Release Date : 19 April 2023
Developers : Guerrilla Games
Publisher : Sony Interactive Entertainment
Platforms : PS5
Revealed at the Game Awards 2022, Horizon Forbidden West Burning Shores DLC is available exclusively on PS5. Over a year after our journey to the Forbidden West, we’ve returned to these lands to discover Guerrilla Games’ latest adventure. Is this an appropriate content for the occasion, and is it really worth the money?
Like Horizon Zero Dawn and its DLC The Frozen Wilds, Guerrilla Games have decided to take Horizon Forbidden West to its logical conclusion with Burning Shores. A ten-hour extension available for $19.99 in digital version on the PlayStation Store, only available to PS5 owners for technical reasons, and featuring a number of new features. This content requires the completion of the main adventure, and particularly the “Singularity” mission.
Aloy Goes to Hollywood
Having removed the threat of the Zeniths, and looking forward to confronting an even more dangerous evil, Aloy is called upon by Sylens, the character played by Lance Reddick. And the news isn’t good. While peace had returned to the Forbidden West, Sylens lets us know that another danger lurks on the Blazing Side of Los Angeles. An area previously mentioned, but finally explorable this time, and equally hostile as the previous environments.
But Horizon Forbidden West Burning Shores is also an opportunity for Guerrilla Games to introduce the Quens tribe, and more specifically Seyka, a determined marine who will be constantly at the side of our flame-haired heroine. So we have two interconnected storylines of major importance for the rest of the franchise.
While the Burning Shores DLC acts primarily as a bridge between Horizon Forbidden West and a future Horizon 3, it remains quite interesting. Our new ally, who is undeniably the big focus here, quickly becomes charming thanks to her story and good character writing. A character who also allows Aloy to open up and shine a little brighter. On the other hand, we were more disturbed by the relationship that develops between the two young women as they travel through a ruined L.A.
Without saying too much, some moments really work, while others seem to be paralyzed by the fast pace of the story. But is that the only reason? Not necessarily, given the accuracy of The Last of Us Left Behind. Perhaps the studio should have taken its time, and put aside the necessity of making Seyka an important character for a new and/or better story. Having said that, we appreciated the duo in general, the in-depth exploration of the Quens tribe and the lore. As for the side missions, the staging is always a success, and one of them involves a (very) old acquaintance…
Flying and Sailing
Horizon Forbidden West Burning Shores lets you visit a vast new region on the back of a Sunwing or… a canoe! A transportation method of the Quens tribe that brings a bit of a God of War Ragnarok vibe, but unlike the latter, this addition is really useless. Except when the plot calls for it, you never really feel the need for it. And for a good reason: why set sail in a boat when you can fly and take full advantage of a mechanic that comes very late in the main game?
The same goes for the Waterwing, a flying mount with the ability to dive into water. While the sensations of being able to go from the sky to the depths of the ocean are good, although improvable, it’s under-exploited. As a result, outside of a story quest, you won’t necessarily get the chance to really use it. Fortunately, the DLC has other novelties in stock to show off.
In addition to a set of legendary weapons and outfits, which can be upgraded with Brimshine yellow crystals, Aloy can unlock a number of new skills. These include an ability to aim while flying, hook onto an enemy using the Pullcaster grappling hook to deliver a blow after a QTE, harpoon the flying mount to perform a stunt worthy of a Hollywood actor, or pin elemental canisters to the spear for hand-to-hand combat.
There’s also a special, devastating new weapon waiting for you… an extra strike force that’s just what you need to take down new machines like the Bileguts. A huge frog that can hurt, really hurt, with its leaps and sprays of acid and, to cap it all, can send up drones to make the confrontation even tougher.
These new enemies and extra equipment are just a reminder of the thrilling gameplay of Horizon Forbidden West. On that point, nothing has changed, and it’s even more exciting! You can launch yourself into the air, and consequently use the skill to aim while flying, thanks to rising currents. It wasn’t a game-changer, especially as we unlocked this ability perhaps too late, but Guerrilla Games has at least tried to enhance the gameplay and incorporate greater verticality.
In Burning Shores DLC, Aloy can also attach Ballistas to set up climbing points on certain walls. This new feature shows that climbing, along with platforming, is still a bit of a mess. Between collision problems and “few” climbing zones, the developers still have a long way to go. It would be unfair to say that we expected this content to improve this aspect of the game, but unfortunately, it forces us to bring up this issue again.
The Stunning Beauty of Horizon Forbidden West Burning Shores
Horizon Forbidden West Burning Shores may be considered a modest DLC, but the truth is it really offers something for all its worth. Sure, it’s not a huge expansion like with The Witcher, but it’s “good value for money” despite a feeling of insufficiency. Yes, when it’s good, you always want more! However, it’s the graphics that really make this expansion stand out. Like the main game, it’s a fantastic new technological showcase. Despite some nasty clippings, Burning Shores is absolutely stunning all the way through.
Every inch of the Burning Coast is visually breathtaking. If PS5 exclusivity has been the subject of debate, it’s easy to see why. This content features a spectacular sequence combining Shadow of the Colossus and God of War. A magnificent scenery in which we wish Aloy would be mute and stop trying to help us after two seconds, for no good reason. As before, technical greatness is dedicated to artistic excellence. Whether it’s the Quens’ camp, the indoor sets, the Hollywood panel location, or the volcano in the middle of an aquatic paradise, it’s a festival of exoticism. Likewise, the cohabitation of nature and relics of the past is always perfectly portrayed.
The developers have also done a great job of eliminating those blank stares between Aloy and the NPCs – who, for their part, still benefit from top-notch modeling, including the most minor ones. This time around, Aloy is looking in the right place during conversations, and that’s bound to change a lot. We also have the feeling that there has been a significant improvement in facial animation compared to Horizon Forbidden West. We felt this during the final cinematic before the epilogue, as an example.
Horizon Forbidden West Burning Shores is primarily a bridge between the original game and the next “Horizon 3”. This ten-hour DLC is very well produced, even if we wouldn’t have said no to additional missions. Although not perfect in terms of writing, the relationship between Seyka and Aloy is interesting, and this new heroine is already engaging. Burning Shores is always exciting in terms of gameplay and new equipment, despite some under-exploited aspects. It also features a totally insane sequence that’s worth the detour alone. The content itself is equally impressive, with stunning scenery in both technical and artistic terms.