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Gamescom 2016 – Forza Horizon 3 Preview

A game that I put a huge amount of time into on my Xbox One was the previous instalment in the Forza Horizon series, Forza Horizon 2. I loved its open world that had so much content that it would keep you coming back time and time again. My love for the traditional type of racing titles like the main Forza racing games and the Gran Turismo series has somewhat floundered over the years as I wanted something more from my racing games and the Horizon series gave me just that. A vast open world that felt so good and fun to explore. It’s safe to say, I was extremely excited with what to expect from Forza Horizon 3 when I finally had the chance to play it in Cologne at Gamescom 2016.

Forza Horizon 3 is set throughout Australia and the map inside the game is approximately twice the size it was when we were racing through southern France and northern Italy in Horizon 2. The first thing that struck me with Horizon 3 is not only its huge scale, but also just how gorgeous it looked. Turn10 and Playground Games have taken what they had with the previous and ramped up everything from a graphically standpoint. It looked fabulous and without a doubt, Forza horizon 3 is the best looking racer there is on any console right now.

The demo starts with you choosing a supercar (I of course had to choose a Lamborghini Centenario) and you’re off. The handling has been improved this time round with the cars performing brilliantly. A lot of driving games end up on the wrong end of the spectrum and go too far with handling to try and make it as realistic as possible and in turn, it becomes a frustrating and somewhat cumbersome experience. This doesn’t happen in Horizon 3, and the vehicles feel very intuitive as you’d expect from the Horizon series but they still had enough of the realism side of things to distinguish the difference between say a Lamborghini or a BMW.

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The demo I played was a short slice of what to expect from Forza Horizon 3 when it’s released in September, but thanks to its seamless transitions between driving a supercar along a beach to then racing off-road and then racing a suspended car on a helicopter through a forest, it was exactly what I expected from a series that has always been “out there” in terms of its crazy over-the-top gameplay alongside its more grounded and focused gameplay. It was brilliantly executed and felt so good to be back in the horizon universe like I had been previously in Horizon 2. Each vehicle felt fantastic to drive around Playground’s version of Australia with the buggies being a personal favourite of mine from the demo I played. They’re quick and responsive and just feel so fun to rip through the environment on.

I ploughed around 60+ hours into Forza Horizon 2 and after playing Horizon 3, I can honestly see myself doing much more than that on this. The location this time round is perfect for a game of this scale as Australia is just that, vast. As well as the fantastic driving that we’ve come to expect from the series, the game will also feature a ton of customisation options, event creation (including the chance for you and your friends to complete) and even a bucket list where you create everything including the race type, car and the weather and then race it yourself and then pass it onto your friends for them to try to beat your time. The social options within Forza Horizon 3 are there in an abundance and alongside the traditional racing, its hard to see any other game coming close to just how much the game offers. Also, the Drivatars are back and although I personally didn’t see much from them in the demo I played, they’ve had massive improvements to them apparently and now you can add four of your friends best racing times to a created event among other things. Pretty much every part of the game has been improved in some way from its predecessor and that can only be a good thing.

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It’s safe to say, I’m ridiculously excited to play Forza Horizon 3. It looked incredible and it played like a dream. As well as the driving, the game is packed full with features and customisation options that will keep gamers coming back time and time again. Playground Games has set the bar very high for racing games and unless something drastically changes over the coming years, its going to be very hard for anyone to get anywhere near Forza Horizon 3 in terms of size and “fun” it offers. I’ve never been to Australia personally, but in September I’ll be there engrossed in its digital version thanks to Playground Games and Forza Horizon 3.

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