Horizon Forbidden West’s DLC is a PS5 exclusive, but that’s a good thing
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Featured Image Credit: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Horizon Forbidden West was undoubtedly my personal game of the year in 2022. I know I’m not alone in thinking that and yet, Forbidden West failed to gain any kind of awards recognition. Guerrilla Games’ latest was overshadowed by both Elden Ring and God of War Ragnarök and while I think those are incredible games, I still don’t believe they’re leagues above Forbidden West.
If you ask me, Horizon Forbidden West gave us the year’s very best open world which is why I was thrilled to hear Burning Shores announced at The Game Awards. In case you missed it, Burning Shores is a brand new DLC set to release on 19 April and will see Aloy journey to the ruins of Los Angeles, “an overgrown and fractured city that can be fully explored via the water and flying on the back of a sunwing.” There, she will be confronted by “a massive machine threat” according to the PlayStation Blog. There’s one major downside though. Burning Shores is set to be a PlayStation 5 exclusive.
Check out the trailer for Horizon Forbidden West: Burning Shores below.
There’s no hiding that this is somewhat of a dirty move. Forbidden West was, of course, released on the PlayStation 4. There’s going to be a large chunk of the fanbase unable to experience the key story beats contained in this DLC - for now, at least. Forbidden West is the final PlayStation exclusive to include a free PS5 upgrade. I’d imagine Guerrilla are hoping that PS4 owners will end up redeeming this offer and will then be able to experience Burning Shores.
Bottom line is, there’s no way you can console (no pun intended) that group of fans. I remember when my beloved Professor Layton made the switch from Nintendo DS to Nintendo 3DS. It was years before I eventually upgraded my console and was able to continue with Layton’s adventures. That being said, when I reached that point, I understood why that choice had been made. This is by no means the first time a series has altered access. Insomniac followed 2016’s Ratchet and Clank (available on the PlayStation 4) with the 2021 PlayStation 5 exclusive Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart.
It all stems down to technology and what it’s capable of. The PlayStation 5 is over two years old, and very few games are pushing the capabilities of the console. When I think about the occasions I’ve been the most impressed by the PlayStation 5, my mind drifts to Rift Apart, Astro’s Playroom, and The Last of Us Part I. All three titles happen to be PS5 exclusives - and it’s noticeable. 3D audio and haptic feedback is utilised wholly in every conceivable way. It’s certainly present in cross-generational titles like Forbidden West and God of War Ragnarök, but to a palpably lesser extent.
When justifying the decision to make Burning Shores a PS5 exclusive, Guerrilla said, “To achieve this grand vision technically and creatively, we’ve made the difficult decision to focus all our efforts on making an incredible experience exclusively for the PlayStation 5 console.” I’ve always said that Forbidden West was 2022’s most impressive graphical offering, but don’t just take my word for it. The folks over at Digital Foundry awarded Forbidden West with the ‘Best Graphics of 2022’ award. From the stunning vistas, to the highly realistic weather systems, and incredible NPC rendering, Horizon Forbidden West had it all.
Based on this, there’s no studio I’d love to see release a PlayStation 5 exclusive more. Even on the PlayStation 4, Horizon Forbidden West looks stunning, but Burning Shores could give us a real ‘wow’ moment and those are few and far between on the PlayStation 5. It’s a console that needs that moment of saying, ‘This is why you need me.’ That’s no consolation to PS4 fans who may not experience this DLC for quite some time, but it wouldn’t be the first time a franchise made the generational leap - and it certainly won’t be the last.