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Horizon Forbidden West video analysis highlights gulf between PS5 and PS4 graphics

One of the PS5's biggest games of the year has landed, and – surprising no-one – it impresses across both PS4 and PS5.

Even before the reviews came out, we knew that Horizon Forbidden West was going to be a looker. Aside from all the PlayStation 5 teasers and trailers we've had for the game, we've also been subject to a brief glimpse at the PS4 game – and even that looked better than a lot of third-party PS5 games.

Now that the embargo is up on pre-release coverage, we're getting a better look at just how well the game performs on the last generation of Sony's consoles. Per the folks over at Digital Foundry, it's good news: Horizon Forbidden West is just as impressive on last-gen tech as it is on the PS5 behemoth. But that isn't to say there isn't a clear cross-generational difference when you see the game in action.

Most notably, our colleagues over at Digital Foundry have observed that the PS4 version of the game sort-of downgrades to a "carefully curated equivalent to 'PC low settings'" realisation of the game, "up against an all-out ultra-class experience on PlayStation 5".

According to the analysis, the PS4 versions of the game "essentially cut back almost every aspect of the presentation: the biggest differences are a massive reduction in geometric density, pared with substantial cuts in asset quality." There's also a limitation on the draw distance of the PS4 versions when compared to PS5 (but that's not really that surprising, is it?)

But does that mean the last-gen version is sub-par? Not at all. The game demonstrates a massive leap forward in fidelity and technical proficiency over Horizon Zero Dawn, no matter which generation of hardware you're playing on. It just so happens that the PS5 does some extra lifting on top of that thanks to that ludicrous SSD and other components.

One of the most notable improvements comes from the game's water, which is now more life-like and reflective than it was in the previous game. This is the third game built using the Decima Engine, and it shows – that powerful tool is really coming into its own as it matures. It makes sense that Guerrilla pumped so much effort into the water effects, too; a lot of the game revolves around water and underwater levels. It wouldn't make sense to focus on that if you weren't confident in how you'd realise it.

Though Guerilla Games has confirmed 60fps support for the PlayStation 5 version of the title, Digital FOundry recommends you play at 30fps if you want to get the proper cinematic experience and really soak in all that ambiance.

You can read my Horizon Forbidden West review at the link (spoiler: I liked it, with a few caveats). You can also check out what other critics thought over on our Horizon Forbidden West reviews round-up.

Horizon Forbidden West is out Friday, February 18 on PS4, and PS5.

About the Author

Dom Peppiatt avatar

Dom Peppiatt

Features Editor

Dom is a veteran video games critic and consultant copywriter that has appeared in publications ranging from Daily Star to The Guardian. Passionate about games and the greater good they can achieve, you can usually find Dom listening to records, farting about in the kitchen, or playing Final Fantasy VIII (again).

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