When we last left Aloy in Horizon Forbidden West, she and her companions had taken the fight to Far Zeniths’ base. While Beta uploaded HEPHAESTUS to take care of Zenith’s army, Sylens attacked their impenetrable defences.
All this allowed Aloy to take down Erik, the seeming frontman of the Zeniths. With Sylens having been warned by HADES about NEMESIS and its impending arrival, Sylens had planned to leave Earth on the Zeniths ship but has a change of heart and decides to help Aloy and her companions spread the news around the world of the upcoming battle.
You need to have completed the final mission in Horizon Forbidden West to gain access to the Burning Shores DLC. Once we start in Burning Shores, Sylens contacts us to inform us that one Zenith is still hanging around in a place so eloquently called the Burning Shores that people over one thousand years ago used to call Los Angeles.
While it’s become second nature to see giant skyscrapers overtaken by lush and sprawling flora and fauna, seeing how the new volcanic vistas complemented the vast seas was a genuine delight. This also created new ways to explore the landscapes as geysers burst from beneath the ground, allowing Aloy to use her Shieldwing to boost into the air. There is another new way of transportation in Burning Shores, and it is, by far, the best one. The Skiff. This allows Aloy to traverse the vast seas prevalent across the Burning Shores.
Being a PlayStation 5-only DLC, Horizon Forbidden West: Burning Shores is outright gorgeous. Just wait until you can override a Waterwing, who acts not only as a flying mount but also has the ability to dive underwater. The most significant addition Burning Shores brings is in the form of a new ally for Aloy. Seyka joins the mission and is an outcast of the Quen, a tribe in the world of Horizon we had met in Forbidden West, hailing from across the Pacific Ocean. Very quickly, a friendship forms between the two, and furthermore, throughout Burning Shores, a satisfying, delightful, and thoughtful relationship builds between Aloy and Seyka.
The care that Guerilla Games put into their relationship really shows off their writing chops. I cared for the two of them more than any other character in the Horizon universe. We get the impeccable Ashley Burch back as Aloy, and the chemistry between her and Kylie Liya Page as Seyka is a force to be reckoned with. They are both putting their all into these roles, and I can not say enough nice things about how well these characters come across.
“…Horizon Forbidden West: Burning Shores is a fantastic step for Guerilla Games and sets a very high bar for DLC and for where the Horizon world will go next.”
While combat remains generally unchanged in Burning Shores, we get introduced to a few new machine terrors in the Waterwing, an incredibly nimble and unrelenting flying enemy. The Stingspawn, these small machines, burst out of mechanical eggs once Aloy approaches them. While not a significant threat, they alert other enemies to your presence and usually bring forth the biggest threat.
The Bilegut is a frog-like machine that creates Stingspawn using scrap. But its ability to leap around the battlefield and spurt acid all over the place makes it a foe to be reckoned with. To cap it all off, the finale is genuinely awe-inspiring in terms of visuals and scale without spoiling the main thrust of the DLC.
The story is also some of the most engaging storytelling done by Guerilla Games. The trek across LA chasing the Horizons version of Elon Musk in Walter Londra has an actual impact on Aloy and the world of Horizon. And that mixes with Seykas’ ability to keep in step with Aloy and brings out this missing sense of emotion and character in Forbidden West. What I will be curious to see is what happens with Sylens. Where he is left by the end of the DLC is he is fully invested in his character turn in Forbidden West and gets left on almost a dower note. But hearing Lance Reddick one last time as Sylens was a treat.
There are a few quality-of-life things I would like to see either in future updates or on the next Horizon. A new material is used to buy and upgrade the latest outfits and weapons within Burning Shores. As with the base game, you can create a job for these which will mark the closest one to you on your map. The issue comes when you only need two of them.
Once you have two of them, it changes your objective to the trader instead of staying on the crafting material when you have other upgrades that require it as well. I also noticed a few times during my playthrough the UI can get incredibly cluttered and messy. When every inch of the outer bounds of the screen is covered in some form of a UI element, it gets to be a little much.
Overall, Horizon Forbidden West: Burning Shores is a fantastic step for Guerilla Games and sets a very high bar for DLC and for where the Horizon world will go next—some excellent character growth for Aloy and Seykas, with a compelling story in tow. Not to mention just how breathtaking the Burning Shores look, this is a must-experience for any fan of the Horizon series.