Never in my whole entire life have I witnessed so much diversity, control and precision towards the concept of being the owner of your own car festival.
From the developers who some people may refer to as the kings of simulator racing Playground Games, comes Forza Horizon 3. Forza Horizon 3 drives you into “the land down under” to create and compete in your own Horizon Festival, a collection of people with a love of cars and music. I’ve played many racing games in my life, from the big names like Need for Speed and Gran Turismo, but it wasn’t until Forza Horizon 3 that I took a step back and realized Playground Games evolved their beloved open-world franchise from a racing to an adventure game. An adventure game that lets you drive some of the most beautiful cars in the world, and explore an Australia like I never would’ve imagined.
Welcome To Australia
Welcome to Australia, the Horizon Festivals new open world playground for you to explore with over 450 cars. For those of you new to Horizon, the festival is a culmination of music lovers and car connoisseurs racing some of the most rare, exotic, and most powerful vehicles to this date. While most Horizons put you as a contestant, this time around you’re given the opportunity to play as the boss. You watch your festival rise through the ranks growing fans to exponential numbers by completing races, skill zones, and much more.
While at first glance the map appears slightly smaller than previous iterations, the sheer amount of what to do and different locales create a massively overwhelming feeling. Rather than deter you though, it immerses you into its mass of variety. A quick two minute drive in the right car gets you from the bay to the city, but it’s the countless events you pass by that keep you stopping and exploring new avenues.
The Perks Of Being The Boss
Playing as the boss this time around has its perks. On top of being able to choose where you want to race, for the first time in the campaign you get to blueprint your own events. Whether you want a caravan of Lamborghinis racing through the rivers of Surfers Paradise, or Teslas pushing through the canyons of the Outback, Horizon 3 truly gives you the freedom to race how you want to race. It creates a different feel than previous Horizons, giving you the ability to drive whatever car you want to be driving, not being forced to change to a specific tier in order to complete an event. By the 10th hour in, I was cruising down the street in my personal favorite Lamborghini Huracan, feeling like the boss of everything going on around me.
New Additions To Forza Horizon 3
One of my favorite additions is the inclusion of GPS navigator “Anna.” Rather than always needing to pull up the map and choose your destination, Anna is there to quickly guide you towards whatever you need. Need to drive back to the festival to change cars? Use the D-Pad to tell Anna to take you to the nearest festival. Need a few more fans to expand the festival but don’t want to do a race? Anna can direct you to the nearest chance to earn some additional fans. It’s a small little addition, that creates a world of difference in never taking you out of the drivers seat.
While Speedtraps and the skill score have always been a way to rack up some extra XP and prove yourself across the horizon festival, there are some new additions. Drift zones have you trying to score the best drifts through certain sections of the road. Danger Signs are insane jumps off cliffs and hills seeing how far you can go suspended 100 feet in the air. It just adds to the sheer amount of things to do in Australia.
We Can’t Forget About The Music
Even though the cars are at the center stage, we can’t forget about the music. With over 6 stations and the ability to stream your own music through Groove Music, the tunes never stop. Genres range from the Horizon Pulse, focusing on Electronic pop, Bass Arena, Dubstep, Electro based, and many more. My personal favorite is Future Class, maybe cause I’m a sucker for hearing Flumes “Never Be Like You,” but it’s just some chill future bass tunes that fit perfectly to driving through Horizon 3′s vistas.
Online Offers A Slew Of Features
If you need a break from the solo experience, online offers a slew of features. Online adventure grabs you and your friends on a series of events to complete the championship, some race related and some mini games such as flag grab or infection. New to Horizon this year is the co-op adventure, where you and up to 3 friends can progress through the campaign together, while your friends still gain progress for their own campaign!
The car collection not only shows a beautiful display of variety in vehicles and their tiers, but in culture. Having Australia as the backdrop for this years festival proved as the perfect time to bring exclusive “Aussie” cars into the mix. While different, they handle great, and it’s the perfect chance to try something new and true to the culture of Australia.
There’s not many chances where you get to take a Halo 5 Warthog through the canyons of the Australian outback while your navigation assistant Anna calls you “Master Chief.” You can’t help but feel joy in a world that you feel like you’re a part of because you take control.
Forza Horizon 3 is a must play game of 2016.
Needless to say, this game kills the expectation of your typical open world racing game. Driving through this adventure, I WAS the boss, building my festival, driving through beautiful locales, and most importantly, driving how I want to drive. This freedom of choice makes Forza Horizon 3 not only a must play for returning festival goers, but a playground of octane for newcomers as well.
10/10 — If you’re a car connoisseur like myself. Forza Horizon 3 is a must play game of 2016.
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