You Need to Play The Burning Shores DLC

 

As you’ve probably guessed from my other posts, I’m a pretty big fan of the Horizon series, so getting the latest DLC for Horizon Forbidden West, called Burning Shores, was a need, not a want. When the Burning Shores DLC was first announced, I was pretty excited to return to the world of Horizon Forbidden West, but I didn’t really know what to expect. For $20, I wasn’t expecting too big of an expansion or storyline, but I was so, so wrong. What I got was a completely new open area to explore, new machine enemies (and an amazing new mount), a new love interest, a loathsome new villain to defeat, and what is arguably the most epic boss fight of all time.

 

The Map

Burning Shores takes place in the California area, as referenced from the Hollywood sign adorning all of the promotions for the game. But like in all of the Horizon settings, this area is nothing like our own world. A giant dead “metal devil,” aka a Horus, sprawls across the iconic sign, hinting to the days before the end of the literal world and before Horizon Zero Dawn was effectively carried out. Decaying skyscrapers with plants enveloping them decorate the lush landscape, which is peppered with areas of flowing lava (thus the Burning Shores moniker), palm trees, and overflowing with breathtaking beaches. The graphics are absolutely breathtaking and I would honestly say this is the most beautiful game I have ever played. I truly loved every second of exploring this beautiful map, which my poor PS5’s hard drive can attest to from the number of screenshots I took. And I have to say, nothing beats exploring and unlocking the map from the back of my very own machine pterodactyl. 

 

The Mount

 

Though I adore my trusty machine pterodactyl, er, Sunwing, which I affectionately dubbed Petry, by far one of the most exciting things for me during Burning Shores was the incredible new mount. The Waterwing, unlocked on the penultimate main quest of the area, was able to seamlessly explore the skies and delve into the ocean—all without a single loading screen. I was absolutely astounded by how far technology had come in such a short amount of time and that such a feat was possible for my PS5. My only regret was that the DLC didn’t unlock this mount and its feature sooner because by the time I unlocked him, I only had one more quest to complete before I finished the entire DLC. I also would have loved to see the game take further advantage of the Waterwing’s underwater capabilities, especially during the underwater portion of the final boss fight (something which seemed like a no brainer to me to top off the uniqueness of the mount and the Burning Shores area at large, but wasn’t done), and exploring sunken ships and opening things underwater. I am hoping to see this in future entries in the trilogy, Guerilla. 

 

The Dinosaur Theme Park

 

If I weren’t already fangirling enough over Horizon’s unique machine dinosaur denizens, there was an entire area of the map in Burning Shores dedicated to an old word dinosaur theme park, called Pangea Park. Littered with holograms and statues of familiar dinosaurs, Aloy and Seyka interact with entertaining novelty to the creatures. When Aloy first enters the raptor area of the park, she remarks to Seyka, “this one looks clever,” in reference to Jurassic Park’s notorious “clever girls,” which practically rendered me, a Jurassic Park and dinosaur fangirl, deceased. To make things even better, Pangea Park ties into the lore of the game, with collectibles explaining that the villain’s late ex-wife was a famous holo actress in a very popular Old World holo series called Pangea Portals. Players can spend as much or as little time learning about the downfall of their relationship during the world’s end, and can also collect Pangea figurines throughout the world map to find the answers to a Dino Digits quiz at the park. This is what we call immersion, folks.

 

The Villain

 

 

The Burning Shores quest line begins with Sylens (RIP Lance Reddick, you will be missed), informing Aloy of another Far Zenith threat, that of Walter Londra. Boy, did I love to hate this guy. His hubris level is truly off the charts, as the man uses his apocalypse survival to position himself as a benevolent god, aka Ancient One, to the woefully naïve members of the Quen. He proceeds to use The Quen’s hope for a better world to his own benefit at every possible angle. And if players were thinking his bad attitude was a result of surviving the end of the world, Aloy’s discoveries of his past audio recordings and emails will prove them wrong—the man’s always been a self-important and paranoid jerk. When Walter referred to Aloy and Seyka condescendingly as “ladies,” I too, wanted to punch him in the throat. Though the writing of the game was great, the absolutely phenomenal voice acting of Sam Witwer really sold the villainy of Walter Londra for me. Give this man an award for his performance pronto.

 

The New Girl

 

Not only is Seyka’s character design intricate and amazing, but she’s a person of color subverting and thwarting cultural norms in a highly religious group of people. A determined marine who steals a focus from the diviners in order to find and to save her sister? Seyka has it all—brains, beauty, and brawn. I was thankful to have her there fighting with me, her rightful indignation and disgust towards Walter bolstering my own determination to end him and his goals. Knowing Aloy had back-up during the insane final boss fight was a comfort to me as the one controlling Aloy (who suddenly appeared very squishy next to the awakened Horus). Plus, in other fights, particularly one against an Apex Slaughterspine, Seyka using a ropecaster to render the machine unable to move as freely was greatly appreciated. 

 

However, I couldn’t help but to feel there wasn’t much distinguishing Seyka from other more memorable side characters, or much separating her arc and her personality from that of Aloy’s. It feels like I’m watching a reboot (Seyka) of an original show (Aloy), but that the original did it all better. Though Aloy talks up Seyka and her abilities, I sadly found Varl’s AI in even the tutorial of the main game more helpful. Seyka was constantly begging my Aloy to help her up from being KO’d in battle, which is very much not out of the norm for the AI, and sadly, the most significant and new thing she brought to the table was the use of her skiff.

 

I didn’t get the sense that there was any one thing that Seyka could do that Aloy couldn’t—she didn’t have any special abilities, needed Aloy to teach her how to use a focus like the rest of the characters, and wasn’t particularly respected within her community, so Aloy didn’t need her as a liaison. Aloy easily could have been her rather abrasive outlander self and eventually earned the trust of the Quen through her actions, as we’ve seen her do time and time again in the rest of the series. Without Seyka, I fully believe Aloy would have still found a way to take down Horus, defeat Londra, and escape. 

 

The Weapons

The DLC offers new legendary gear! Though I stuck with my beloved and hard won (ugh), legendary Nora Thunder Warrior armor from the Area, I did end up utilizing and fully upgrading five of the new weapons. Curse you, luminous brainstems. My favorite ended up being the Gravesinger’s lament, which puts out massive amounts of damage, especially on unsuspecting foes. On my New Game + with Ultra Hard difficulty, I am able to one shot the weaker machines with this bow.

 

Plus, there’s a story-related weapon, the Specter Gauntlet, which allows Aloy to fire up on enemies while gliding with her Shieldwing. Though this felt like a step in the right direction, I am still waiting for air combat and hope to one day fire arrows from the back of a Sunwing or Watering. I don’t really understand why Aloy can shoot from ground mounts, but not from those in the sky, but that is above my pay grade.

 

spoilers below, read at your own discretion.

 

The Final Boss Fight

 

I also had this final fight spoiled for me on Twitter, but even seeing the clip of the awakened metal devil, the Horus, could not fully prepare me for the actual experience of it. I could not get over the sheer scale of this thing and the only comparison I can remotely come up with is fighting the giants of Shadow of the Colossus. But even those fights pale in comparison.

 

Not only was the Horus moving, but it was shaking its tentacles, trying to shoot Seyka out of the sky, and attempting to crush Aloy. Meanwhile, Seyka and Aloy communicate on battle information while Aloy parkours herself to the battle zone, Londra hurls insults, and tosses out machine gun fire and lasers. As if that weren’t already more than enough, at one point Aloy has to climb the moving Horus to damage it. In another segment, there’s an underwater chase, and yet another fight inside of the very machine Aloy is trying to destroy. Within the Horus itself, Aloy has to circumvent frying wires, electric pulsewaves, and other hazards of being inside a machine that’s actively being destroyed, all to get to the final showdown with Londra, who’s hooked up the Horus itself. 

 

And this is only the stages in the actual final fight, before that, there’s a pretty epic stealth section where Aloy and Seyka have to sneak past the Horus’s tentacles and its Faro machine compatriots in order to even reach its vicinity. All while Londra sinisterly remarks about the game of hide and seek they’re playing and what he’s going to do to Aloy and Seyka when he finds them. Ick.

 

 

This final boss fight has literally everything players could want, stealth portions, smaller fights leading up to the big Boss, and multiple stages of said final boss, in many different stages. The only thing I think this amazing fight could have done better was to implement more of the skills specific to the DLC, which are needed for 100% completion anyways, specifically the Waterwing’s ability to traverse sky and water. I was fully expecting Aloy to have to utilize her Waterwing to pull off a vent with her new Burning Shores skill, or to at least chase after the Horus underwater. It felt like missed opportunities to not include those skills, but I guess if some players hadn’t unlocked them in the skill tree, it would have been difficult to include.

 

Anyways, I honestly felt this final battle against Londra and his Horus was more impressive and memorable than that of the one in the actual main game itself. I don’t know how Guerilla is going to ever top this fight. Honestly, I cannot imagine anything more epic than this battle. This fight alone was worth the $20 price tag, in my opinion. God knows I’ve spent more on mere skins in other games. *cough*

 

The Love Interest

Though I obviously chose the romantic option during the cutscene with Seyka and enjoyed seeing Aloy so happy in the resulting heartwarming cutscene, I couldn’t help but feel that Seyka and Aloy’s optional romance felt incredibly rushed and unearned to me. The two women were just far too similar and their relationship lacked complexity in my eyes. I was also not a huge fan that Aloy’s biggest love scene in the history of her two games was relegated to mere DLC. I really think Seyka and Aloy would have benefited from spending more time together, which is something a DLC just can’t provide. I am working on an in-depth post about Aloy’s love interests and the romance options at large in the Horizon series, so look for that in the future. 

 

 

 

If you haven’t picked up the Burning Shores DLC yet or were on the fence about purchasing it, I hope this post convinces you to give it a try. It’s truly an amazing expansion, especially for only $20, that adds to and fleshes out the overall lore of the series and provides tons of fun new experiences in the shape of new villains, new areas to explore, new friends and familiar faces alike. I am so sad that I have finished the DLC already (and gotten 100% completion, so there’s not anything else for meto do there), and can safely say I would have played an entire spinoff game in this area, with these characters, alone. 

 

Horizon Forbidden West: Burning Shores is available for purchase now on the PlayStation Network Store.

 

 

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You Need to Play Burning Shores - Blogging with Dragons

Posted May 11, 2023 in Games

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2 responses to “You Need to Play The Burning Shores DLC

  1. Everything here sounds so good… However I don’t have a PS5, so for now I’ll have to settle for reading about it. Paying 500 pounds for a console just for DLC is hard to justify, aha!

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