One of the first games that really made us see the potential of the Steam Deck was Horizon Zero Dawn. This game, a PS4-exclusive, had been brought to the PC and was now able to be played on a portable console. This was mind blowing, and made us want a new PSP, and now, we will have the chance to continue Aloy's story on PC with Horizon Forbidden West. The PC port is weeks away, and it looks magnificent, but I wanted to take a moment to see if it will be a game we could enjoy on the Steam Deck.


Yesterday, developer Guerrilla Games posted the system requirements for the game, and they are hefty. So, with that being posted, I felt this was the perfect time to go over how it could perform and my reasoning behind it. In the end, Horizon Forbidden West will probably be playable on the Steam Deck, but it will require a lot of compromises, and it will experience drops here and there. And thanks to a combination of the specs, similar performing games, developer history, and graphical options, there's a decent chance of it happening.

Curious how I got to that conclusion? Well, read on!

The Developer/Porter's History

So, let's first take a look at the history of the developer, Guerrilla Games, and the company porting the game over from PlayStation, Nixxes Software. The original developer of Horizon Forbidden West is Guerrilla, though all of their games were originally developed for PlayStation consoles. The consoles are decently optimized, but they didn't focus on consoles outside of that. That's where Nixxes Studios steps in.

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Nixxes Studios is the company that is bringing the games to PC, implementing the new technology to make it run better on computers, and optimizing it. As far as this goes, their track record is fantastic. While Horizon Zero Dawn wasn't ported over by them, they are the masterminds behind the Marvel's Spider-Man games and Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart. Each of these games showed off what they were capable of, and each run decently well on the Steam Deck. They can all look great and be played at 30 FPS, with some even being able to hit 40.

The studio has a history of implementing upscaling techniques pretty well to help performance, as well as generally optimizing the games to run as best as they possibly can. Personally, I trust the studio handling ports, and is one of the main reasons I remain optimistic for Horizon Forbidden West.

The Minimum Specs

Next, I want to take a look at the bare minimum specs. Guerrilla posted about the specs yesterday, revealing the minimum to very high requirements they want for hardware.


Looking at these, my biggest concern is what they are recommending for the minimum. 16GB of RAM and a GTX 1650 GPU are both pretty heavy for the Steam Deck, and they estimate 720p at 30 FPS. So, now that we know the requirements, I wanted to find a game similar to Horizon Forbidden West in both minimum specs AND gameplay. Fortunately, there is a game that has the same GPU AND RAM requirements while also being a third-person semi-open world game: Remnant 2.

The one thing that isn't a match is what the minimum for Remnant 2 is looking for. They could be estimating for 720p at 60 FPS or 1080p at 30 FPS, but since it isn't listed, I can't say for sure.

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We actually reviewed Remnant 2 when it came out, and while it is an amazing game, it had a lot of performance issues. It couldn't hold 30 FPS in more open areas, there were crashes, and it was generally a tough time game to play while keeping it looking visually appealing. It has had some patches that have made it better to run, but it isn't completely fixed, and I would say it doesn't bode well.

Now, we can help ease up the RAM requirements a bit by using CryoUtilities 2 and the UMA Buffer change, but it will be hard to get around the GPU requirement set in place. But, there are some ways we can do it.

Graphical Options

Finally, let's take a look at the game's graphical options. Nixxes Studios' ported games usually have an assortment of settings to customize, generally normal for PC games. But, for this, I want to focus on upscalers. This technology allows us to run the game at a lower resolution, but use an algorithm to make it look like it is at a higher resolution. This will save on processing power, while still retaining visual clarity from higher resolutions.

In Horizon Forbidden West's case, we will have support for DLSS, FSR, and XeSS. Now, only FSR and XeSS will be usable on the Steam Deck, but this does bode well overall. Unfortunately, the FSR version isn't specified, so we don't know for sure if it will be FSR 1, 2, or 3, but if I were to place bets, I would say FSR 2. I believe FSR 3 will come in a future patch, along with frame generation, but it won't be in there at launch. This is pure speculation, however, but that's what I believe is the case due to them not showing the number.

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So, Will Horizon Forbidden West Run on Steam Deck?

It's a tough call, but I believe it will be playable at 30 FPS, with some major compromises and small dips here and there. Nixxes Software is a fantastic porting studio, and with FSR and XeSS being implemented, I have faith that this will make it at least playable. I believe there will be drops when in crowded cities and large open areas, but for the most part, it will be okay.

My biggest worry is the minimum specs. The developers are estimating these minimum requirements at 720p and 30 FPS, which is around what I would expect on the Steam Deck. These are very high, and even though a similar game (Remnant 2) can run on the Deck, it doesn't mention exactly what the minimum was targeting, so it may be tougher to play.

If it is able to run, it will require the lowest settings and using an upscaler at Balanced or Performance modes. It may even need a sub-720p resolution and use SteamOS's FSR upscaler to help ease the burden. But, with all of this, I do believe it will be playable, just don't expect it to be perfect or 100% stable on the Steam Deck.

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Horizon Forbidden West Complete Edition can be pre-ordered on Steam for $59.99 ahead of its March 21st release.

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Noah Kupetsky
A lover of gaming since 4, Noah has grown up with a love and passion for the industry. From there, he started to travel a lot and develop a joy for handheld and PC gaming. When the Steam Deck released, it just all clicked.
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