Horizon Forbidden West: Burning Shores Review

Horizon Forbidden West: Burning Shores continues Aloy's journey in this brand new expansion. But is there enough to justify the purchase? This is our review.

Published: May 1, 2023 10:00 AM /

Reviewed By:

Aloy looking at a ruined Hollywood sign, the body of a large robot sitting in the background from Horizon Forbidden West: Burning Shores

My time with Horizon Forbidden West: Burning Shores was ultimately a pleasant one. The gameplay reinforces the strengths of the main game. The new locations are still brimming with Guerilla Games' signature texture and detail. But it doesn't exactly reinvent the wheel when it comes the new features.

Horizon Forbidden West: Burning Shores continues Aloy's story from the end of the main game. She is informed by Sylens that one of the Zeniths, the extremely advanced race of ancient humans, have been spotted within the ruined remains of Los Angeles. Fearing the worst, Aloy travels to the titular Burning Shores to stop the Zenith, while also looking for aid with the approach of the apocalyptic Nemesis. That aid arrives in the form of the Quen tribe and their local warrior Seyka.

This central narrative is the best part of Horizon Forbidden West: Burning Shores. It resolves a dangling plot thread from the main game regarding the Quen's lost fleet. It gives Aloy an interesting co-lead to interact with, which cuts down on her persistent lonesome chatter. The main story even contains solid character moments with the two main characters.

Aloy staring at a series of cliffs with lava running down them from Horizon Forbidden West: Burning Shores
Once again, Guerilla's technical achievements are impressive.

In fact, it's a central relationship that's so strong it makes the big bad of this expansion, the Zenith Walter Londra, feel like an afterthought. There is some commentary about blind celebrity worship that pops up throughout the narrative in the form of a cult that follows him. But when compared to the more interesting dynamics between Aloy, Beta, and Tilda from the main game, the commentary here feels like shallow set dressing. At least Sam Witwer is having a ball with his performance as Londra, channeling the unearned arrogance of a thespian Elon Musk.

The main story is also where the level design is at its most interesting. There are plenty of solid sight gags at the expense of Old Hollywood and several missions feel like a rollercoaster ride of the entertainment industry. The personal highlight by far being an extended infiltration mission set in an abandoned movie studio set. The level design also reflects the tighter narrative focus with some great puzzles and climactic setpieces.

Sadly, by comparison the rest of the locations of Horizon Forbidden West: Burning Shores are sparse. In addition to the main shore, there are a handful of islands you can travel to for various side missions and hunting grounds, but they feel so divorced from the map and level design of the main campaign. The only real highlights are a handful of deep sea diving sections, complete with some helpful accessibility options. Side activities are also lacking. There is one new Cauldron, one new Relic Ruin, and a small handful of optional dungeons; most of which can be finished up in an afternoon or two.

Aloy standing in front of a giant T Rex statue in a ruined movie studio from Horizon Forbidden West: Burning Shores
Eh? I don't think dinosaurs will catch on.

The new gameplay additions are sparse as well. There are three new enemy types. The Bilegut is a large robotic frog that spews acid. The Stingspawn are drones that provide support to the Bilegut. The Waterwing is basically an aquatic variant of the Sunwing enemy. Aloy's new combat skills fare a bit better. Each skill tree has an extra handful of skills you can unlock. These include things like Aloy being able to use her pullcaster for ranged combat takedowns, but they don't radically shake up any respective playstyle. Finally, there is the new Specter Gauntlet weapon, an extremely powerful rapidfire energy cannon based on Zenith tech. It costs a lot of resources, but it will make you feel unstoppable when it is fully loaded up.

In other words, Horizon Forbidden West: Burning Shores is an expansion that mostly treads water in the gameplay department. The new elements did bring some extra surprises to combat, but over time combat evened out to the same old tactics. The environments maintain Guerilla Games' consistent version of dystopian sci-fi, but it doesn't really address some of the clunkier platforming and climbing sections. While the main story holds some great linear sections, the finale being the franchise's most explosive finale to date, the open-world areas feel antiquated in comparison.

Aloy about to throw a spear at a large robotic frog called a Bilegut from Horizon Forbidden West: Burning Shores
Okay, now that the flies are gone, time to puncture these acid sacks.

Overall, Horizon Forbidden West: Burning Shores is a great character-focused story expansion with some middling gameplay improvements added. If you want some extra time with Aloy and see her bond with some new characters while having one more fun ride, you will be well served here.

Horizon Forbidden West: Burning Shores was reviewed on PlayStation 5 with a copy provided by the developer over the course of 12 hours of gameplay - all screenshots were taken during the process of review.

Review Summary

Horizon Forbidden West: Burning Shores has a strong character story at its center, but not much when it comes to new content. (Review Policy)


  • Solid Character Focused Narrative
  • Great Secondary Lead Character


  • Lacking in Substantive Side Content

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| Staff Writer

Ever since he was small, Tyler Chancey has had a deep, abiding love for video games and a tendency to think and overanalyze everything he enjoyed. This… More about Tyler

More Info About This Game
Learn More About Horizon Forbidden West
Guerrilla Games
Release Date
February 18, 2022 (Calendar)
Action, RPG
Purchase (Some links may be affiliated)