HomeNewsHorizon Forbidden West: The Burning Shores Review - It's Alright

    Horizon Forbidden West: The Burning Shores Review – It’s Alright

    Developed By: Guerrilla Games

    Published By: Sony Interactive Entertainment

    Platforms: PlayStation 5

    Reviewed On: PlayStation 5

    Review Code Provided By: Sony Interactive Entertainment Singapore

    So last year when I got to try Horizon Forbidden West I called it a beautiful mess. For the most part I enjoyed the sequel but I did feel that there were elements that prevented it from being an instant classic. Fast forward to 2023, the must awaited expansion launching only for the PS5 has been out for a couple of weeks and after clearing a few things from my schedule I decided to jump in and see if time was kinder on my memories of it.

    Thanks to the wonderful folks at Sony Interactive Entertainment Singapore, we managed to snag a review code and I jumped into The Burning Shores with optimism. After my 10 hour or so playthrough I can say that for the most part, the experience of this expansion felt very similar to the base game with some great highs but prevailing lows.

    We Think We Have No Choice

    The Burning Shores primary set up is after the events of Horizon Forbidden West, there has been a member of the Far Zenith team who survives. Walter Londra is his name and unlike the other Far Zenith character’s he comes with idiosyncrasies of his own being a sort of celebrity tech mogul from the past. After a brief discussion with Sylens, it is determined that Aloy must seek out Walter and try to learn what he might be scheming and also to get more information on the approaching Nemesis if possible.

    I thought the story progression in The Burning Shores was just okay to be honest. It didn’t really reveal anything monumental for the series moving forward but just served as a short extension of events that passed in the base game. I suppose the main focus of the game was on the new relationship being forged between Aloy and new character Seyka who serves as your sort of sidekick for most of the main story content. Seyka was pretty well developed in the short time players get to experience their interactions and their banter was pretty alright. The other Quen stranded around the Burning Shores also shed a little more light on their plight and experiences but it did feel a little surface level for me. So just to sum the story up, solid but not spectacular.

    Belonging Is A Sort Of Strength

    Graphically the game does look as amazing as ever but I guess bugs do prevail. There are distant birds or machines that look like they are purposely running as a reduced framerate so it looks weirdly stuttery. Sound design is still solid and immersive, performances all feel solid and engaging to an extent.

    There is an important aspect that I felt I needed to share about jumping back in and I think this really boils down to personal choice and how much the player enjoyed the base game. For me, I felt a sort of fatigue just trying to relearn stuff that I forgot about including how to deal with machine encounters. I get that each encounter is supposed to maintain an extended period of attrition but for me (especially in the beginning) it did feel like it was going on for way too long. The new machine type Bilegut, actually oddly accentuates this issue as the BiIegut itself launches eggs that births Stingspawn, mosquito like machines that are more a nuisance rather that providing a compelling battle layer.

    I also found myself strangely disliking the expanded skill sets because there were already a lot of new options in the base game and there were a few more unlocked nodes from this expansion. Just to be clear I like the new beneficial skills, what I feel is problematic are the new Valor Surges as even in the base game there is just way too many with 80% of it not being used by me at all. That continued here as I never really felt the need to swap around at all. Having options is always great, but it’s equally important for situations necessitating utilizing the varied options. Otherwise it’s just a lot of bloat.

    Platforming was also a bit of a hit-and-miss for me in the base game and sadly that continues here as I don’t know why Aloy does not control as seamless as she should with a lot of awkward jumps and transitions that usually makes me feel like I’m just bad at the platforming in this game.

    What I Liked

    • Story, Pacing & Characters – It was brief and serviceable. Seyka was a good companion and the story development was nicely done.
    • Graphics – Still one of the best looking games ever.

    What Really Should Have Been Better

    • Bugs & Performance – Still prevalent but not game breaking. It’s always weird having teleporting characters jumping around in cutscenes and the open world.
    • Final Boss – I get the idea of spectacle but it felt nicely bombastic but too much noise to properly enjoy it.

    Moving Forward

    I do understand that there is a fanbase who enjoy the Horizon series and that’s totally alright. I personally don’t hate it but there is just that little bit extra that is missing from pushing this series straight through to the stratosphere. There are interesting ideas but not so much exploration of the deeper meaning behind it thematically, there are a lot of systems in place but too little situations that demand for it. Even the cloud tech in the expansion is glorious but after the first time flying into them it’s just an interesting thing that is there but provides little behind it besides an encounter that doesn’t quite provide the spectacle it promises.

    That being said I am very much looking forward to the inevitable next entry in this series and I do hope that that game is going to just absolutely blow me away the way it rightfully should. Till then for those who love the series, this expansion is a worthy buy. For those who were just okay with Forbidden West, this is just a little bit extra.

    Final Score – 7/10

    Jashvir Sandhu
    Jashvir Sandhu
    Proud barbarian to her monk, Wondrous Peashooter to her Sunflower, Blue Yarny who will never let go of his Red Yarny, Loving husband of Cadet Cuddles. Also on PSN known as ZDKilljoy

    Latest News