A good expansion usually consists of the best of the main game, with a small twist. The expansion to Horizon Forbidden West is also made according to that proven recipe. Built on the shoulders of a giant, but with new locations, missions, enemies and weapons, Burning Shores on paper has everything to keep you entertained for another ten hours.

Burning Shores takes place right after the end of Forbidden West. You must therefore also have completed the main story before you can start the expansion. Once you’re ready, you can expect a call from Sylens, one of the last roles of the recently deceased Lance Reddick. On his advice, Aloy travels to the “burning coast” of California.

The area around what is now called Los Angeles has been changed almost beyond recognition in the world of Horizon by centuries of landslides and volcanic activity. Amid ruins and lava flows, a new evil is brewing. It is of course again up to Aloy to eradicate that with root and branch.

Once there, however, something else is brewing. Aloy soon encounters Seyka, a stranded Quen. They have a common goal of finding Seyka’s missing tribesmen, but it doesn’t take long for more to come between the two. It’s nice to see another side of the so stoic, heroic Aloy, but the question is whether this expansion is the best place for that.

Aloy and Seyka need quite a bit of time to thaw out, but there isn’t that much time in this expansion. Almost all missions are therefore part of one continuous story to give the two ladies as much screen time as possible, but even then their story arc feels rushed. A specific visit to a derelict theme park also feels like a page straight out of The Last of Us: Part 2 script. But then with dialogues that are sometimes cut off or disrupted because Seyka accidentally stays behind somewhere.

Horizon is good at completely different things, such as fighting with gigantic robots. But that too is pushed to the background a bit in Burning Shores. There are hardly any new enemies and therefore hardly any challenging confrontations. It is as if the game saves its gunpowder for the final battle, which is so bombastic that at times you can only dodge and hope for a good outcome.

This last fight is also the only moment that somewhat explains why Burning Shores only appears on PlayStation 5, and not on PS4 like the main game. Anyone who expects a kind of next-gen Horizon due to that exclusivity will be disappointed.

Other activities can literally be counted on one hand. It is not a problem that the abundance of generic icons on the map has been cut. For example, we can miss Metal Flowers and Firegleam as a toothache. But nothing replaces it either. There is therefore almost no reason to explore the landscape.

In fact, self-exploration is actively countered by making certain regions inaccessible until you visit them for a story mission. Burning Shores has therefore become almost a linear adventure. It is a huge contrast to Forbidden West, where main and side missions were wonderfully balanced and you enjoyed a lot of freedom.

In this way you go through the available missions in a nutshell and after about twelve hours you have already scraped the bottom out of the can. Burning Shores isn’t bad, as it’s built on the rock solid foundation of Forbidden West, benefiting from a fluid combat system and eye-catching graphics, especially when a mountainside is ominously illuminated by a swirling lava flow. But where The Frozen Wilds was still a kind of pressure cooker version of Horizon Zero Dawn, with all ingredients in an extra high concentration, Burning Shores feels out of balance.

Both Aloy’s personal development and her discoveries are an important prelude to Horizon 3, and it is also nice to see Lance Reddick as Sylens one more time. For fans, that is reason enough to travel to the south. But with a setting as interesting as the volcanic ruins of Los Angeles, you’d expect some more proverbial landslides.

Horizon Forbidden West: Burning Shores is out now on PlayStation 5.



+ Spectacular final battle
+ We get to see another side of Aloy
+ Visually stunningly beautiful

– To few activities besides the main story
– Feels Rushed