By this point there’s been a lot of news surrounding Horizon Zero Dawn and the various performance-related issues that have been reported by PC players. Strangely, these issues are still not quite identified as many users report almost no problems at all, despite some with even better hardware struggling to play the game at a consistent frame rate or stable build.

This led to a number of users online digging into the game’s code, and discovering certain bits of debug code that led them to believe the version we got was in fact a debug build. However, this rumor seems to have been debunked online by someone a lot more knowledgeable in the field.

Frans Bouma is a Dutch Software Engineer who likes to tinker with a lot of video games by taking some great in-game screenshots using some custom-made Photo Mode software. Bouma himself has gone digging through some of the code and found the same debug info, but ultimately deduces that this is not an official debug build.

I had the debug build for a while, and this is not a debug build (debug build is > 100MB exe, this is ” he said in a post on Reddit.

Some code might have error messages referenced. I reverse engineer a lot of game engines and most of them have these. It’s not enough to conclude it’s a ‘debug build’.” However, Bouma did mention that the code had it’s issues, but is overall “not an ‘absolute mess’,” as some have called it.

Our very own PC performance benchmarks revealed something was going on at least considering a GTX 1060 (the recommended GPU) was not able to hit 60fps at 1080p on Ultra graphics settings. Additionally there are still some problems with AMD or low-end hardware resulting in some very strange graphical issues.

Additionally, separate to this, it looks like Horizon: Zero Dawn shipped onto PC with some missing features that were present on the PlayStation 4 version. Most notably, many players online have been trying the game out over the weekend, and noticed that the snow deformation feature that was in the PS4 version is not present for the PC port.

An example of the kind of snow deformation in the PlayStation version:

This snow deformation is only present in the Frozen Wilds expansion area, but is still another indication towards a less-than-stellar PC port, and with a feature like this missing is rather contradictory towards the “Complete Edition” package name for the PC version.

A spokesperson for Guerrilla Games replied on a Reddit forum discussing this very issue: "I have escalated this to the internal teams to check what's happening. Please bear with us, there's a lot we're looking into but I hope we can have an answer for you soon!"

What do you think? Have you noticed the snow deformation issues? What could have possibly gone wrong here if it’s not a debug build? Let us know!