys do exist one next to another.

Moving between the captivating forests of the Sacred Lands and seeing how the flowing rivers glow amidst the glaring sun is something else. Even the snowy mountains give off a sense of awe as you notice all the details of the snow and ice that surrounds your every step. Then Horizon Zero Dawn: Complete Edition shows PC players how all these vibrant colors glow in the nighttime. Truly otherworldly visual prowess.

Horizon Zero Dawm: Complete Edition PC
Image credit: Guerrilla

Even the scale of things fits. Giant brown trees are offset by titanic mechanical structures, but both don’t seem out of place.  HDZ sells this world as something normal absolutely perfectly. The blend of nature and machine is staggeringly organic, which further adds to the mystery and charm of the land. And the use of vibrant and simple colors found in nature against the glaring and loud sci-fi color pallets of the advanced machinery is impressive as hell. The closest thing to this setting that I can think of is Enslaved: Odyssey to the West. So it’s on another level when it comes to uniqueness.

The menacing mechanical overlords that rule over the land

Dinosaurs are cool as heck. Robots are also an interesting sci-fi element that’s awesome if done correctly. So robot dinosaurs obviously kick ass. Yet, you don’t get time to marvel at these creatures for long, as they’re constantly trying to rip you to pieces.

Colossal lizards and smaller but faster lizards with sharp claws and pointy teeth are both terrifying on their own. Then you give them the option of spitting fire and lasers at you. HZD has tons of insane creature designs. You can’t look at them and not admire the work and thought that went into their designs. Expertly put together robot dinos that make you flinch if you’re seen by them because they’re s c a r y as hell.

I mean I’m terribly afraid of crocodiles. Savage, heavy brutes that can rip off a part of your car with their jaws. Now imagine that, all mechanical with a mouth that spits freezing liquids at you. How terrifying is that freaking thing? All this is even more enhanced thanks to the brilliant sound design.

Next-level sound design

However, the craziest part about these robo dinos isn’t their appearance. It’s the sounds they make. Attacks boom and crack, emphasizing the fact that these things are technological marvels made specifically to kill.

Each creature comes with its own unique sound design that just demands respect. Once you hear a gigantic mechanized dino rush towards you there’s no place for anything inside your soul but fear. I know the game’s sound design is excellent when just a creature’s roar has me running for the nearest bush as soon as I hear it.

Pair that with serene instruments, frantic combat music, and blissful ambient tracks and you get the best sound design I’ve seen in a game for a long, long time. I never thought I’d hear a mix of soothing tones spiked with constant mechanical sound effects, let alone one that blends these two opposite elements perfectly.

The voice acting

Horizon Zero Dawn on PC looks and sounds incredible. Yet, the voice acting isn’t as strong as one might expect it to be. Don’t get me wrong, some voice actors take over the stage once they start talking. It’s obvious some actors are A+ veterans, but others aren’t.

In HZD we play Aloy, a young huntress on a quest to uncover a lot of mysteries. Unfortunately, Aloy isn’t that surprised by the things she sees. Her tone in some situations comes as borderline placid when it should be everything but that. Then in quite ordinary situations, she sparks up with enthusiasm and energy.

It’s awkward at times, but it won’t ruin your experience with Horizon on PC at all. Just don’t expect constant 10/10 energy output with our heroine.

Outstandingly fluid gameplay

Weave in attacks, dodge the giant robot chicken, repeat. Horizon Zero Dawn isn’t the most experimental PC open-world game, but it’s one of the most fluid and well-made ones. Switching weapons, rolling out of the way of an incoming attack, the satisfying clang of metal against metal. Superb gameplay design that’s rare to see these days.

Horizon Zero Dawm: Complete Edition PC
Image credit: Guerrilla

The combat

Horizon Zero Dawn has 6 difficulty settings, but I played at normal and still found a lot of challenging battles in the game. There’s melee, there’s ranged, and there’s sneaky combat. Taking on a mechanical crocodile head-on isn’t smart. Trust me on this one, use your bow.

Stealth’s there to give you a couple of critical hits before they spot you. However, these machines are durable and quite fast at times. Learning attack patterns is essential. Once you get to know a type of creature, fighting them becomes a lot easier. It’s a lot like Monster Hunter: World in that regard.

You save progress only at campfires, so taking on an enemy too powerful for you end up removing a fair deal of progression from your savefile. I found that the hard way. One gripe I have with the combat is the melee weapons. They just don’t feel as fleshed out as all the ranged options you have. Seems like they were an afterthought and not originally in the game.

Dodging around and learning attack patterns is frantic and challenging. Taking on multiple enemies at once is especially hard but also rewarding if you get out of that encounter alive. Horizon Zero Dawn is the type of game that rewards patience, preparation, and tactical ability above all else.

Skills, weapons, and upgrades

Normal bow, big bow, a spear, a rope gun. The game has a ton of tools for players to use. Bows also have different ammunition types. Since elemental attacks greatly damage certain enemies and you’re able to land critical hits if you come prepared. A ton of unique enemies means a ton of ways to defeat them.

Each weapon handles well and gives stellar feedback when you hit an enemy, mechanical or living. A cool mechanic I mentioned above is the critical hits. Some enemies have hidden and vulnerable parts that you can hit. If you use an appropriate element those attacks trigger a massive explosion that damages everything around that enemy.

Make traps with the tripcaster, pin enemies to the ground with the ropecaster. You can even override creatures to ride them or make them fight for you. Say what you may, but HZD lets you experience combat in all kinds of ways and each feels as satisfying as the next.

Killing machines in Horizon Zero Dawn gets you a lot of currency and resources. Those are traded for new armor and weapons when you encounter merchants. The robo dinos also drop modifications that are slotted into your armor and weapons to grant potent buffs. It’s nothing fancy, you have several weapons and ammo types to use, but they’re varied enough to keep the gameplay interesting.

Horizon Zero Dawm: Complete Edition PC
Image credit: Guerrilla

UI / Mouse and Keyboard support

If you’re buying Horizon Zero Dawn on Steam there’s a good chance you’re using a mouse and keyboard. Since this is originally a console game, does it have good mouse and keyboard support? Well, while Horizon Zero Dawn: Complete Edition on PC excels in a lot of ways, it isn’t perfect.

You won’t be bothered by the mouse and keyboard support but it’s painfully obvious that the game was made for controllers in mind. The weapon wheel, the inventory, upgrading, and crafting items. The UI can be infuriating at times. It’s not just the UI too, some design choices make no sense. For example, you have to upgrade each part of your inventory separately, Like the Hunter Bow Quiver is one upgrade. But there are 11 more to upgrade as well if you want to carry all your ammunition and consumables and whatnot.

Yet, the line between useful items and junk is also blurred at times. Should I sell things I don’t use? Or will they become useful later? Who knows, just keep it all. But then you have to upgrade a ton of your inventory to hold all that.

A surprisingly impactful story tied together by memorable characters

I don’t think anyone picked up Horizon Zero Dawn on Steam for its story and characters. However, they’re surprisingly well thought out and written, which is not the case for most open-world games.

The story/narrative

A gripping and immersive world often lacks a similarly gripping and immersive story. While Aloy and her mission of self-discovery aren’t treading on new ground, it still delivers a punch. The story starts off slowly, letting you bask in its expertly crafted world that’s full of unexplainable phenomena.

But as the storyline opens up a bit, it reveals a dramatic and turbulent past. Both Aloy and this Earth went through a lot, and the game carefully gives you bits and pieces, making you yearn for more. I saw a lot of Horizon Zero Dawn Steam Reviews that were quite surprised by the story’s twists and turns, but I wasn’t as amazed. The twists were unexpected, but not anything that’s going to make you think about it for the next 2 days. Still, the story keeps you on your toes as you delve further into the intriguing mystery of your main character and the strange world she lives in.

Horizon Zero Dawm: Complete Edition PC
Image credit: Guerrilla

The atmosphere, the exposition, the mystery, it all falls perfectly into place. It never overstays its welcome, it’s not overbearing or too short. A perfect accommodation to the game’s wonderful world.

The characters

Horizon Zero Dawn isn’t a short game. The campaign takes about 40 or so hours to finish. Which is quite enough to get to know your heroine, Aloy. She’s one of the rare protagonists that thinks rationally. She’s not the bravest, strongest, iron-willed badass, but she’s human and willing to do what needs to be done.

While her voice actor didn’t do an amazing job as some others did, her reactions to truly sad and shocking events still felt genuine. And to avoid spoiling the story, let’s just say there’s a healthy mix of characters with unique personalities in this game. Some are charming, others are despicable, and some are just plain mysterious and intriguing. Each of them has a complex personality, so there are no cliches to be found here.

Performance on PC

Is the Horizon Zero Dawn: Complete Edition on PC and Steam free of the console port curse? No, of course it isn’t. Before you buy Horizon Zero Dawn on PC you need to understand that these console ports aren’t perfect.

Bugs, glitches, optimization

Surprisingly, this version of the game was quite stable. Sure, crashes here and there occurred. Yes there were some really funny bugs and visual glitches. And since my PC isn’t a modern beast, I experienced quite a few FPS drops.

But for, let’s say 80% of the time, everything ran as smooth as butter. Perhaps that’s because I’m playing this a year later after it launched. You see, the Horizon Zero Dawn: Complete Edition release date was one year ago. The game arrived on August 7th, 2020. Plenty of time for a lot of updates and patches.

I’ll put the system requirements below so everyone can see what kind of rig they need to run this:

MINIMUM:

    • Requires a 64-bit processor and operating system
    • OS: Windows 10 64-bits
    • Processor: Intel Core [email protected] or AMD FX [email protected]
    • Memory: 8 GB RAM
    • Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 780 (3 GB) or AMD Radeon R9 290 (4GB)
    • DirectX: Version 12
    • Storage: 100 GB available space

RECOMMENDED:

    • Requires a 64-bit processor and operating system
    • OS: Windows 10 64-bits
    • Processor: Intel Core [email protected] or Ryzen 5 [email protected]
    • Memory: 16 GB RAM
    • Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 (6 GB) or AMD Radeon RX 580 (8GB)
    • DirectX: Version 12
    • Storage: 100 GB available space

Horizon Zero Dawn on PC eats a lot of CPU. From what I gathered that’s where most of the performance issues come up. Before you buy it make sure you have at least a decent rig as this is quite a demanding game. Rightfully so, considering how massive and gorgeous it is.

Horizon Zero Dawn – The Frozen Wilds Expansion

But I didn’t say that this was the Horizon Zero Dawn: Ultimate Edition for nothing, as we also have a gigantic expansion to take on.

In Horizon Zero Dawn – The Frozen Wilds, Aloy ventures into the Banuk tribe’s territory in the frozen tundras. The machines become possessed by a vicious Daemon, one that’s different from the ones you encountered during the main storyline.

Horizon Zero Dawm: Complete Edition PC
Image credit: Guerrilla

The most noticeable thing about this expansion is how it hides the machines. Everything’s white and blue, a detailed mountain through and through that’s soaked in glittering snow. But that also means you won’t notice a dangerous blue glow of a mechanized predator. The scenery and the environments are rich once again, to a staggering degree.

On the gameplay side of things, we get a ton of quality-of-life skills and perks. Collecting loot and attacking while you’re mounted is something the base game really needed. New perks increase rare loot drops and some let you turn resources into currency.

New foes also appear in the form of the Scorcher and Frostclaws. Scorchers are aggressive and equipped with fire-spewing weapons. Quite hard to handle when there are multiple, but nothing too serious. The Frostclaws, titanic bear monsters, will rip you apart. I’m not sure if it’s because of their eerie design or whatnot, but they spooked the ever-living shit out of me whenever they popped up and I was too scared to actually handle them properly.

Horizon Zero Dawn – The Frozen Wilds also introduces a ton more main and side characters with outstanding personalities. Whoever’s writing these characters knows how to make genuine and quite charismatic people. Everyone gets their day in the spotlight, be they a main or supporting character.

Horizon Zero Dawm: Complete Edition PC
Image credit: Guerrilla

While Aloy’s solving everyone’s problems the history of this place unravels slowly, just like in the main game. It’s made to pull you in ever so slightly with an iron grip, making you unable to move away from the story until you know what happened. The expansion is excellent, and while it doesn’t introduce any insane new mechanics or characters, it’s all a perfectly enjoyable and welcome addition to HZD’s already huge and sprawling world.

If you’re considering buying a Horizon Zero Dawn PC key, there’s no reason not to buy Horizon Zero Dawn: Complete Edition.

A major warning

Now, before I show you the biggest Horizon Zero Dawn discount and cheapest price, there’s one thing everyone needs to know. HZD has a data collection agreement. It provides “Limited” or “Full” data collection. There’s no option to turn data collection off in any way.

Why is this important? Some data the devs need have nothing to do with troubleshooting or bug fixes or anything like that. Is it just so they can sell your data? I can’t say, but it is something to be wary of. Some people think this data is useless or worthless, others don’t agree. I’m just here to point it out to you.

Conclusion

Stellar visual identity, gigantic open-world, amazing characters, and a compelling story. Refined and polished gameplay, intuitive and responsive combat, seamless traveling. Horizon Zero Dawn: Complete Edtion on PC is a must-buy for anyone that’s a fan of open-world titles.

The game has some minor issues with performance, bugs, and the user UI, but it doesn’t diminish the fact that this is a brilliant triple-A game that delivers top-notch quality that’s been missing from the triple-A releases as of late.

How to buy Horizon Zero Dawn: Complete Edition on PC

Even though it’s a console port, getting Horizon Zero Dawn for cheap isn’t easy. After all, the game only recently launched on Steam. So before you end up searching all over the web for the cheapest price and the biggest discounts, relax for a second, HRK Game’s got you covered.

No need for sales, no need to wait for a price drop. We offer the most competitive prices on the market 24/7. What’s Horizon Zero Dawn: Complete Edition price? 50 euros at full retail price, but find a discount here and there and that can fall down to 40 euros. Not bad is what you’re thinking.

Well HRK Game does a lot better than “not bad”, as we’re currently offering a -61% discount on the game. A Horizon Zero Dawn: Complete Edition PC Steam key is available right now for €19.26 (which may go down or up depending on when you read this). The Complete Edition includes:

  • Horizon Zero Dawn
  • The Frozen Wilds expansion
  • Carja Storm Ranger Outfit and Carja Mighty Bow
  • Carja Trader Pack
  • Banuk Trailblazer Outfit and Banuk Culling Bow
  • Banuk Traveller Pack
  • Nora Keeper Pack
  • Digital artbook

Need more cheap PC game keys? You know where to look.

 

1 Comment
  1. Krunkerio says

    Excellent game! What impresses me the most is probably its graphics.

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