Horizon Forbidden West: Burning Shores takes Aloy to the burning shores of Los Angeles. A new threat is arising and it is once again up to Aloy to put a stop to it. After saving the world in the base game, it seemed like Aloy would be able to live in peace. Unfortunately for her, Sylens has discovered a new threat that is going to require her to travel to new lands in order to investigate. It’s one of the last appearances we will ever see from Lance Reddick after his tragic passing, but his performance in his limited role was excellent.
Aloy arrives on the Burning Shores and is immediately thrown right into the action. There are new enemy machines to battle and new ways to bring them down that Horizon Forbidden West: Burning Shores wastes no time showing to players. It was an adjustment at first since I had not played the game since finishing the campaign over a year ago, but the combat design is done so well that it didn’t long to find my footing. I appreciate that I was kept on my toes right from the start instead of slowly easing myself in. It would be a normal thing to ease players into new DLC content, but since that content is usually shorter, I was glad to see some of that bloat cut out in favor of introducing new environments, enemies, and story beats.
The story also quickly introduces players to Seyka, a native resident of the Burning Shores islands. Her relationship with Aloy, which builds over the course of the story, is the best part of Horizon Forbidden West: Burning Shores. It was nice for Aloy to have a counterpart to help flesh out some story beats, but more importantly, I loved how they both helped each other grow as characters. It gave depth to Seyka despite only being around for a short time, and it did wonders for Aloy’s character development which has been brewing since the first Horizon game.
Combat has remained the same as in the base game, albeit with a few new additions that made more of a difference than I expected. There is a new critical strike move, for example, that lets players grapple toward enemies that would normally be too far away to finish off. There are several other really neat new abilities, but they are better experienced in person, and I don’t want to spoil anything. Trust me when I say you won’t be disappointed.
My one gripe is with some of the boss battles and how they failed to translate the otherwise fluid combat into a one-on-one battle with higher stakes. Having to sink countless attacks into a boss in order to beat them and progress the story is incredibly frustrating. Attacks that would normally cripple an enemy in the wild only shave off a sliver of health or do nothing at all. Other moments where I was forced to play things slowly and survive an onslaught of attacks before having the option to actually fight were incredibly frustrating and at odds with how combat in Horizon Forbidden West: Burning Shores typically works.
Horizon Forbidden West: Burning Shores also shows off more of the incredible visual design the Horizon games are known for. The beautiful beaches juxtaposed with the flowing lava of the Burning Shores were breathtaking even while using performance mode settings. Once I adjusted the settings to the quality mode my jaw quite literally dropped. The outrageous detail shines through at every single moment, whether it be locations, enemies, or even just watching Aloy interact with Seyka and others. It’s no surprise that the DLC for a beautiful game was equally if not more beautiful, but it is appreciated nonetheless.
The final boss battle, despite my misgivings with some of the combat design choices, truly blew me away. It is an absolute artistic masterpiece that will go down as one of the most memorable boss fights I have ever experienced. It’s certainly not the best, there are some mechanical issues that make it feel a bit basic, but visually and thematically, it was such an unbelievable experience.
Horizon Forbidden West: Burning Shores is an excellent example of how to do DLC the right way. The story really helps push Aloy’s development, and the visual direction continues to push the boundaries of what video games are capable of. If this is just a taste of what is next for Aloy, I can’t wait for the whole meal.
Horizon Forbidden West: Burning Shores is available now on PS5.
Horizon Forbidden West: Burning Shores
Horizon Forbidden West: Burning Shores is an excellent example of how to do DLC the right way. If this is just a taste of what is next for Aloy, I can’t wait for the whole meal.