Horizon Forbidden West: Burning Shores (PS5) review

For us, Guerrilla Games’ Horizon series was great from the start, but it just gets better every time we come back to it. Horizon Forbidden West is an excellent sequel that builds on the first game in practically every way – a larger and more diverse open world, better team to group, more interesting side missions, and improved traversal, just to name a few. Burning Shores, the DLC expansion, is much the same, but it adds just enough on top to make it worth a visit.

Following straight from the events of the main game, Sylens Aloy is tasked with tracking down an important loose end in the titular area. We won’t give any spoilers, but it’s safe to say that this expansion serves as a neat bridge from Forbidden West to Horizon 3. Guerrilla has doubled down on the insane sci-fi story, delivered with such earnestness that we can’t help but love the bullshit. If you do too, and enjoy what the base game has to offer, then you will definitely enjoy this aspect of the narrative here.

But let’s not get too ahead of ourselves. Aloy crash-lands at Burning Shores and is immediately confronted by Seyka, a member of a Quen tribe who is currently stranded and has lost many of its people. This new character will join Aloy on her main missions, and prove to be just as capable as our heroine, which is rare in these titles. It’s another welcome addition to the broader Horizon cast, and one that challenges Aloy in new ways, helping to humanize a protagonist who might have been just one note in Forbidden West.

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The main set of missions are five powerful quests, all of which are quite long. You’re looking at about six to eight hours depending on your pace, and that’s without thinking about what else needs to be done in the enlargement. The story takes you to some pretty cool locations, lays a bit of a foundation for the inevitable sequel, and as it’s been heavily hinted at, Horus does indeed awaken. We’ll just say it’s an amazing finale; The size of this group is off the charts, and is likely a major reason why this DLC is PS5 only.

But the story only takes you to specific locations within Burning Shores. The map is large — about a third the size of the main game — and features a mix of dense forests, sandy beaches, open water, and flowing lava, with old-world ruins to remind you this was Los Angeles once. It’s visually impressive, as you’d expect, though there is a noticeable pop-up on the fly. While it’s a lot of fun to explore the map, some parts of Burning Shores don’t offer much to do other than a few sights. The main missions are mostly concentrated in one part of the map, a couple of side missions spawn things, but one or two areas are mostly skipped.

Having said that, there are new collectibles to find, a leftover ruin to solve, a cauldron to hack, and a handful of new machines. Waterwing will become your best friend – it is a flying mount that can also dive under water, which makes swimming much faster. There are two more to discover, both of which are great additions to the list that will test you in different ways.

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There are also a selection of new weapons and outfits to use, but most impactful are the range of new skills. Dozens of additional skills and six Valor Surges give you even more combat options. Many introduce new ideas, such as firing weapons while sliding, dealing elemental damage with your spear, and dropping large shields. others improve existing mechanics; For example, one skill allows you to grapple with a smashing machine, and if you hold the button right, apply Resonator energy, which you can fire for a huge blast of damage. These new skills (and a new cap) give players some new options, and make the chaotic combat a lot more varied.

Conclusion

Much like Frozen Wilds did with Horizon Zero Dawn, Burning Shores takes what was already great about Forbidden West and gives you a huge new playground and a bunch of additional games to play with. The archipelago is great fun to explore by land, sea, or air, with plenty of interesting things to see and do. Some areas feel a little underutilized, but overall this is a great expansion that continues Aloy’s story and prepares for things to come in Horizon 3.

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