Horizon Forbidden West: Burning Shores is DLC done right

A shot of Aloy drawing a boy on the beach in the video game Horizon Forbidden West: Burning Shores
(Image credit: Sony Interactive Entertainment)

I’ve had a great time playing through Horizon Forbidden West: Burning Shores, which was just released exclusively for the PS5. That’s not surprising given how much praise I gave the original game in my Horizon Forbidden West review. As a standalone entry, Burning Shores is as good as the core title and serves as a nice segway to the inevitable sequel. If you already own Forbidden West, Burning Shores is a must-buy expansion.

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Playing Horizon Forbidden West’s DLC made me think about how much I’ve enjoyed similar expansions released for PlayStation exclusives. Spider-Man: Miles Morales is as good or better than Marvel's Spider-Man. Horizon Zero Dawn’s Frozen Wilds DLC was also fantastic. Not only are these expansions great, but they keep their respective franchises fresh in people's minds.

Below, I’ll discuss why Horizon Forbidden West: Burning Shores is DLC done right and why it would be wise for Sony to release more expansions like it.

Horizon Forbidden West: Burning Shores 

Horizon Forbidden West: Burning Shores takes place immediately after Forbidden West’s conclusion. In fact, the Burning Shores quest won’t activate unless you’ve completed the main storyline. Protagonist Aloy is given a new mission by her rival-turned-ally Sylens (played by the late Lance Reddick) who sends her to a region called the Burning Shores to clean up a loose end from the game’s ending.

Horizon Forbidden West: Burning Shores contains famous Los Angeles landmarks like the Griffith Observatory, shown in this screenshot of the game.

Horizon Forbidden West: Burning Shores contains famous Los Angeles landmarks like the Griffith Observatory. (Image credit: Sony Interactive Entertainment)

The Burning Shores is a post-apocalyptic Los Angeles, which is now an archipelago. You’ll see familiar landmarks such as the Capital Records building, the Griffith Observatory, and of course, the Hollywood sign as well as the eponymous hills it's situated on. I won’t spoil it, but suffice it to say it’s entertaining heading to new locations in the game and recognizing iconic landmarks.

Burning Shores does an admirable job of quickly reteaching you the core mechanics without forcing you into a full-on tutorial. I appreciate this since I’ve completely forgotten how to play the game. It has been a year, after all. It didn’t take me long to reacquaint myself with the controls and I soon became a proficient warrior. That served me well as some of the new robotic enemies are quite fierce. The game introduces a new weapon and new skills to help even the odds — though I mostly used the core weapons and skills I was already familiar with.

Aloy aims her spear at a Bilegut, one of the new enemy machines in Horizon Forbidden West: Burning Shores

Horizon Forbidden West: Burning Shores has some of the series' finest action set pieces. (Image credit: Sony Interactive Entertainment)

Like Forbidden West, Burning Shores features stunning graphics that take advantage of the PS5’s powerful hardware. Even if the sandy beaches and glittering ocean are reminiscent of what we saw in the game’s San Francisco region, they’re no less stunning to behold. Of course, there are other locations and environments we’ve never seen before — with epic action sequences that explain why this DLC isn’t available on the aging PS4. Burning Shores is a visual marvel.

I don’t want to say more for fear of spoilers, but suffice it to say that Horizon Forbidden West: Burning Shores is a brilliant expansion to one of the best PS5 games available. More than that, it does an excellent job of getting us ready and excited for the third installment. The Horizon franchise might not be as popular as The Last of Us or God of War, but it’s a solid sci-fi action-adventure series that demonstrates the quality of PlayStation's exclusives.

We need more expansions for PlayStation exclusives

It can sometimes take years for big-time PlayStation exclusives to receive a sequel. The Last of Us Part 2 was released in 2020, a full seven years after its predecessor. We didn’t have quite the same wait for God of War Ragnarök, but it was still a long four years. The sequel to Death Stranding is on its way, but it’s unclear when that will manifest.

Miles stands on a rooftop in his spidey suit in the video game Spider-Man: Miles Morales

Spider-Man: Miles Morales is an exceptional expansion available on PS5. (Image credit: Future)

Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 is slated to release this year — five years after the original. However, the wait doesn’t feel as long because we got Spider-Man: Miles Morales to tide us over. This proves that it would be wise for Sony to release expansions of its biggest titles while we wait for mainline sequels. And as we’ve seen in the past, these ventures can contain the same level of quality as the games they’re derived from. Miles Morales is a great example, as is Ghost of Tsushima: Iki Island and Returnal: Ascension. Let’s not forget Uncharted: Lost Legacy, Infamous: Festival of Blood and Infamous: Fight Light.

I could list more, but I don’t want to belabor the point. The company has a history of releasing DLC and expansions for its exclusives. We need to see more of them, especially with how long it takes for new entries to come out.

Bottom line 

Horizon Forbidden West: Burning Shores is a DLC that’s an enjoyable ride for those who’ve finished the main game but yearn for more. Beyond that, it makes the case for more expansions like it on PS5. Sony has proven it's willing to fund such projects, as evidenced by Miles Morales, Iki Island, Burning Shores and the other expansions I’ve mentioned. Hopefully, we’ll keep getting more throughout the PS5’s lifecycle… and beyond.

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Tony Polanco
Computing Writer

Tony is a computing writer at Tom’s Guide covering laptops, tablets, Windows, and iOS. During his off-hours, Tony enjoys reading comic books, playing video games, reading speculative fiction novels, and spending too much time on X/Twitter. His non-nerdy pursuits involve attending Hard Rock/Heavy Metal concerts and going to NYC bars with friends and colleagues. His work has appeared in publications such as Laptop Mag, PC Mag, and various independent gaming sites.