Well, it’s official. Forza Horizon 3 was announced at the Xbox E3 2016 press event recently and with that announcement a lot of questions were answered, and a lot of new ones were created. In my E3 preview I predicted that Horizon 3 would be announced, but incorrectly predicted its location would be set in Japan. It turns out the Horizon festival is going “down under” to Australia for the series’ third installment. In addition to the new location, lots of other new features and tidbits were made public. I’m going to break down some of the things that stood out the most and explain why we’re so excited to try out Forza Horizon 3.
Australia Has More To Offer Than Kangaroos
Shortly after the Xbox E3 event, I had a chance to speak with Ralph Fulton, the lead at Playground Games (the team that handles the Horizon series) and the director of Forza Horizon 3. The first thing I asked Ralph was, “Why Australia?” Ralph explained that he and his team thought long and hard about where the next Horizon setting should be since the location is pretty much a character in the game’s narrative. Ultimately Australia won out because of its rich diversity in terrains and environments. Combine that with the country’s natural beauty and Playground Games had their location.
When I asked how they captured Australia for the game, Ralph informed me that a small team was sent to the country to spend about a year just driving around with HD cameras mounted to their cars in order to capture as many roads and locations as they could. That footage was then collected and played on a loop on-screen at Playground Games HQ. Their 3D artist could then capture everything true to life where it mattered, while taking some creative liberties where it was useful to do so. Fun fact: the team used a special 12K HDR camera and filmed a time lapse of the sky while on location and that’s what is used for the day/night cycle in the game. So players will be driving under authentic Australian skies!
Rocket Bunnies Are Liberty Walking
Something that I have personally felt that the Forza series has been lacking as of late is updated exterior modifications. Widebody kits have been at the forefront of car fashion for a while, and it was frustrating that while games like Need For Speed were starting to embrace it, Forza was not. Additionally, Forza’s wheel selection was also in need of some updating as well. They always had the full HRE wheel lineup, but brands outside of that were slim pickings besides some of the JDM staples, like Volk/RAYS Engineering, WedsSport, and Work Wheels.
With Forza Horizon 3, widebody kits will finally be an option for exterior modifications! Playground Games worked with Rocket Bunny and Liberty Walk to bring their wide, riveted creations to the franchise. While there is still a lot more that could be done, this is a great start. It was also announced that 30 new wheels would be added to the catalog from Rotiform, Fifteen 52, and ADV.1. This is great for players like myself who spend hours customizing our cars and pretending what our dream builds might look like.
In addition to Xbox One and Xbox One S consoles, Forza Horizon 3 will be coming to PC as well. It’s actually the first Forza game built from the ground up with the intention of a PC release in mind. Since PCs are getting more powerful, Playground Games added 4K resolution support for the current crop of gaming PCs available. 4K is the future, so it’s pretty awesome that Forza is getting ahead of the curve first with Forza Apex, and now with Horizon 3. Just imagine how much better Surfer’s Paradise will look speeding by in 4K resolution! A PC release also means an entire community of gamers can now get in on the formerly console-exclusive Forza franchise. Despite the rise of relatively affordable 4K TVs and PC monitors, there is precious little 4K content out there with the exception of PC gaming. Hopefully this will be a precursor to 4K gaming on consoles as well. Microsoft did happen to announce a new, more powerful Xbox console code named “Scorpion” at their press event…
Simmer Down Now!
Obviously I am pretty excited for Forza Horizon 3, and just going by the announcement, there seems to be a lot to look forward to. However, it should be noted that a promise is worth bull squirt without execution. It’s great that Microsoft, Playground Games and Turn 10 are going to add all of these features to Forza Horizon 3, but it remains to be seen if these features actually add to the experience and are executed well. I will be going hands on with Forza Horizon 3 soon, so I’ll have a much better idea of how the game handles (I love puns!) after I get a chance to play it - stay tuned!