Just over a year after its release, the incredible Horizon Forbidden West is getting its first (and probably last) expansion. Unlike the main game, Burning Shores is only for PS5, which creates expectations both in terms of technical area and gameplay. Let’s see if and to what extent he manages to satisfy them.
The story of Burning Shores begins where Forbidden West ends. Sylens (RIP giant Lance Reddick) asks Aloy to meet to reveal that one of the Zenith, named Walter Londra, is still alive. Aloy is called upon to travel to Los Angeles, now called Burning Shores due to its volcanic texture, and dig it up. Upon her arrival, Aloy meets Seyka, a young and unruly Quen, and together they decide to help each other. They first travel to Quen Base, which serves as the expansion’s central hub, and from there their adventure begins. Locating Londra is of the utmost importance, not only because he is a potential threat, but also because he may have valuable information about Nemesis. If the words “Zenith”, “Quen”, and “Nemesis” are unfamiliar to you, you better refresh your memory on the events of the Forbidden West, because Burning Shores assumes you know everything.
Story-wise, Burning Shores does a pretty good job. The story is interesting, the storyline satisfying, while the plot is on a smaller scale, making it more personal and human. If there’s a major problem with Horizon Zero Dawn and Forbidden West, it’s the likeable, zero acid, zero fat protagonist. In Forbidden West, in fact, the problem escalates, because the only way the game can showcase Aloy’s character is to have others praise her constantly and endlessly, in every way possible and unlikely. Burning Shores gives Aloy a chance to show another more human side, especially through her interaction with Seyka. He obviously didn’t become Arthur Morgan (i.e. the most interesting and complex character in human history) overnight, but it’s certainly a step in the right direction. direction. Additionally, the expansion is an ideal “bridge” between Forbidden West and the upcoming Horizon 3.
In its gameplay, Burning Shores follows the Forbidden West formula almost entirely, with minimal changes. These include new upgradable abilities (which, by the way, are also part of the main body of the game), expanded use of the flying mount, new weapons and new enemies (i.e. different machine types). The flying mount in particular stands out, as it allows for more vertical exploration, as well as something else that I won’t spoil. Unfortunately, in practice this addition is more for effect, as it is not really used. More generally, the expansion has some interesting ideas, but without making the necessary design changes to gameplay to adequately support them. It is also evident that no attempt was made to fix the main game’s poor writing, such as the rudimentary combat system against human enemies, the lack of parry/deflection or the like resulting in straight up defensive tactics. being limited entirely to rolling, and the clumsy and simplistic climbing mechanism. The good news is that all the good points of the main game are also retained, which undoubtedly overshadows its problematic aspects and is enough to give you a few more hours of pure fun.
The action takes place on a brand new map, which is about a third the size of the main game. The main differences with Forbidden West are that the levels are designed more vertically, the water covers a fairly large area which is mainly explorable (in addition to exploring the seabed, there is also the possibility of taking the boat tour) , and the burning lava the banks of LA offering a different aesthetic effect. The story unfolds over five main missions and three side missions, while there’s no shortage of big boss battles, with the latter standing out as one of the best in the series. There’s the aforementioned central hub, which is a meeting point and lets you buy and upgrade gear. The weapon upgrade mechanic has been simplified, a welcome change in my opinion. You no longer need to hunt four different (and extremely rare) things, in four different places on the map, in hopes of landing the resource you need. I must mention, finally, that the difficulty level is similar to the last part of Forbidden West. So be sure to familiarize yourself with the mechanics, because the game is not cheap.
Although in terms of gameplay Burning Shores plays it safe by changing few things, in terms of graphics it goes even further. The work that has been done is of such high quality that we can without hesitation speak of the best graphics we have seen on a console to date. The cloud design is impressive, the character textures are detailed and crisp, the facial animations are “otherworldly”, the draw distance is fantastic, while the lighting exceeds the already very high levels of verisimilitude. of Forbidden West. If we also take into account the excellent artistic care, in any case, it is easy to see that the game is visually impeccable. Something that unfortunately cannot be said for the technical sector. Pop-ins are annoyingly frequent, some animations don’t “link” harmoniously, and in general the game gives an impression of rawness in the matter. Back to the positives, the sound is, overall, full and sumptuous. No surprise here, as Forbidden West has already given the line. No reset, no backtracking: music, performance, effects stay on top, while audio mixing is on point.
Horizon Forbidden West’s Burning Shores expansion is a fun and satisfying adventure. Unfortunately, it doesn’t attempt anything new in terms of gameplay, nor does it improve on the -few- existing issues of the main game. He has some interesting ideas, but they’re half-baked and gross. Moreover, the changes he presents are for appearance, often resorting to pretentious tactics. On the other hand, we must not forget that the main game is already breathtaking, so “one of the same” is not necessarily a bad thing, especially if it is combined with an interesting story, well enough written, essential for Aloy’s development. . If you are a fan of the Horizon series, you will definitely have a great time with Burning Shores.
- Interesting story with meaningful counterpoint
- Audio for seminar
- Satisfactory duration
- The final boss
- Following Forbidden West’s high standard of quality…
- …but without correcting bad texts
- Minimal and rudimentary gameplay changes
- Some technical issues