Horizon Forbidden West: Burning Shores Review

Developer – Guerrilla

Publisher – Sony Interactive Entertainment

Platform(s) – PlayStation 5

Release Date – April 19, 2023

Thanks to PR for Providing a Review Copy

It’s been over a year since the release of Horizon Forbidden West for PlayStation 5 and PlayStation 4. I’ve never been shy about the fact that while I do like the Horizon franchise, I can’t say it’s one of my more liked franchises coming from PlayStation Studios unlike a Spider-Man or God of War. Certain aspects such as the narrative, characters, and the way the dialogue system is designed doesn’t quite hit the mark for me.

Still, there are certain aspects that I enjoy such as the worlds built for the Horizon franchise, gameplay systems, and one facet that can’t be denied is how utterly gorgeous Horizon Forbidden West is overall. It may be the most beautiful game we’ve seen this generation so far and that’s with the main game being cross-generation.

After the release of Horizon Zero Dawn in 2017, Guerrilla followed up with a DLC titled Horizon Zero Dawn: The Frozen Wilds. The same method was used for Horizon Forbidden West with Guerilla releasing Horizon Forbidden West: Burning Shores a little over a year after the release of their main game. This game released a an opportune time for me because the next game I plan on playing is The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom. So for the past few weeks, the Burning Shores expansion has had my full attention.

The expansion picks up sometime after the events of Horizon Forbidden West. Aloy gets word from Sylens (R.I.P. Lance Reddick) that a major threat is making waves throughout a land called the Burning Shores. What I liked about this expansion was how it feels a bit essential to play through. Certain character developments feel important to what’s to come in later installments of Horizon since it’s all but confirmed a third Horizon game is coming later this generation more than likely.

If you hated Horizon Forbidden West, I guarantee this expansion won’t change your feelings in the slightest. This expansion is still relatively new so I won’t be going too in-depth into spoiler territory. Burning Shores isn’t a long expansion, if you were to beeline the main story, you’d probably finish the game in about 3-4 hours, plus the side content is there but not plentiful. This didn’t bother me as I think the prominent draw-in for this expansion will be the central narrative around Aloy and the Burning Shores.

Aloy’s voyage throughout the Burning Shores is done with a new character, Seyka. Apart from the threat plaguing the Burning Shores, the development between Aloy and Seyka is the other biggest movement that came from this expansion. Before the release of Burning Shores, Guerrilla mentioned that Seyka is very important to the next chapter of Aloy’s journey and after completion, I see what they meant.

The main narrative surrounding the Burning Shores is good. I can’t say apart from the development between Aloy and Seyka, there’s any new major ground being broken. I will say from a gameplay perspective that I was pleasantly surprised by some things. I mentioned earlier that this expansion is not at all different from the main game and nobody expected it to be. An expansion isn’t meant to change the game dramatically, it’s supposed to add more content. Burning Shores added a bunch of new machines that I grew to enjoy fighting as well as weapons that I grew to enjoy using more than a majority of my weapons from the main game.

One of the biggest difficulties with expansions that come a long while after the release of the main game is that you don’t remember anything. The extensive combat controls and abilities were almost non-existent in my mind since I haven’t played Forbidden West since I beat it in 2022. Though, once I got the hang of things again the combat became a lot more exhilarating, especially with some of the boss battles. The final boss battle of Burning Shores makes me understand why this expansion was only done on PlayStation 5. The visual and technical marvel on display by Guerrilla in this expansion makes me more excited to see what they can do with a full-scoped game only on PlayStation 5, but that’s years away by this point.

For a $20 expansion, I’d say Burning Shores is more than worthy of your time if you liked Horizon Forbidden West. I actually found myself enjoying it more than the main game at times, mostly because of the more condensed nature of this expansion. A part of me wants to see Guerrilla branch off the Horizon franchise with something new before we move on to a third game. Whatever they’re working on, I’ll certainly be intrigued to see what they put out.

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