Surviving the Burning Shores

Have you ever seen anyone else even try to do it? I may be the only one who tried to survive the Horizon 2 Forbidden West DLC: Burning Shores.

· 5 min read
Surviving the Burning Shores

You can see my blind, NG, Ultra Hard, HUDless, careful, 4K 60fps HDR, Let’s Play on YouTube, including commentary on the fascinating concepts showcased in the Horizon world.


Surviving means that you would finish the main quest without dying. Or at least, in trying, do it with as few deaths as possible. Treat the game as permadeath. That includes that you should not restart the game. Do it on the first try, blind, without any outside help.

Why? Because I love how immersive this game can be. I like to behave as Aloy would if it really was life-or-death. Being careful, smart and prepared. Not knowing what’s to come. Behaving realistically, so far as it can be done in the game. That would also mean that I will always try to avoid getting hurt. A low-health strategy is out of the question. No hero would willingly aim to hurt themselves just to get motivated to fight harder. I would ideally do everything without ever getting hurt.

The same goes for NG+. That whole concept breaks immersion. And it's per definition not your first try. That means, to survive the Burning Shores, you would have to do it on a New Game (NG) Ultra Hard (UH) playthrough. No NG+.

Upgrading all the weapons, outfits, tools and skills will give you ample opportunity to survive everything that comes your way. Some experienced players may impose extra limitations to increase the challenge. I fully understand that different players like the games in different ways, with their own playstyles. For me, I gladly use everything I have, if it means that I may come out of all this alive.

I like doing all this carefully, since I’m pretty risk-averse by nature. I prefer to find the safest way to solve any challenge, using smarts and patience rather than combat prowess. For that reason, I have also skipped all of the Arena and melee pits, missing out on some of the beast weapons and outfits in the game. Would not risk hurting Aloy just for sports. Especially not under time constraints.

I set out to experience the Burning Shores blind. After the first teaser, I decided to avoid everything related to the DLC. I usually enjoy seeing other people play the game and after I finished the main game, I looked up more information about things I missed about the world, machines and the game mechanics. But for playing the Burning Shores blind, I decided to not use any guides or tips or any other outside help, from the start to the end of the DLC. That's also how I prefer to experience the media. Preferably not having any information about it. Ideally not even a name or a cover image.


Majestic wilderness, awe-inspiring machines and exotic tribes. The world of Horizon Zero Dawn is beautiful. Even more so in its sequel Horizon Forbidden West, in 4K resolution on the PlayStation 5, on a HDR display with surround sound, rendered with 60 FPS. The detail and density of foliage, the thickness of life in the air and the warm saturated colors. The light shining through the gently moving leaves. — Stop and smell the Vigorstems.

I like to spend time in this world. Moving naturally for immersion and for giving myself time to experience the cinematic beauty. Why would you jump and run around and miss all of this? Run when you need to, in combat, but save your energy when you can. And running around in the middle of settlements is just plain rude.

You can use the settings to customize HUD (head-up display). The game UI (user interface) can be flat, diegetic, spatial or meta. I prefer the diegetic or meta variants. Most of the game can be played fairly with all of the flat and spatial UI turned off. This means that you will have no icons, text or bars in the corners of the screen, or attached to objects and places in the world. I enjoy seeing the world in all its uncluttered beauty. I will tread carefully, listening for any sound around me.

There is a “dynamic” HUD preset, that will hide most of the UI, but that is not nearly good enough. I’d prefer turning almost everything off and using the focus or touch to see things on demand. (The HUD will display temporarily when you swipe up (not click) on the touchpad.) The only HUD component I keep is the reticule.

The HUDless config is not done as a challenge. I just don’t like distractions and enjoy the immersion of the minimal HUD. There are times where I temporarily activate some components to help me survive in tricky situations. The nice part is that almost all of the HUD is explained in game with the augmented reality (AR) capabilities of the focus device.

Take a break from all the running. It's time for Games Done Slow! Relax with my immersive slowplay. I will explain my thinking and preparation every step on the way. There will probably be a lot of things you didn’t think of doing. Did you find any part hard to get through without getting hurt? I may have tips for you, even though I did not know what I would encounter behind the next corner.

Was there anything I could have done safer? Please let me know in the comments under the respective video.


Horizon Zero Dawn is built on an amazing concept. I love science fiction exploring ideas related to our world and the human condition. There are so many interesting topics in this game. The tension between nature and technology. How culture and language forms our values and understanding of the world. The idea of a better world. Hopes and fears.

I was hoping to find the time to talk about everything while walking through the world. Thinking freely on all the places, events and data-points, as they happened.

… I got distracted.

But I did take the time to cover some topics. Especially during some episodes after the main quest. Here are some of the things I talked about. Please comment on anything of interest.

All the videos are marked with chapters for easy navigation.

Difficulty and surviving

#00 Ultra Hard, Blind
#01 What is game difficulty? Complexity Open World
#08 Permadeath
#51 Trying to survive
#86 Being careful

Game systems

#01 Playstyle Freedom
#77 Systems vs Random
#78 Machine health
#83 Systemic restoration, Quests in a systemic world
#88 Systemic Story
#89 Tears of the Kingdom, NetHack, Half-Life 2, Systemic World, Systemic Story, Systemic Traversal, Active Climbing
#90 Non-systemic mechanics, Critical Hits

Game Interactivity

#25 Puzzles and locked doors
#78 Diegetic Interface
#81 Mechanics added in Burning Shores
#86 Changes from H1 to H2
#89 Active Climbing

Game Story

#26 Mystery
#81 Realism
#82 Hero's journey, The found family

Game Immersion

#34 Loading times
#89 Simulation fidelity, Walks in nature
#91 Idle Animations

Psychology and culture

#01 Psychopathy
#78 Why so careful?, Sensory overload
#81 Utaru harmony, Utaru relationships
#84 Hunter-gatherer, Brand optics
#85 Environmentalism
#91 The Quen

Artificial Intelligence

#14 Transformer AI
#38 AI assistants
#60 Adjusting the personality of AI assistants
#85 Computability, Machine Learning feelings, Symbolic Logic
#87 Nature of consciousness, Artificial General Intelligence, Artificial Emotions, Artificial Consciousness


#14 Augmented Reality
#27 Recording dreams
#84 Focus functionality, Dangers of technology


#81 Machines purpose for terraforming
#83 HEPHAESTUS, Healing the land, Resilience of animal morphology
#84 Nature resilience, DEMETER, The Hot Zone Crisis, Zero Dawn Project, Ecology, Dangers of technology, Technology in harmony with ecology and humanity
#85 Biological reductionism, Holistic Ecology, Computing ecology
#90 Permaculture


#16 Unconditional Basic Income
#25 Unconditional Basic Income
#84 Capitalism, Negative externalities, Company reputation, Brand optics, Economic pressures, Basic Income, Zero Marginal Cost

Please comment and share your thoughts. Tell me if there is anything you would like me to cover in more depth.


Written by Jonas Liljegren
Exploring unconventional methods in technology development to shape a better future.