“Horizon is still beautiful”, Gilberto Gil would sing if he knew about games. Well, sending a hug or not, the Guerrilla Games game is still a true eye candy for players.
Beautiful, technically impressive and with more good moments, Burning Shores is the expansion for those who liked Forbidden West and want a taste of want more. The expansion also paves the way for the future of the franchise, which will inevitably have a third chapter.
Wherever it’s sunny… that’s where I’m going
There is no way to talk about the expansion without going into narrative details of Horizon Forbidden West. So if you haven’t tried the game yet, we don’t recommend reading the review. There are spoilers here.
The plot picks up right after the events of the end of the base game. Sylens explains to Aloy that one of the remaining members of Far Zenith has been making unknown plans that could put the future of the planet at risk and sends her to the “Burning Shore”, a new region of the map, south of Tilda’s mansion.
We already knew how beautiful Forbidden West was and that hasn’t changed a thing. In fact, the place – Los Angeles area – has many beaches, sun, clear sea… Almost a paradise. If it weren’t for the killing machines, it would be perfect for a vacation.
There’s a lot to be dazzled by, from a bird leaving tracks in the sand, to the sunset with many takes in photographic mode. The graphical quality of the game on PlayStation 5 is very impressive. Perhaps the most beautiful game on Sony’s “new” console.
However, all this potential was not exactly used very well. The Hollywood area could be better enjoyed with more activities, secrets and incentives to explore. The game does not direct the actions very much, leaving it up to the player to try to find an objective in this sense.
landing in love
It all starts with Aloy making a forced landing in the region and already meeting Seyka, a “marine” from the Quen tribe. Between struggles and alliances, the redhead and the soldier align their common goals and form a partnership to resolve their disputes, each in their own way.
And that brings a small change in the way the narrative is conducted. Aloy and Seyka are together almost all the time, which slightly changes the dynamics of the game itself. If in Zero Dawn and Forbidden West, the exile lived her journey very alone, not here.
If you like to follow the main missions at your own pace, exploring the scenarios, collecting resources, climbing with peace of mind… Maybe you’re a little annoyed with Seyka reminding Aloy to move forward or giving tips on how to solve the puzzles.
On the other hand, the connection between them is good. Both are exiles and deal with similar emotional challenges and experiences. This makes the dialogues more natural and fluid. Not that the player really comes to bond with Seyka. Because there isn’t much time for that.
And this is where the main critical point of Burning Shores lies. Time.
The main campaign can be completed in around 4 to 5 hours of gameplay. A relatively short time for the size of the island, which, again, could be better used.
Because it’s so short, the plot happens very quickly. There is no development in interesting characters, such as the Far Zenith targeted by Aloy, who even with audios and texts, serves only as one more obstacle in the way of our warrior.
Everything is fast: Aloy receives a briefing, mounts her bird and goes after the villain. Sure, there’s a detour here and there, but it’s objective and straightforward.
This is also reflected in several other elements of the journey. The new machines: there are only four; there’s a new way to explore water regions – pretty cool, by the way – and another way to get around.
That is, it is not such a wide offer.
Still, there are good opportunities to explore the beautiful region, test the new skills, armor, use a ballista that facilitates climbing and taking down enemies, have fun with the geysers and fight.
It is in battles that Horizon excels brilliantly. Taking down giant machines with varied strategies remains a lot of fun and rewarding. It’s okay that we thought the challenges of the expansion didn’t put us to the test, but they were still fun times.
There are new fighting skills, a more aerial way to attack machines and even an option that allows you to collect resources just by passing over them. Makes it a lot easier in combat.
The climax, at the end of the fight, starts off epic, only it decays considerably in momentum. Everything seemed to be heading towards the most memorable boss fight of the series, but it all boils down to finding the right time to attack specific points.
And if you are more careful, you can even find more points to be mentioned, such as: there are moments of stealth where the enemies are simply blind to Seyka, reminding us a lot of those situations from The Last of Us Remastered, where Ellie crossed opponents and nothing happened. Weird.
On the other hand, this ends up not overshadowing the result as a whole.
Is Horizon Forbidden West: Burning Shores worth it?
It’s always a trick question. For fans of the franchise and for those who already want to put a foot in a possible Horizon 3, it certainly is.
Are there your flaws? Yes. Burning Shores might not be as short on narrative, or at least not rush things so much. Although one point depends on the other to be developed. Have more machines and secondary activities. The price in Brazil could also be more attractive.
In any case, it’s a beautiful game, which takes more than 10 hours to complete 100% (exploring everything, doing all secondary tasks, reading all files, listening to audios…etc).
Does it work for you? In my case, it was worth playing Burning Shores and I’m even more looking forward to a third game.
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