Burning Shores Expands on World of Hit Playstation Game


The art of the story-driven DLC has somewhat dissipated over the last few years, with most titles considered complete when the credits roll. Of course, games like “Call of Duty” and “Destiny” release updates long after their initial release, but most AAA games in the 2020s are done when they hit the store. Something interesting about both installments in Sony’s “Horizon” series is that they have each had multi-hour new chapters added after release. The excellent “Horizon Zero Dawn” dropped in early 2017, and “Frozen Wilds” built on that foundation late that year with an expansion that essentially started construction on the bridge to the next game. It feels like that’s being repeated with “Horizon Burning Shores,” an expansion to 2022’s fantastic “Horizon Forbidden West” that doesn’t just offer a greatest hits reprise but involves an entirely new map, new characters, and new gameplay. It’s a rich addition to a world that Sony clearly values, with a third game in development and a TV show in production for Netflix. Sony has put a lot of weight behind franchises like “The Last of Us” and “God of War,” and the care put into “Burning Shores” proves how much they value this one too.

One thing that players should know is that you have to have completed the entire story of “Forbidden West” to start “Burning Shores.” Even if you’re in the middle of a New Game+, you won’t get to start the mission that takes you to the new map until the final story chapter has unfolded. While this is an understandable way to include this expansion—it wouldn’t work as an aside in the middle of the game, given where Aloy has to be as a hero for it to unfold—it does make for an exciting hiccup in that the learning curve is gone. If you haven’t played “Forbidden West” in a year—like I hadn’t—you will have to quickly remind yourself of the controls, techniques, and basic gameplay. To be brief, I got my ass handed to me multiple times at the beginning of “Burning Shores” before I remembered which weapons I liked more than others and how to quickly switch between them based on the situation.

“Burning Shores” opens with an encounter with Sylen, an unintentionally somber overture given the loss of Lance Reddick, who so perfectly voiced the character and rumors that he would drive the narrative of the next game. He tells Aloy about a faction of the Quen tribe that has set up a home in Burning Shores, aka Los Angeles, complete with a dilapidated Hollywood sign. The setting of Burning Shores is gorgeous, with such remarkably rendered clouds that the PS4 version of “Forbidden West” won’t be able to include the DLC because it can’t handle the graphics. Jumping back into “Horizon” is a reminder of how well this game utilizes every aspect of the PS5, but especially its visual prowess. The game looks stunning.

Most of the story missions in “Burning Shores” partner Aloy with a Quen warrior named Seyka. She will not only fight alongside you—when you’re both clicking, the melee has the bouncing rhythm of that famous 2-on-1 “Captain America: Civil War” scene—but ends up being an essential part of the “Horizon” narrative. Not only is Seyka a well-drawn character, but the dynamic between Aloy and Seyka makes Aloy a more interesting protagonist, which will surely carry into the next game. Their relationship humanizes a character who has felt a bit shallow at times and shows the potential of where she could go next.

“Burning Shores” once again tells a tale of heroes rising to defeat a sociopath, someone who is trying to take advantage of the crumbling world around them for his own benefit. It’s a rich piece of storytelling that defies the typical DLC sense that people are being asked to pay for deleted scenes from the theatrical cut. This is more of a semi-sequel than missing chapters from the original book. There are also new enemies, and a new mount called a Waterwing, which allows for aerial and underwater flight. Soaring through the sky and diving into the ocean to avoid an enemy gives chapters of this game remarkable momentum. New weapons, gear, puzzles, enemies, and allies—this all feels like an expansion instead of just more of the same.

I will admit that a few of the puzzles this time were more frustrating than the full release—there’s nothing less fun than just trying to find the right handhold to climb a tower—but every minor hiccup in the design of “Burning Shores” is overwhelmed by what this DLC does right. It is an essential connection between “Forbidden West” and whatever is coming over the “Horizon” in a franchise that’s just getting started.

Available now. A review copy was provided by Sony.



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