Forza Horizon 3’s best moments come up when you least expect it, but when you are driving a warthog in the middle of the night through the outback listening to Horizon Pulse. It just clicks. I’ve played quite a few racing games for the past few years. Never have I played one that I have enjoyed as much as this one. Is riding a Warthog through someone’s trash silly? Yeah it is, but it sure as hell is fun to do.
Well riding a Warthog through anything is enjoyable really. Forza Horizon 3 shakes up the foundation placed by the previous 2 games, and just pours a bunch more onto it. The roster of over 300+ highly detailed cars, ranges from the UNSC Warthog to Hypercars, and it’s the best at what it does. You just won’t find a open-world game like this. All cars feel absolutely fantastic and drive how they should. Driving does feel a tiny bit more arcadey it’s not a bad thing by a long shot. Playground Games has expanded, greatly on the game world this time around, and it really rewards how you want to play the game unlike the others in the franchise. From head-to-head to Speed Traps, just about everything you do will in one way or another help you unlock more things to do and progress you farther in the game.
This time around you are riding in Australia from the Outback to the inner city. It’s not a 1:1 recreation, but it captures the best parts of each area, and lets you have fun in their sandbox. The best places to get points, and XP is the outback all the jumps and hills will allow for some insane drifting, and jumping combos. The rewards for leveling up also have been expanded, instead of just one skill tree there are now 3 separate skill trees, and you might be thinking that there’s no way they could have thought of 3 skill trees. Well the last one is mainly a credits/xp list for those who have finished the game, and are just racking up skill points. Which is something else they also introduced which is Consumable skills. Which allow for XP/Credits boosts, or a discount at the auto show. All are useful skills and none of them will go unused.
There are 4 Festivals this time around, but you can now level them up with “Fans” you gain as you do races expanding the Festival and unlocking more things to do around them. Each level up also gives you a one time deal on 5 cars for a big discount. This fan system is put into place everywhere so even a simple speedtrap will earn you fans. This really encourages people to do what they want as now you are not necessarily limited to doing events/races to unlock more events. Like usual Forza fashion you can do Championships and once you finish a championship, you are allowed to create your own and play others for countless replayability. Earning credits, and XP as people play them. The amount of things that Playground Games has put in for you to do is insane you can really go at it, and do whatever you want, and not have to worry about your next Festival upgrade. You can also race your Drivatar Rivals on a race of your choosing just drive up to the race and choose the Rivals type, and go beat your friends!
The game has around 1000+ events (not counting the ones you can create) which are all highly enjoyable to do from Showcase events to Danger Sign jumps. The ability to plough through just about everything is a great feeling. A source of frustration for I can guess many was the invincible trees in the 2nd installment, thankfully those have been reduced and replaced with smashable trees so each run into the forest doesn’t end with you running into a tree. Quite a lot of the new events are set in very exotic locations around the map going through the nooks and crannies of the city to riding the hills in the outback. I’d have to say my favourite things to do are the new Drift Zones, and the Danger Sign Jumps just so I can see how far I can fly through the air.
The new Bucket List challenges are always fun to do, and all of them are something unique that you wouldn’t have done 10 times before finding it. Barn Finds are back and much more enjoyable to find. Some are easy to find, and others will make you scratch your head on why you didn’t see that before. The silhouettes don’t give away the barn find cars so you’ll have to unlock them to see what they are.
Playing with your friends is an absolute breeze. You are only ever a few button presses from play with your friends in CO-OP campaign helping each other get to the Final Showcase or playing it old school and going into a Road Trip against other Forza Horizon players. The drivatars this time around are much smarter, and can actually follow you if you start a convoy by just Honking at them. They’ll follow you around so you always have the sense of a party even if you are playing singleplayer. You can even race them to points on the map without having to goto any race points. The Design system is still in the game and I would say has been improved as it is much more snappy than before. I would prefer it if you bought a car and it didn’t just shove a design in your face, but it is great promotion for other users who create interesting designs. Thankfully you can just press X and go to the colors without waiting for the designs to load.
Forza Horizon 3 improves the slow upgrading times when trying to bulk upgrade multiple cars by adding items to a basket to be all bought at once instead of doing it one at a time this is quite the improvement. The UI has gotten less intrusive and there’s less of the game forcing you to listen to the narrator and more of you actually playing the game. Anna has also gotten an upgrade which might go unnoticed if you don’t look for it as she now will remind you of previous events you might have discovered on a different play session. Which is very useful if you are switching from the W10 version to the Xbox version and vice versa.
The world looks gorgeous, from the huge sandy outback to the dense forests. The graphical fidelity is stunning, and Forza’s framerate never budges from it’s locked 30fps. It looks fantastic in the day as it should, but once it turns to night it looks even better. Playground Games, and Turn 10 never fail to amaze me at what they can achieve on the Xbox One. The weather effects are very nice to look at. When the rain pours down on your windshield and slides off looks great. It’s no Driveclub, but that coupled with the subtle blur give it a really nice detail. A little thing you might not notice the first time around is if you are driving a vehicle with no windows then the rain hits the characters face and is very convincing.
The sound design is fantastic, and it is what you’d expect to hear from the Forza series, with their burly engines, and tyre skidding. I love hearing the water rushing by the car while I’m going through the rivers, and experiencing the great noise when you and 4 other friends go into a tunnel together it sounds fantastic.
Forza Horizon 3 continues to improve upon its foundation that the 2 previous games have laid down. The setting is perfect, there are a lot of cars, huge amount of things to do, handling is perfect, and the game looks beautiful. It’s a extremely fun game whether you’re doing stunt jumps in the outback or
driving down the long highways of the countryside. Forza Horizon 3 is The Crew, Forza Motorsport, and Burnout Paradise all mashed into one, and turned into a bowl of of the best homemade Mash Potatoes you’ll ever lay your eyes on.
On that note we give an A+ (100) to Forza Horizon 3.