Forza Horizon 3
The graphics are beautiful, the core gameplay is solid and there is plenty of things to keep you busy.
Before we start, I’d like to make one thing clear: I am not a racing game fan. While I understand the appeal of them and do enjoy a good arcade racer or the occasional race against a friend, the racing genre as a whole is not something I am really interested in. As such, Forza Horizon 3 is my first Forza game. I have played a bit of Forza 5 and I have the Forza 6 Apex beta on my PC, but I haven’t played them much. So please forgive my possible ignorance to some features of this game as I do not know if they existed in previous games. Let’s get started.
Forza Horizon 3 is a continuation of the Forza Horizon subseries and is the third installment. Unlike the main Forza games, which have you take place in races mainly focused on and around famous, real world tracks, the Horizon series focuses on open world exploration. As you explore this open world, you can find locations in which to race. The race is then preset to take place around that area and the layout of the track is identical to that of the open world. Tracks exist in several different environments being street, off-road, or even a combination of the two. There are four different and unique areas to explore within the game, each boasting a different style of racing. Surfer’s Paradise focuses on street racing with fast cars and tight turns. The Outback is represented of the off-road lover. With rally cars and dune buggys traversing the uneven and bumpy terrain. Byron Bay is home to circuit tracks, where the fastest cars race in smaller, more sealed off raceways. And finally Yarra Valley is the hybrid terrain, featuring races on both asphalt and dirt and even transitioning between them in a single race. The game does a very good job of making each area feel unique and while I enjoy the Outback, my friends tend to enjoy Surfer’s Paradise more, something I’m not as good at, as each environment requires a different racing style in order to master them. The transition between the different areas is very smooth and since most races take place in the terrain itself, you will just experience the transition from jungle to city just as you would in real life. There are close to, if not more than, a hundred unique tracks in this game with infinite replay value. Not only can you try the races with different cars and different car levels, but you can try them with different classes of cars using blueprints. Blueprints allow you to customize your experience. Want to race your dune buggy down the streets of a metropolis? With blueprints, you can. This gives you even more options to change up your experience and ultimately add to the life of the game.
Forza Horizon 3 has a whole world of cars to choose from. Each class of car has several different ones to choose from and you can even outfit the cars into different levels, further expanding your options. Cars can be earned when you upgrade or unlock a new area, bought directly, or can be betted on in the auction house. An area where you can auction off cars you don’t want and find deluxe cars at cheaper prices. You can also find cars via Barn Finds. Randomly throughout the campaign you will be alerted of a Barn Find. After going to an area and finding the barn in question, you will be rewarded with a rare car that can’t be found anywhere else. All cars are fairly accurate to their stock versions in real life. Their speed, handling, turn radius and even the sound of their engines match the real life’s equivalents. Foreign cars even have the steering wheel on the right hand side. These features have ben a staple of Forza games for a while, but it is still refreshing to see the attention to detail. Another staple of Forza games that makes a return in Horizon 3 is the painting system. You can use layering tools to customize paint jobs for your car. These include colors, shapes, gradients, materials and a whole host of other options to choose from. You can then upload these designs and others can download them. Or if you are artistically challenged like myself, you can just download and apply designs others have made. With millions of possible designs and a mind full of ideas, it really adds some flair to your own cars. But not all of the customization is cosmetic. Forza Horizon 3 also has very expansive car tuning. You can choose to auto upgrade your car and the game will outfit it best for the car at hand. Or you can do it yourself. You can tune everything from the car’s weight, the cycle of the engine, and even the drive of the car. You will get real-time information on how a particular upgrade will affect the car’s stats and then, like paint designs, you can upload yours for others to download. This gives even more life to the game as you can outfit the same car for different situations, giving you complete control over every detail of your next race.
The game also has some fun arcade type features that don’t necessarily add to the meta of the game, but do add some fun. One such feature is the prize wheel. After every level up you receive a spin at the prize wheel. You will usually win credits, but you can sometimes win Horizon versions of cars. These are the rarest cars in the game and are the best stock versions of their counterparts. They are extremely hard to win, but definitely worth it when you do. Another fun feature are billboards. There are two types in the game, XP boards and fast travel boards. These boards are hidden throughout the world and when you smash them, you will either receive an XP bonus or be able to fast travel to a new area for free. The skills tree is another fun feature. These give you upgrades. Some are useful and some are more fun, such as earning more XP when certain radio stations are playing. But certainly the best upgrade is drone mode. It allows you to go into a third person drone mode and fly around the world. It is an underrated but very fun feature, allowing you to take photos or discover new world items, as anything you find will be updated on the map for when you re-enter car mode. In addition to these fun features, driveatars make a return. If you have played Forza 5, 6, or any other Forza Horizon game, your driveatar will appear in game. A driveatar is a clone of you, learning your driving habits and copying your skill and playstyle. They will appear in races alongside friends and strangers and can earn you money while you’re away. But if you really want to make money, have one of your friends sign you to their team. You can sign four driveatars to your team and they will race to earn you some extra cash and XP by finding them throughout the world. The people who are racing for your team can earn massive cash bonuses, more than you can earn anywhere else.
And now the moment you’ve all been waiting for: the multiplayer. There are three ways to play multiplayer in Horizon 3. You can play Freeroam mode, where you can explore the map, customize cars and find open world secrets. Then there’s Head-to-Head, an online battle area where you can compete against your friends in more ridiculous gamemodes like Capture the Flag and Infection, rather than just races. Then, the best mode: Coop Campaign. This is new mode to Horizon 3. This allows you to jump into a friend’s campaign or a friend to jump into yours. The world mirrors the hosts campaign progress and he can start any race available. Any progress you or the host makes are saved in the individual campaigns as well as any unlocks. This is easily the best way to play because it allows players to do anything they want, with their friends able to accompany them and earn some progress alongside them.
I really can’t find too much wrong with Forza Horizon 3. The graphics are beautiful, the core gameplay is solid and there is plenty of things to keep you busy. Plus in addition to the base content, more cars and races will be added as DLC later. Someone who is much smarter than I can use the entire customization to completely customize their experience and even have a somewhat different experience than someone else. And even if that’s not for you, you can still have loads of fun racing online or alone. The only real complaint I have is that I don’t really like the radio stations, but that’s pretty much on hundred percent subjective and the inclusion of the Groove Music station allows you to sync your own music into the game. This game is definitely worth the buy even if you’re like me and don’t really care for racing games. You will have a good time, regardless of you skill.