It’s been over a year since the release of Horizon Forbidden West, and now, fans have a reason to return to the game with the release of Burning Shores, the game’s new DLC.
Much like The Frozen Wilds for the first game, Horizon Burning Shores adds a sizeable new area, complete with a couple of new machines, a dastardly new enemy, and an ally that will help Aloy pretty much the entire way through.
Of course, returning to play the DLC can’t be done for free as you’ll need to buy it to get access. Plus, unlike the base game, Burning Shores is available only for owners of the PS5 version. Thankfully, the PS4 version comes with a free PS5 upgrade, though you’ll still need a PS5 to play the DLC.
Forbidden West is already a large and satisfying game that was among the highlight titles of 2022. But is the new DLC worth getting if you’ve already had your fill of the Forbidden West? Here’s what we think.
New Machines, New Location
As with The Frozen Wilds, Burning Shores features new machines for Aloy to face; there are four of them in fact. At first glance, this is an improvement over Frozen Wilds which only had three new machines (not counting Control Towers and Daemonic Machine varieties).
Though when it comes to actually playing the game, I was a bit disappointed by the additions. Aside from the final boss which is treated as its own machine, only one new machine is memorable and unique. For instance, the Waterwings are basically just Sunwings that can go underwater, and aside from a short sequence, they didn’t matter much. There are also Stingspawns which are small bee-like machines that are more annoying than challenging.
Thus, only one new machine stands out, and that’s the Bilegut. These large machines are like giant frogs that spew acid. While the acid attacks make them formidable foes, it’s their jumping attacks that make them even more dangerous.
Still, the fights against Bileguts weren’t all that difficult, especially when compared to the Temortusks or the Frostclaws. In fact, I found the DLC to be on the fairly easy side, even if I didn’t fully upgrade all my equipment before tackling it. This wasn’t the case with The Frozen Wilds which I found to be much more challenging.
The easier difficulty should be fine as players can always adjust the difficulty to suit their needs. Though when compared to the difficult and memorable Fireclaw, Frostclaw, and Scorcher fights of the Frozen Wilds, the new machines are a bit disappointing. But I guess it makes sense given that Forbidden West already has so many cool machines to fight, so making even more for DLC is tough.
While I’m not high on the new machines, the DLC is still satisfying in terms of gameplay. Sure, the core gameplay is basically the same as the base game, but the addition of the Specter Gauntlet weapon is nice. This Zenith weapon can be acquired around midway through the DLC, and it’s fun to play around with, especially against large enemies.
You can test out this cool new weapon not only in the later quests in the storyline but also in the various machine locations around the map. As the name implies, the DLC is set in the Burning Shores aka Los Angeles. While it looks pretty much like the San Francisco part of the base game’s map, there are some sections with lava (hence the name Burning Shores) that give it a slightly different vibe.
Though more than these burning areas, the highlight for me is seeing some of the iconic Los Angeles sights weathered by the centuries that have passed. I’m not from LA, but thanks to movies and TV shows, the Hollywood sign and Griffith Observatory are instantly recognizable when I spotted them in the game.
But at this point in the game, Aloy can already ride the Sunwing which makes exploration easy and means there’s not much incentive to go around the map on foot. This wasn’t an issue in the base game as the Sunwing only becomes available near the end, so there’s plenty of time to explore the world in the early to mid-game. Though at least the game gives you a reason to visit the iconic LA locations (instead of simply being set dressing) as they host the DLC’s main quests.
In this 8–10-hour story, Horizon Burning Shores takes Aloy through various iconic locales in LA as she tries to uncover the plans of a Far Zenith survivor. While these quests don’t exactly innovate when it comes to the Horizon quest style (as you still have the obligatory climbing sequences in between action-packed machine battles), they’re still plenty of fun and should satisfy those who like the series. Though the ending boss fights aren’t the most imaginative.
Sure, these quests aren’t exactly fresh, but it helps that they tell a pretty interesting story that will lead definitely satisfy those who are invested heavily in Horizon’s world.
An Interesting Story That Moves Fast
At the end of Forbidden West, Aloy was able to defeat Tilda, meaning all the Far Zeniths have seemingly been taken care of, though a fearsome new foe is on its way to Earth. Instead of directly dealing with this new threat though, Burning Shores follows Aloy as she sets out to take down one more Zenith that survived.
Without going into spoiler territory, the Burning Shores storyline is quite interesting as it gives players more clues into what’s about to come in Horizon 3. Even taking the connections to Nemesis away, the story of Aloy helping out surviving Quen forces from the clutches of a Zenith is compelling.
Yes, the game features Aloy once again with Quen. While I was hoping that Burning Shores would introduce a new tribe, the Quen here are interesting as they are the survivors of the other half that Alva mentioned in the base game.
Players will be able to interact with these Quen in the main story, but there are some interesting side quests involving them that you shouldn’t miss if you love the tribal lore in the series. This is because some of the quests share more details about Quen life as well as their homeland (which would hopefully play a big role in the next game).
As for specific characters, the highlight is no doubt Seyka, a Quen Marine who becomes Aloy’s near-constant companion in the DLC. While there are missions in the base game that feature allies, it’s nice to have a companion that’s with you throughout all the main quests. Not just because Seyka is helpful in combat, but also because she plays off nicely with Aloy.
There’s an undeniable chemistry between Aloy and Seyka (at least for me) which made the main quests more engaging. This is thanks to the performance of their actresses as well as how Seyka is written. Much like Aloy, Seyka is sort of an outcast in her tribe, so it makes sense that these two quickly become close.
Though my main complaint about both Aloy and Seyka’s relationship, as well as the story for that matter, is how fast everything moves.
The main quest has a fast pace that, while exciting, can feel a bit rushed. It would’ve been nice to have more quiet moments with Aloy and Seyka to give more weight to their deepening bond. Plus, the story beats involving the main foe would also land more strongly if there was more time.
Speaking of the main foe, the Zenith Walter Londra is a step above the other Zeniths (except for Tilda). While the other Zeniths are pretty much comically evil, Londra is more devious as his goal and his personality has some parallels with the rich and famous of today.
There’s no doubt that Londra is a villainous foe, but if you dig a bit deeper, he has a lot more substance. In the main quest, Aloy discovers some info about Londra’s past. These do a lot in explaining why he is what he is, though of course, it doesn’t excuse him of his horrible plans.
I would even say that Londra is one of the more memorable villains in the series, though it would’ve been even better if there was more time to explore his backstory or his current state.
Sprinkled throughout the main quest are some pieces of information that relate to Nemesis, the big bad AI that will likely serve as the antagonist of the third Horizon game. Though fans will be treated to an epilogue that should give a good idea of what to expect in the next title.
On a side note, the DLC features a quick appearance by Lance Reddick as Charon in what is to be his final role in the Horizon series due to his untimely death recently. We’ll certainly miss his presence, so here’s hoping that he is given a good sendoff in Horizon 3.
Horizon Forbidden West: Burning Shores Final Verdict – 8/10
Horizon Forbidden West: Burning Shores is a solid addition to the base game. While it’s basically just “more Horizon,” that’s not a bad thing given how good the base game already is.
Burning Shores adds some new machines, a sizable new map, and a compelling main quest that features lots of hints and details about what’s coming next. It also features some memorable characters that make both the main story and some of the side quests highly engaging.
Overall, Burning Shores is well worth getting for big fans of Horizon as well as for those who want to return to Forbidden West but with more new content.
This game was reviewed on a PS5 via a code provided by the publisher.