Review Horizon Forbidden West – Burning Shores

Review Horizon Forbidden West – Burning Shores

Moving away from the name that propelled their popularity – Killzone – and delving into the realm of action RPG open-worlds, which ultimately resulted in a resounding success – Horizon Zero Dawn, the trajectory of Guerrilla Games as a first-party developer for Sony needs no further doubt. When it comes to Horizon, its quality not only emanates from its storyline and characters, but also from the implementation of the Decima Engine, which ensures it never fails to appear stunning on Sony's Playstation platform. Following their routine from previous series, their latest installment – Horizon Forbidden West – also comes with a significant DLC that will naturally extend Aloy's journey. However, there's something intriguing about this particular release.

Horizon Forbidden West – Burning Shores Plot

Named "Burning Shores," it will now take Aloy to the Los Angeles area, which is no longer the metropolitan city we've been familiar with. Guerrilla Games has made a somewhat surprising decision regarding this paid DLC. Unlike the base version available for both Playstation 4 and Playstation 5, the "Burning Shores" DLC will be exclusive to Playstation 5. This presents a golden opportunity for Guerrilla Games to showcase what they can truly achieve with the performance of the Playstation 5, beyond the extra aspects of the story and characters that are certainly prepared to welcome their latest installment in the upcoming times.

So, what does Horizon Forbidden West – Burning Shores actually offer? Why do we refer to it as a DLC that successfully showcases the capabilities of the Playstation 5? This review will delve deeper into these aspects for you.

"Burning Shores" itself is positioned as a direct continuation of Horizon Forbidden West's storyline. Given its canon status, it can also be assumed that it will serve as a bridge to the next Horizon story, although it hasn't been officially confirmed by Guerrilla Games. Nonetheless, its role is inevitable.

After the events of Forbidden West concluded, based on information gathered by Selen, Aloy is determined to hunt down one of the remaining Zenith members named Londra. He is believed to be occupying an arena in the southern region now known as Burning Shores, which is situated atop the ruins of the city of Los Angeles that we've known. However, as Aloy soon discovers, this territory is not as straightforward as she might have thought. It's guarded by a defensive tower armed with projectile attacks that are ready to obliterate any creature attempting to fly past it. Fortunately, Aloy encounters a new ally in this situation.

Coming into contact with a separate Quen tribe that has branched off from their main tribe, which is now located in San Francisco, Aloy is aided by one of its members named Seyka. Seyka is willing to help Aloy, albeit with different motivations. She wants Aloy to assist her in finding her missing sibling, along with several other members of the Quen tribe. This search process unravels even more layers of conspiracy regarding what the Zenith member Londra is currently involved in and preparing at this location.

So, can Aloy locate and subdue Londra? What is the true agenda of this particular Zenith member? Will Seyka find her sister? All the answers to these questions await players in Horizon Forbidden West – Burning Shores.

With Guerrilla Games' decision to offer Burning Shores as DLC exclusively for the Playstation 5 version, there's a distinct anticipation that this additional content will finally be able to showcase the true Horizon experience on the latest generation platform, unburdened by the need to ensure optimal performance on previous generations. Although the content can be completed in just 5 hours, with a significantly smaller area compared to the main setting, they have managed to execute their task admirably!

Labeling Horizon Forbidden West: Burning Shores as the most visually stunning Playstation 5 exclusive is not an overstatement at the time of writing this review. There's something special about the area that's only available for the current generation console, not only displayed through captivating details but also artistic flair. In terms of the latter, compared to the main area, Burning Shores offers a stronger sense of an archipelago, with the sea acting as a separator and a path to traverse. Aloy herself is equipped with a small boat to navigate this environment, accompanied by the dramatic sunlight that continually cycles through day and night. With beautifully arranged clouds adorning the sky and a clear blue expanse of ocean above, Burning Shores presents a distinct artistic facet.

Naturally, commendation extends to the captivating details as well. The villages you visit in Burning Shores are larger and more expansive than any in the main era, complete with various facilities for your use. Observing how Los Angeles is now covered in lush vegetation, thick grass in various corners, towering ruins that hold numerous tales, and a variety of enigmatic structures hinting at human history promises an exciting new adventure. When Guerrilla Games speaks of the sky and its realistically rendered clouds, they aren't merely boasting. These clouds almost invite you to pass through them while using your flying mount, satisfying your curiosity about what lies beyond. In fact, you can even appreciate the beauty of moss growing on various ruins in exquisite detail.

However, unfortunately, like Horizon Forbidden West, Burning Shores still harbors the same issues with animations, especially when it comes to climbing. Often, you'll encounter situations where your command for Aloy to climb, especially on platforms you've constructed yourself using giant arrows shot from scattered ballistae, becomes awkward. Aloy frequently ends up ascending platforms you didn't intend, in irrational positions, with a pacing that feels too sluggish at various points. For some reason, this action never feels quite natural.

So, how about the audio aspect? As in the main series, the voice acting consistently satisfies, with cut-scenes now better capturing the facial reactions of speakers, whether it's Aloy or other supporting characters. As for the soundtrack? Regrettably, there are no additional tracks that, in our opinion, match the grandeur of the "roar" of the Tremortusk from the main series, which always managed to capture our hearts.


Review Horizon Forbidden West – Burning Shores

Positioned as an extension of the main series, Horizon Forbidden West – Burning Shores undeniably brings a plethora of new elements to the table. With content that can't be deemed lengthy, given the countable number of main and side missions, we've already touched on several, such as the locations and the opportunity to utilize a small boat for inter-island transportation. You'll also encounter chances to further empower Aloy through new weapon options, coil variants for extra buffs that come with more devastating effects, new melee finishing attacks when enemies are knocked to the ground, additional skill trees, and an elevated level cap. On paper, this could be deemed "standard" additional content for any kind of DLC or expansion you'd find in other games, especially those with RPG content.

With the newly explored region, Aloy is bound to face new challenges. Naturally, you'll encounter variations of old machines that inhabit the same area, but the highlight indeed revolves around new variants that are no less vexing. There are futuristic machines resembling Zenith designs akin to drones, which will swarm you if you're not cautious, but fortunately can be subdued with a single accurately aimed arrow. The most significant addition is the presence of a new machine named Beligut. Resembling a toad with Acid attacks as its main element, this enemy can't be underestimated. Not only is it tanky, requiring you to destroy several parts to weaken it, but it's also agile, constantly leaping around, putting your skill and arrow accuracy to the test. Of course, there are other "larger" machines you'll encounter as final challenges in this DLC.

Among the new machines introduced here, the highlight is undoubtedly the Waterwing – a new variant of flying machine not available in the main area. Consider it a new mechanical steed; it behaves like the Sunwing when airborne, not particularly faster or more agile. What makes it interesting is that, as the name suggests, you can also use it as a watercraft, which is significantly faster than just swimming. However, unfortunately, even the Waterwing doesn't enable combat underwater; it's strictly for movement.

Another noteworthy addition is the introduction of modern weaponry for Aloy. After relying solely on bows and arrows, along with a range of slings and spears with various elemental effects to take down machines, Aloy finally gets her hands on something cutting-edge, placing her on par with the Zenith members, her primary adversaries. Coming in two variants – one as a railgun requiring charging for maximum damage and the other akin to a sub-machine gun with rapid bullets but low damage – these weapons indeed transform what we've known from Horizon so far.

What's intriguing? Despite their stark differences from bows, traps, spears, or slings, these modern weapons aren't positioned as overpowered tools that effortlessly eliminate all machines. Firstly, they require different resources to craft their ammo, which can often be rarer than the simple branches needed for arrows. Secondly, their damage output is lower compared to the "old" weapons at the legendary rarity level, which you likely would have acquired by the time you access Burning Shores. Thirdly, they're not as effective as higher accuracy weapons like high-precision bows for systematically dismantling machine components. Even though these two modern weapons are available, they won't instantly change the way you play Horizon, at least in this DLC.

Of all the additions offered by Burning Shores, the most impressive part lies in the accessibility options now available. In addition to accommodating gamers who fear the depths of the dark ocean – a prominent "playground" in this DLC – Burning Shores' accessibility options also allow you to activate "Auto-Loot." This feature is genuinely helpful and eliminates the tedious aspects from the main series. You no longer need to pause with a minor animation every time you want to extract resources from a tree or plant. With auto-loot enabled, you merely walk by each material, and it's automatically collected, making your journey smoother and faster.


Even if you haven't played Burning Shores, the final premise of Horizon Forbidden West provides a clear signal that at the very least, this series will culminate in a trilogy. You've come to comprehend the existence of the Far Zenith and a mysterious entity named Nemesis, which aims to end life on Earth as you know it, a threat you must stop as the main protagonist. Burning Shores serves as a bridge that offers a clearer picture of various aspects of this overarching story. But is it so essential that it can't be missed? Certainly not. However, it's undeniable that there are clear story implications.

First and foremost, the most apparent implication is that in the third installment of the series, the release of which remains mysterious, we might be faced with an Aloy who no longer relies solely on the classic weaponry she's used so far. Guerrilla Games has finally "opened up" and allowed modern weaponry to enter her arsenal, which could be further narrowed down or expanded upon with more variants in the future. This will be an incredibly refreshing approach for the Horizon series, particularly as it maintains the need for crafting materials as a basis for balancing, preventing players from exploiting it excessively, with resources that so far can be acquired from machines and crates alone.

Secondly, romance. After the last two installments, where Aloy interacted with numerous tribes and characters without displaying many signs of a romantic pursuit, this aspect now becomes an option you can choose or decline in Burning Shores. A female companion – Seyka – is the target of this romance, and similar to action RPGs like Mass Effect, for instance, you can either pursue or disregard a romantic connection. The implications are intriguing, given that in the past, Aloy also became a romantic target for an NPC – King Avad – who even explicitly expressed his interest. Will romance play a more significant role in the third installment? We'll have to wait and see.

The third and perhaps the most sorrowful implication is the confirmation that one of the crucial supporting characters – Sylens – with a significant role in the story, will continue to play a major part in the upcoming installment. Why is this sorrowful? Because we all know that the actor who lent his face and voice – Lance Riddick – passed away in March 2023. There's no clarity on how Guerrilla Games will handle this situation. Had Lance Riddick recorded enough dialogue material for the third installment? Will they replace the voice actor with someone similar-sounding? Or will they swiftly determine the fate of this character at the beginning of the game for their next installment? We're quite curious about the solution they'll offer.

Thus, Burning Shores stands as both a stronger conclusion and a bridge to the next installment in the Horizon series, which hasn't been publicly announced in terms of its subtitle. However, rest assured, those who haven't purchased this DLC will likely still connect well with the storyline, perhaps with a few extra surprises, maybe in the form of new enemies and the modern weaponry that Aloy can now wield.


Content-wise, Burning Shores does indeed come as a DLC with relatively limited content, featuring only a handful of main and side missions to complete. Yet, the most captivating aspect of this paid add-on content comes from the fact that Guerrilla Games has positioned it exclusively for Playstation 5. The anticipation that it would utilize the performance of Sony's latest generation console to its full extent has proven fruitful, making it easy to consider it one of the most visually stunning Playstation 5 games to date. The introduction of several new elements also hints at what we can expect in the subsequent installments, enhancing the intrigue of the waiting game.

However, it must be acknowledged that despite its position as a DLC designed exclusively for the Playstation 5, Burning Shores still carries over some of the issues presented in the main series – Forbidden West – without significant improvements. Apart from the occasionally awkward climbing animations, we also still find that the combat against human adversaries, which was somewhat unsatisfying in the main series, remains lacking in this DLC. The variants of human enemies you encounter in this DLC, even though a few are new, still feel monotonous. Another complaint we have is that the romance storyline with Seyka feels rushed and forced, rather than flowing naturally and logically.

The presence of Burning Shores doesn't necessarily make it an "essential" additional content piece to understand what the upcoming Horizon series will offer, which has already been fairly well explained by the main installment. However, for Playstation 5 owners, this will set a new standard for what you can anticipate from the third installment, particularly in terms of presentation. It's a DLC that you might want to consider if you're eager and can't wait any longer.

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