Horizon Forbidden West – How does it compare on PS5, PS4 and PS4 Pro?


Horizon Forbidden West is probably the most ambitious cross-gen game release we’ve seen to date. Hitting both PlayStation 5 and PlayStation 4 at the same time, it’s a broad open world game that seeks to take big strides over the 2017 original, both on the new PS5 hardware and also making the most of what the PS4 and PS4 Pro can handle.

We’ll let the video do most of the talking here (or more accurately, me talking in the video to do most of the talking), but there’s several key areas where Horizon Forbidden West has made significant improvements. The story and the cutscenes and dialogue that tells it are massively improved, with the minimalist, wooden animations of the original game being shown the door and (what we assume to be) full motion capture brought in for pretty much every character interaction, from simple quest givers up to main characters like Erend and Varl who make a return.

This is where the game looks its best, using the highest quality character models and lighting, and while the fundamental animation is identical between platforms, you can see the difference as you go from base PS4 to PS4 Pro in resolution, and then in detail and effects work from last generation to the PS5. If we had to nit pick, Aloy’s hair has a mind of its own, and eyes can wander in ways you wouldn’t expect of people talking to one another, but this is more direction than a technical failing.

Out in the open world, the game holds a solid 30fps on base PS4 and PS4 Pro, while targeting 1080p and 1800p with checkerboarding, respectively. There’s a step forward in terms of the amount of detail that the world offers, but one thing that does hinder the game is the slow HDD that these consoles still rely on. There’s noticeable pop-in to meet each consoles’ now limited system power, but it’s really exacerbated when you hop onto a Charger or other mount and dash through the world. On base PS4 we’ve seen entire camps and groups of machines not loading in until we’re right on top of them, though these are thankfully quite isolated incidents.

Step up to the PS5 and the default 4K 30fps mode is glorious. The image quality is pristine. Performance mode trades in some resolution to achieve 60fps with the PS4 Pro’s 1800p checkboarding target, but that’s really only half the story. With the SSD and a doubling of RAM in the PS5 over the PS4, Guerrilla Games pack the world with more detail, push out the LOD distances, feature from the camera, and then still use the PS5’s power to improve lighting quality and effects work. There’s easily spotted improvements over the game on PS4 Pro, beyond just the frame rate.

As with Forza Horizon 5 on Xbox last year, Horizon Forbidden West shows that developers can absolutely make a generational leap without sacrificing cross-gen gaming at this time.

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