Striking the balance between arcade style gameplay and car simulation has been a constant struggle for the racing genre. Arcade titles like Need for Speed are often not taken seriously by racing fans, whereas simulators like Project Cars can seem too daunting and complicated for newcomers looking to get into the genre. The Forza Horizon series has made strides in bridging that gap, and now they may have finally struck gold with their third installment.
Open world racing is the name of the game in Forza Horizon 3. This time, gamers get to explore the beautiful Australian Outback, complete with bustling cities and vast deserts. Each area of the map looks and feels completely unique, adding to that inert desire to drive around and just sight see. The outstanding visuals make this even more tempting, as Forza Horizon 3 is one of the best looking games on Xbox One. Vehicle models are absolutely stunning, even when looking at them up close in the garage. Couple this with the ability to listen to a host of different radio stations along with streaming music from your Xbox, and you have a presentation package that’s hard to beat.
None of this beauty would matter if there was nothing to do in it, however the developers at Playground Games managed to cram an absurd amount of content into Forza Horizon 3. The environment is littered with all kinds of Horizon Festival events to do, ranging from cross-country races to drift challenges for points. Participating in these events accumulates fans, and once enough have been gathered, the festival can be expanded. What separates this open world title from the rest of the pack is the Festival Boss mechanic. The player is in complete control of managing the festival and its events. Each event can be changed to the player’s liking, including the rules, the path of the race, and even the cars that are allowed to be used. It’s surprising how much can be customized in these events, however it is all completely optional. Players who want the traditional Forza Horizon events can ignore all of the Festival Boss options, which is great.
One of the staples of the Forza series has been the ability to fine tune the gameplay and difficulty to suit the play styles of almost any gamer, and that remains in the latest iteration. Mechanics like brake assist and driving lines can help ease new players into the driver’s seat, however all of these can be turned off for a simulation-like experience. The game rewards players for playing on higher difficulty settings by providing them with more credits to spend on new vehicles and tune-ups. This high-risk, high-reward difficulty selection is an amazing feature that more games in other genres should adopt.
While the entire game can be experienced in single player, the multiplayer features are extremely rewarding. Players can team up and race with their friends, forming convoys and clans along the way. Every single event can be played with friends, making the world seem even more open. Exploring Australia in a team feels amazing and adds an incredible amount of replay value to this already stuffed package.
Forza Horizon 3 is the best racing game on Xbox One, hands down. It is the pinnacle of what the genre has to offer. Beautiful landscapes, varied racetracks, and an insane amount of customization options create one of the best values on the system. The game can be enjoyed by both seasoned racing fans and complete newbies. Playground Games Has absolutely outdone themselves, creating one of the most addictive games of the year. Don’t speed past this one.