Horizon Forbidden West: Burning Shores Review

burning shores review

The Burning Shores DLC pack does for Horizon Forbidden West what every good DLC pack should do, giving you new weapons, new enemies, new trinkets and secrets, and most importantly, continues and compliments the story of the main game. To play the DLC pack you must have completed the main game and it’s impossible for me to go any further without spoiling that, so be warned.

Spoilers for Horizon Forbidden West follow!

The journey begins with message from Sylens – the much missed Lance Reddick – who explains that a Zenith is unaccounted for and that he may have fled to the Burning Shores, the Horizon version of Los Angeles. A quick cut scene and Aloy arrives at the new location and meets Seyka, a Quen tribe member who accompanies her on all main the missions as it soon becomes clear they both need to find the Zenith.

What follows is around seven hours of new story in this new location, but this is another large map and by the time you’ve finished that main narrative you’ll only have seen around half of it. Los Angeles itself is almost unrecognisable as it’s broken in to volcanic archipelagos with vast canyons to fly through and seas that can be navigated in your new speedboat. There are some modern day landmarks, such as the Griffith Observatory and the Hollywood sign, but the rest of the map is tropical forests, lava flows, or ruined skyscrapers.

Our new big bad is the Zenith named Walter Londra, a tech giant who made his money from space programs which mined near Earth asteroids. He is egotistical, vain, and really quite awful – he Musk be based on someone, but I really cannot think who that may be. Initially painted as a camp, almost comedic villain who you can almost hear twirling his mighty moustache, the later story beats reveal a much darker side that is particularly ugly and really made my skin crawl.

Seyka, your new companion played by Kylie Liya Page, is just as feisty as Aloy and works really well as an AI companion, helpful distracting enemies so Aloy can take them down. New creatures include the Waterwing, a version of the Sunwing which can dive and swim underwater, the Stingspawn, small flying creatures that live in eggs and hatch if you get close the them, and the Bilegut, Horizon’s take on a massive toad. As it’s in the trailer I don’t feel like it’s a spoiler to say that after six years of the franchise you finally get to fight a Horus, the massive spider like enemies found across on the maps in both games.

The story missions are very much “more of what you loved from the first game” with big battles, some sneaking, and thankfully just two puzzles which are quite simple to complete. The final mission is essentially one massive boss fight with multiple stages and lots of variety as you flip through chase sequences, stealth, tactical fights, swimming and climbing before the final battle. You really are going to need every trick in Aloy’s playbook to get through it, and in general you will need to have levelled up to some decent armour and weapons before you’ll be able to tackle some of the fights.

It goes without saying that the game still looks amazing, and without needing to cater to the last generation, it is able to really push the PS5 hard. The backgrounds in some of the cutscenes look almost like oil paintings they are so gorgeous, while the new cloud effects are also quite spectacular and really help convey the feeling of being stuck in a massive storm. While most of the map is fairly similar consisting of forests and crumbling buildings, one section is clearly based on a certain film, you can probably guess which one considering Horizon has a lot of dinosaurs shaped robots in it.

Burning Shores is more of the same, and that includes the things that I found distracting in the main game, notably the overly long expositional sequences and that Aloy just chats to herself all time to remind you, the player, what you need to do next. There is also one story beat that I felt was completely unnecessary for Aloy’s character, though I can’t say much more than that without giving it away.

By the way, the seeds of a Horizon are planted in the epilogue, so if you are a fan and want to know how Aloy and her team are going to try and beat Nemesis? Well, you will need to play this DLC.

Burning Shores is exactly what you would expect, with even more of that solid Horizon gameplay wrapped around a story that initially seems quite frivolous but soon becomes very dark and uncomfortable. If you loved Horizon Forbidden West, you will love this too.
  • A lot of content for the price
  • Excellent story
  • The new enemies are inventive and not reskins
  • No new mechanics or gameplay
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