Horizon Zero Dawn

Fix Horizon Zero Dawn Crash at Startup or Failed to Launch

Fix Horizon Zero Dawn Crash at Startup or Game Not Launching

We finally have Horizon Zero Dawn on PC, but that launch has been far from smooth. While most of the players have been able to run the game at 60 FPS, there are users who have been failing to even launch the game. As such they are faced with the Horizon Zero Dawn crash at startup or failed to launch error. The first thing to note here is that if you are running the game on Windows 7, it may result in such error or the missing d3d12.dll error. It occurs because the game requires DirectX 12 and hence, Windows 10. If you are on Windows 10 and the game is crashing at launch, here are some fixes you can try.

Fix 1: Terminate Unnecessary Applications

With so many games, third-party software that forcefully inject themselves between operations cause crash in the game. Hence, the first thing we must do to resolve the Horizon Zero Dawn crashing on PC or failed to launch error is suspend all unnecessary programs and then launch the game. Here are the steps you can follow.

  1. Press Windows Key + R and type msconfig, hit Enter
  2. In General tab, uncheck Load startup items
  3. Go to the Services tab
  4. Check Hide all Microsoft services
  5. Now, click Disable all
  6. Click on Apply and OK.

Try launching the game, check if the error still occurs.

Fix 2: Update the Graphics Card Drivers

Although an outdated graphics card driver causes the most crashes, it’s a gamer’s modus operandi to keep all drivers and software updated on the system. This includes the OS, audio drivers, motherboards, processors, etc.

So, first update the graphics card drivers and check if the game crashes. Nvidia recently released Game Ready Driver that extends support for several new games. Here are the link to both Nvidia and AMD drivers you need.

Nvidia Game Ready Driver

AMD Radeon Software Driver

Select your OS and other specs and download and install the software. If the problem persists, update everything from OS to audio drivers and check again.

Fix 3: Run Horizon Zero Dawn As Admin

You must also provide the game with admin permissions. Sometimes, games without permission do not function desirably. Windows by default does not provide the admin permission to any software, so you have to do it manually and you should be doing it for any new games you install. To perform the steps – right-click on the desktop shortcut of the game and select Properties. Go to the Compatibility tab and check Run this program as an administrator.

While you are at it. Also, provide admin permission to the Steam client. That’s it, launch the game and check if the Horizon Zero Dawn crash still occurs.   

Fix 4: Clear Windows Temporary Files

Sometimes temporary files can become corrupted. These files are used by the game for better performance, but corruption can cause the game to crash. Delete these files and allow the game to download new files. This can potentially resolve the error. Here are the steps to delete temp files form your OS.

  1. Open the Run dialogue box by pressing on Windows Key + R
  2. Type %temp% in the field and hit Enter
  3. Press Ctrl + A and hit Delete (if you cannot delete some files, let them be and close the Window)

Fix 5: Disable Steam Overlay

Lately Steam Overlay has come under a lot of criticism for crashing games. Hence, let’s disable the overlay in an attempt to fix the Horizon Zero Dawn crash problem.

  1. Launch Steam client
  2. Click on Library and right-click on Horizon Zero Dawn
  3. Select Properties and uncheck Enable the Steam Overlay while in-game.

Close Steam and check if the in-game crash or Horizon Zero Dawn crash at startup still occurs.

Fix 6: Repair Game Files

If a game is corrupted or some of its files are missing it will most definitely crash. It could be at the start of the game or in mid-game. The Steam Launcher provide you the option to scan and repair missing or corrupted game files. Here are the steps.

  1. Launch the Steam client
  2. From the LIBRARY, right-click on Horizon Zero Dawn and select Properties

Once the process completes, try playing the game and check if the Horizon Zero Dawn crashing on PC or failed to launch problem still exists.

Fix 7: Set Exclusion on Windows Firewall or Other Antivirus

More often than not, the Windows Firewall or the antivirus on your system blocks some functions of the game which leads to a crash. You need to allow the game to bypass the security software. You can do it by setting an exclusion for the game on the software. Here are the steps.

Windows Firewall

  1. Press Windows Key + I and select Update & Security
  2. Click on Windows Security and select Firewall & network protection
  3. Click on Allow an app through firewall
  4. Locate Horizon Zero Dawn and tick both Private and Public
  5. Save the changes.

Kaspersky Internet Security

  • Home >> Settings >> Additional >> Threats and Exclusions >> Exclusions >> Specify Trusted Applications >> Add.


  • Home >> Settings >> Components >> Web Shield >> Exceptions >> Set the exception.

Avast Antivirus

  • Home >> Settings >> General >> Exclusions >> Set the exclusion.

Once you have excluded the game files from the security software rules, repeat the Fix 6 and repair the game files before launching.

We hope the post has helped to resolve your Horizon Zero Dawn crashing or failed to launch problem. If the problem still persists, you would want to download and install the Microsoft Visual C++ Redistributables from 2015 to 2019. Install both the x86 and x64 versions.  

Harsh Clif
He is caught in a loop between writing about games and playing them. It's a vicious cycle. Harsh also runs a successful recipe blog with 700K monthly visitors and is an avid SEO participating actively in SEO groups and forums.

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  1. Isn’t there a way to run the game on Windows 7 ? Or do they at least intent to allow it. I do not want to upgrade to Windows 10

    1. There is no such news as of yet.

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