Forza Horizon 3 is an open world racing game set around the titular “Horizon Festival”. This time the festival has migrated to beautiful Australia, the painstaking attention to detail in-game doing the country proud, with newer showcase events, races and much more. These events range from speed traps and speed zones where they don’t dish out fines, but rather challenge you to get three stars to increase your fans, or for bragging rights over your friends in the leader boards. Building on its predecessors, Horizon 3 far surpasses the previous title, with a vast open world and multiple events to take part in, including locating hidden items, which are placed throughout the map. The game also features competitive multiplayer. Through Forza Horizon 3 there are XP and CR boards that you can smash into the get the reward as well as barn locations which rewards you with cars. Photo mode to take photo of passing cars for Cash, photo mode is an amazing way to get your creative side out to get the perfect shot.
For every race you complete you get EXP, Cr (money) and Fans. To increase your EXP, players get to perform a number of different maneuvers with the car – drive recklessly, drift, draft, overtake or race as cleanly as possible – everything has its own reward. You will earn more Cr for the difficulty of the race and what assists you have on. The fans allow you to expand your festival, which in turn allows more access to events, showcases and PR events e.g speed traps, danger signs, drift zones and other events
Dynamic weather is more evident in Forza, from the scorching sun beaming on the car to visually appealing rain storms. Even just trekking around in the world, the weather can change from a bright sunny day to a rainstorm, making for some interesting conditions in races. Rainstorms look beautiful, but can be dangerous in Forza Horizon, as they can hamper your handling of the car on the road.
The car list has vastly expanded to now hold over 400 cars with tons of customization. The game also has a feature in the auto show called body grade presets, which can completely change the style and feel of a car. You can perform a custom upgrade yourself by picking the engine, tyres, tyre pressure, rims, body kits, spoilers, paint jobs and a ton of other stuff, but you could also sit back and let the computer do the hard work. You don’t need to be a gear head to drive an excellent engine around, and Forza makes sure that all cars are ready to go from the moment you sit in.
You are but a button press away from joining an online game, such is the fluidity of the system; once in, you can race together, perform bucket list challenges either set by the team or by the community, the difficulty varying vastly. An invite to an online session will allow you to see the inviter’s map, and what events are available there – however it is up to the party leader to accept a selection to a race.
Free Roam is exactly that; drive anywhere, whether on the road or hoofing it through the outback to an event, or to nowhere in particular – the choice remains yours.
Blueprint is a new feature that allow you to create a completely customised championship race; from the car type to the laps, weather and time of day, everything is under your control. This can also be used to create your own bucket list challenge which can be shared among your friends or the community.
The game is almost perfect; however, there were a few issues with traffic getting in the way during speed zones and drift areas, which ruined many a good chain. The quick camera cuts at the start and end of a race, which can be a bit distracting, but all things considered, a small gripe for an otherwise stellar game. It’s not all about good looks though; as well as being visually pleasing, it is rock solid in gameplay, and runs as smoothly as any of the beautifully rendered cars’ engines. Reviewed on an Xbox One, the frame rate locked in at a consistent 30 frames per second; fluid and highly enjoyable, Forza Horizon 3 is a title which will pull anyone with even a remote interest in wheeled machines, and give them a wild ride they won’t soon forget.
Playground Games are adding car packs to the game periodically, and have also announced expansions for FH3, one of which is on the way later this year. No name or date has been announced just yet, but promises a winter thrill ride in less than favorable driving conditions. Snow and ice isn’t usually associated with Australia, but it does receive snowfall in some regions of the continent.
Even though a free demo of the game was made available in September ahead of the game’s launch for Xbox players, PC gamers were denied that; until now. If you’re a PC gamer and would like to give Forza Horizon 3 a test run, it’s out now on PC as a free demo as of the date of this review. It’s a solid 20GB, and features a scaled down version of the map with a few races thrown in.
If you’re still not convinced, check out the trailer here: