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Horizon Zero Dawn

Horizon Zero Dawn (PC) won’t launch, crash – Fix

In this article I will explain to you how to fix the Horizon Zero Dawn (PC) that won’t launch or keep crashing. This guide will display some effective solutions to help you solve these issues in Horizon Zero Dawn on PC.

Horizon Zero Dawn (PC) won’t launch, crash – Fix

First of all, make sure that your computer meets the minimum system requirements in order to play Horizon Zero Dawn.

Minimum System RequirementsRecommended System Requirements
CPUIntel Core [email protected] or AMD FX [email protected]Intel Core [email protected] or Ryzen 5 [email protected]
GPUNvidia GeForce GTX 780 (3 GB) or AMD Radeon R9 290 (4GB)Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 (6 GB) or AMD Radeon RX 580 (8GB)
DirectXDirectX 12DirectX 12
Storage100 GB available space100 GB available space
OSWindows 10 64-bitsWindows 10 64-bits

In order to play the game according to the minimum requirements, your operating system must be Windows 10. So Windows 7 users cannot play Horizon Zero Dawn. On Windows 7, you will probably get the “D3D12.dll is missing” error. That’s why some players’ game crashes at startup and the game doesn’t even launch.

Troubleshooting steps for launch or crash problems in Horizon Zero Dawn

#1 Driver

Ensure that you are using the latest graphics drivers from NVIDIA or AMD before trying to run Horizon Zero Dawn on PC. There are already released Nvidia drivers for Horizon Zero Dawn Complete Edition. You should go to AMD or Nvidia’s official website and check your drivers.

Nvidia: https://www.nvidia.com/Download/index.aspx
AMD: https://www.amd.com/en/support

If you already have the latest drivers, try the next methods.

#2 Game cache

If Horizon Zero Dawn crashes or does not run can be caused by a corrupt game cache. So you should check the integrity of the game’s files and let the client download them again if there are missing or corrupted files.


  • Go to Steam library
  • Right-click on Horizon Zero Dawn
  • Select Properties
  • Go to “Local Files” tab
  • Press the “Verify Integrity of Game Files” button

Epic Games Store:

  • Run the Epic Games Launcher
  • Go to Library menu
  • Navigate to Horizon Zero Dawn
  • Click on the three dots
  • Select Verify

#3 Visual C++ Redistributable

Problems such as crashes in the game or the game not working normally are usually caused by missing or corrupt dll files in the operating system.

These dll files I mentioned are installed in the system with Microsoft Visual C ++ Redistributable on Windows. So you need to install all the latest supported Visual C ++. You can use the link below to download:


To run Horizon Zero Dawn properly, you should especially install both x86 and x64 versions of Visual Studio 2015.

If they are already installed on your OS (Microsoft Visual Studio 2015 & Visual Studio 2015-2019)

#4 Background apps

Your antivirus software (Avast, Norton, Bitdefender …) or Windows Security may prevent the game from working normally. So make sure your antivirus software isn’t blocking Horizon Zero Dawn from launching.

You should add both the folder where your game is installed and the Horizon Zero Dawn folder in Documents to your antivirus’s exclusion list. You can also try running the game after temporarily disabling the firewall.

Besides security software, some apps running in the background can also cause the game not to run. Such as Discord, MSI Afterburner, EVGA Precision X1, RTSS Rivatuner, ASUS GPU Tweak II, Fraps…

Follow the steps below to disable all applications running in the background.

  • Type the msconfig on Windows search box.
  • Press Enter key
  • Go to the Services tab.
  • Select “Hide all Microsoft services”
  • Click on the “Disable all” button.
  • Finally press the OK button.
  • Reboot your computer.

If you want to restore it, just press the Enable All button by following the same steps.

#5 Integrated graphics card

If you are a laptop user, make sure you are not running Horizon Zero Dawn with the integrated graphics card (Intel). You can fix this in Windows 10 by following the steps below.

  • Enter graphics settings into Windows’ search, then select Open once the results populate.
  • Click the Browse button under “Graphics performance preference” in the window that appears.
  • Select the HorizonZeroDawn.exe, then click Add.
  • After that click on the Options button.
  • A new window will popup, select the High performance in the Graphics preference page.
  • Then click Save button.

#6 Overlay

Try disabling the Steam, Discord and Nvidia Geforce Experience overlays, in-game overlay can cause such issues in Horizon Zero Dawn or any PC game.

Steam Overlay: Steam settings > In-Game > Uncheck “Enable the Steam Overlay while in-game”
Discord: User settings > Overlay > Click the toggle to the right of “Enable in-game overlay” to set it to off
Nvidia Geforce Experience: Geforce Experience Settings > General > Toggle “In-Game Overlay” to Off

#7 FPS cap

If the game crashes during cutscenes, it may be helpful to limit the FPS to 60. There are players out there that fix crash issues this way. Go to the in-game display settings, then set the FPS limit to 60. By the way, I also recommend that you set the Display mode to Fullscreen.

#8 USB devices

Some USB devices may cause the game not to start or crash on PC. So try unplugging your USB devices such as controller, headset and then running Horizon Zero Dawn.

#9 Memory leak

If you are experiencing random crashes during gameplay, this problem might be due to insufficient RAM or memory leak.

In this case, the first thing I would suggest you to turn off web browsers such as Chrome, Opera, Firefox before & while playing Horizon Zero Dawn. Also follow the steps below.

  • In the Windows search box, type advanced system settings, then click “View advanced system settings”. System Properties window will pop-up.
  • On the Advanced tab, click on “Settings...” under “Performance”
system properties
  • Performance Options window will pop-up. Go to the Advanced tab, then click on “Change…” button.
Performance Options
  • Make sure that “Automatically manage paging file size for all drivers” is checked in the Virtual Memory window that opens, then click the OK button.
virtual memory

#10 GPU scheduling

One of the possible solutions to fix random crashes is to turn on GPU scheduling on Windows 10.

  • Go to Windows Settings > System > Display > Graphics settings
  • Then switch the “Hardware-accelerated GPU scheduling” option to “On”
  • Restart your PC to apply the changes.

After doing this, turn off GPU scheduling if you experience stuttering problems in the game.

#11 Profile.dat

If the game started crashing after Nvidia GeForce Experience optimized Horizon Zero Dawn, follow these steps to fix the issue:

  • Go to Steam Library
  • Right-click on Horizon Zero Dawn
  • Select Properties
  • Go to the Updates tab
  • Disable the Steam Cloud (Untick the “Enable Steam Cloud synchronization for Horizon Zero Dawn”)
    Note: Epic Store users can try the same (Launcher Settings > Preferences > Untick “Enable Cloud Saves”)
  • Close
  • Navigate to
C:\Users\%UserProfile%\Documents\Horizon Zero Dawn\Saved Game\profile
  • Delete the profile.dat in profile folder. Note: Your save data will be fine.
  • Play the game.

Except for random crashes during the game, if your game crashes and does not open at startup even though you have tried everything above, go to the folder where Horizon Zero Dawn is installed, right-click on the HorizonZeroDawn.exe and select “Run as administrator“. If you encounter an error message, share the details about the error and your computer specs with us by leaving a comment below.

Last Updated on 5 September, 2020 1:06 am EDT

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