Horizon Forbidden West On PC Shows Why Nixxes Is One Of PlayStation’s Best Studios

2023 was lauded by many as one of the greatest years in games–we ourselves awarded a slew of titles perfect to near-perfect review scores–with games like Baldur’s Gate 3, Alan Wake II, Hi-Fi Rush and plenty more genre-defining titles coming out month after month. PC gamers, however, could argue that the year was less stellar for them as many of the big-name releases launched were either less performant than expected, or outright broken. From Alan Wake II’s steep minimum requirements needing players to have at least a 20 series Nvidia graphics card (thankfully this has recently been rectified), ray-tracing crashes on Resident Evil 4 Remake, a completely botched (and endlessly meme-able) port job of Naughty Dog’s The Last of Us Part I, to horrendous performance issues on Star Wars: Jedi Survivor that still haven’t been fixed, leaving the game effectively unplayable on anything less than top-of-the-line hardware. It’s been a rough year for PC gamers to say the least. So rough, in fact, that Digital Foundry themselves did a special video about the worst ports of 2023

The woes unfortunately have continued into 2024, as the recently released (and highly praised) Dragon’s Dogma 2 has also seen a plethora of performance issues on PC, with frequent stuttering and FPS drops for those even on higher-end hardware. All of this is to say that it must be quite the frustrating experience being a PC player in the current gaming landscape. As a historically non-PC player who never thirsted for the highest resolutions or smoothest framerates, it’s been my understanding that if I did want the bleeding edge of visual fidelity, PC gaming was where I would go. It seems, however, that in recent years developers are treating the platform as an afterthought, often contracting the port job to third-party studios that are less familiar with their games. That is, except for PlayStation Studios. Though they did have a severe misstep with their porting of The Last of Us Part I as mentioned above, this port was handled by Iron Galaxy Studios, the company responsible for the also sub-par Batman Arkham Knight port. The decision by SIE for this was a bit curious, seeing as they have a studio under their wing as of 2021 by the name of Nixxes Software, who have been on a stupendous roll in porting Sony’s exclusive titles to PC. To the point where they may very well be one of PlayStations most valuable assets. 

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Even a 6800xt is brought to its knees with this game. Image: Digital Foundry

Nixxes’ history with porting goes all the way back to the 90s where their founder, Jurjen Katsman, helped Crystal Dynamics port Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver to the Dreamcast. They’ve since been the company to bring the entire modern Tomb Raider trilogy to the PC, and have been since 2021 the primary porting studio for Sony, bringing over Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart, both Marvel’s Spider-Man Remastered and Miles Morales, and now Horizon Forbidden West. Every single one of these titles have been praised by the PC community for not only their performances on the platform, with all of the PC features like ray-tracing and DLSS working without a hitch, but also for their additional features like ultra-widescreen support. 

For someone who has yet to purchase a PlayStation 5, but has been dabbling with cloud-PC gaming and yearning to play some of the console’s exclusives, I’ve been incredibly impressed with Nixxes’ work with Horizon Forbidden West. I’ve played around with a few cloud-PC subscriptions, from Nvidia GeForce Now to Amazon Luna, and though my experience has been fairly consistent, the PC ports of triple-A games do tend to have their fair share of quirks. My playthrough of Alan Wake II on the “Priority” tier of GeForce Now proved decent enough from a performance standpoint, though it did take me quite a bit of tweaking to ensure some of the visual bugs–like shimmering and the disappearance of an entire lake–was kept to a minimum. What surprised me more, however, was that even being fitted with an RTX 3080 I wasn’t able to hit a consistent 60fps at 1080p on medium settings and path-tracing set to low. My inexperience on the platform led me to believe that this might simply be the norm, especially when considering how unbelievably gorgeous Alan Wake II is. It wasn’t until I’d booted up Horizon Forbidden West via my Linux-based cloud-PC on MaximumSettings.com a couple days ago where I learned that that indeed was not “normal.” 

Who would’ve thought one day you’d be able to play a Sony exclusive on a Chromebook. With a Nintendo Pro Controller, no less.

Though Alan Wake II remains as one of, if not the, most visually stunning game I’ve ever played, I knew Horizon Forbidden West would give it a run for its money. As such, I was in deep indecision when deciding on which tier to subscribe to with MaximumSettings–the Toronto-based cloud computing company that offers subscribers remote access to their very own Linux rig via the cloud. When considering the specs of each tier, I knew my choice had to be one of the top two. The decision now was whether I wanted to fork up the $30/month for an AMD 7900 XTX, or save a few dollars and stick with an AMD 6800 XT, the latter of which is comparable to that of an RTX 3080–a.k.a the card that struggled to run Alan Wake II on even modest settings. Allowing my innate frugality to take charge, I went ahead with the 6800 XT, praying that I’d be able to achieve at least a comparable experience to that of the PlayStation 5’s “quality” mode. 

To my surprise, I’m able to play Forbidden West at the highest settings at 1440p, all the while keeping north of 60fps. All of this without any hitches in performance or visual inconsistencies. The game simply…runs. Through my recent experiences in playing triple-A titles on PC, from Baldur’s Gate 3, to Alan Wake II, to Cyberpunk 2077, I’ve always had to do a little tinkering to ensure the smoothest experience. Twelve hours into Forbidden West and I’ve yet the need to do such things. It’s been a joy to experience this world at such high fidelity, while not having that flow of enjoyment be cut due to performance issues. Nixxes deserve all the praise for their continued excellence in porting these high-profile games, and showcase why they may very well be one of Sony’s best acquisitions in recent years. It gets me excited to play their future ports. Here’s hoping they’re the ones that take on the God of War Ragnarok PC port as well, and that Sony allows them however much time they need to continue their great work. 

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