There’s a good chance by the end of this article you’re going to want to spend $1,400 on an obnoxiously wide monitor. I knew I wanted one ever since I saw a demo for Shadow of the Tomb Raider and I felt like my eyes were going to pop out of my head. Super ultrawide owners will tell you that they can make almost any game feel brand new again, and I don’t think there’s any better example of that than the PC port of Horizon Zero Dawn. Already a fantastic game, HZD is made immeasurably better by the super ultrawide aspect ratio. When we talk about killer apps for cutting-edge hardware, this is it. The screenshots below can give you an idea of what the game looks like on this display, but it will never live up to the real thing. If I could show you what Horizon Zero Dawn looks like on a super ultrawide in real life, I think you’d have a pretty good idea of what to do with the third stimulus check.
A quick definition of terms: your standard computer monitor and television has a widescreen aspect ratio, otherwise known as 16:9. This is the most common size for media like TV shows and console games. Ultrawide, or 21:9, is a cinematic aspect ratio that a lot of movies are filmed in. This is why you’ll often see black bars on the top and bottom when you watch movies. Super ultrawide, or 32:9, is an absurd aspect ratio for crackpots. Nothing is filmed this way, but it’s a popular size for artists and programmers because it provides a lot of room to work in. Super ultrawide has only become a popular size for gaming recently as more developers add 32:9 support to their games. Games like Destiny 2, Battlefield 5, The Witcher 3, and Red Dead Redemption 2 have fantastic super ultrawide support, but for my money, none of those games can even hold a candle to Horizon.
Every inch of Horizon’s hand-crafted world is a marvel to behold, and a 32:9 display lets you see so much more of it. In the realm of open-world games with stunning landscapes, only Red Dead can compete with Horizon. RDR2’s is also mind-blowing in super ultrawide, but there’s something about the sci-fi aesthetic, like the overlapping of disparate biomes and remnants of hulking machines, that makes HZD so much more transportive. My monitor, the Samsung G9 Odyssey, is 49 inches with an aggressive 100R curve. That’s two 27 inch monitors side by side. The game completely fills my periphery when I play, almost like a VR game, but in 1440p with HDR.
The trick to getting this incredible perspective in 32:9 is to lower your field-of-view down all the way. It seems counter-intuitive, but a low FOV cuts back on the edge distortion that occurs when games get stretched into super ultrawide. It prevents the fisheye effect, but the sheer size of the screen still provides an unbelievable view. Guerrilla Games has also cleverly added a bit of blur to the corners, as you can see in the screenshot below. This helps add to the periphery vision effect. It may look a little strange in a still, but while playing all the edge details blend together anyway and help to create a more immersive effect.
It’s not just the pretty scenery either. Fights are bigger and better when more of the battlefield is visible. It’s much harder to get flanked by a Ravager when you can see exactly where it’s coming from. My weapon choices have changed during my super ultrawide playthrough because blowing stuff up with the Shadow Blast Sling is so much more satisfying when the explosion practically surrounds you. You can almost feel the heat coming off of the steaming piles of charred metal plating you leave in your wake.
I won’t say it’s perfect. The various labs and underground facilities don’t always benefit from the extreme aspect ratio, and there were a couple of times that the camera clipped through the wall as I walked up and downstairs into bunkers. None of the cutscenes are in 32:9, so you’ll have to make peace with either black bars on the sides or that weird mirrored effect that YoutTube videos sometimes have when they’re filmed on a vertical phone. Unlike Destiny 2, the UI doesn’t squish in to occupy the middle, so if you find yourself checking your health, ammo, and items a lot, you’re going to end up turning your head back and forth often. But none of these things ever really bother me. The benefit of playing the game in “surround sight” completely outweighs any minor compatibility issues it may have.
Finally, it’s worth mentioning that Horizon on PC does not support ray-tracing or DLSS. The resolution of the Odyssey G9 is 5120×1440, and without the benefit of DLSS upscaling, you’re going to need a beefy rig to run it. I think Horizon looks fantastic even running in performance mode, and with the RTX 3070 I can lock 60fps at medium settings. Getting the most out of Horizon Zero Dawn is a significant investment, but it’s a truly incredible experience.
Next: Biggest Video Games News Of The Week (March 15-21)
- TheGamer Originals
- Horizon Zero Dawn
- Horizon Forbidden West
Eric Switzer is the Livestream News Editor for TheGamer as well as the lead for VR and Tech. He has written about comics and film for Bloody Disgusting and VFXwire. He is a graduate of University of Missouri – Columbia and Vancouver Film School. Eric loves board games, fan conventions, new technology, and his sweet sweet kitties Bruce and Babs. Favorite games include Destiny 2, Kingdom Hearts, Super Metroid, and Prey…but mostly Prey. His favorite Pokémon is Umbreon.
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