A little over a year after its release, the incredible Horizon Forbidden West is getting its first (and probably last) expansion. Unlike the main game, Burning Shores is only for PS5, which raises expectations both in the technical area and in the gameplay. Let’s see if and to what extent he manages to please them.
The Burning Shores story begins right where Forbidden West ends. Sylens (RIP giant Lance Reddick) asks Aloy to meet up to reveal to her that one of the Zeniths, named Walter Londra, is still alive. Aloy is called to travel to Los Angeles, now called Burning Shores due to its volcanic texture, and dig it up. Upon his arrival, Aloy meets Seyka, a young and undisciplined Quen, and together they decide to help each other. They initially travel to Quen’s base, which acts as the hub of the expansion, and from there their adventure begins. Locating Londra is of the utmost importance, not only because he is a potential threat, but also because he may have valuable information on Nemesis. If the words ‘Zenith’, ‘Quen’ and ‘Nemesis’ sound unfamiliar to you, you’d better refresh your memory of the events of the Forbidden West, as Burning Shores assumes you know it all.
On a narrative level, Burning Shores does a very good job. The story is interesting, the script satisfying, while the plot is smaller in scale, making it more personal and human. If there’s one major problem with Horizon Zero Dawn and Forbidden West, it’s the likable, zero acid, zero fat protagonist. In Forbidden West, in fact, the problem is intensified, as the only way the game brings out Aloy’s character is by making her constantly and incessantly praised by others, in every possible and unlikely way. Burning Shores gives Aloy the chance to show another, more human side, especially through her interaction with Seyka. She obviously didn’t become Arthur Morgan (i.e. the most interesting and multi-layered character in human history) overnight, but it’s definitely a step in the right direction. Furthermore, the expansion is an ideal “bridge” between Forbidden West and the upcoming Horizon 3.
In its gameplay, Burning Shores almost completely follows the Forbidden West formula, with minimal changes. These include some new upgradable abilities (which are also part of the main body of the game, by the way), expanded use of the flying mount, new weapons, and some new enemies (i.e. different types of machines). The flying mount in particular stands out as it allows for more vertical exploration, as well as something else I won’t spoil. Unfortunately, in practice, this addition is more effective, since it is not actually used. More generally, the expansion has some interesting ideas, but without making the necessary design changes to the gameplay to properly support them. It is also obvious that no attempt has been made to fix the bad writing of the main game, such as the rudimentary combat system against human enemies, the lack of parries/detours or other similar system that results in direct defensive tactics being limited entirely. to roll, and the clumsy and simplistic climbing mechanism. The good news is that all the positive aspects of the main game are also retained, which certainly overshadow its problematic aspects and are enough to give you a few more hours of pure fun.
The action takes place on a completely new map, which is about a third the size of the main part. The main differences from Forbidden West are that the levels are designed more vertically, the water covers a fairly large area that is mostly explorable (in addition to exploring the seabed, there is also the possibility of traversing by boat), and the burning lava on the shores. of LA offering a different aesthetic effect. The story is spread across five main missions and three side missions, while there is no shortage of big boss battles, with the latest one standing out as one of the best in the series. There is the aforementioned central hub, which is a gathering point and allows you to buy and upgrade equipment. The weapon upgrade mechanism has been simplified, a welcome change in my opinion. You no longer have to search for four different (and extremely rare) things, in four different places on the map, hoping to get the resource you need. Finally, I should mention that the difficulty level is similar to the last part of Forbidden West. So make sure you familiarize yourself with the mechanics, because the game is not given away.
Although in terms of gameplay Burning Shores bets on the safe side by changing a few things, in terms of graphics it goes one step further. The work done is of such a high quality level that we can speak without hesitation of the best graphics we’ve seen on a console to date. The cloud design is impressive, the character textures are detailed and sharp, the facial animations are “otherworldly”, the draw distance is fantastic, while the lighting surpasses Forbidden West’s already very high levels of verisimilitude. . If we also take into account the, in any case, excellent artistic care, it is easy to see that the game is visually impeccable. Something that cannot be said, unfortunately, of the technical sector. Pop-in is annoyingly frequent, some animations don’t “link” harmoniously, and overall the game gives the impression of crudeness on the specific issue. Returning to the positive, the sound is, in general, full and luxurious. There are no surprises here, as Forbidden West has already laid the line. No discount, no blowback: The music, performances, and effects are still top-notch, while the audio mixing is par for the course.
The Burning Shores expansion to Horizon Forbidden West is a fun and satisfying adventure. Unfortunately, it doesn’t try anything new in terms of gameplay, nor does it improve the -few- existing problems of the main game. He has some interesting ideas, but they’re half-baked and crude. In addition, the changes it presents are of appearance, often resorting to pretentious tactics. On the other hand, we must not forget that the main game is already amazing, so “one of the same” is not necessarily a bad thing, especially if it is combined with an interesting, sufficiently well-written story, essential for the development of Aloy. . If you are a fan of the Horizon series, you will definitely have a good time with Burning Shores.
- Interesting story with a significant counterpoint.
- audio for seminar
- satisfactory duration
- the final boss
- Following the high standard of quality of Forbidden West…
- …but without correcting the wrong texts
- Minimal and rudimentary gameplay changes
- Some technical problems