Horizon Forbidden West: Burning Shores Is a Queer Gamer’s Dream Come True

Absolutely massive spoilers below for Horizon Forbidden West: Burning Shores. 

Guerrilla Games dropped the — first? only? — DLC for Horizon Forbidden West yesterday. It’s name, Burning Shores, references the new world Aloy travels to in her pursuit of information to help her beat Nemesis, the AI that’s pissed as hell at the Far Zeniths from the Old World, and heading to earth to destroy it all over again. Burning Shores is Los Angeles, sunken, earthquaked, volcanoed, and on fire. It’s also home to a faction of the Quen expedition that got separated from the rest of the tribe Aloy met in the main game. Among them is Seyka, a marine with a penchant for breaking rules and bossing people around. From the second Aloy meets her, when her Sunwing gets shot out of the sky and she crashes onto the beach at Seyka’s feet, she is smitten. Yes, that’s right, my gay gaming friends: Horizon Forbidden West: Burning Shores confirms, finally and fully, that Aloy is as queer as her genetic mother, Dr. Elisabet Sobeck.

The Burning Shores map is a full third of the size of the original game map, but I confess I haven’t yet ventured outside the main storyline. It was seriously so clear, immediately, that Aloy was going to catch feelings for Seyka that I didn’t even pause to upgrade my cool new weapon or try on my new armor. Like Aloy, I just followed Seyka everywhere she told me to go. Which was a new thing, for both me and Aloy; I’m usually the kind of gamer who spends endless hours picking daisies on the hillside while the main NPCs yell at me that the world is ending and I’m the only one who can save it.

Seyka sits on a log on the beach. Aloy stands behind her.

It’s Seyka’s bossiness that first gets Aloy’s attention. Aloy is the one who usually tromps into town demanding to know what the heck is going on and who’s in charge, so she can then completely dismiss whatever demands people make to carry out her own missions. Aloy cocks her eyebrow, baffled by Seyka’s confidence and competence with a bow (and a Ropecaster, which is still nerfed beyond use in the DLC), and also baffled by her response to Seyka’s whole beautiful deal. They climb around inside ruins while they flirt (“Someone likes my Pullcaster!”). They travel together by boat and Sunwing and a whole new swimming Sunwing called the Waterwing (“It’s a snug fit,” Seyka says climbing up behind Aloy and wrapping her arms around her waist. “We’ll manage,” Aloy grins, before launching into the sky.) And they slowly open up to each other about their lives and their struggles, building a tentative trust, and promising to help each other win their battles. When Seyka gets mad at Aloy, she kind of comes unglued. She can’t understand why she’s so bothered that Seyka’s mad! Erend stays mad at her, and it’s never gotten under her skin like this! Not ever!

In every cutscene, Aloy and Seyka’s relationship deepens. They’re sweet and awkward and nervous. Aloy wasn’t even this nervous fighting a Deathbringer! She regularly leaps off of buildings and cliffs with nothing but a rope in her hand and a busted piece of shield tech in her pocket! Her favorite thing is blowing holes into the walls and ceilings of centuries-old crumbling buildings! She’s never been scared like this! Even the music, when Aloy and Seyka are fighting together, is romantic. (Except the Slaughterspine fight music, which is still punk as heck.)

Aloy and Seyka clasp arms

In the end, you can choose whether or not to kiss Seyka right on the mouth — but even if you don’t, there’s no getting around the narratively concrete fact that Aloy has real, romantic feelings for her. Even choosing the most intellectual response to Seyka’s feelings confession gives an answer about how Aloy’s reciprocates, but the timing is wrong. (The world, after all, is still in mortal peril.)

It’s almost impossible to overstate what a big deal this development is. Sure, big studio games have been getting better and better about including queer romance options over the years, but there are still very few games where you both play as a woman protagonist and are verifiably, canonically, no-way-around-it queer. For this to be happening in a game as important — to the gaming community and to the PlayStation5’s success — as Horizon? That’s huge! It’s also rad as as everything that Aloy is voiced by queer actress Ashly Burch. And from a narrative perspective, Burning Shores shows Aloy taking the kind of chance on love that her genetic mother never could.

For Elisabet Sobeck, saving the world was more important than any kind of relationship, romantic or otherwise. Aloy has the exact same weight on her shoulders, and now she’s learned that the people you love are what makes the world worth saving.

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Heather Hogan

Heather Hogan is an Autostraddle senior editor who lives in New York City with her wife, Stacy, and their cackle of rescued pets. She's a member of the Television Critics Association, GALECA: The Society of LGBTQ Entertainment Critics, and a Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer critic. You can also find her on Twitter and Instagram.

Heather has written 1718 articles for us.


  1. I’ve downloaded the DLC, started playing it a bit last night and got up to meeting Seyka and I just sat there going ‘Oh, look, Aloy’s finally getting a girlfriend.’ without having seen this article or anything else about it and I am absolutely thrilled! I am also sort of surprised; which is a natural reaction I think I’ll always have whenever a game developer decides to actually be genuinely inclusive.

    So you all know what I’m going to spend my weekend doing.

  2. Is there a list of games with a lesbian story line option?

    Life is Strange:True Colors

    I just finished playing this game on Xbox and was pleasantly shocked by a lesbian option with an actual mouth kiss possible near the end.

    • I’m sure someones complied a list of just those. Wikipedia has a list but it’s just of all video games that had LGBT characters.

      But here’s a list of ones I can think of off the top of my head

      Mass Effect (All of them)
      Dragon Age (All of them)
      Jade Empire
      Life is Strange (And its various DLC’s)
      Life is Strange: True Colors
      VA-11 HALL-A
      Vampire: The Masquerade – Swansong (Sort of, the romance already happened)
      Pathfinder: Kingmaker & Wrath of the Righteous
      Divinity: Original Sin 2
      Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (Only the first one)
      Fear Effect 2 (This ones bad, just look up the romance stuff on Youtube if you’re curious)
      Fire Emblem Fates & Three Houses

  3. No one felt the romance felt a bit rushed? I’m glad there’s some queer representation and all but it all felt a little too forced and rushed. I wish they would’ve done this in the longer main game so there would be more development.

    • I agree – as soon as I saw the trailer for BS I had a strong suspicion that this was the reason they’d introduce a new female character and I was correct (Geurrilla didn’t like me pointing this out and blocked me on Twitter – must have hit a nerve). In my opinion, if they wanted to add a “romatic” element to the game they should have put it into the main game (so it wasn’t optional) and weave it into the story so it means something – after all, people with a PS4 and PC can’t even play it.

      At the end of the day, the choice you make will have no impact on the next installment – that’s up to the devs.

  4. “Erend stays mad at her, and it’s never gotten under her skin like this! Not ever!”

    Heather! This part!! I just finished playing last night and my entire body is just JOY

  5. Amazing how many people are reading so much into this without looking at how it was done and what it means for the next game.

    Throughout the game there are multiple instances of this multiple choice “speech check” where you pick the one you think is most appropriate (in your opinion). The result is a different responce from the NPC involved and that’s it – it has no impact on the game – it’s there to enhance player involvement. That’s why the ALoy-Seyka scene is placed right at the end of the game – the choice you make only affects the cut-scene you see and has no impact on the game (nor will it impact the next game in the franchise as it won’t know which option you chose). So when the next installment arrives, it’ll be up to the developers how the relationship is as it will have to be part of the main storyline.

    IMHO, the whole thing just doesn’t fit in with the flow the game. They’ve had two complete games to bring in some form of relationship for Aloy, but instead they bring in a completely new character and expect us to believe that they go from not knowing each other to romantically involved in such a short time? Also, it’s Seyka that makes the first move, not Aloy, so her introduction was specifically for this reason. On top of that, having played the games for several hundred hours, ALoy comes across as very focussed on the task at hand and that everything else is a distraction, so it doesn’t quite fit properly.

    At the end of the day, it’s just a charcter in a video game – if you don’t like it, don’t buy it.

  6. You sick for like this shit. It ruins games. Stop praising making forcing the players to be blasted with queer shit.we spent our money and time on this. That is stealing and 🤢

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