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Apr 03, 2024

Horizon Forbidden West Complete Edition (PC) Review

Lights Off
4 Awesome
Retails for: $59.99
We Recommend: $59.99
  • Developer: Guerrilla, Nixxes Software
  • Publisher: PlayStation PC LLC
  • Genre: Action, RPG
  • Released: Mar 21, 2024
  • Platform: Windows, PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4
  • Reviewed: Windows

Horizon Zero Dawn was one of my favorite games of 2017 . The intrigue and mystery while traversing Colorado and Utah over one-thousand years into the future while fighting dinosaur robots was an absolute gem of a game. Horizon Forbidden West released onto PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5 in February of 2022 by Guerrilla Games. Now two years removed from the sequel’s PlayStation 5 debut, comes Horizon Forbidden West Complete Edition on PC, with porting gods at Nixxes handling this release. Horizon Forbidden West Complete Edition includes the base game and its only expansion, The Burning Shores for an enthralling journey into the west. It’s a game that doubles down on more Horizon , and unfortunately doesn’t have the same motivators that drove you through the first game. There’s lots to love here, especially in its gameplay, graphical fidelity, and environments that PC-only features that make it a worthwhile purchase.

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The game kicks off essentially already in motion from where Horizon Zero Dawn and its Frozen Wilds DLC ended. We meet up with Aloy once again, who is an untrusting, lone wolf at this point. She’s fully aware of her destiny and what’s being asked of her, which is a tremendous weight put upon her, and one she keeps on her. But it makes her unlikable throughout most of the game. Thankfully, the prologue missions are a great way to get reacquainted with the controls, and be immersed back into this futuristic world. My least favorite thing about Horizon Zero Dawn was playing as Aloy when she was a child, as that introductory sequence took too long. So here, things move at a better pace and is directed to get you into the action and story faster.

The story that Horizon Forbidden West continues is of utmost importance. It’s already a post-apocalyptic world, but now it’s on the brink of a world-ending event. In this, there are times where you want to stop and take in each new environment. Or perhaps get to know more about some characters. Varl, one of Aloy’s best companions is woefully underutilized and sadly doesn’t get nearly as much screen-time as he should. Lance Reddick returns in this and the DLC for the last time, the late actor gives a fantastic performance all throughout. Every kind of human interaction helps to flesh out the world and make it feel lived-in and believable. The writing is top-notch, with well-developed characters and thought-provoking themes that will stick with players long after the credits roll.

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A lot of the ways you can play Forbidden West can be distilled to either stealth, combat, climbing, or puzzle solving. Whether you’re engaging in epic battles with tallnecks or traversing cauldrons to uncover hidden secrets in the farthest reaches of the map, there’s never a dull moment in this vast and sprawling world. In fact, it’s a bigger, grander, and has more recognizable landmarks here. So, the addition of new traversal mechanics, such as the grappling hook, glider, and apparatus for breathing underwater adds a welcome layer of depth to the exploration. This encourages venturing off the beaten path in search of something new. The combat, too, has been refined and expanded upon, with a diverse array of weapons and abilities that allow for a wide range of play styles. From stealthy takedowns to all-out assaults, the combat in Forbidden West is as satisfying as it is challenging.

Combat is a large portion of the game, regardless how you play. While there’s only one new weapon like the Shredder Gauntlet, existing weapons have alternate fire modes or properties which enhance their function and capabilities. All of your previous favorites have returned: the spear offers a melee option and one-hit kill during stealth, the various hunter and warrior bows, the blastsling launcher, tripcaster for laying traps, the ropecaster for tying machines down, and the spike thrower for heavy hits are all here. Since weapons can have different rarities, collecting resources to upgrade them or even find unique variants will certainly make you more versatile in every encounter.

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While the spear is a melee weapon, it also holds technology to hack machines to cause distractions or even fight for you. On certain ones, you can make them docile and allow you to ride them for traversal. They will stay on your side unless you find another machine to ride instead.

This being a new game, there’s a reset of Aloy’s skills. I found joy in leveling her up across a whole new skill tree, finding new armor, and so forth. You’ll be spending close to 30 hours for the main story, and another eight for the DLC, so there’s plenty of time and ways to earn skill points to maximize her potential.

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Burning Shores DLC

This DLC is a continuation from where the main game leaves off. While it doesn’t feel as massive like an expansion, it’s still an essential piece of story content, taking you to the ruins of Los Angeles. This is where Aloy will meet Seyka, a tribe leader and assist in a grand side quest for this region. Seyka adds so much flavor and interaction. What I said about Aloy being an untrusting lone wolf is largely dismissed after the conclusion of this DLC, and really highlights her character arc.

This area offers incredible and colorful environments, that extends the beauty of Forbidden West . With it included with the game, there’s no downtime between the main game and DLC as was experienced with the original release (a whole year went by). So for those playing the PC or compiled PlayStation 5 release will not have to worry about getting reacquainted with everything after a break.

There are new enemies and bosses, and offers the most exhilarating combat the game ever sees. The DLC even uses Forbidden West end-game flying mounts to great effect here. Burning Shores is essential to the Forbidden West experience, makes up for a lot of the main game’s shortcomings, and should not be missed.

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I used the DualSense throughout most of my time playing the game, and it really is a tactile and sensory experience you just can’t get with another controller or even keyboard and mouse. The game feels specifically built for this controller. That said, using keyboard and mouse for combat is fast and precise in ways that the controller just can’t quite match. So if this is something you prefer, the game becomes much twitchier as a result.

Even the open worlds of Days Gone , Spider-Man Remastered or Miles Morales can’t compare to the size and vastness here. Whether you’re traversing the sprawling jungles, traversing the sun-drenched deserts, or scaling the towering ruins of ancient cities, every inch of this world is teeming with breathtaking detail. The attention to detail in the environmental design is simply unparalleled, with dynamic weather systems and realistic lighting effects bringing the world to life in ways that must be seen to be believed. The character models are equally impressive, with lifelike animations and facial expressions that further enhance the immersion. In terms of visuals and atmosphere, Forbidden West is just gorgeous and stunning throughout.

The game supports ultrawide monitors like the first game did, and it just works without any fuss. The game does support AMD’s FSR technology as well as NVIDIA DLSS. The supersampling of DLSS definitely boosted my framerate, but I was still getting 120fps with it off. Now this was bolstered from enabling DLSS Frame Generation, which is only available on 40-series cards. However the game is configured, will be a gorgeous display of pixels for all to enjoy.

My PC Specs:

– Microsoft Windows 11 Pro
– Intel Core i9 13900K @ 5.8GHz
– ASUS ROG Strix GeForce RTX 4080 16GB GDDR6X
– WD_BLACK SN850X M.2 (4 TB)
– LG UltraGear 34GP950B-G (21:9 Ultrawide @ 3440×1440)

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The core game is extremely well made and improves so much over the original game. Where Forbidden West is lacking, the Burning Shores DLC makes up for to give the game that fire that was needed. While this game doesn’t recapture the same mystery or have the same revelations as Horizon Zero Dawn , Horizon Forbidden West has a compelling narrative that takes you to new places in its world you have to see for yourself. I stand by the fact that Sony’s games are better on PC with all the additional bells and wheels, and this is yet another shining example, because Horizon Forbidden West Complete Edition is easily one of the best ports and open worlds around.

A Steam code was provided by the publisher for review purposes