After a weak showing early in the generation, Sony’s first-party exclusives for the PS4 have been very impressive as of late. Uncharted 4, The Last Guardian, and Gravity Rush 2 have all garnered significant praise in recent months, and the latest title out of Dutch studio Guerrilla Games is another standout exclusive for Sony’s platform. Horizon: Zero Dawn tells a fascinating sci-fi story in an open world that can thoroughly impress on both the base PS4 and the PS4 Pro.
More than anything else, Guerrilla Games is known for creating Killzone — the sci-fi FPS franchise that started its life way back on the PS2. The latest installment of that series had a handful of high points, but it was clear by 2013 that sequel fatigue had set in. Frankly, that’s a large part of why the public unveiling of Horizon at E3 2015 was met with so much excitement. Guerrilla was finally developing something brand new, and it looked incredible.
We’re now just a week away from the launch of Horizon: Zero Dawn, and the reviews are already hitting in droves. Over at our sister site IGN, the game earned an “Amazing” score of 9.3/10. Lucy O’Brien, the reviewer, was critical of the game’s repetitive side-quests, but she was otherwise enthralled by the mechanics and gorgeous world that Horizon has to offer. Two months into 2017, and it looks like we already have a solid GOTY candidate.
With 74 reviews currently listed on Metacritic, Horizon has earned a sizable metascore of 88/100. Some outlier outlets like USGamer weren’t sold on the story and open world trappings, but the consensus has been overwhelmingly positive. Following Killzone: Shadow Fall’s lukewarm reception, both Guerrilla and its corporate masters are likely very pleased with how this new title has fared.
On the base PS4 hardware, Horizon runs at a native 1080p30. The Digital Foundry folks examined a good chunk of gameplay, and they found that the performance is mostly excellent. There are occasional dips to 29 or 28 frames per second, but the gameplay isn’t hindered in the least. We’ve come to expect 30fps console releases, and Guerrilla executes well here with no frame-pacing issues to be found.
Step up to the PS4 Pro, and it can actually hit a full 2160p with checkerboard rendering. Add in the higher quality textures and anisotropic filtering, and the game clearly benefits from the half-step hardware. Unfortunately, the 30fps target is still the only option for the pre-release build. Even so, the Pro sees almost exactly the same level of performance as the base hardware. Don’t expect to find lengthy drops into the mid-twenties or anything quite that egregious.
Sony has promised that the game will receive a day-one patch that drops down the resolution on the Pro to help boost the frame rate. It remains to be seen if we’ll get anywhere close to a stable 60fps, but the addition of an uncapped mode is a nice gesture nonetheless.