Horizon Forbidden West’s Burning Shores DLC is out this week, and with it comes the revelation that protagonist Aloy is queer. And not only that, it finally gives the hero, who famously has a tendency to try to take on too much alone, the option to enter a romantic relationship for the first time in the series.
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Spoilers for Horizon Forbidden West and Burning Shores follow:
The DLC launched April 19 on PlayStation 5, with the PS4 version notably not receiving the expansion due to technical limitations. The $20 update brings new content and some quality-of-life changes, but it also sends Aloy to Horizon’s post-apocalyptic take on Los Angeles, California. Once there, she meets a woman named Seyka, portrayed by actor Kylie Liya Page. Aloy ropes Seyka into her quest to save the world from the space-faring Nemesis machines that are on their way to destroy the planet as revealed at the end of Forbidden West. On top of delving into Seyka’s personal story involving her fraught relationship with her sister and her past as a marine, the two bond over feeling disenfranchised from their homes, the incoming (second) apocalypse, and finding hope in a seemingly hopeless situation.
As the two’s story unfolds throughout the expansion, it becomes clear there’s romantic tension between them. Aloy, who is usually pretty stoic and confident, is overcome with awkward nervousness. It’s pretty apparent in their early interactions that she’s struggling with this, and she even says as much in a monologue before the climactic romance scene, admitting that she doesn’t understand why she’s so nervous to see Seyka.
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When Aloy meets up with Seyka, the latter admits her feelings for our hero, and the player is given the option to either confess Aloy’s own feelings or turn Seyka down. If you choose to pursue the relationship, the two share a kiss. After this, both of them acknowledge they have a lot of work ahead of them and don’t know when they’ll see each other again, but Seyka asks Aloy not to forget about her, to which Aloy promises she won’t. This more or less feels like a way for the writers to acknowledge that Seyka isn’t part of the main game, so when you return to Forbidden West’s post-game, you can do so without wondering where your new girlfriend is. She’s out doing her own thing, and y’all can meet up later. Most likely this will be in either a future update or in the eventual third Horizon game Guerrilla is no doubt working on after Forbidden West’s cliffhanger.
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Before this, Horizon games occasionally had flirtatious dialogue options with male characters, but these interactions never escalated to a full-blown romantic relationship. Inevitably, there will be some predictable homophobic detractors who claim that, because the romance with Seyka is optional, Aloy can be headcanoned as straight, but even the options to turn down the relationship aren’t framed as her saying she isn’t interested in women, but rather that she’s not looking for a relationship while saving the world. So no matter how you slice it, Burning Shores does make it clear Aloy is queer.
That said, I am a little disappointed that Aloy’s queerness is sequestered into a post-launch DLC rather than expressed in the main game. I felt similarly back when The Last of Us did the same for Ellie, revealing her to be a lesbian in the Left Behind DLC. Hopefully Horizon follows The Last of Us’ example and makes up for this by making Aloy’s relationship with Seyka a central part of the next game like The Last of Us Part II did with Ellie and Dina.