Two years ago Forza Horizon 2 set a new standard for the cross country racing genre. A year ago Forza 6 set a new standard for track racing. This year Forza Horizon 3 raises the bar even higher to deliver a cross country racing experience, and racing experience in general that is second to none.
This year Forza Horizon 3 has taken the action down under and made Australia the backdrop for the Forza Festival. I was born and raised in Australia so I may be a little bit biased here but I think that once players step into the environment they will agree that Australia is the perfect setting for Horizon. The Twelve Apostle’s, Byron Bay, Surfers Paradise and the outback are all condensed into the world and the variety that these environments afford the game is breathtaking.
The quality of the graphics in Forza Horizon 2 was brilliant but somehow Horizon 3 manages to take the visual feast to a whole new level. Part of what makes the visuals so impressive is the real time weather. The dev’s took a camera down to Australia and painstakingly spent month upon mont upon month filming the Aussie weather and then put what they captured straight into the game. The clouds and weather that you see in game is taken straight from the camera’s that captured it so you are getting to see the most realistic weather that has come to a game. Through it the mix the 250+ cars that have been faithfully digitalised to look as close to real as possible and the whole presentation is completely drool worthy. It may seem over the top to attach such superlatives to a racing game but the visuals really are that damn impressive.
Backing up those visuals is some excellent gameplay as well. The whole concept of Forza Horizon is to build your Festival, gaining followers and making it the ultimate place for racing fans to come and watch some insane racing action. As your progress and gain followers you will be able to unlock and build new Festivals at the other locations throughout the map to make yourself the biggest, baddest Festival boss with some serious street cred (see what I did there).
Each festival location comes with it’s very own set of events to gain those fans. Time Trials, Street Racing, Mini Circuits and racing from A to B all provide ways to gain new fans. Couple that with the ability to add team members to your posse and you’ll even be able to add fans while you are fast asleep. Adding members to your team can be done by tailing a drivatar and challenging them to a head to head race and winning or by finding some of your friends and adding them to your team. Personally I think the better way is adding your mates who have Forza Horizon 3, it’s much better making use of there talents when they are racing rather than relying on a drivatar.
The Festival experience is just part of the fun though, head online and you’ll be treating to some extra’s that are a hell of a lot of fun thanks to the Online Adventures. I was able to take part in a Developer initiated guided experience with Online Adventures so I can’t comment on how the server are going to stand up under day 1 stress tests but the events themselves offer unique gameplay and require some real thought in regards to Car selection. The group playing in an Online Adventure will vote for which event they want to partake in and from there you will select your car, if you don’t have a car in that class of event you will be able to rent one.
There are 4 events that make up an Online Adventure. You’ll race to the location of each event, gaining XP points along the way. Once there the events themselves can range from a race right through to some very fun quirky events like Flag Rush, Infection and King. Flag Rush will see players rushing to capture a flag and then have to get it back to the drop off point, getting hit by another vehicle will see you lose the flag, get it back successfully and you’ll get points. Infection sees a car start out as basically a zombie car, hitting another car infects them and then they can infect others, the more people you infect the more points you get. The King mode means someone is king ans once they get hit they lose the crown, the person who is king the longest is the victor. Upon completion each players gets points and are ranked on a leaderboard. At the end of the adventure you get additional points based on where you finished on the ladder.
Strategy plays a big part in Online Adventures. Quite a few events are off road so choosing a powerful fast car may seem like a good idea when racing to the event but once you get there that car is likely to slip and slid all over the place since handling off road is lacking. This is where choosing a buggy is handy, it’s better off road but what you gain in handling, you lose in power so you’ll be slower getting to events. Of course you can try and find shortcuts when getting from A to B, just like you can when not racing online. However keep in mind Australia is a very bushy country so that shortcut may seem like a good idea but you can bet your bottom dollar that a big gum tree is going to find a way to slow you down and halt your progress very quickly.
One thing that is very impressive with the cars is the immense feeling of speed when in those overpowered sports cars. Jump in a Lambo (Lamborghini) crank that beast up over 350 km/h and you’ll be racing at breakneck speed hoping like hell a car doesn’t suddenly get in your way. The cars handle incredibly well, even at high speeds but there is nothing like an unforseen obstacle or vehicle to halt that progress.
Right from that opening intro into Forza Horizon 3, through to the incredibly rich, detailed world of Australia and into quality online and offline modes, Forza Horizon 3 is as close to the complete package as you can possibly get. Some people prefer straight track racing to these cross country experiences and vice versa but Forza Horizon 3 is all alone a top the racing genre at this point in time. It really is a must play experience for any fan of racing games.
Forza Horizon 3 is available on Xbox One and WIndows 10 PC as part of Microsoft’s Play Anywhere policy. We reviewed this game only on Xbox One
- Breathtaking Visuals
- Amazing Car Lineup
- Good mix of Events and Gameplay
- Immense Feeling of Speed