| Played with VRR enabled on Balanced Mode |
Horizon Forbidden West is one of the most beloved and critically acclaimed games in recent memory In Burning Shores, Aloy embarks on a new adventure in search for a surviving rough Far Zenith called Londra set deep in San Franscisco. This expansion introduces new weapons, machines, and a vast new explorable area, making it an exciting addition to an already impressive game – after nearly 20hrs of playtime, I couldn’t wait to dive right back in to complete the rest of the expansion.
The Beauty of Dilapidation
Once again, Guerilla Games delivers in presentation; The Decima Engine provides breathtaking graphics that make every moment in the game feel like a masterpiece – damn near CGI level of fidelity. The ruins of San Francisco are particularly striking, with incredible detail and vivid colors that’s teeming with immense level of detail. I can’t fathom the work behind the environmental designers – it is clear GG has obtained some of the best in the industry. I was thoroughly surprised how much there was to explore in Hollywood, especially since the tectonic plates absolutely ravaged the land; the first-time diving into the seas took my breath away with the layers this Burning Shores provides. The draw distance is also impressive with every detailed retaining nearly every asset, especially when coupled with VRR balanced mode graphics settings – nothing is better than having the most graphics options possible with smoother frames. This combination creates an incredibly immersive experience that is a feast for the eyes – truly. With the release of Horizon: Zero Dawn on PC, the prospect of Forbidden West coming to PC is unimaginable – I would love to see how it runs on my CLX Built PC.
Aloy, What’s Up With You?
The story of Burning Shores takes place directly after the events of Forbidden West. Aloy meets with Sylens to discuss a rouge Far Zenith that may pose a threat, and this kicks off the DLC’s storyline. The story is well thought out and adds new depth to the world of Horizon. The Quen, a previously mysterious group, are fleshed out in this DLC, and it is fascinating to learn more about them. Soon after Aloy’s arrival to San Franscisco, she bumps into Seyka, a navigator for the Quen fleet who basically tags along throughout Aloy’s journey. It doesn’t take long – at all – for Aloy to trust her deeply which felt a bit out of character, but nonetheless Seyka is a great addition to Aloy’s growing team of formidable warriors. The rouge Far Zenith, Londra, plays the main antagonistic role of a megalomaniac who manipulates lesser people for his own personal gain. Played by the famous Sam Witwer, he does a phenomenal job that I only wished we had more of.
However, the one con of the story is how forced the romance between Aloy and Seyka feels. Given Aloy’s asexual approach in the first two games, it seems out of character for her to pursue a romantic relationship with the stake of world threatened by annihilation from a coming threat, and especially given the illusion of choice-based dialogue not giving me an option to tone it down if I wanted to. I don’t have a problem with Aloy wanting to romance, but it’s out of character given how she is obviously into the Sun King or Erend but brushes them off harshly because of her sense of duty – we even had an option to do so in 4 different emotions. Despite this, Burning Shores is a great epilogue to Forbidden West and an amazing branch to the next chapter of the franchise.
More to do Before Then
The combat approach has been significantly improved with additional environmental opportunities, elemental types and more. Burning Shore expands on a more in-depth and strategic approach to combat that adds to the already engaging mechanics of Forbidden West. With a total of 26 weapons to master, Horizon Forbidden West: Burning Shore brings forth an array of new weapons and abilities to combat the ever-increasing threat of machines. One such weapon that stands out is the Specter Gauntlet, which are unlike any other weapons in the game – and one I had hoped to have gotten in my initial Forbidden West playthrough. The Specter Gauntlets are a powerful blast-type weapon that can deal massive damage to Far Zenith machine types with ease – but are also absolutely devastating against other tough machines as well. The gauntlet can tag a machine and have the bullets track to it, dealing precision damage – on top of also having a precision firing mode to boot.
Burning Shores also brings a slew of new machines to tackle both regular and Apex varients.
The Bilegut is a new machine type in Horizon Burning Shores, modeled after a frog. It continuously spews acid to dissolve its surroundings and create scrap piles, while also using its egg launchers to create Stingspawn as backup. In combat, using Fire or Frost damage is the best approach, and removing the egg launchers can prevent being overwhelmed. Be wary of the Bilegut’s leaping attacks and powerful lashing tongue. Completing the Theta Cauldron allows for overriding the Bilegut, one of only two machines introduced in Burning Shores with this capability. The rare Apex Bileguts are even stronger with Fire attacks, and like other Apex variations, cannot be overridden. Keep an eye out for their darker armor scheme. The Bilegut is an exciting and unique addition to the game’s machine lineup, offering a new challenge for players to overcome.
Stingspawn are a new type of machine found in Horizon Forbidden West: Burning Shores. These small, insect-like drones may seem harmless on their own, but don’t be fooled – they can quickly become a problem when encountered in large numbers. The Bileguts, one of the new machines in Burning Shores, can produce Stingspawn on the fly, which can quickly swarm and overwhelm the player if they aren’t careful. To deal with Stingspawn effectively, it’s best to use weapons with high fire-rate, like the Blast Sling or the Rattler. Alternatively, explosive traps can also be effective in taking out large groups of Stingspawn at once. Their small size also makes them difficult to hit, so precision weapons like the Bow or the Precision Arrows can be useful in taking them down. Stingspawn may seem like small fry, but don’t underestimate their potential to become a real nuisance in the Burning Shores.
The Waterwing is the last machine introduced in the Burning Shores expansion, and it is quite a spectacle. Resembling the Sunwing in appearance, it offers the unique ability to fly in the sky and dive underwater, making it the only machine you can ride beneath the waves. Riding a Waterwing gives you a thrilling sense of freedom and control over the vast waterways. When it comes to battling these machines, you’ll need to be on your toes, as they use their large beak-like pouches to launch gravel attacks while also pummeling Aloy with their massive wings. Make sure to have fire-based weapons handy, as this is the most effective way to take down Waterwings. All in all, the Waterwing is an exciting and formidable machine that adds a new dimension to the already fascinating world of Horizon Forbidden West.
All of this adds to the already impressive list of machines to ride and battle – and there’s one I didn’t mention for the sake of surprising you – because it would be unjust to talk about it here. Let’s just say, it’s a “finally” moment for the franchise.
REVIEW SCORE: 8.5/10
Horizon Burning Shores is an excellent epilogue to the Forbidden West story. With new machines, an expanded map, and a thrilling storyline make it a must-play for Horizon fans. While the romance between Aloy and Seyka may feel forced and rushed, the every other facet of the game more than makes up for it coupled with amazing graphics and details that are stunning – it is nothing short of remarkable. I need more, and I’m excited for the future of GG.