Horizon Forbidden West: Burning Shores Review

Published: 15:54, 27 April 2023
Horizon Forbidden West: Burning Shores review
Horizon Forbidden West: Burning Shores review

Burning Shores is an expansion for one of Sony's best games, Horizon: Forbidden West, that makes grand claims about its cutting-edge visuals, upgraded gameplay, and sophisticated story, while in reality, the changes it brings are almost nonexistent.

What you need to know

  • What is it? A DLC for Horizon: Forbidden West set in the ruins of Los Angeles
  • Reviewed on:   PlayStation 5
  • Publisher: Sony
  • Developer: Guerrilla Games
  • Release date: April 19, 2023
  • Available on: PlayStation 5

It would be impossible to discuss Burning Shores, most likely the sole downloadable content for Horizon: Forbidden West , without comparing it to Frozen Wilds, the lone downloadable content for Horizon: Zero Dawn .

It appears that Guerrilla Games and Sony  decided to stick to the tried and tested recipe, so they did the same thing with Horizon: Zero Dawn's successor, releasing the DLC for Horizon: Forbidden West exactly one year later, although Frozen Wilds brought a lot more to Zero Dawn than Burning Shores brought to Forbidden West.

AltChar HFW: Burning Shores - Aloy is back HFW: Burning Shores - Aloy is back


It is well known that the excellent narrative with a very complex and well-written story has been one of the main selling points of all prior Horizon instalments, including two games with two major expansions. Regardless of whether Zero Dawn, along with its expansion Frozen Wilds, and Forbidden West base their narratives on the close relationship between Aloy and her ancestor Elizabeth Sobek, Burning Shore will instead focus on a story that only deals with tribal issues with the addition of Zenith involvement.

Burning Shores will bring Aloy to a whole new region located on the ruins of Los Angeles, known as Burning Shores, where the Quen tribe took refuge after being marooned following one of their knowledge-seeking expeditions. Aloy arrives at Burning Shores and teams up with her newly found friend Seyka in an endeavour to find and rescue an ever-growing number of missing Quen.

If Burning Shores were an expansion for some other, not-so-story-related game, it would be safe to say that its story is more than decent. But by the standards set by previous Horizon games and DLCs, the story is simply not deep and complex enough. Don't get me wrong; there will be twists and turns in the story, but do not expect any mysterious or "wow" moments because you will get none. Everything is so plain and obvious when it comes to the narrative in Burning Shores. 

AltChar HFW: Burning Shores - The story is connected to base game's story, but also quite independent HFW: Burning Shores - The story is connected to base game's story, but also quite independent

Additionally, there is a section in the story that, to put it mildly, will be controversial for some people. Regarding this particular aspect of the story, it has already drawn a ton of public ire and negative reviews. You will need to decide if Sony and Guerrilla Games should address this issue in their video game, so I'll leave that up to you. I'll only give you one spoiler-free hint: You'll discover what I'm talking about towards the very conclusion of the DLC's story.

And let's not forget to mention that the story is really short, with only six main quests, four of which are real quests, the last two of which are just to speak with your companions to conclude the story, and three side quests, which is really not enough in my opinion.

AltChar HFW: Burning Shores - The entire story is told through only six main and three side quests HFW: Burning Shores - The entire story is told through only six main and three side quests


Regarding gameplay, Burning Shores didn't try to reinvent the wheel. The good old formula of destroying tons of machines and some human enemies we've already seen in the base game is still here in the DLC.

Apart from some variations of Aloy's already-known arsenal, you will be able to try out only one new weapon made from the scraps of Zenith technology in the form of a glove, following several new outfits and a new, legendary tier of equipment. 

There is also one new flying mount, called Waterwing, which represents a variation of Sunwing, the flying mount we rode in the base game. Perhaps the design of this new mount is the best evidence for my assertions about how minor alterations Burning Shore has made compared to the main game. When designing Waterwing, the developers didn't even bother to try to make it look different than Sunwing. The only difference between them is that waterwings can dive and sunwings cannot. Although the developers announced that we would use the new mount for quick diving, I did not find the need to use this option in the entire expansion, except in the main mission, which could not be completed without it.

AltChar HFW: Burning Shores - There is only one new weapon and one new mount to be discovered HFW: Burning Shores - There is only one new weapon and one new mount to be discovered

In addition to Waterwing, four new machines are showcased in Burning Shores, with the main boss being one of them, and if there is anything that should be praised in Burning Shores DLC, it is, without a doubt, the final boss fight. You'll know what I'm talking about once you engage in combat with this gigantic machine.

The map is rather vast for a DLC and is equivalent to one-fourth of the map from the original game, although it is largely vacant and not nearly as packed with content as the map from the base game, with the additional content being almost non-existent.

AltChar HFW: Burning Shores - The visuals are really stunning HFW: Burning Shores - The visuals are really stunning


Although the developers were promising a graphical revolution in Burning Shores due to not being limited by the PlayStation 4 hardware limitation, I cannot say that I noticed anything revolutionary regarding Burning Shores' visuals—at least nothing I haven't seen already in Horizon: Forbidden West—because, let's be honest, Forbidden West was visual perfection, and it is really hard to make something that can compete with the visuals of this game.

Don't get me wrong; Burning Shores is stunning, but it's not a revolution in video game graphics. We could argue that the DLC appears more beautiful due to the tropical setting if the San Francisco portion of the basic game's map didn't exist, but this scenery has previously been seen in San Francisco's ruins, so it isn't particularly unique.

I should reiterate that my criticism of the lack of visual improvements in Burning Shores will have little bearing on its rating because, let's face it, Horizon: Forbidden West continues to be the most visually stunning game available, keeping Burning Shores at the very top along with the base game.

AltChar HFW: Burning Shores - The details, especially in cutscenes, are another level HFW: Burning Shores - The details, especially in cutscenes, are on another level


To put it simply: The $20 you will spend to play Horizon: Forbidden West is hardly worth it because you won't receive anything revolutionary that you haven't already seen in the base game, and even if you miss the story, you won't really miss much because the story is nearly entirely independent from the main narrative. In terms of graphics, Burning Shores is outstanding but not as ground-breaking as Forbidden West, and even Frozen Wilds was in comparison to Zero Dawn. 

In the end, a few new outfits, one weapon, and four main missions are simply insufficient to make the financial investment worthwhile, in my humble opinion, but if you enjoyed Horizon: Forbidden West, you will most certainly enjoy Burning Shores. Only lower your expectations, and you won't get disappointed.

The Good

  • Still one of the visually most appealing games
  • Very creative final boss fight
  • Everything that was good in base game is good in DLC as well

The Bad

  • Lack of promised visual and gameplay improvements
  • Short and forgettable story
  • Lack of quality side content

Our Rating

Very Good

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