Forza Horizon 3
Andrew Whitehead shows us how to burn rubber Down Under in this latest racing sim
Since I moved to America I’ve been told my home country of Australia is 90 percent desert, has two cities (Melbourne and Sydney), and is bursting with snakes and spiders. And koalas. Thankfully, UK developer Playground Games did a little bit more research than that for their open-world racing game Forza Horizon 3, set entirely in 'Straya.
“Australia has always been one of our top choices for Horizon, ever since the beginning,” says Forza Design Director Jon Knoles. “We knew we couldn’t do Australia right until we could do beach driving, driving through the surf, and driving through lush rainforests. A lot of people don’t know Australia has got some serious forests.” (It's true!)
Promising a world twice as large as Horizon 2, this latest entry in the series features local landmarks like the Coober Pedy and the vineyards of the Yarra Valley. The beachside town of Byron Bay is also here and is connected to Surfer’s Paradise by the Great Ocean Road. Geography be damned, apparently. Yeah, you read that right. This isn’t quite the Australia you know. It’s more like a greatest hits compilation of a bunch of the places that makes Australia great, reworked to be more fun than realistic. “What we do want to do is realise the spirit and the beauty of Australia,” says Creative Director Ralph Fulton. “We were really inspired by the country when we researched it and we want to reflect that within the scale of the world we’ve created.” And what a world it is. The graphical detail in Forza Horizon 3 is better than ever. It’s quite possibly the bestlooking racing game ever created and could almost be used to justify that 4K-enabled Xbox One S purchase. Even the skies were meticulously recorded over a long summer in Australia. Then there's the roaming wildlife, the detailed environments and, of course, the cars themselves. With over 350 of them, the cars remain the star of the show including a selection of local favourites like the Holden Sandman and the Ford Falcon XB. Of course, there's also exotic supercars like the Lamborghini Centenario; but can it really compete with a Torana A9X?
Additionally, Horizon 3 supports cross-platform multiplayer with Windows 10 gamers. And, if purchased digitally, you can take advantage of Xbox Play Anywhere to play the one copy of the game on PC or Xbox One.
Making their return are the user-created Drivatars, but with a twist. Unlike other Horizon games that made you work your way up from rookie status, this time you’re the boss of the Horizon festival. Instead of competing against your friend’s ghost, you can hire up to four of them to work for you and earn you extra rewards. And if a friend’s Drivatar is underperforming? Fire them. That won’t be awkward or anything. Eesh.
Home country bias aside, Forza Horizon 3 looks amazing. And better than that, it looks fun. I mean sports cars look great on the track, but I can’t want to try and slam one into the Twelve Apostles, and I reckon revheads will feel the same way.
IT’S QUITE POSSIBLY THE BEST LOOKING RACING GAME EVER CREATED AND COULD ALMOST JUSTIFY THAT 4K XBOX ONE S PURCHASE
DEVELOPER PUBLISHER PLATFORM RELEASE DATE Playground Games Microsoft Studios Win10, Xbone 27 September, 2016