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Horizon Forbidden West: Graphics comparison across PS5 and PS4

Horizon Forbidden West River
Horizon Forbidden West River (Image credit: Android Central)

Guerrilla Games' Horizon Forbidden West is here, continuing Aloy's adventures as she races to restore the world against a mysterious blight. It's a cross-generation game, meaning that like some other PlayStation titles, it's available on both Sony's latest and previous machines. Naturally, this means there's some fairly major changes between the two versions of the game in how they look and run, which we've examined so you can know what you'll be buying. Here's a graphics comparison of Horizon Forbidden West across PS5 and PS4.

Horizon Forbidden West graphics comparison

Horizon Forbidden West supports two difference graphics modes on PS5: Fidelity mode and Performance mode. By contrast, the PS4 Pro and PS4 versions only support one version each. As such, there's a total of four different visuals modes for Horizon Forbidden West.

In general, the PS5 Fidelity mode maintains the sharpest image, followed by the PS5 Performance mode and PS4 Pro, then finally the PS4 version. In addition to a higher resolution found on the PS5 in Fidelity mode, playing the game on PS5 means better lighting quality, as Guerrilla Games is using cutscene-level lighting for the characters in regular gameplay on the current-generation versions.

The PS5 versions of the game also feature higher LOD (Level of Detail) and higher-quality textures than the PS4 Pro or especially PS4 versions, meaning grass, foliage and other details don't "pop in" at the same close distance. Water is also higher-quality on the PS5 versions of the game, with a more realistic look as it flows in rivers and streams.

PS5 in Fidelity mode vs. PS5 in Performance mode

PS4 Pro vs. PS4

PS5 Fidelity Mode vs. PS4

PS5 Performance Mode vs. PS4 Pro

Horizon Forbidden West: Performance

Horizon Forbidden West runs at 30 FPS on PS4 Pro, PS4 and and PS5 in Fidelity mode. Horizon Forbidden West runs at 60 FPS on PS5 in Performance mode, providing a much smoother experience with more responsive gameplay. The downside is that it's a much lower resolution, meaning it doesn't look quite as good, with a lack of finer detail on character models and objects. You'll have to try both modes yourself to decide if the increase in smooth gameplay is worth the grainier visual quality.

Generally, you'll find the PS5 version hits its target frame rate far more consistently than PS4 Pro or PS4 does.

Horizon Forbidden West: Loading times

We tested the loading times of each version of the game, going from the main menu to actually playing the game. It'll come as no surprise that there's a huge difference between the PS5 version and the two PS4 versions of the game, as the PS5 benefits from an ultra-fast internal SSD, drastically cutting down the time you'll be waiting to resume playing. Here's the average load times of each version:

  • PS5: 4 seconds
  • PS4 Pro: 68 seconds
  • PS4: 55 seconds

Bear in mind that normally when you're playing the game, you won't see a loading screen unless you choose to fast travel somewhere, as loading times on the PS4 are normally hidden by cutscenes. Still, you may sometimes notice small loads when using workbenches on the last-generation console, as the screen will fade to black and take a few seconds before allowing you to continue. It's also possible to (rarely) encounter these mini-loading screens if you're traveling extremely quickly with a Machine mount.

A great experience

No matter where you choose to play Horizon Forbidden West, you're sure to have a lot of fun. Still, the PS5 version is the best way to play Horizon Forbidden West overall, benefitting from everything we've outlined, as well as the DualSense haptic feedback and adaptive triggers.

In our review of Horizon Forbidden West, gaming editor Jennifer Locke noted that this is one of the best PS5 games available, writing that "Guerrilla Games takes huge narrative risks that pay off big time, setting up Aloy's greatest threat yet and further developing her relationships. The gameplay is likewise just as excellent, with incredibly responsive and fun combat alongside a vast open world to explore."

Horizon Forbidden West is slated to launch for PS5 and PS4 on Feb. 18, 2022.

Samuel Tolbert is a freelance writer covering gaming news, previews, reviews, interviews and different aspects of the gaming industry, specifically focusing on PlayStation on Android Central. You can find him on Twitter @SamuelTolbert