Like the streets of New York, Los Angeles is one of those cities where you instantly recognize its landmarks, even if you’ve never set foot in the place. We also travel to Los Angeles a lot in the games – as recently as last week, I was beating the brains of the undead cops who patrol up and down Venice Beach in Dead Island 2 – but I never seen los angeles like this This, A luscious, leafy paradise where palm trees sway and turquoise waters glisten and molten lava tumbles down the hillside beneath that iconic sign. Though now known as Burning Shores, the ghosts of LA we know so well still remain if you know where to look.
I’ve always been charmed by the world of Horizon, a strange place that’s simultaneously familiar and foreign, old and new, and Horizon Forbidden West’s long-awaited DLC, Burning Shores, does nothing to change that. How strange it is, even now, to see a mechanical beast leaping and pirates chasing its prey as if it were made of flesh and muscle, not scrap and steel. Yes, they still scare me.
Burning Shores Horizon expands on the original story of the Forbidden West, meaning you’ll need to complete the main campaign before Silence calls you out for this additional campaign, taking you to the new Burning Shores location. There, we’ll encounter not only a new locale to explore, but also a whole new selection of dangerous machines and BFFs-in-waiting. I can’t say that I was particularly impressed with the story; Horizon’s lore is complex and layered, and it takes a while to familiarize yourself, which is probably why Burning Shore’s pedestrian tale of greed and corruption falls awkwardly flat — not least because I took the main story by a mile. Saw coming away Not a major issue, but it’s a shame that the story never quite got it right for me, despite the efforts of the talented cast.
There’s also no time to refamiliarize yourself with the control scheme. It’s been over a year since some of us teamed up with Aloys, but Guerrilla isn’t having time to ease you back in. Instead, we are immediately thrown into the fray. I guess I forgot how complex the bells and whistles of Horizon Forbidden West were; Much of my opening time was spent scrolling through menus and trying to re-acquaint myself with Aloy’s arsenal of tools and weapons as much as it was familiarizing myself with the story.
But when a game looks like Burning Shores — when it takes a setting like modern Los Angeles and turns it into a peaceful sun-drenched oasis — the last thing you want to do is return to the menu. Yes, Aloy’s follow-up adventure In fact It’s as surprising as it sounds at first glance, providing endless opportunities to abuse your screenshot button; In fact, I think I took more screenshots of this DLC than of the entire main campaign.
The problem with Aloy’s new adventure is that she hasn’t learned anything from the past. All the things that bothered me about Horizon Forbidden West remain – say, the clumsy stagecraft, or the endless villainous monologuing (maybe if these guys didn’t leave sinister voice memos lying around all over the place, people would get on with their nefarious work. ways?) — but now they feel ubiquitous, thanks to shorter runtimes. Even Seika – sweet as she is – begins to build towards the climax; One minute, she’s too scared to fly, and the next minute, she’s wily and one-liners as she floats through the sky. Even the final decision you make doesn’t have any meaningful effect on the story; To do or not to do, it does not matter. It all ends the same way, which makes me wonder why we are given a blank option. How odd that Guerrilla made such poignant character development completely optional.
Not that I contest Aloy’s interactions and downtime because I really don’t, and I’m still curiously enthralled by that trial, if now slightly aged, open-world formula of fight-loot-quest. . I just wish, given that we’re endlessly climbing clifftops and the walls of abandoned buildings, Aloy would respond a little less vigorously to what I’m asking her to do. Because honestly, dear Aloy, I don’t know why you think I want you to jump off the edge of this huge cliff, when there’s clearly a ledge, I want to reach six inches above those golden locks of yours. I’m trying (still running endlessly: it’s like her hair is clutching).
It doesn’t matter how much I level up Aloy’s combat capability. It doesn’t matter how many times I try to find a stealth route and crawl around the perimeter, killing things on Qt as I go; I always seem to be on the wrong side of victory, whether I’m tackling a boss or taking risks on some wacky machines by the water’s edge. However, that has always been part of the skyline’s allure; Taking on machines – any machines – may not be worth the risk, and this is what elevates Guerrilla Fighting above its peers. What a shame it is, considering Horizon Forbidden West’s otherwise audaciously-tight combat, that it ends with such a damp squib of a boss fight that our adversary won’t shut up. All our villains needed was a twirl of a leery mustache, and we would have completed the set of Stupid Stuff Bad Guys Do.
Admittedly, I’ve never been a fan of the humble boss fight (I know, I know; not a popular opinion) but I do think Burning Shore’s final performance is peculiar. Given that fighting in the rest of the game typically requires the kind of careful dismemberment that would make Isaac Clarke proud, this final fight lacks the kind of bombast and flair I was expecting. Coupled with a two-dimensional villain who appears to be evil for the sake of evil, Burning Noise doesn’t prime us for a third installment as much as it limps toward one.
That said, if you enjoyed Horizon Forbidden West, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t enjoy this expansion, especially if that’s what you’re looking for: that’s exactly what you’ll find. And given that the voice work is sublime, the facial expressions are striking, and the world around you is absolutely stunning, even in spite of its flaws, Burning Shores is a worthy experience. Add in one of Lance Reddick’s final performances – in which Silence thanked us for our extraordinary contributions that truly brought tears to my eyes – and you’ll be glad you gave it the time.
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