Horizon Forbidden West in 2022 was one of my favorite games of that year and still one of my favorite games I’ve played on PlayStation 5. So I was very happy to hear that we would be getting a DLC pack in the form of Burning Shores, where we get to explore the Los Angeles of Horizon’s world. Having previously been very impressed with Guerilla’s version of Las Vegas, I couldn’t wait to see what they had done with LA.
In case you haven’t yet read the full review of Horizon Forbidden West, then I definitely recommend consulting this one. You will see that I gave the game a 10 at the time and I still stand by that. Horizon Forbidden West is a masterclass in worldbuilding, with fantastic gameplay and simply the most beautiful game I have ever played. Still, there were some minor flaws (yes, even then a game can be a 10 in my eyes) and I was curious to see if these would be remedied in Burning Shores.
A volcanic landscape
Where Horizon Zero Dawn’s DLC took us to snowy mountain peaks, Forbidden West’s DLC takes us to a volcanic landscape, where many references are made to dinosaurs as we know them from our history. Of course, this is not entirely accidental, since in addition to the robot beasts, there are also robot dinosaurs that Aloy must fight against. You won’t encounter flesh and blood dinosaurs in LA, but what you will see is some beautiful holograms scattered around the island and an amusement park that once again show how beautifully nature and technology come together in Horizon games.
Otherwise, the environments of Burning Shores feel similar to those of Forbidden West, with jungles, beaches, underwater experiences and the tall skyscrapers we have to make our way through. Somehow this feels like a missed opportunity to establish an entirely new biome, especially since The Frozen Wilds DLC did feel like something completely new.
Burning Shores completes Forbidden West
As a result, Burning Shores feels like more of the same, but in doing so, it also feels like a welcome addition to the story. Of course, I won’t give you any story spoilers in this review, but what I can safely say is that the story of Burning Shores is seamlessly related to that of Forbidden West and very worthwhile. In fact, I think the story of Burning Shores is mandatory reading to get a full picture of the current problem in the world after the events of Forbidden West. In doing so, it is also an interesting story that revolves around the sudden emergence of a cult that capitalizes on the beliefs of innocent people. I always find these types of stories in a post-apocalyptic world immensely interesting, but given the importance of this bonus story, I wonder if it shouldn’t have already been in the base game.
This feeling was reinforced when I got to fight the last boss of the Burning Shores main story. This is one of the most visually impressive battles I have ever seen in a game. Again, no need to fear spoilers, but what I can say is that the final battle of Burning Shores feels more like a real final boss than the one in Forbidden West. As a result, you get more of a sense that this is the true end of the second part of Aloy’s adventure.
In addition to the very impressive extra bit of main story, Burning Shores also features a number of fun side quests to complete that unfortunately don’t always reach the level of the base game, but do respond well to the problems that have arisen with the tribe, and there’s another sizable area to explore and new robots to defeat. This also includes a handful of weapons and new gadgets, which certainly add value to your arsenal. The Specter Gauntlet in particular is enormously powerful, but I didn’t like using it, as it is a modern weapon and I prefer to play with Aloy’s bow and arrow.
A number of players will be irritated by this
Another much-needed addition is a love story for Aloy, which we finally get in Burning Shores. Even people living in a post-apocalyptic world full of robots and a planet about to be destroyed deserve some love, and after two games without any romantic connections, now it’s Aloy’s turn. In the DLC, we get to know Seyka, who joins Aloy on an adventure in the Burning Shores. Although again there will undoubtedly be some players irritated by this, it was a much-needed addition to give Aloy some love and I thought that was good to see.
Although Burning Shores doesn’t feel completely new and doesn’t always manage to reach the high peaks of Forbidden West, thanks in part to the extra bit of story, the new weapons and the incredibly impressive final battle, it is a DLC that you must play. Burning Shores proves once again that Horizon is the greatest game of all time, with a beautiful world that makes you want to keep exploring.