Horizon: Forbidden West: Burning Shores DLC Review

April 29, 2023

Following on from the ending of Horizon: Forbidden West, the Burning Shores DLC brings Aloy further south in California to Los Angeles. It’s a separate, somewhat more focused experience than the main campaign, that offers a sized-down version of that story, along with some lore and setting expansion that should please fans of the series, especially if they’ve already conquered everything else in Forbidden West‘s huge open world.

This time around, Aloy flies to the Burning Shores to take down the last of the Far Zeniths who came to Earth in the main game. Of course, the Far Zeniths are the wealthiest capitalists of the planet’s former society, who fled the world with artificially enhanced eternal youth and have now returned to use and abuse the Earth as they once did. Londra, a former space industrialist who was married to a famous movie star, has set up shop in LA to seemingly uplift the Quen tribe who have found themselves stranded there, but since everyone playing this has already seen what the Zeniths are like from the main game, that facade falls away pretty quickly.

The conflict itself plays out like a mini-version of the main story, as Aloy forges bonds with the new Quen tribe and the factions therein, learns about the Far Zenith adversary who’s certainly only looking out for themselves, then works to stop their plans before they come to fruition. It’s notable in a couple of areas, for one this is presumably the late Lance Reddick’s final performance as Aloy’s rival Sylens, who is a fairly integral character to the Horizon mythos and whom Reddick embues with mystery and urgency. The other is that, without going into too much detail (although it’s been splashed over websites for the last week), Aloy finally has a romantic option that has some advancement in The Burning Shores. I’m not sure I felt any more chemistry with this particular option than with others that have been presented in the past – but nevertheless, good for you, Aloy.

Earthquakes and volcanic activity have essentially fractured Los Angeles and sunk most of it, forming the Burning Shores as a kind of archipelago of islands, which Aloy can travel between either using a skiff or her flying mount. While there are some recognisable landmarks spotted throughout – Griffith Observatory, Pacific Park, Tower Records and the Hollywood Sign among them – Los Angeles is in such a state of decay that its history doesn’t actually make too much difference to your exploration. Universal Studios and Disneyland have been combined into a single unique location that conforms to Horizon‘s lore, but is a fine idea, but it also doesn’t quite distinguish itself from the many other technologically-advanced facilities Aloy has discovered before.

The fact that most of the Burning Shores are flooded opens up underwater exploration as well, and it’s facilitated with a new mount Aloy is able to acquire over the journey, the Waterwing, which is usefully capable of both flying and diving. While the DLC’s story will take you through most of interesting parts of The Burning Shores‘ world, you’ll still be able to find some combat encounters and side quests through taking your time as well.

Burning Shores‘s machines are mostly Apex versions of creatures you’ve already encountered, tougher varieties which are meant to test you at endgame levels. However, there are some unique creatures, including a toad-like Bilegut species which spews poison in every direction. There are also insect-like machines that emerge from eggs dotted around the landscape, that can be taken out if you’re quick enough to hit them before they hatch.

Of course, it goes without saying that Burning Shores looks stunning, just as stunning as the rest of Forbidden West, especially in 4K. The detail on models and the environments themselves is immaculate, and the use of colour in the storytelling is also appreciated – as Londra’s followers start to emulate the appearance of the Zeniths. If I had one minor complaint it would be that for a game called the Burning Shores, there isn’t really a lot of burning or lava in the game, at least where it could form a hazard for Aloy.

The Burning Shores benefits from its scaled down and more focused nature, as Forbidden West‘s sprawling map could be a bit much at times, especially when you had somewhere to get to in a hurry. The islands here make for more useful and understandable chunks of challenge to progress through, and when the game’s narrative needs a bit more space to stretch out, there’s always the Hollywood hills which provide more extensive missions. If you’re invested in Horizon‘s lore and want to see the next chapter, then The Burning Shores offers a successfully self-contained seven-hour package that lets Aloy and the game’s mechanics breathe a bit.



– Spectacular visual presentation – Focused gameplay experience makes for a more engaging world to explore – New machines to battle and mount with interesting mechanics


– Los Angeles could have used a little more real world antics to spice it up, and a little less lore

Overall Score: