Horizon Forbidden West Burning Shores is an important chapter in Aloy’s story, acting as a bridge between the events of HFW and, perhaps, the next game in the series. Along with a new location comes a new camp of the Quen, new skills, and new machines to take down and override. There’s also a familiar enemy looming.
Burning Shores is the capstone on what makes HFW so great, and Guerilla continues the storyline with compelling additions that advance Aloy’s character in memorable ways. We see a side of her not shown in either Zero Dawn or Forbidden West, marking a sign of both her growth and the growth of the writing team.
Because the narrative of Burning Shores comes after the ending of HFW, it makes sense that you’ll have to reach the game’s conclusion, whether it’s your first time through or if you started NG+. The actual trigger for heading to the Burning Shores isn’t available until after the climax and final battle of HFW. To head to Burning Shores before then would, narratively, spoil the main game’s ending.
Starting off where HFW ends, Burning Shores opens with Aloy speaking to Sylens. Seeing Lance Reddick in one of his last roles is emotional for any Horizon fan or for fans of his other roles in video games, television, and film. I know it was for me.
Of course, he performs brilliantly. While this is the only time you’ll see him until the completion of the DLC’s main story, his constant direction through the Horizon series is ever-present. At first a friend, then anti-hero, and finally a reluctant hero of the planet, Sylens’ intelligence and realistic outlook on the world of Horizon will be sorely missed in potential future games. A true foil to Aloy’s relentless optimism, he moved the story forward when she was at a loss for direction. Who’ll snarkily figure out how to take out Nemesis and gloat about it now?
After discovering a sobering truth, Aloy leaves Sylens to seek out Walter Londra, the last living Zenith. Eventually, she meets up with Syka, Burning Shores’ new Quen companion and the other part of Alva’s expedition. Washed ashore in what was once Los Angeles, Seyka is the only one looking for scouting parties that have gone missing. At odds with Compliance, it’s a good thing Seyka is friendly with the Commander of their fleet.
It quickly becomes clear that Londra is aware Aloy will come after him, leaving a message for her in his defense tower. As the main story of Burning Shores progresses, Londra’s megalomania is flaunted throughout all of his background lore and present-day actions. Not only is he looking for a way to escape the planet and Nemesis, but he’s also willing to do it at the expense of anyone who’s in his path, even if they just happen to be living there.
Through the course of their adventures, you’ll come across new machines, such as the Bilegut, an acidic frog who’s often accompanied by the fly-like Stingspawns. You’ll retain any skills you’ve already unlocked and all leveled-up Valor Surges. Unspent Skill Points remain ready to use as soon as you land on the Burning Shores. New skills, like having a Drop Shield to hide behind, increase the strategy of combat.
New mechanics are also introduced, such as the ability to blow up columns or debris by shooting arrows at patches of Firegleam. Various areas are set up with multiple ruins precariously perched on these columns, allowing you to lure enemies into the area and crash the ruins on them. Elemental canisters can be attached to your arrows, giving you more options for exploding elemental barrels or inflicting the correct damage on a machine.
Once you make it about halfway through the main story, you’ll gain access to a new weapon courtesy of the Zeniths. The Zenith Gauntlet rapidly fires energy ammo along and can attach a homing beacon to enemies, really making fights against heavy-hitting machines easier. It does require weapon stamina for some of its features, but no other special ammo is needed.
Towards the end of the main story, you’ll be able to unlock the override for Waterwings, which are relatively the same as Sunwings. While Waterwings are the only new machine that you can override (there are no Cauldrons to explore that unlock overrides for the other new machines), as well as the only new mount to be introduced in Burning Shores, their addition is a welcome one.
After a perilous swim session amongst multiple Snapjaws, you’ll take the Waterwing for a flight, as well as dive down to the depths of the ocean. Its ability to traverse through the water is the only key difference between it and a Sunwing, but what a difference it is.
The new mechanic is amazing, allowing you to avoid in-air projectiles, as well as water machines to get where you need to go without incident. There’s a bit of a learning curve when controlling the Waterwing, especially when heading underwater as the controls reverse. Once you have the hang of it, though, you can stay underwater as long as you want. You can reach ruins, explore the dark depths and find all kinds of treasure, but are still unable to fight any machines you may encounter.
There are a few side quests in Burning Shores, and while they don’t directly tie into the main story, they do give more background on the Quen and the people that have been stuck in LA since they crashed. There’s mystery, deceit, and murder (one side quest almost gives us a classic whodunit).
Along with the side quests, there’s a collection to complete and Brimstone to collect, a new rare resource used to upgrade or purchase gear.
The biggest takeaway from Burning Shores is Aloy’s character development. She grows as a person, taking caution in how she breaks the news of Nemesis to Seyka, as well as how she handles conversations with other NPCs. In Zero Dawn, she really only cared for Rost, showing little love for other members of the Nora — or anyone else. Her “I don’t need others” attitude softens here as she accepts a companion on her adventures.
She empathizes with Seyka as they both have sisters they worry for and argue with. This empathetic side of Aloy doesn’t diminish the strength she derives from being an Outcast. In fact, it reaffirms it. The differing opinions, and Aloy’s acceptance of another point of view, show her new maturity, and we see her take a romantic interest in someone, working through the feelings she experiences in compelling ways.
In short, Aloy’s story brings Burning Shores to life.
Horizon Forbidden West Burning Shores Review — The Bottom Line
Screenshot by GameSkinny.
- Aloy’s character development.
- Stunningly gorgeous world design.
- New combat mechanics to try out.
- Lack of new machines introduced.
- Few side quests available.
- Lack of memorable NPCs, aside from Seyka.
While the main content for the Burning Shores DLC is roughly 10-15 hours, fully exploring the area will add a significant amount of time. Aloy once again saves the day against all odds and helps to reunite both pieces of the splintered Quen expedition.
For those looking for more of Aloy’s story, this is the DLC for you. Not only is there tons of character development for Aloy, we also find out more about the Zeniths, as well as Nemesis, both important plot points for the potential next game in the series. For fans of the series, Burning Shores is an investment in the story of the game, as well as the world Aloy is fighting to save.
Featured image by GameSkinny.
Horizon Forbidden West Burning Shores DLC Review: Zeniths, Quen and Dinos, Oh my!
Aloy embarks on a new adventure in the remnants of Los Angeles.What Our Ratings Mean