Horizon Forbidden West: Burning Shores Review
Horizon Forbidden West: Burning Shores is Aloy’s latest adventure, taking her deep to the heart of the titular location to stop a new threat that’s looking to bring the newfound peace to an abrupt stop. We’re headed to Los Angeles, and to help with the challenges ahead, players will be meeting new friends, using new hardware, and even learning new moves along the way.
Burning Shores is technically endgame content, and players will have to accomplish the final main quest of the base game, Singularity, to access the new region. Sylens (R.I.P. Lance Reddick) contacts you requesting help to look into an alarming matter after you’ve completed the requirements to access the DLC.
With that in mind, is Burning Shores enough reason to head back and help Aloy save the world again?
Take to the Skies
I’m not too much of a fan of Horizon Forbidden West’s Far Zeniths story arc, so this DLC didn’t quite exactly win me over in that department. What did win me over was everything else, and Burning Shores is a great example of how to do expansions that not just add a new location to explore but really enrich the overall experience like the Iki Island DLC for Ghost of Tsushima.
Aloy takes to the skies en route to the Burning Shores but is immediately shot down by the threat she was sent over to investigate. Upon regaining her bearings, she meets a formidable ally in the form of Seyka, a Quen tribe member that’s on her own mission to find her missing tribesmen.
Seyka is quite the personality, brave and outspoken, and is really another supporting character that does a good job of complementing Aloy in more ways than one. Seyka, voiced and performed by Kylie Liya Page, feels like an integral part of the game moving forward, but I’ll leave you to see exactly why that’s the case to avoid spoilers. Needless to say, she is an important character in this DLC that you’ll be working with to conquer the challenges ahead.
Burning Shores increases Aloy’s level cap to 60, 10 more than the base game, and with new levels come new skill points and new skills to spend them on. You’ll find a total of 18 new skills (12 skills and 6 valor surges), each boosting Aloy’s abilities to deal with the new threats.
One is called the Machine Grapple Strike, allowing Aloy to catapult herself into the air and energize the target with a resonator blast, along with another one that slows down time when aiming during a glide. Players will also gain access to a powerful new weapon which will quickly become a staple in their arsenal of bows and slings, so I won’t spoil it as well but definitely look forward to it!
While not all new skills are created equal, these indeed add new ways to deal with the machines, further improving Aloy’s already impressive repertoire of acrobatic moves. She’ll need every last one of them, as Burning Shores introduces 4 new enemies to scan and slay. You’ll go toe to toe with the Stingspawn, the Bilegut, the Waterwing, and the Horus, which is the main boss fight of the DLC.
Depending on how you look at it, the Horus fight can be a mixed bag. While the scale is truly immense, and is most likely the reason why this DLC is a PS5 exclusive, some players may find the battle a bit too easy or not as mechanically challenging as the scale of it suggests. There’s an obvious wow factor and grandeur to this fight, but the actual battle left me wanting a bit more out of it other than just blasting heat sinks.
Don’t get me wrong, the Horus battle is a graphically stunning spectacle that only makes us look forward to what the Nemesis battle may actually deliver, but I just wished that this multi-phase battle offered more mechanics that would make use of our full arsenal as well as our new mount, the Waterwing.
That said, sights are a specialty of Los Angeles, and Burning Shores serves some of the most spectacular vistas in the game. From the Hollywood Sign to overlooking the island clumps from the clouds (yes, you can fly up and above the clouds now!), everything is stunningly beautiful. In fact, I’ve had to ask a couple of reviewers as well if the visuals of the game have been improved, even in performance mode.
There’s some extreme eye candy to play around with in this new location, which just goes to show how much technical wizardry is at play here from Guerrilla and the Decima engine. If you thought Horizon Forbidden West looked phenomenal, Burning Shores seems to take that up a notch higher, with vibrant visuals popping out especially if you have an impressive TV set. There’s meticulous detail in everything, and it really looks like one of the best-looking games of the generation so far.
Fully completing the Burning Shores DLC will take about 10 hours of play depending on how you go about it. Apart from the new main quest and some side-quests, you’ll get to explore a new Cauldron, gather more collectibles, all on top of the aforementioned additions. There are also new trophies for those wanting to add more gold, silver, and bronze banners to their collection.
One thing that is not part of Burning Shores per se is an update to the base game, which includes some nifty new features such as a Thalassophobia mode, enlarging subtitles, and a new auto-pickup mode. The last one, in particular, is a very welcome addition because it avoids the busy work of having to constantly press a button to collect a resource. While it doesn’t pick up everything (it doesn’t add to your stash), this is a fantastic addition especially when you’re just starting out on Horizon Forbidden West.
What we liked:
- Seyka is a fine new character in the world
- Chock full of stuff to see and do
- Visuals remain excellent, maybe even better than before
What we didn’t like:
- Just one main quest added
- The last boss fight may disappoint
Verdict: Buy it!
Horizon Forbidden West: Burning Shores is a great new addition that starts right after the events of the base game and ends up feeling like a must-play for those that want to exhaust this saga in Aloy’s journey. There’s a lot of new content to play through, and most new additions are welcome as they further enhance the overall experience.
There’s little to complain about, but I felt that the Horus fight could have been made much more epic, as it left me wanting more after all was said and done. There’s also a part of the conclusion that may “surprise” players, but I’ll leave that to be discovered.
Overall, Burning Shores is an easy recommendation and gives further reasons why Horizon Forbidden West was one of the best games of 2022.
*Horizon Forbidden West: Burning Shores was reviewed on a PS5 with a review code provided by the publisher.