Image: Guerrilla Games

It appears that Guerrilla Games has a bit more to learn when it comes to PC ports. The developer posted an update on Steam yesterday warning of several annoying, if not severe, issues plaguing the current version of Horizon Zero Dawn Complete Edition, which officially releases tomorrow. Apparently, texture filtering options don’t work at all, and players are likely to encounter stuttering. There’s also an issue with animations being locked to a sad 30 FPS.

Known Issues

  • Anisotropic Filtering settings are not working. This is a high priority issue for us to resolve.
  • Some systems may experience a brief stutter during general world traversal, UI updates, quest updates, or camera swaps in cutscenes. This is a high priority issue for us to investigate.
  • Some animations are designed to only refresh at 30fps even if the game is running at a much higher frame rate. We are exploring how we can improve this with a future update.

Unfortunately for Guerrilla, more and more writers have begun calling it a bad port. Eurogamer, for one, has called it “deeply disappointing,” echoing the technical problems that have been confirmed by the developer above. We’re especially worried about the animation issue, since it sounds like Guerrilla doesn’t have an obvious fix yet.

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13 Comments

  1. Kind of sounds like they’re just half-assing the port instead of spending the time to do it properly.
  2. Or they didn’t translate GNM to DirectX 12 completely and they didn’t fully test it. Horizon isn’t based on the same version of the Decima Engine that Death Stranding is.
  3. Link to the Digital Foundry article that goes with their video: https://www.eurogamer.net/articles/digitalfoundry-2020-horizon-zero-dawn-pc-tech-review

    Some selections from the article:
    "When a game is content-complete but requires polish and bug-testing, it’s considered beta code – and that’s the impression we got from this conversion when we tested it, to the point where much of the reviewing process has been a case of testing and re-testing the game on multiple pieces of hardware to answer a simple question – is there something wrong with our kit or is the game at fault? It’s a little bit of one and a lot of the other, but the bottom line is that there are many technical issues that need addressing to the point where not all of them can be included in this article. A 35GB day one patch arrived on the same day as the embargo lift – hence the delay in publishing our review – but the many and varied problems are still in effect in the code that makes its way to players."

    "Like a number of DX12 and Vulkan titles, shaders are compiled and stored the first time you play the game – as opposed to generating them during play, potentially inducing stutter. It’s an extended process to say the least, it adds to the storage footprint, and if your drive fills up during this procedure, the game crashes to desktop – sometimes with an ominous ‘fatal error’. While testing and re-testing across systems, the process could often stall and lock-up even when required storage was available. Beyond that, when I booted the game on my 4K screen in full-screen mode, something didn’t look right. It turned out that Horizon was rendering at 4K, downscaling to 1080p, then upscaling to 4K again. Switching to the borderless display option fixes this (albeit introducing other issues), as does swapping back to full-screen mode from borderless. Bizarre."

    "Better still, the inclusion of an ‘original’ graphics preset is a great touch – and it’s similar to the ‘default’ option on Death Stranding, where the settings are essentially a match for the PS4 version. You can define the console experience as the baseline and scale up – or down – from there. However, similar to Death Stranding’s PC port, while the settings are there to push to higher quality levels, the actual improvements to visuals are thin on the ground."

    "If you were looking to utilise the game’s dynamic resolution scaling for balancing performance, I do not recommend it at all, as it is overzealous to the extreme and coarse in its application."

    "Apparently, I can run Horizon Zero Dawn at native 4K at an average of 78 frames per second on an RTX 2080 Ti. What it doesn’t tell you is that the actual game experience will be a fair bit lower than that, with frequent stutters. Stutters in excess of 40ms, 70ms or over 100ms can happen as a cutscenes starts or ends, when a camera changes position in a cutscene, when a UI element updates for a quest, or when you are just walking around in the world not doing anything special in particular. This happens reproducibly across multiple graphics card and CPUs and chosen resolutions, impacting the fluidity of the game, producing an experience less consistent overall that the PlayStation 4 version, which has no such stutter."

    "Also, if you are experiencing profound performance problems, make sure you have your mainboard properly configured for 16x PCIe bandwidth for the GPU. This one’s on me but I didn’t – my slot was set to 8x bandwidth and it hobbled performance, while switching up to 16x solve that particular problem. Going back to Death Stranding, PCIe bandwidth made no difference at all."

    "Death Stranding would deliver 1080p60 on a GTX 1060 or RX 580 system. Horizon Zero Dawn – based on an older iteration of the Decima Engine – does not, far from it. The lack of a day one driver from Nvidia is also curious. Horizon certainly seems to need it as GTX 1060 performance up against RX 580 – its perennial rival – is remarkably poor. Indeed, on optimised settings, the GTX 1060 can drop beneath 1080p30 with highly erratic frame-times, meaning that it’s performing worse than a PlayStation 4 with only a small visual uplift."

    "There are other issues that need to be addressed. Cutscenes run at arbitrary frame-rates but facial animation is locked to 30 frames per second – it doesn’t look right, with an almost Wallace and Gromit-like effect. Another problem in cutscenes is how they were not authored around the idea of interpolated frame-rates above 30fps, so in some cutscenes you can see characters warp around during scene cuts. Mismatches in animation refresh are evident elsewhere: Horizon’s tall ‘stealth grass’ runs at the correct frame-rate at all times, but the new dynamic plants and foliage added to the PC version are locked at 30 frames per second refresh instead."

    "What’s so baffling about this is that Guerrilla Games are perfectionists – I can’t help but feel that intrusive stutter and mismatched animation would never make their way into one of their PlayStation products so it’s disappointing to see that happen here."

    "Our feedback was submitted to the developer and we understand that addressing the stutter and fixing the broken texture filtering is a priority, while essential features like full frame-rate animation are being looked into. But to see such an amazingly polished console experience transition to PC with so many issues and with depressed performance is a problem. Death Stranding set the bar with a technically solid (if not especially scalable) port and to see Horizon Zero Dawn fall so far short by comparison is such a let down."

  4. Link to the Digital Foundry article that goes with their video: https://www.eurogamer.net/articles/digitalfoundry-2020-horizon-zero-dawn-pc-tech-review

    Some selections from the article:
    "When a game is content-complete but requires polish and bug-testing, it’s considered beta code – and that’s the impression we got from this conversion when we tested it, to the point where much of the reviewing process has been a case of testing and re-testing the game on multiple pieces of hardware to answer a simple question – is there something wrong with our kit or is the game at fault? It’s a little bit of one and a lot of the other, but the bottom line is that there are many technical issues that need addressing to the point where not all of them can be included in this article. A 35GB day one patch arrived on the same day as the embargo lift – hence the delay in publishing our review – but the many and varied problems are still in effect in the code that makes its way to players."

    "Like a number of DX12 and Vulkan titles, shaders are compiled and stored the first time you play the game – as opposed to generating them during play, potentially inducing stutter. It’s an extended process to say the least, it adds to the storage footprint, and if your drive fills up during this procedure, the game crashes to desktop – sometimes with an ominous ‘fatal error’. While testing and re-testing across systems, the process could often stall and lock-up even when required storage was available. Beyond that, when I booted the game on my 4K screen in full-screen mode, something didn’t look right. It turned out that Horizon was rendering at 4K, downscaling to 1080p, then upscaling to 4K again. Switching to the borderless display option fixes this (albeit introducing other issues), as does swapping back to full-screen mode from borderless. Bizarre."

    "Better still, the inclusion of an ‘original’ graphics preset is a great touch – and it’s similar to the ‘default’ option on Death Stranding, where the settings are essentially a match for the PS4 version. You can define the console experience as the baseline and scale up – or down – from there. However, similar to Death Stranding’s PC port, while the settings are there to push to higher quality levels, the actual improvements to visuals are thin on the ground."

    "If you were looking to utilise the game’s dynamic resolution scaling for balancing performance, I do not recommend it at all, as it is overzealous to the extreme and coarse in its application."

    "Apparently, I can run Horizon Zero Dawn at native 4K at an average of 78 frames per second on an RTX 2080 Ti. What it doesn’t tell you is that the actual game experience will be a fair bit lower than that, with frequent stutters. Stutters in excess of 40ms, 70ms or over 100ms can happen as a cutscenes starts or ends, when a camera changes position in a cutscene, when a UI element updates for a quest, or when you are just walking around in the world not doing anything special in particular. This happens reproducibly across multiple graphics card and CPUs and chosen resolutions, impacting the fluidity of the game, producing an experience less consistent overall that the PlayStation 4 version, which has no such stutter."

    "Also, if you are experiencing profound performance problems, make sure you have your mainboard properly configured for 16x PCIe bandwidth for the GPU. This one’s on me but I didn’t – my slot was set to 8x bandwidth and it hobbled performance, while switching up to 16x solve that particular problem. Going back to Death Stranding, PCIe bandwidth made no difference at all."

    "Death Stranding would deliver 1080p60 on a GTX 1060 or RX 580 system. Horizon Zero Dawn – based on an older iteration of the Decima Engine – does not, far from it. The lack of a day one driver from Nvidia is also curious. Horizon certainly seems to need it as GTX 1060 performance up against RX 580 – its perennial rival – is remarkably poor. Indeed, on optimised settings, the GTX 1060 can drop beneath 1080p30 with highly erratic frame-times, meaning that it’s performing worse than a PlayStation 4 with only a small visual uplift."

    "There are other issues that need to be addressed. Cutscenes run at arbitrary frame-rates but facial animation is locked to 30 frames per second – it doesn’t look right, with an almost Wallace and Gromit-like effect. Another problem in cutscenes is how they were not authored around the idea of interpolated frame-rates above 30fps, so in some cutscenes you can see characters warp around during scene cuts. Mismatches in animation refresh are evident elsewhere: Horizon’s tall ‘stealth grass’ runs at the correct frame-rate at all times, but the new dynamic plants and foliage added to the PC version are locked at 30 frames per second refresh instead."

    "What’s so baffling about this is that Guerrilla Games are perfectionists – I can’t help but feel that intrusive stutter and mismatched animation would never make their way into one of their PlayStation products so it’s disappointing to see that happen here."

    "Our feedback was submitted to the developer and we understand that addressing the stutter and fixing the broken texture filtering is a priority, while essential features like full frame-rate animation are being looked into. But to see such an amazingly polished console experience transition to PC with so many issues and with depressed performance is a problem. Death Stranding set the bar with a technically solid (if not especially scalable) port and to see Horizon Zero Dawn fall so far short by comparison is such a let down."

    That is a really bad situation for this development team.

  5. Now that the game is out, what do actual people have to say about it? The animations and features not working is an obvious issue, but I’m wondering if people are experiencing the same performance issues. It is not unprecedented that when reviewers express performance issues with a game that it is not universal.
  6. Spent a few hours today playing on a 3900X (Asus X570-E), 32GB 3600 CL16, with Radeon VII; I ran into no stuttering or other oddities, and while the locked frame rates on certain animations looks odd, it isn’t game-breaking (at least for me).

    In a 3 hour session I averaged 75.1 fps at 1440p on Ultimate preset (Motion blur off) with 80 FOV; 3900X – 4250MHz all-core @ 1.275v w/SMT Off, R VII (20.8.1 drivers) 2050/1200 @ 1115mv (also running at x8 3.0 on PCI-E bus); installed on an Inland 1TB (PCI-E 3.0) NVMe.

    I’m sure, as with all things, there will be people with issues, but I’ve had none so far luckily.

  7. Hopefully something gets patched/fixed. I was sort of looking forward to this but not gonna sink anything into until I hear more positive stories.
  8. Hopefully something gets patched/fixed. I was sort of looking forward to this but not gonna sink anything into until I hear more positive stories.

    Apparently there was a day-1 patch released on August 5 that fixed the stuttering issues. Seems to address the PCI-E bandwidth issue according to Durante.

  9. Spent a few hours today playing on a 3900X (Asus X570-E), 32GB 3600 CL16, with Radeon VII; I ran into no stuttering or other oddities, and while the locked frame rates on certain animations looks odd, it isn’t game-breaking (at least for me).

    In a 3 hour session I averaged 75.1 fps at 1440p on Ultimate preset (Motion blur off) with 80 FOV; 3900X – 4250MHz all-core @ 1.275v w/SMT Off, R VII (20.8.1 drivers) 2050/1200 @ 1115mv (also running at x8 3.0 on PCI-E bus); installed on an Inland 1TB (PCI-E 3.0) NVMe.

    I’m sure, as with all things, there will be people with issues, but I’ve had none so far luckily.

    Turns out there may additional reasons for your better experience with it. Turns out the devs partnered with AMD and the game supports a number of AMD features and optimizations.
    https://www.dsogaming.com/news/hori…yfx-spd-amd-tressfx-and-asynchronous-compute/

  10. Another issue to add to the pile. Mouse Sensitivity is reporting that any framerate above 30 FPS results in massive negative mouse acceleration, which is a common problem with games that emulate joystick movement instead of implementing real mouse movement.

    https://www.mouse-sensitivity.com/updates/updates/horizon-zero-dawn-r638/

    I’ve been playing hardcore for 3 solid days, and haven’t had any issues at all. No mouse problems, no stuttering, no crashes. I’m using the Digital Foundry suggested settings.

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