Horizon Forbidden West: Burning Shores Review
- Story And Setting
- Visuals And Performance
While it stumbles a bit near the end, the Burning Shores DLC is nonetheless another fantastic reason to step back into the shoes of our protagonist Aloy.
- Developers: Guerrilla Games
- Publishers: Sony Interactive Entertainment
- Release Date: April 19, 2023
- Platforms: PlayStation 5
- Predecessor: Horizon Zero Dawn
- Tested On: PlayStation 5
- New Skills And Valor Surges
- Fantastic New Machines
- Breathtaking Map
- Exploration And Puzzles
- Bloated NPC Dialogue Exposition
- Forgettable Side Characters
Despite the criticisms I have of the two Horizon titles, these games are still some of my favorite AAA titles in recent years and I have enjoyed my time with them immensely. So I was very happy when I learned that I was chosen to review the Horizon Forbidden West: Burning Shores DLC, which is similar in regards to the release of the Frozen Wilds expansion from the first game.
This DLC takes Aloy across another post-apocalyptic part of her world, which is based on the real-life city of Los Angeles, to face a new growing threat. Along the way, she’ll meet new faces, as well as learn about brand-new moves and acquire new weapons to add to her arsenal in order to combat the deadly machines that stand in her way. But first things first, let’s begin with the story.
Story And Setting
The story of Burning Shores takes place soon after the ending of the base game, during which Aloy and her allies lead an assault on the Far Zenith base, and take out the faction of the exact same name. And not long after defeating Tilda and saving her clone-turned-sister, Beta, Aloy is contacted by Sylens to meet up to discuss another important matter.
This important matter turns out to be of concern to Aloy as we learn that a Zenith member named Walter Londra has established a base to the south of San Francisco, in the part of the world known as the Burning Shores. So as Aloy makes haste and arrives there, she is soon recruited by a character called Seyka, whom a few players might instantly recognize as belonging to the Quen tribe, which we previously got introduced to in the base campaign.
Seyka aids Aloy in her quest to track down Londra, but along the way, she must overcome some obstacles. This new enemy is one step ahead of our protagonist at all times, and he won’t make the same mistakes as his fellow Far Zenith members, or so he says.
The narrative presents a few sweet moments here and there, and without spoiling anything, there’s one moment in particular that longtime fans will surely adore. Plus there’s also the final boss at play here, which will give you a challenge, unlike anything you’ve ever faced in the game. (well, maybe aside from the Apex Slaughterspine)
The Burning Shores DLC also gives us the final performance of the late Lance Reddick as Sylens, who once again steals the show every time he’s on screen.
And combined with the performance of the other characters, you can be sure to expect the same enrichening cinematic storytelling that fans have come to expect for the most part.
However, the only real hindrance might still be the NPC dialogue, which only serves to provide meaningless exposition, half of the time at least. But quite frankly, if that didn’t bother you too much before, then it won’t bother you now.
Horizon Forbidden West Burning Shores introduces a plethora of new elements which enhance the gameplay, such as new skills for Aloy, new weapons, and outfits, plus many more minor additions which made the overall review experience intriguing for me.
The new skills certainly fascinated me, but more so, they definitely added more style to the combat than ever before. One skill allows you to shoot your quiver bow shots amidst gliding, while another new skill, called the Machine Grapple Strike, essentially allows Aloy to use the grappling hook in order to slingshot herself onto downed machines and strike them with her spear, charging it up in the process.
Another new addition is the Waterwing mount, which allows you to travel underwater at high velocity instead of relying on Aloy’s own swimming speed. And while I certainly loved using it for a few sections because of how it made underwater sections less tedious, I’d still prefer using the Sunwing over it any day due to the majestic sights and visuals of the game.
On the subject of new things added to the game, the new machines included with the DLC were also great fun to fight against. One of these is the Bilegut, which is based on a Toad and its main attacks include spitting out Acid and spewing it from its body around the battlefield. But if you’re someone who’s already mastered combat like me, then you shouldn’t face too many problems to take it down along with other foes such as the Stingspawn.
Overall. the new gameplay elements introduced with the DLC are sure to impress returning players. The new weapon and armor have a variety of unique perks that can help you create new builds for yourself, and that’s honestly more than enough to help switch up the gameplay a bit.
The map of the Burning Shores DLC is roughly the same size and scale as the Frozen Wilds, but there is enough content here to satisfy any player looking to hop into another adventure as Aloy. Exploration-wise, the puzzles are fine-tuned and make use of the traversal tricks, such as some requiring you to combine the glider in your maneuverability to successfully reach otherwise hard-to-access areas.
Visuals And Performance
For our review, we played Horizon Forbidden West Burning Shores on a PS5, and that is the only platform it is actually available on. By skipping out on the PS4, Guerrilla Games was able to focus most of its resources on making the game look phenomenal and run as flawlessly as possible.
The Decima engine is honestly one of my favorite video game engines, and to experience the photorealistic details that it provides is a sight to behold. Whether it’s the wind swaying past Aloy’s hair, or the sweat trickling down her skin, there is enough here to make your jaw drop every couple of minutes.
I played the DLC on the Performance preset settings on a 1440p screen with a 120hz refresh rate, and the game performs and looks stunning. However, if you want, you can also try out the Balanced preset, which provides a baseline between the best visuals as well as a 40 FPS setting. And if your display has VRR functionality, then you can unlock this 40 FPS cap to achieve an even higher value.
The Horizon Forbidden West Burning Shores DLC provides a small taste of what other first-party titles might look like in the future, which will solely be developed to harness the true power of the PlayStation 5. The tropical beaches and re-imagined visuals of Los Angeles are very impressive, and that’s even taking into account how gorgeous the base game already looked.
In terms of gameplay, there is more than enough content here to satisfy all returning fans, and the plethora of new skills, weapons, outfits, and machines are more than worth the price of entry. Narrative-wise, while many of the new characters are certainly charming in their own way, ultimately, you’re going to stick around for Aloy’s alone.
This has been our Horizon Forbidden West: Burning Shores Review. While you’re here, consider checking out some of our other articles.
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