Horizon Zero Dawn Is Not Running Great On Many PCs

Horizon Zero Dawn Is Not Running Great On Many PCs
Screenshot: Kotaku

Horizon Zero Dawn’s release on PC is welcome, and it’s still a really good game, but as far as PC experiences go, for a lot of people right now it’s not exactly ideal.

I installed and fired the game up on the weekend, excited to see what the game looked like on my brand new PC (i7-9700, RTX 2070 Super, which was waaaaaaaay above the recommended specs). After a lengthy automatic configuration process it looked gorgeous, but it also ran like complete shit! I’m talking 20-30fps, with moments where the whole screen would just hang and stutter.

I’m always fairly forgiving of brand new games when this kind of thing happens, but this is a three-year-old PS4 game that had no kind of pressing release timeframe (like it having to come out on other systems at the same time) to adhere to. It was both a surprise and a disappointment to see it release in this state, especially since the other big PS4 port of the year, Death Stranding, had looked so good and ran so smoothly.

But that’s just me, and you can never say a PC game unequivocally “runs like shit” unless the same is true for lots of people. Which…it is. Digital Foundry’s review is critical, calling it a “disappointing port”, and you don’t have to travel far on reddits or forums to find people complaining about the game’s bugs and poor performance.

What’s odd about it though is that things aren’t bad across the board. Certain hardware configurations are running beautifully, while other, more powerful systems could be struggling. 

I’ve seen mention of a memory leak being present during the initial automatic configuration process, and that rebooting the game once this is done can help fix some of the issues. I have noticed on subsequent sessions that performance was slightly improved, especially in cutscenes, but it’s still nowhere near what I’d be expecting.

Hopefully things won’t stay like this for long. An update on the game’s Steam page says the team “are aware that some players have been experiencing crashes and other technical issues”, and that investigating the cause of all these hiccups is their “highest priority.”

When the game is running well, it looks amazing! (Screenshot: Kotaku) When the game is running well, it looks amazing! (Screenshot: Kotaku)


  • I wouldn’t say it’s odd that some setups run well and others don’t, thats just optimisation and PC ports in a nutshell.

    I would think the major difference between Death Stranding and Horizon is DS was always developed with a future PC port in mind where as Horizon wasn’t.

    • It is odd here due to how incredibly inconsistent it is from one PC to another on equivalent hardware… We’re not talking just a few frames here, we’re talking going from rock solid framerate for one person to near unplayable for another on like for like hardware.

      The game, port or not, simply shouldn’t be seeing the drastic performance deltas that some are experiencing between graphics cards and CPUs of the same level.

      It’s running pretty well for me at 1440p thankfully, nothing approaching disappointing thus far… But when the performance remains basically the same even if I change settings, resolution, etc, the game is clearly not running as it should be.

  • Yeah I was so hyped for this.
    Was going to buy it and then checked the steam reviews.
    Decided best to wait until it has had a couple of patches.

  • I’m running it on a mid-range 2018 PC on high settings, and everything is running fine. Maybe a couple of a graphical glitches when transitioning to a cutscene but nothing that breaks the game.

    Every time I load it though, I get a warning that my Radeon drivers aren’t up to date and then it plays anyway. I updated the drivers before I launched the game the first time. So they’re up to date.

    • On a side note, I’m currently playing this and Ghost of Tsushima. And the map on Horizon is laughably small compared to Ghost!

  • This is weird, i have an i7 9700K with a 1080ti and the game runs flawlessly at mostly ultra at 2560 x 1080p 75Hz ultrawide.

  • Give them the time. They did not have the PC port in mind when they developed the game in the first place. It takes time to figure out all the bugs. Even Red Dead was not great at launch or Dishonoured 2.

    • Yeah I actually bought it even after hearing about performance problems, simply because I have faith Guerilla will fix and improve things.

      I thought it was so good on PS4 that I’d consider it one of the best games ever made, so an easy buy for me to support Guerilla.

  • I’m running it on a 1080p 240Hz screen and it’s bloody awesome. No issues at all….BUT. When I run it up (Steam) I get straight away a pop up that claims it’s crashed then merrily goes about booting up and running.

  • Guess they tried to port this over to directx11 and not Vulkan api which is closer to what Sony PS4 consoles uses (even supports it).

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