Most gamers will be aware of what the Horizon spin-off of the Forza franchise brings, however if you’re not, you’re in for a crazy ass adventure! With over 350 cars from standard road cars to tuners and SUVS to Hyper cars from the get go, you’ll be spoilt for choice from the minute you star.
Published by Microsoft and developed by the fantastic Playground games who started the Forza Horizon series off, they take us back to literally “a playground” in an open world, diverse, interesting and bumpy Australia. Being set in Australia the game had to be huge, the open world map is around 1.5 times the size of Forza Horizon 2’s scaled down of Italy and France.
Microsoft have also gone one step further this time enabling Forza Horizon 3 as a “Play Anywhere” title, meaning it’s now a PC game as well as an Xbox One console exclusive. Players can jump from PC to console and pick up where they left off last time with no loss of data or worry of starting over. Forza Horizon 3 console and PC gamers can also cross play online seamlessly.
In previous iterations of the Horizon series you played as a newcomer, a racer looking to build up a reputation which would ultimately allow you to enter the “Forza Horizon” championship and become the Champion. This time around, your character’s role is to build the hype for the Horizon Festival by winning races and sprints around circuits and off road, as well as participating in ludicrous bucket list challenges. A new event is now available in the form of “Bucket List Blueprint”, this is your own created challenge where you select the objective, time limit, car and weather. Beating Blueprint Challenges gave me a real sense of accomplishment as they are actually set by real people. Each event throws XP at you which then increase your driver level and reputation which can then be used towards your created events for the Horizon Festival. XP does come your way pretty easily, however being a long game with large roads it stops the gameplay feeling tired and tedious as there’s always upgrades to be had.
When game spin offs are released the physics always come into question. Well answered here again by the guys at Playground Games. FH3 brings the weight from Forza to cars but a more forgiving handling system which is fitting for an open world and faster experience than on track. This means there is no real transition for Forza Motorsport players wanting to play Horizon 3 and for new comers it is fairly pick up and play.
The game plays superb both on and offline. Offline during your build-up of the Horizon Festival you’ll never find things too easy. Difficulty can be amended along many scaled settings from amateur to elite, as well as toggling driving assists off. Traction control, ABS it’s all there. Altering the difficulty will mainly change the AI’s level of skill on the track. Forza still uses the ground-breaking Drivatar feature. If you are new to Drivatar’s or the Forza series, Drivatar system is one in which it learns of how you play, then implements your friends and other people’s driving styles from the Xbox Live universe into your game, trying to give you a more realistic and challenging offline experience. It works wonders. Say goodbye to predictable AI and boring races. Every race is different.
The online aspect of Forza Horizon 3 is largely the same as Forza Horizon 2, another positive note as it worked so well two years ago. You and three other friends can jump into the same single player game and play co-operatively for the first time though and complete races together, or if you’re on a chilled one just go on a road trip across Australia in your favourite vehicle. Online competitive play again returns in the form of street and circuit races, off road sprints, team races as well as party games like King of the Hill, etc.
Clubs are there again so you can have your online clan style races, build club levels as well as wheel spins which are pretty much like a roulette again. You can win cash prizes or cars, if you are lucky one of the FH3 Elite exclusive wheel spin cars. So, rare they sell online in the auctions for millions of in game currency.
From a personal view as someone who comes from a car and modification background, my favourite feature again has been building my car collection. Tuning the mechanical side of things to give me an edge online as well as the visual aspects. Liveries, wheels, spoilers are all there in fully glory.
Forza Horizon 3 on Xbox one is a title at 1080p and a locked 30 FPS and frankly, it looks beautiful. From the aweinspiring scenery along land and water with luscious lighting, you’ll be stunned at times. I am wow’d time over time when I see the sun reflecting from my car onto the water as I’m driving at breakneck speeds. It’s a testament to Microsoft and Playground games how they pulled such a large open racer like this off. It’s definitely a show off of what the One can do.
The only negative I can point out which may be harsh but ultimately worth a mention, is I feel that the game holds on to your hand for too long. There is too much guidance and I felt like I was treated like a newcomer to the genre. Probably more annoying as I am experienced with racing games and the Forza series as a whole.
I hope the spin off series continues every other year as it is still fully enjoyable. I for one am certainly not getting tired of it.
If you love cars, adrenaline, tuning and scenery this is for you!
I hope to see Forza Horizon series in 2018 as a Scorpio game. Perhaps go for a scaled down continent, America would be great, think North and South like The Crew. Until then, I will keep enjoying this wonderful and beautiful adventure down under.