Guest writer, Nina returns to give us the low down on Horizon Forbidden West new DLC. Horizon: The Burning Shores, and she has nice things to say.
Horizon: The Burning Shores, Lowkey Better than Forbidden West
It really is a thing to behold when a small bout of DLC is better than the game it’s supposed to be supplementing. And it’s even more surprising when said base game is already fantastic on its own. And yet…Horizon: The Burning Shores DLC update for Forbidden West has, in my opinion, a better story, better missions and far, far far superior final battle than Horizon’s main quest.
Burning Shores follows the same general outline as Zero Dawn’s Frozen Wilds. We got a couple of new machines, a new environment packed with side quests and explorable areas and a new main quest to tie it all together.
The Burning Shores, the place not the title, aren’t that different from the environments we’ve already seen.
Apart from some volcanoes here and there. But this is a nitpick really, because seeing lava spewing out of mountainsides into tropical-blue seas will never not be cool. As well as a volcanic coastline, Burning Shores has given us two new machines. The first is the Waterwing; the cousin of the Sunwing who’s as salty as the seas around which they reside. And before you ask, yes. You can ride these big ol’ waterfowl. Both in the air and under the sea.
And yes, it’s as fun as it sounds.
But to make up for these good times, the devs have ensured that their next newbie is packed with extra pain-inflicting ability. It’s called the Bilegut. It is a frog the size of a small truck whose primary attack is to spew acid and lay eggs that spawn murder drones. They also have the temperament of a Thunderjaw. I will never be able to hear the soft chirps of frog song again without being transported back to the first time I had to fight one of these paralysis demon toads.
When Boss Battles are Fun.
But going toe-to-toe with even a Bilegut pales in comparison to the final boss. I don’t want to give away too many details; half the fun was the surprise of it. But I will say this. It is what Forbidden West’s ending should have been. It had stakes. It had a giant ass robot. It had huge setting transitions, dynamic encounter design and a banging soundtrack. It was a real David and Goliath battle.
It was so goddamn fun, I’d argue for you to play Burning Shores purely for this boss fight. And I will. Play this DLC for the boss fight. Just do it.
While the main quest for Burning Shores is short, it provided more emotional punch than any main or side quest I played from the base game. Walter Londra, the antagonist, actually has a character that’s more than just “bad man is bad because he’s bad.” He’s a narcissist and a psychopath. He believes himself to be some kind of God amongst men. And his great scheme involves a cult, a rocket ship and a looming nuclear disaster. I mean, come on!
Romance on the Horizon.
And then there’s Seyka, the latest addition to the Horizon’s cast of companions. She’s smart, funny and easily the most useful companion Horizon has- her main weapon is a Ropecaster, you see. But more notably, Seyka is the first character where the player has the option to romance Aloy with a la Mass Effect. And the writers handle it very well. Seyka and Aloy have chemistry right off the bat and Seyka’s superior utility in gameplay means you as the player grow to like her too.
Moreover, this relationship finally, finally gives Aloy’s character the exploration and growth it lacked in the base game’s campaign. The writers must have seen the memes about how robotic some of the characters felt during the campaign, because Aloy’s writing in this DLC has addressed it directly and it did so well. All of this also opens possibilities for the future. Maybe Seyka won’t be the last romanceable character in Horizon? Perhaps we will be able to romance some of the already existing cast? As a diehard Errand x Aloy stan, I am praying that the latter comes to be.
So much so, I ultimately decided to reject young Seyka for it. Sorry, honey, but I’ve already chosen my ship. And I will either see it sail or go down with it, so help me God.
So, what’s the overall verdict?
Is the title hyperbole? Obviously, it is a little. However, I strongly believe that in terms of boss design and story, at least, Horizon: The Burning Shores is superior to Forbidden West. It feels like, as this was a far smaller project, the team had the chance to really dial in on the things they simply were not able to when developing the base game. Things like a wicked finale and nuanced character writing. And it was so worth it.