Horizon Forbidden West: Burning Shores REVEW (PS5)
''More Aloy, less attitude''
Developed: Guerrilla Games
Published: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Genre: Action Adventure
Release Date: April 19th, 2023
*Review copy provided to me by PLAYSTATION*
Burning Shores is the direct DLC follow up to the highly successful entry of Horizon Forbidden West and is developed by Guerrilla Games and published by Sony Interactive Entertainment. Having since released titles like Call Of The Mountain for their VR headset, which is also set in the same world of this franchise, Guerrilla Games now expands the story further and gives us a glimpse at the possibilities that are on the way for a potential third entry into the series. But is this DLC worth it? or is it something you can just bypass and forget it ever happened? Only one way to find out, so lets go!
Travel beyond the Forbidden West as Aloy’s story continues. Encounter new machines and a compelling new story. South of the Tenakth Clan Lands, millennia of volcanic eruptions and violent seismic activity have carved the ruins of Los Angeles into a treacherous archipelago. Experience the next chapter of Horizon Forbidden West as Aloy pursues a sinister new threat to the planet, hidden among these dangerous, untamed wilds.
''IF A BIRD POOPS ON IT. I'LL WIN''
The Horizon series has been a hit since its first release in 2017, and the latest DLC, Burning Shores, keeps up the excitement. Burning Shores to me, even as a DLC, is a worthy addition to the Horizon series, adding new features and gameplay elements while maintaining the features that made the series popular in the first place. Which I'm still terrible at. Now in Burning Shores Guerrilla Games once again has created a sci-fi story with high-octane action and puzzles that keeps players entertained or frustrated like me at forgetting to craft properly and running out of ammo during pivotal times causing me to die over and over. Likewise much of the same is present for other stuff to like that of which players will fight machines, solve puzzles, and climb tall structures, just like in previous games and the recent Call Of The Mountain on PSVR. Luckily you don't need VR controls for this like that game because my arms got tired SUPER quick climbing literal mountains. ''Do you even lift bro?'' I mean, I ain't your bro, but I did feel like I had lifted, yes. However while much is the same, there are additions to this game to make it stand out, such as, new machines that have been added to discover and new ways to defeat them have been introduced. Burning Shores is set in an archipelago four times the size of San Francisco, although without the poop patrol vans. Likewise with the graphics, that too gets a slight upgrade, with much of the same visual identity as the main map you knew in Forbidden West, but with tweaks here and there since this DLC is strictly PS5 only.
You will get an idea of the enhancements and fidelity as you look out at the world and see scenery and seeing the way the sand sparkles and the water glistens, and lava flows in a natural representation of the danger that lurks in the Burning Shores. The DLC also wastes no time in throwing players into danger, immediately immersing them in the rousing rhythms of Horizon combat. Not too much of a learning curve, but if you've forgotten how to play, just like me, and don't want to look like an idiot, also like me, then you will have to rediscover familiar combat techniques such as whipping into the air and slowing down time alongside new methods of machine destruction. For instance, explosive crystals can cause ruins to collapse onto nearby enemies, which allows you throw out your cringe one liners of ''Looks like things were made... Crystal Clear''. No? Ok. Due to the clustered island nature of the area, the level design naturally creates large, contained spaces that are perfect as action-filled arenas. The combat encounters that unfold within these spaces feel as accomplished as anything Guerrilla has created in the Horizon series to this date, with a great variety of enemies paired together and environments filled with opportunity. At its core in that aspect, this DLC feels more like a teaser that's holding us back from eventual Horizon 3, much like Intermission was the appetizer before Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth. But we'll have to see about that one.
''WHO FORGOT TO HIRE A LANDSCAPER?''
In addition to new things here in this DLC, Burning Shores introduces a few more new threats, including the buzzing, flying ant-like Sting spawn and the colossal, acid-spewing Bilegut. Not to be outdone, you also have an exciting new weapon that is also introduced to the player's arsenal to even the odds, that just allows me to reek havoc upon the world as my hostile takeover plan takes its final form, mwhahaha! uh oh, I said that out loud, oops. Additionally, fresh abilities are added to the skill tree, some of which are extremely effective and fun to use, when used in the proper setting that is, otherwise, you're going to end up picking the wrong ability, getting hit, falling down a mountain and dying a horrible death that makes you walk all the way back to the area where you got your butt kicked. Trust me, its annoying as heck, dont do it. Harping back to the games graphic fidelity, as I kept finding myself in awe, one of the things that stuck out most to me was the depiction of the cites themselves, which are just stunning and further reinforces Forbidden West and its DLC as one of the very best-looking games out there, still, yes, even a year later. Its like when I don't eat Stuffed Crust Pizza for a year and then finally eat again and just think ''holy crap, that's the big yummy in muh tummy!''. Burning Shores is really the same thing, only without mister Pizza Pizza man. Areas and sections from previous games, such as some landmarks, still stand, such as the crumbling husk of the Capitol Records Building where the only music being made these days is a clanging mashup of metal and electronic as machines whirr and crackle. Luckily its A LOT better than the crappy concert you get while watching Grizzly 2: The Revenge. If you feel like seeing a movie that is like watching The Discovery Channel, Disneyland Animatronics, and Woodstock all rolled into one hour long movie that makes zero sense, go watch it. Well no, don't do that, watch Samurai Cop instead, at least that's entertaining and plus you don't have a animatronic bear get electrocuted and hijacking Jaws 2 footage. Wait what?.
The new surroundings aren't just lovely to look at, but they also supply fun new gameplay quirks too. Fizzing geysers offer the chance to glide high into the air, making for an effective option in combat as you swoop over unsuspecting threats. Ballistas are used for their puzzle-solving abilities as much as their destructive ones as you create new paths in cliffs with their bolts. The smart deployment of equipment with multiple varying uses serves as a further display of the clever level design on display here, etc. Basically the world is yours, only without drug money and chopping people up like Tony Montana, Aloy isn't THAT crazy... yet at least. The majority of the fights in the game, from regular enemies, to even boss fights, are a thrill, but it's a deflating anticlimax or a let down when, in its big moments, Burning Shores falls a bit flat and feels like it kind of.. uhh.. drags on?. An annoyance that can make combat or the game in general start feeling cumbersome, are the damn arrow-sponge boss battles midway through its five-hour story is really really annoying for example. Think of the level of HP grinding as a title like Destiny 2 and you get the idea. Yikes. However besides that, then there's the huge-scale final encounter, where the clunky action just can't match the spectacle of of what is going on with all its chaos, as you're bounced around the arena like a ragdoll while trying to find damage-dealing areas to rest in, pick your spots and slowly drain the enemies health. Its not necessarily hard persay, but good booty busting dang it does it feel a tad bit boring. This is where my head shaking came into play considering how off putting the major boss fights can be in this game next to the regular enemies and even when compared to Horizon's trademark fluid combat itself. it's a disappointing finale that feels at odds with most of Burning Shores' runtime. This is a fun adventure that ends with a clumsy thud both mechanically and in the story, which does fall foul of some of Horizon's sci-fi trappings. But just becomes it doesn't stick the landing 100% in combat and some of its story, that doesn't mean that it doesn't improve upon others or have strengths that help carry over those terrible hurdles. Its not like me and my weak arms, this game can definitely carry more than 50lbs of awesome to make up for its weak little weeny arms.
Despite its focus on action and adventure, Burning Shores doesn't neglect the importance of character development, particularly when it comes to the protagonist Aloy. Luckily she's not as jerk like as she was in Forbidden West and resembles more of her character, in my opinion, that she portrayed herself as in the first entry. As the story progresses, Aloy's growth is primarily driven by her interactions with Seyka, a character who, like Aloy, is introverted and guarded. Basically again, like me, only cooler and not a weirdo who finds humor in watching Cops turn into Werewolves in really bad B movie type of quality. Don't judge me. Together, the two women help each other break down their walls(not like Chris Jericho), and become more open to the world around them and open to the fact that yes, you always need help and companionship at least at some point in your life. One of Seyka's most significant contributions to the story is her ability to share the narrative load with Aloy. Rather than having Aloy constantly narrate every little detail of her inventory and actions, Seyka gives Aloy someone to talk to, which not only adds depth to their relationship, but also adds variety to the game's dialogue. While they bounce off each other pretty well and near seamlessly, the only real drawback to me is that they seem almost like the same person, just re-skinned. Lots of similarities and it makes it impossible to un-see once you've noticed it. But even knowing that, you still get immersed with each character due to both of their talented voice actresses that bring the characters to life with Aloy's voice actress, Ashly Burch, continuing to deliver an excellent performance, but it's Kylie Liya Page's portrayal of Seyka that really shines. When she portrays herself as smart, resourceful or remorseful, you feel it and believe it. Despite having a relatively short amount of screen time, Page manages to create a nuanced and believable character that players will undoubtedly come to care about. Aloy and Seyka have a natural bond and they never feel forced or shoe horned in when they're on screen together at any point in the game. For instance, there are several standout scenes throughout the game where the two characters have meaningful interactions, both in quieter moments and in more action-packed sequences, which one of the most visually stunning moments takes place in an old amusement park in Los Angeles, where the remnants of the old world are on full display. The best part? there's no giant iguana foot to come smashing down into dinosaur bones like the Godzilla 98 marketing, so that's both a blessing and a disappointment. Well depending on what type of masochist you are.
''2023 LOOK AT MODERN DAY HOLLYWOOD''
At the end of the day, Burning Shores is a worthy addition to the series itself due to its excellent character development between the competitive Aly and the laid back Seyka, exciting new gameplay, amazing and stunning visual fidelity, fun new abilities - all of those make this game really great to play. Sure there's downsides on the wonky mechanics during some boss fights where it seems the mechanics just cant keep up with what you're trying to do, mid story dragging on or feeling sluggish, some frame rate skips here and there, but overall, to anyone who's enjoyed Zero Dawn, Forbidden West and even Call Of The Mountain, you will absolutely find enjoyment in this DLC, downsides or not. So with that having been said, my verdict is clear, GameNChick says BUY NOW