Horizon Forbidden West: Burning Shores Review: A (Great) Reason to Return
May 2, 2023 Andrew Cheng

I have a confession: I have not fired up Horizon Forbidden West since I reviewed it a year ago. So when I was given the opportunity to review its new DLC, Burning Shores, I thought it’d be a great time to get back into Guerrilla’s latest masterpiece.

For a DLC that costs only RM79, Burning Shores offers a lot of game for not a lot of money. I also love the fact that it continues the narrative of Horizon Forbidden West, which is one of the game’s best qualities. With a whole new area to explore along with some new weapons and machines, it’s a DLC that’s well worth getting.

What It Is

Burning Shores picks up right where the main storyline of Horizon Forbidden West left off, which is great as I wasn’t thrilled by the cliffhanger ending of the original game. That also means you have to complete all main quests in Forbidden West first before you can venture to the new region.

The Burning Shores is basically the “post-post-apocalyptic” ruins of Los Angeles, and you can still see the iconic Hollywood sign as you go around the new area. Despite the rather…well, uninviting name, there are many parts of the Burning Shores that look very scenic.

Heck, even the lava flows look charming (and deadly).

Of course, it’s a new threat that brings Aloy to the Burning Shores, and she meets a new character here, Seyka. Without going into too much detail, there’s a good chance we will see more of her in the next sequel of the Horizon franchise – she plays quite a central role in the story of this expansion.

The Good Stuff

Since we’re on the topic, the new story of Burning Shores is very engrossing. It has a much better ending than the original story of Forbidden West, and it gives us a better idea of what to expect in the next instalment of the game. Compared to, say, the Frozen Wilds DLC for Horizon Zero Dawn, Burning Shores feels like a more compulsory play.

In terms of visuals, it’s no surprise that Burning Shores continues to look stunning. Whether it’s the vast landscape or character models, everything is rendered in incredible detail. In my opinion, not many games – even taking into account AAA titles – offer this level of visual fidelity.

The amazing visuals of Burning Shores is especially evident in the final boss fight. Without getting into spoiler territory – this review is as spoiler-free as possible – let’s just say it is absolutely a sight to behold, both in terms of visual and scale.

As much as I enjoy playing Horizon Forbidden West, I’m not too fond of the weapon offerings in the game, which is mainly focused on the bow and arrow. So when I come across this one new weapon type in Burning Shores – which is teased in the trailer below – it immediately became my favourite weapon to wield. It adds even more depth to the weapon system of the game.

As mentioned, there are several new machines found in Burning Shores too, which are quite fun to engage. The frog-like Bilegut, while frustrating to handle at first – I’m partly to blame, given that I didn’t level up my equipment as much as I should – does feel satisfying to take down once I got the right strategy nailed down.

Unfortunately, besides the Bilegut, there aren’t that many new machines introduced in Burning Shores, which is fine to me. After all, Horizon Forbidden West itself already has a wide variety of machines to take down.

The Bad Stuff

While I love the story that Burning Shores brings, I’m not a fan of the main antagonist, which is…well, one-dimensional. The villain is mainly here as a plot device to move the story forward, for better or worse, and in this regard, the main storyline of Forbidden West has more sophisticated antagonists.

And then there’s the fact that the Burning Shores DLC is exclusive to the PS5. If you’re on the PS4, the only way you can enjoy the new story is to watch a playthrough of it. This is unfortunate, given that Burning Shores is a must-play (in my opinion) before the third Horizon game comes out sometime in the future.

Is It Worth It?

Nonetheless, for only RM79, the Burning Shores DLC for Horizon Forbidden West is absolutely worth getting if you have the game on the PS5. It’s a stunning new region to explore, the new weapon type is very fun to wield, and most importantly, it’s a vital continuation of the game’s overarching plot.

It’s a shame that the Burning Shores expansion is exclusive to the PS5, especially for a game that’s available on both the PS4 and PS5. Nonetheless, if you have access to the DLC, and you’re eager to jump back into the world of Horizon, Burning Shores is worth every penny.