Game Review: Horizon Forbidden West: Burning Shores is DLC done right

Horizon Forbidden West has released its long-awaited DLC follow-up, in the form of a new expansion titled Burning Shores. The PS5 exclusive add-on for the game follows Aloy as she journeys to a new part of the USA which winks at the future of Hollywood and its place within this new world. The main difference here is that the experience feels smaller and as a result more focused, which is a relief from the overwhelming amount of content in the main game. While I had finished the mainline story, I am nowhere near completing all the various additional tasks and collectibles required to complete 100% of the game.

Alongside Hollywood, the remainder of the map is set in a flooded and overgrown Los Angeles, and it looks absolutely stunning. The next-gen PS5 exclusivity simply allows the game look to and run much better than its larger parent game, which felt like it had to compromise its potential to cater for the PlayStation 4. While this may limit that larger audience, it is a great incentive to upgrade to a PS5 to dive back into this gorgeous new chapter filled with new characters, environments and enemies. 

Aloy Returns

Burning Shores revolves around helping a warrior named Seyka, rescue her sister from a cult leader who is determined to escape Earth. After the threat of the Zenith’s destroying Earth comes to light, Seyka soon finds herself on the verge of being outcast from her tribe, oddly familiar to protagonist Aloy, when we first met her in Zero Dawn. While this particular situation doesn’t feel as severe, it still serves as a strong foundation for a blossoming friendship, as they team up to uncover everything that’s happening in the region.

Seyka quickly became my favourite companion in the Horizon series simply because she’s just as capable in combat as Aloy, while also prompting Aloy into revealing some much-needed vulnerability that had initially been hinted at, yet never really explored in the previous games. The story is a more grounded quest about helping reunite loved ones, which can be hard to find in the Horizon world of sci fi, where the gigantic alien threats and AI dinosaurs feel like they share the spotlight. It helped me connect with the characters more and having to kill humans this time around also drove home that deeper emotional connection to this new duo. 

A Relevant Step Forward

Much of the experience feels akin to Uncharted: Lost Legacy. It fills its world and characters with enough AAA polish and spectacle to make it feel relevant and unique all at the same time. The final battle in Burning Shores is a true highlight for the series in general, that looks and plays spectacularly on the PS5 system. Having an ally to fight battles with and explore this new area really won me over in the long run, which is more than likely the key to drawing fans back into Aloy’s continuing journey. 

It’s all contained in about a 6-hour main mission run-through that will definitely challenge you. There are a variety of new enemies to to discover and fight, which are also blended naturally into the narrative, which feels like the true key to this DLC’s success. 

Final Thoughts

Horizon Forbidden West: Burning Shores is a great example of what’s possible when the same production value of a blockbuster release is utilised to make something more focused and intimate. While its certainly shorter in length, clocking in at around 6 hours, it rarely take away from the overall quality of the story and broader character development for Aloy, as she learns to open her heart to humanity again. It does help that the developer can unlock the full potential of next-gen by making Burning Shores exclusive to the PlayStation 5 console, ensuring the game looks and plays as well as it can. 

Horizon Forbidden West: Burning Shores is now available on the PS5. Keep in mind you will need to have purchased the full Horizon Forbidden West game and have completed the main story missions in order to access Burning Shores DLC. If you’ve yet to jump into the sequel, check out our Horizon Forbidden West review


Highlights: Masterful storytelling; PS5 exclusive makes it look and run beautifully
Lowlights: Fetch quest missions can be repetitive
Developer: Guerilla Games
Publisher: PlayStation Studios
Platforms: Playstation 5
Available: Now

Review conducted on PS5 with a release code provided by the publisher.