Horizon Forbidden West: Burning Shores – Review

Horizon Forbidden West: Burning Shores is an expansion for Aloy’s latest adventure on the PS5. Taking place after the culmination of the main story, Burning Shores sees Aloy travel to what remains of L.A. to hunt down another member of Far Zenith. Along the way, she’ll meet new characters, a couple of new machines, weapons, skills, collectibles, outfits, and more.

Burning Shores doesn’t shake things up too much. The majority of your time will be spent talking to folks, shooting robot dinosaurs, and getting stuck on awkwardly placed parts of the environment. There are a handful of new elements, however. Volcanic geysers send up hot steam that allows you to get a vertical boost when using the Shieldwing, and Aloy can now utilise a small skiff for cruising the ancient ruins of downtown L.A. They’re the sort of additions that are just ‘kinda neat’, nothing that fundamentally changes the way you play.

Shores - Hollywood

There are a couple of new machines: the froggy Bilegut, complete with little robot fly minions, and the Waterwing. The Waterwing is a variant of the rideable flying machines from Forbidden West, however, it can also be ridden underwater. Much like the addition of swimming underwater in Forbidden West, it’s not really necessary outside of maybe one or two main story missions, but it remains a cool way to traverse this beautiful world.

And it is a beautiful world. Exclusive to the PS5 (Forbidden West was cross-gen), Burning Shores makes use of that extra power in a few key areas. Firstly in the way it renders clouds, if you fly to a certain height you’ll see these gorgeous puffy wonders, reminiscent of the rendering tech seen in Microsoft’s Flight Simulator. There are also a number of boss fights (but especially the final boss) that I don’t think the PS4 could’ve handled.

Shores - Clouds

The Horizon games have always been visual showcases so it makes sense for Burning Shores to continue this trend. Finally leaving the PS4 behind is perhaps more of a symbolic gesture than anything else, but it’s also true that these clouds look really damn good.

Despite the visual fidelity, L.A. itself isn’t a particularly unique or exciting setting to explore. Yes, there are famous real-world landmarks to come across but overall the environment feels very similar to the sunken ruins of San Francisco from the base game. Lots of jungle, ocean, beaches, and ruined skyscrapers.

The new companion character Sekya is a wonderful addition, she and Aloy spend the majority of this expansion together, allowing for a somewhat unique focus when compared to the large, but shallow cast of characters from Forbidden West. A lot of this DLC benefits from this focus. It’s set in a smaller zone, with less busy work, activities, and collectibles to worry about and only one narrative to follow.

Shores - Seyka

Forbidden West suffered from the sheer amount of tasks competing for Aloy’s attention, despite the world ending, so Burning Shores is a nice change of pace in that regard. All the different moving parts feel like they matter more precisely because there are fewer of them.

There are a few revelations towards the end of the narrative that have implications for the future of the series, so if that is something you’re particularly curious about then this expansion might be worth looking into. Otherwise, it really is a no-brainer: if you enjoyed the base game and just want more, then that is exactly what Burning Shores offers. Otherwise, you’re not missing out if you want to wait for a sale.

Rating: 8/10

Horizon Forbidden West: Burning Shores was reviewed on PS5 with a code provided by Sony.