There are many that look at the Forza Horizon series at the kid brother of Forza Motorsport. Horizon has always been more about fusing together the idea of music, car culture and cruising the open road instead of perfecting the art of driving around a closed circuit. In this sense, I have always found myself recently gravitating more towards the Forza Horizon series over Forza Motorsport. I find its core idea of just being able to drive these beautifully crafted performance machines around, rather than caging them in on a track.
With all of that in hand, I had the chance to sit down and try out both the PC and Xbox One versions of Forza Horizon 3 and this time, we move from the southern coast of Europe and American Heartland to visit the untamed outback of Australia.
Australia is just as much an integral part of Forza Horizon 3 as are the cars that you purchase to drive on its roads. Australia offers beautiful ocean-side views, thick forest areas, caves and hard desert outback. All of that said, in our demo, we got to see just a couple of the environments that will be available in the game. Our run though Forza Horizon 3 allowed us to see several different vehicle types and terrains.
Our run started with us picking one of three supercars, the Lamborghini Centario LP 770-4 (the car on the box art), the BMW M4 Coupe or the Ford Shelby GT350R. While most were going with the Lambo, I decided to change it up a bit and roll with the BMW, as I felt it had a little less power and would be easier in the turns once we were off the tarmac. As I had selected my vehicle we were off on a rolling start trying to get through our course as fast as possible.
Our race with the BMW took us from standard highways, on to dirt and jungle-like backroads, making sure to keep control of the car on the slippery roads. As with Forza Motorsport 6 and to some degree, the Storm Island add on for Forza Horizon 2, weather will play a big part of the game. Our course took us through lots of standing water, each time taking power and grip away from the wheels of my car. The terrain also has a sharper look to it, with transitions between environments feeling more natural and dynamic.
That dynamic change continued as I made my way toward what I thought was the finish line when a Baja Truck went barreling over my head and my view transitioned to the Baja Truck and I was racing the clock to get down to the beach. Unlike my well-equipped BMW, the Baja Truck was loud, and had a lot of slide as it went into corners. Pushing the truck to its limits, I hit the edges of the beachfront water, splashing it everywhere, and feeling the reduced traction on the left side of the truck. Again, the water and weather effects will have more performance hits for you here than in past Forza Horizon titles.
Hitting the beach, worked out well and did beat the time required to get there, and from there, our race switched over to one of the new Showcase events that will be sprinkled throughout the Horizon landscape. As with Horizon 1 and 2, Showcase events will pit your racing skills against, shall we say, non-traditional racing opponents. In this Showcase, we had to race against a Jeep, which would be easy, except that the jeep was tethered to a Chinook transport helicopter. In turn, our ride was switched from the Baja Truck to an off-road dune buggy. As our race against the helicopter progressed, you can now see that the challengers in the Showcase events can have more dynamic effect in your race. The suspended jeep was hitting signs, and other debris items that would fall into my path along the way to the finish. At one moment, you have a jump that puts you in extreme close proximity to the suspended jeep and it was a thrilling, breathtaking moment. At the end, the chopper released the jeep onto the track and I had to pull of some swift driving to avoid it and cross the finish line first.
At the conclusion of that last challenge, we did get a few more facts about Forza Horizon 3, in that it will be the largest Forza Horizon titles up to this point. Forza Horizon 3 will have 350 cars available to use, which is 100+ more than Forza Horizon 2. More importantly for some, including myself, is that Forza Horizon 3 is the first title coming to the Play Anywhere program, allowing players to switch between the PC and Xbox One versions of the game, with full progression and for one price.
Speaking of the PC version, we did get a chance to look at Forza Horizon 3 on the PC as well and it was set up to run in 4K on a high performance PC and it looked incredible. Unlike the console versions of Forza Horizon 3, the PC version should support uncapped framerates, 4K resolutions and if patches come through as expected, I believe it will support SLI/Crossfire setups. Yes, it means that your PC version will be coming from the Windows App Store and not through Steam, but the idea of getting a copy everyone for one low price is a nice touch, and yes, I know Cross play has existed in the Sony eco-system for a few years, but PC and console copies for one price is a new idea.
Forza Horizon 3 will also support four player co-op, with drop-in/drop-out support across PC and Xbox One, which will be one of the first of these new generation titles to support that as well. So for those of you that enjoyed the little bit of cross platform you had in Shadowrun and Universe at War: Earth Assault, you will be seeing a lot more of that by the end of the year, and it will be first implemented here in Forza Horizon 3.
With a new continent to visit and explore, while enjoying a new batch of tunes, including your own personalized station with playlists via OneDrive, Forza Horizon 3 is looking like a joy to play later this year. So get your controller ready to jump down under coming this fall in Forza Horizon 3.