Horizon Forbidden West Burning Shores is a true epilogue in DLC form. While Horizon Zero Dawn's DLC, Frozen Wilds, took us on a journey set somewhere in the middle of that game's event, unrelated to the core narrative, Burning Shores picks up with Aloy immediately after the closing moments of Forbidden West. However, it straddles a dangerous line between being the ultimate treat for the most dedicated of Aloy's followers and a knowledge gap for those who decide to skip this paid-for DLC ahead of Horizon 3. Burning Shores may be getting flack for its length, but even in its short run-time, it manages to have serious implications for Aloy's story going forward.
Caution - Major story spoilers ahead for Horizon Forbidden West and Burning Shores
Burning Shores' central focus is the reveal of a remaining Zenith who Aloy must track down in the new LA-based locale and take down. But, it's not the creepy Walter Londra that really has a pervading impact on Horizon's world. Instead, it's the character of Seyka that will no doubt be reprising her role in whatever the next Horizon game will be. This Quen marine is very like Aloy; an outcast of sorts as she doesn't really fit the roles her tribe prescribes, and thus continually breaks the rules to get the answers she craves. It's a familiar position for Aloy to relate to, and so a friendship blossoms from that shared perspective.
Now, you seemingly get a choice at the end of the Burning Shores story whether to take that relationship further – a moment the majority of fans have been waiting for, but for me, the decision was obvious. With so many charged looks, lingering touches, and emotionally heavy moments between them during the DLC, it would have felt wrong to deny the pair their eventual kiss. After all, Horizon Forbidden West fans had already dubbed this new companion girlfriend material (myself included), so this just felt like a natural conclusion for their time together.
Although it's not really a conclusion, but more of a beginning for the blossoming relationship – at least I hope so. Even going straight for the kiss, there are a bunch of mixed emotions tied up in how the pair speak to each other. Seyka wants to be with Aloy, but they also lament that they're not sure the next time they'll see each other again. I'm wistfully thinking that's purely because Seyka needs to work with Alva to reunite the Quen and Aloy's always got something to be working on ahead of Nemesis' impending arrival.
I just hope it's not a sign that Seyka won't be a part of whatever Horizon 3 turns out to be. I've always thought it admirable that until this point Aloy hasn't been a love interest, with her story instead focusing on the idea of found family and self-discovery. There's always been hints and nods to subtle flirtations and potential romances, but I've loved that they've never been truly explored. So, although Seyka's introduction feels like a natural evolution, I'm a little frustrated at Guerrilla for tucking her first kiss, and a queer one at that, in the DLC rather than the main story. To challenge that, Horizon 3 needs to grab this new addition to Aloy's inner circle and bring her in close for Burning Shores' moment to continue to have the gravitas it deserves.
Burning Shores' potential impact isn't all about romance though, it's also about friendship. The DLC is bookended with words from Sylens, our baddie turned almost ally by the end of Horizon Forbidden West, played and voiced by the late great Lance Reddick. Now, of course, the developers at Guerrilla wouldn't have known about his passing during development, but there's a sad poignancy to the emotional evolution Sylens admits to in Burning Shores' final mission (suitably titled Epilogue). He admits he needs Aloy and the crew to fight Nemesis, which feels huge for his character arc so far. How exactly Guerrilla resolves the loss of Reddick with what's next for Aloy and Sylens will be interesting to see unfold, and just makes me more eager to see what Horizon 3 will bring.
Until we hear more about the next Horizon game though, Horizon Forbidden West players are noting all the Burning Shores quality-of-life changes Guerrilla isn't