Horizon Forbidden West: the PS5 version compared to the PS4 and PS4 Pro version

Horizon Forbidden West: the PS5 version compared to the PS4 and PS4 Pro version

Horizon Forbidden West

Let's start from a very important assumption and also adequately told in our review of Horizon Forbidden West: it doesn't matter where you intend to play the sequel by Guerrilla because this open world action is simply excellent from a visual point of view both on the very old PS4, even smooth, that on the brand new PS5.

It is clear that the more powerful the console used, the better the graphic rendering of the game will be, not only in terms of rendering resolution, but also and above all for what concerns the effects and the quality of textures, particles, models and visual horizon.

In our special we will try to take stock of the situation on what emerged during our review session, combined with what has been analyzed and analyzed in depth by multiple publications and Youtuber, first of all IGN, Digital Foundry and El Analista de Bits with the aim of offering you the best possible summary on the technical differences and graphics among the various versions of Horizon Forbidden West available.

Before we start, a quick recap: the game is a PlayStation exclusive available from February 18th on PS4 and PS5 with a free update in case you decide to take the old-gen console version and then switch to the next-gen one later. All the evaluations and tests we have carried out are based on version 1.003 of the game.

Resolution and frame rate

A beautiful mountainous landscape from Horizon Forbidden West Let's start with the most obvious elements: the resolution and the frame rate.

Forbidden West runs on PS4 and PS4 Pro with a single graphics setting that points to the best possible compromise between rendering quality and resolution with the aim of achieving a fixed frame rate of 30 FPS. In the case of the PS5 version, however, it is always possible to choose between a setting with priority on "Resolution" and another one focused on "Performance". In the first case the frame rate will be locked at 30 FPS exactly like in the old-gen editions; by selecting the Performance option we will instead have 60 frames per second for the entire course of the adventure.

Let's go into the details of the resolutions.

Forbidden West runs at 1080p on a smooth PS4. Unfortunately, the use of upscaling makes it very complex to go back to the native rendering resolution, but the first analyzes of IGN speak of a variable output that goes down to the lower limit of 900p.

Switching to a PS4 Pro results immediately visible how the cleaning of the rendering takes a huge step forward and in fact we are faced with an output resolution of 1800p. We are still a long way from the 2160p of 4K achieved with the first Horizon Zero Dawn but the ubiquitous use of the checkerboard manages to offer much higher quality than the smooth PS4 version, without affecting the rendering performance.

Lo same output rendering at 1800p is also used by PS5 in case you opt for the Performance graphics mode and therefore want to reach 60 FPS. However, it is very complex to accurately calculate the real rendering resolution, given that both the checkerboard and more advanced anti-aliasing techniques such as Temporal or FXAA, Fast Approximate are involved. The latter intervene to try to cover every graphic artifact but, in the case of particularly complex scenarios where the enemies on the screen are many and there is a lot of vegetation, the rendering goes up to the lower resolution of 1620p, further reducing the number of rendered pixels. on screen in the successful attempt to keep the frame rate anchored at 60 FPS.

Volumetric and particle in Horizon Forbidden West are stunning Looking closely, you can see the reduction in the cleanliness and clarity of the individual elements on-screen, especially where models and objects intersect, but the difference in clarity between Performance Mode and Resolution Mode on PS5 is far less than the difference between PS4 Pro and PS4 rendering. br>
In case you lean towards Resolution mode on PS5, Forbidden West reaches native 4K without compromise, but bisog will accept the locked frame rate at 30 FPS.

Wanting to go further into the detail of a comparison with the original Horizon Zero Dawn, the combination of a lower native resolution coupled with the various anti-aliasing techniques that tend to leave a patina on all elements of the game and to generate a micro-blur during the most agitated movements, results in a lower visual quality in Forbidden West than in the prequel when the two games are run on PS4 smooth, but the counterpart is a greater amount of on-screen elements of the most recent title, with, among other things, greater stability of the frame rate.

All volumetric effects are superior, particles are much more abundant, shadows cast by characters are more precise and above all there is a much greater density of vegetation and fauna than in Zero Dawn. Not to mention the interactions with the flora that are always the same at the highest level regardless of where the game is run: both on PS4 and PS5 grass, bushes and flowers react to Aloy's passage.

A question of quality

The animations and facial expressions of the characters of Horizon Forbidden West fear no comparison between the open worlds The first thing you notice in the transition from PS4 to PS4 Pro to PS5 is the improvement in quality of the image that gains in cleanliness and clarity and helps to make all the elements on the screen much more easily identifiable and evident especially in the medium and long distance. The effects, the density of the objects on the screen and the complexity of their geometry also change, as well as an important increase in the quality of textures and assets. As also reported by Digital Foundry, the finishing work carried out by Guerrilla to try to really make the most of their PS4 and PS4 Pro possibilities is incredible. There is in fact a software version of the variable rate shading applied to the vegetation, while some accessory elements of the scenarios have been cut en masse such as the moss that is completely missing on the older console.

It is instead incredible how on PS5 the leap forward is also sensitive for what concerns the quality of the textures and the polygon count of all the objects and models that, in combination with an exceptional management of the Level of Detail, result in the reduction to zero of that pop in typical of the open world linked to the change in quality of the objects on the screen as we approach or move away from them . The greater computing power of the PS5 has allowed Guerrilla to further improve its proprietary engine to make the visual experience of the world of Horizon very fluid and without alienating visual effects.

A similar work has also touched the management of underwater phases with the addition of much more advanced reflections and refractions and a significant increase in the flora present in the depths of the sea. All elements that are instead absent or heavily resized on old-gen. The same goes for the rendering of the splendid sky: on PS5 the clouds enjoy more realistic and layered formations whereas on PS4 and Pro a certain degree of dynamism seems to be lacking with a noticeable reduction in quality.

Lighting enhances the typical colors of the biomes of Horizon Forbidden West The guys of Guerrilla were also very good at taking the realism and variety of Aloy's interactions with the game world to another level. The sand, snow and even some parts of the grass are concretely deformed by the passage of the protagonist, while the weather conditions and the strength of the wind have credible repercussions on the vegetation: bushes and trees move according to the intensity of the air masses , while the rain turns into snow as the altitude rises or gives way to sandstorms when played in the desert biome.

As if this were not enough, the presence of stretches of water in which Aloy can move freely has involved the development of a simulation dedicated to the masses of water that now contribute to the formation of waves and foam in real time, as well as to an enhanced management of reflections and refractions above and below liquid surfaces . We remind you that Horizon Forbidden West does not implement ray tracing, but this absence never really makes itself felt.

As highlighted by IGN, the development team has been able to further improve the bokeh effect that detaches Aloy from the background and other elements present in the scenario, even in the immediate vicinity of the protagonist. The visual result is even more pleasant and amalgamated than what we saw in Zero Dawn and, in conjunction with the bright and vibrant colors of this sequel, it often contributes to returning a pleasant miniature and tilt-shift effect, especially when we are inside the villages.


A lot of new animations have been added in Horizon Forbidden West We could argue at length about the issue of recycled animations which, we have seen, made some players turn up their noses particularly annoying but, apart from not being able to criticize a common and natural practice in the field of video game development, once again the splendid work done by a PlayStation team in this area is evident, with lots of attack, finish and interactions animations that contribute to make Aloy's presence in the game world credible and above all consistent with his physicality and with the power of his blows.

The s plendid work done on animations, gestures and visual expressions goes far away from its protagonist, involving all the supporting actors, the machines and most of the secondary characters, in a perfectly transversal way for all versions of the game. Among other things, the quality of the facial expressions and the clear cut between the characters and the scenario are further enhanced by a new lighting system that the team was able to create exclusively on PS5 and which allows you to use the depth and quality of the lighting management that is usually relegated only to cutscenes, even during the normal flow of gameplay with an increase in depth and credibility of the shadows that intersect with the various elements of the face and clothing. Especially during close-ups or in the presence of multiple models on the screen, the step forward made by the PS5 compared to the old-gen versions is evident.

Guerrilla has also been able to push forward the management of the hair physics of Aloy and the perks associated with his equipment. If we exclude some phases in which the sways are excessive and inconsistent with the physics, especially as regards the protagonist's dreadlocks, the movements restore great credibility especially during the most violent attacks or when the finishes are activated, returning a further sensation of "filling" of the screen.

The performances

All flora reacts to Aloy's passage in Horizon Forbidden West It is also necessary to investigate the question of performance a little bit more deeply, although in this case we will have to rely exclusively on what is reported by IGN and Digital Foundry.

Let's start by saying that all three versions of the game manage to maintain great stability in the frame rate, but with some peculiarities.

Let's start from Forbidden West on PS4 smooth. As mentioned, the frame rate is locked at 30 FPS and there are no selectable graphics modes. The game features a series of micro-slowdowns that become more visible and noticeable in the presence of some open or very crowded scenarios. Nothing that concretely mines the quality of the gameplay and the latency of the commands, but it is clear how the old Sony console has really reached all its limits. From this point of view, the work done by Guerrilla to run all this goodness in a perfectly playable way is almost miraculous.

On PS4 Pro the slowdowns while playing are significantly reduced, but some shots remain during the cutscenes. Particularly evident shots during the directorial cuts between one scene and the next.

The output of the rendering on PS5 with a very stable frame rate in both graphics modes in all game scenarios, with the 'only exception represented by some cutscenes that seem to suffer from the same stuttering of PS4 Pro. Therefore choosing between the Performance mode and the Resolution one becomes a pure matter of personal taste. It is clear that the passage from native 2160p to 1800p in checkerboard is equivalent to a significant reduction in the number of pixels on the screen and therefore to a general worsening of quality and visual clarity, but having double the frame rate, very stable, with evident repercussions on combat. and on command latency, makes selecting the Performance setting a must in our opinion. The graphic compromise you will have to deal with, that is the reduction in image quality and complexity of the elements on the screen, can be easily overlooked when viewed and given the overall performance achieved by the game even in Performance mode.

Despite the great visual distance of the rendering, the pop-in is practically non-existent We conclude with a quick reference to the loading times of Horizon Forbidden West. The game takes about 50 seconds to start on PS4 and just over half to load the same amount of data on PS4 Pro: that's 27 seconds. The loading on PS5 is remarkable, which is further halved, reaching 12 seconds or even 5 seconds in the case of fast travel. Perhaps still too many for a game that should be lightning fast on next-gen, but still a good result for an open world cross-gen title that has such a large amount of data to preload into memory, before guaranteeing a completely free of further gameplay. uploads.

We hope that this summary of the technical elements of the game starting from our experience and from what is reported around the net, will give you some additional elements to be able to judge the splendid work done by Guerrilla and Sony also with this exclusive. And we invite you to write us your thoughts in the comments below.

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