Forza Hori­zon 3: Bliz­zard Moun­tain

Forza Hori­zon 3: Bliz­zard Moun­tain is a clever ad­di­tion with a few mi­nor is­sues.

PC GAMER (UK) - - Contents - By Phil Sav­age

I’m a fan of Play­ground Games’ no-non­sense ap­proach to DLC nam­ing. The (alas) Xbox ex­clu­sive Forza Hori­zon 2 of­fered the

Storm Is­land ex­pan­sion, which brought play­ers to an is­land be­set by storms. Now, Forza Hori­zon 3 presents Bliz­zard Moun­tain, set on a moun­tain onto which bliz­zards fall. Judg­ing by the qual­ity of both com­po­nents, the com­bi­na­tion of weather type and ge­o­graphic fea­ture is an ef­fec­tive for­mula. Rather than in­te­grate into the main map di­rectly, Bliz­zard Moun­tain is ac­cessed via Red­stone Air­port. This be­ing Hori­zon, your in­tro­duc­tion to the new re­gion in­volves a heli­copter and a Ford Fo­cus RS, but, af­ter the ini­tial rapid de­scent, things soon set­tle into a rou­tine. Bliz­zard

Moun­tain fea­tures a tweaked pro­gres­sion sys­tem. In­stead of fans, you col­lect stars – up to three from each race. You earn one star for fin­ish­ing, a sec­ond for plac­ing first, and the third for com­plet­ing a chal­lenge spe­cific to that event.

I like the idea of chal­lenges, but the im­ple­men­ta­tion here isn’t with­out prob­lems. Many chal­lenges re­quire you to per­form a cer­tain num­ber of a spe­cific skill, mean­ing the dif­fi­culty os­cil­lates be­tween triv­ial and an­noy­ing. Do­ing 15 drifts in a race is easy. Do­ing 35 can be a chore. The best chal­lenges are the ones that heighten the drama. In one, I’m re­quired to earn a 175,000 point skill chain dur­ing a down­hill point-to-point race. The com­bi­na­tion of pre­ci­sion and peril works to cre­ate an ex­hil­a­rat­ing se­quence across an al­ready fast and tricky course.

The icy ter­rain high­lights how for­giv­ing Forza Hori­zon’s han­dling is. Cars are more slip­pery, but not es­pe­cially so. While it’s rare to spin out en­tirely, it’s much eas­ier to turn into a drift. That gives Bliz­zard

Moun­tain a con­sis­tency of ap­proach across its dis­parate events. This is a more spe­cific ex­pe­ri­ence than Forza

Hori­zon proper – one that feels fo­cused on us­ing drifts to build mas­sive skill chains. Al­ter­na­tively, you can re­move your snow tyres, forc­ing you to fight for control of your car. Do­ing so is ar­guably the most en­ter­tain­ing way to play. The races are, as ex­pected, great.

Bliz­zard Moun­tain is ul­ti­mately more Forza Hori­zon, us­ing the same AI and han­dling. That alone guar­an­tees its com­pe­tence, but this DLC adds new twists to the for­mula. More than sim­ply the snowy ter­rain, it’s the dra­matic changes in el­e­va­tion that have the big­gest ef­fect on the na­ture of its chal­lenge. Hill Climb events are slow, twisty cir­cuits full of awk­ward cam­bers and tight, hair­pin bends. De­scent races, mean­while, are about ca­reen­ing down slopes at barely con­trol­lable, trouser-both­er­ing speeds.

New modes and weather types add much to an al­ready packed game

win­ter at­trac­tions

Through­out, the en­vi­ron­men­tal de­sign en­sures a mea­sure of va­ri­ety – even within the fairly com­pact map. You race through a small vil­lage, around steam­ing hot springs and over a frozen lake. And while it’s not a mas­sive area, it does feel packed with ac­tiv­i­ties – races, speed traps, drift zones and dan­ger jumps. Un­for­tu­nately, there’s lit­tle of Forza

Hori­zon’s bom­bast here. There are no show­case events, and only a hand­ful of fairly tame “Bucket List” chal­lenges to tackle.

Forza’s ab­sur­dity is a nec­es­sary part of the se­ries. But, the open­ing heli­copter air­drop aside, Bliz­zard

Moun­tain feels strangely con­ser­va­tive. In Forza Hori­zon 3 you get to race a VTOL jet. Bliz­zard

Moun­tain has no such swag­ger, de­spite bob­sleds be­ing a thing our species in­vented. It’s not just the wasted po­ten­tial that dis­ap­points me, but also what it means for the pro­gres­sion sys­tem. The base game tries to make an event out of un­lock­ing new races – ei­ther through a show­case, or sim­ply by mak­ing you drive to the fes­ti­val site you’re up­grad­ing. In Bliz­zard Moun­tain, you au­to­mat­i­cally un­lock a new chunk of stuff af­ter ev­ery ten stars earned. As a con­se­quence, pro­gres­sion can feel like a grind.

It’s strange, be­cause Forza Hori­zon is usu­ally so good at keep­ing things var­ied – fos­ter­ing the need to com­plete just one more race. That’s miss­ing here, and it’s to the detri­ment of the over­all ex­pe­ri­ence. None of

Bliz­zard Moun­tain’s prob­lems are ma­jor, and much of what it does feels like a great ex­ten­sion of Forza

Hori­zon’s amaz­ing rac­ing. The new modes and weather types add much to an al­ready packed game. This is a wor­thy ad­di­tion, to be sure. But, par­celled out, with­out the ab­surd, un­for­get­table mo­ments of Forza

Hori­zon proper, its lim­i­ta­tions feel more pro­nounced.

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