Playing Horizon Forbidden West on the PS4

by Ben Kirby

Horizon Forbidden West has been out for a few weeks now, and it’s doing great critically! Hell, I’m reviewing it (albeit slowly) myself and getting through it whilst not rushing it.

The thing is, a lot of the talk around Horizon Forbidden West is around the PS5 release. How good it looks, how good it plays, the performance etcetera etcetera. That’s all well and good, but in a world of PS5 scarcity and frankly, no real good reason to own one so far as I can see, we’re not seeing the PS4 reviews like we once would.

The good news is my review and playthrough is all on my base PS4. Not a PS4 Pro, not a PS5, but a base model PS4.

The better news is, Horizon Forbidden West is still a great experience (taking story etc to one side), technically speaking, I’m legitimately surprised it exists, let alone runs so well.

Horizon Forbidden West landscape

The good stuff

Let’s focus on the PS4 version of Horizon Forbidden West, mostly because there’s plenty of it, but also because I don’t want people to think they’re getting a somehow “lesser” version.

If you’ve played games that have been released on the latest generation and the previous generation in the past, you likely had similar experiences to me. The Titanfall Xbox 360 release or the Shadow of Mordor Xbox 360 release are still firmly planted in my mind!

Horizon Forbidden West looks absolutely incredible. Simple! The textures look great, lighting and animations are fantastic. It’s arguably the best looking game on the aged platform. Does that beauty come at a cost though?

I guess it does, because let’s be honest, the PS5 versions will be running at higher resolutions and higher frame rates. Sure 1080p and 30 frames per second isn’t the ideal modern expectation, but let me tell you. You don’t notice unless you’re trying to play the PS5 version at the same time or used to playing 4k games at a minimum of 60 frames.

Fact is, you don’t know what you’re not getting, and what you are getting is quite frankly incredible.

Tie that in with the audio, the score, the voice acting. The game mechanics and the fluidity of the entire game work as one machine. The AI of the robot dinosaurs roaming the wild. Horizon Forbidden West on the PS4 is honestly, in my mind, a technical marvel.

Show me any other game of this scope and scale that looks this good and plays so consistently well. Sure there are some games that come close (Ghost of Tsushima), but Guerrilla really made sure to not drop the ball on us “last-gen” owners.

Horizon Forbidden West temple

The not so good

The good news is that Horizon Forbidden West is, on a technical level (story, gameplay etc are in my review, this isn’t about the game itself!) pretty bloody excellent.

If I’m being honest, I could struggle to really state flaws here, but there are definitely some that occur often. Whilst textures are great, they sometimes don’t load in for a while. Watching cutscenes and seeing different layers of texture adding to the characters and the scenery is quite distracting!

Walking around and seeing that the draw distance is a little short because what you thought was a safe valley, is actually teeming with robots as you get closer……

These are minor nit-picks to be fair and don’t really ruin or break Horizon Forbidden West in any way. One big distraction I find is the load times. Being on a spindle hard drive and having that lower DDR4 RAM shows here and sometimes even opening a menu can take 10+ seconds.

It isn’t the end of the world, but it can be jarring and distracting.

Textures and object pop-in is frustrating, but the load times are the biggest flaw. Having said that, I have to be honest. None of this has really upset my playthrough of Horizon Forbidden West. What an impressive feat that is!

Horizon Forbidden West darkness

All in all

Is Horizon Forbidden West worth it if you only have a base PS4? Absolutely! I have no desire to get a PS5, particularly when Sony’s first-party studios can deliver like this. Technically speaking it’s an absolute triumph and worth every penny just to see the remaining juice of an ageing platform get squeezed out.

If you enjoyed the first game, you’ll likely enjoy this one. If you want a big open-world experience that looks and plays better than it has any right to. Well, I think you’re in the right place.

There won’t be many more of these for the PS4, so take a look and admire it in all of its splendour! This isn’t the “lesser” version, it’s a fully-realised version and you could do far worse than to invest in your PS4 even now in 2022.

You can get Horizon Forbidden West on the PlayStation store right now, or at any number of popular games retailers. For more opinion pieces like this, click right HERE.

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Blake Duckers March 11, 2022 - 11:41 am

I’ve just gone through this on PS5 and it will stick with me for a long time, character models are some of the best i’ve ever seen. Best thing about these first party exclusives from the likes of guriella, sucker punch, Insomniac, naughty dog and SM, They absolutely take their time to polish and optimise. I watched my little brother play Forbidden west and it only struggled when he was on a charger rushing through somewhere or towards camps/settlements. I completely expect it though with a game that detailed pushing out the LOD distances would frazzle the PS4. I think they’ve done a brilliant job on both generations though and it’s already had a patch to improve performance.

Ben March 12, 2022 - 8:26 pm

So you haven’t played it on PS5, but your article states that there’s no need to get one. It’s almost a cop out. You’ve either accepted that A) you can’t afford a PS5, or B) you just can’t get your hands on one.

I’m glad the game runs well on PS4, but the pop-ins alone sound god-awful. Not to mention the load times, textures, rendering, graphics, frame rate, etc.

Telling people there’s no real reason to own a PS5 isn’t accurate. I’ve had Xboxes, PC and PlayStations, and I’ve never seen a game look this good in general, much less on console (PS5). It’s a graphical feat, and without a doubt, an experience that should only be played on the PS5 or PC (when available). I’m glad they optimized it well for the PS4 though.

MaddOx March 13, 2022 - 3:08 am

Whilst I agree that the PS5 is definitely an upgrade on many PS4 titles. Owning one definitely isn’t essential.

Games aren’t all about the graphics. They’re about enjoying a story that is told through your actions. You could have the most beautiful game in the world, but if the story is trash, and gameplay is woeful, then it doesn’t matter much at all. Yes you may miss out on some of the finer graphical details, and you may lose a few seconds on load times, but if you can still enjoy the game, what console you’re playing it on doesn’t matter.

Also, no need to call people out for not being able to afford one or source one due to low stock. That’s just a dick move.

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