There’s a lot to like about Horizon Zero Dawn’s presentation, but because most of it is so good, the poorer aspects stand out more.
Horizon Zero Dawn is one of the best looking games on PS4, that much is clear. But how it manages to do so and have a stable performance is a more interesting conversation.
Digital Foundry published a comprehensive analysis of the game’s tech and how it uses the Decima engine to create its seamless open world. Though the outlet’s initial look at the game summarised why it’s a technical masterpiece, today’s analysis is more in-depth, and goes on to identify what works and what doesn’t.
The report praised the look of the world, thanks to the game having physically-based rendering and a mix of materials and textures that make it easy to identify if the object you’re looking at is a relic of the old world or something new. Lighting and foliage make the environment look rich, and the game even has a real-time cloud simulation system.
Post-processing effects and character animations were also cited among the game’s triumphs. The latter in particular is very impressive, when you consider how much open-world games sacrifice to reach that scale. Managing a stable frame-rate of 30fps amidst all that is an achievement, according to the outlet, even if it doesn’t appear impressive on its own.
However, there were a few negatives Digital Foundry thought to highlight. The biggest culprits here are the quality of water rendering – which is surprisingly lacking compared to the rest of the game’s presentation, the game’s AI, and some instances of bad lip sync.
For the AI, the analysis noted how humans don’t react the way they should, this is particularly jarring considering how well the machines do. The report gives the example of the whistle ability, which allows you to hide in a bush and call out enemies to perform a stealth take down. Doing this doesn’t alert others, so you can easily repeat it until all enemies are dealt with.
Finally, lip sync was also highlighted as one of Horizon: Zero Dawn’s lacking aspects. The issue appears more pronounced when talking to non-important NPCs.
You can watch the video or head to the link above for more.