Forza Horizon 3 Review
Forza Horizon 3 can be described as a spin-off title from the Forza Motorsport racing simulation series that evolved into its own juggernaut. Forza Horizon 3 takes the Racing Simulation and blends it into an open-world racing game like Need for Speed or The Crew. Is the precise control that you have to have over your car in this open world racing simulation an enjoyable experience? Let’s find out, using our unique value based review system!
About the game
Forza Horizon 3 takes place in Australia at the Horizon Festival, which you lead as its boss. The game stands out with its dynamic weather system and its variety of open-world environments, which even impact the car behaviour. You are also given total freedom to adjust the difficulty to your liking, from arcade racer to simulation.
The game had quite a rocky performance at its launch on PC, which prompted many people to skip over the game. The latest performance patch has recently hit the game in conjunction with the Hot Wheels expansion and we are now very happy with the performance.
Story and Atmosphere
The story of the game is kept very light and is as we’ve already mentioned about building up the Horizon Festival. You need fans to expand your festival and you gain fans by doing races, drift courses and other stunts present in the game. Once you gained enough fans you are able to expand your festival, which unlocks further new events with which to gain fans and so forth. It is simple, but it gets the job done.
What makes the game really something special is its atmosphere. The game looks absolutely stunning and with the latest performance patch installed, it runs very well. This is exemplified by the dynamic weather and time of day effects that can really get the most out of Australia’s vast and diverse landscape.
The tone and atmosphere of the game are light hearted and really get you into the mood for a festival and partying. An aspect that we really enjoyed is that the drivers of the festival are populated by the people in your friends list and if they played the game themselves, their level is always shown to you. This really makes you feel like you are always actively racing against your friends, even if you are just playing against computer controlled players.
In many other racing games like Need for Speed, one can oftentimes turn a corner by breaking at the last second and then making a crazy drift around it. This is much more difficult to do in Forza, as the racing is much closer to a racing simulation. In a racing simulation, realism kicks in and to make a good turn, one must hit the breaks much sooner. The ideal line shown to you in the game even gives you an idea on when to do so depending on its color. Therefore, the handling is very well made in this game and gives you very tense and enjoyable racing experiences.
While Forza Horizon has been adapted to play more like an arcade racer, the roots of the simulation of the original franchise are still there and also clearly visible by the virtue of being able to tune aspects of your car. This gives Forza Horizon 3 a very unique angle to its gameplay with which it is able to please the fans of both arcade and simulation racing games. This is especially true by letting the player choose many aspects of the difficulty settings like the ideal line, transmission modes, the ability to rewind a couple of seconds and more. Therefore the player is able to shift the style of play in either direction.
The main gameplay consists of attending the events in the game. Most of these are standard races; either an A to B sprint course or a lapped circuit, where you race against 11 opponents. There are also smaller events that are part of the world map like a small drift course or a stunt jump, which act as nice additions to the variety of the gameplay. You can also challenge randomly roaming computer controlled players on the world map to an impromptu race. Winning those unlocks special, more dangerous “street races”. Sometimes you will even experience a special event like the race against the helicopter right at the start of the game that gives you something nice to look forward to.
The “Horizon Festival” events mentioned earlier all take place in a sectioned off place in the world map and are official races without traffic coming into your way. Things can be spiced up a bit; there is an illegal underground racing ring, which you can also participate in, despite the warnings of your assistant. These so called “street races” will have you swerving around traffic, typically at night, and should instill a greater adrenaline rush in you. These kind of races add to the large amount of variety and content present in the game and make sure there is something for everyone in this game.
Moving on, Forza Horizon 3 greatly integrates your friends and user created content into the game. There are many races that you are able to set up yourself and customize, by allowing you to set the amount of laps, the allowed car classes and many more settings. You will then be able to upload this event and it will be shown for your friends as an option, if they choose to attend the event’s location. This is a neat feature and exemplifies the care and polish put into the game.
All your cars can also be changed with customizations, which can be more than just cosmetic. You are able to upgrade the cars to make them stronger for events. This can also be done automatically. If you just want to get into races as quickly as possible, you can just use this option. Cars are seperated into tiers and events can be limited to a certain one. You can oftentimes upgrade a car past its own tier, which makes it slip into a higher one and therefore disables it from racing in those limited events. What you want to have is a car that is upgraded to the top of its respective tier, so make sure you avoid overdoing your upgrades and just get a new car for a higher level.
One point of critique that we want to mention here is that trees can be very inconsistent in destructibility. Usually, something like width is an indicator if a tree is breakable; however, some thicker objects were breakable, while some smaller ones were rock solid. With the great variety in terms of trees and vegetation, it became quite hard to judge on which trees one could risk driving through and which ones needed to be avoided.
Overall in terms of gameplay, the game focuses on the racing and driving and fleshes it out fully. It does the racing part extremely well and really impresses with the available options. If you enjoy the pure driving, you will find great enjoyment in this game. For other people, the game may become a bit repetitive.
Before anyone asks, yes, the game does have online play where you can race against other players. Entering online play is easily done, either through a lobby with friends or by pressing the appropriate button in the menu. You will be pretty quickly thrown into an online session with other people, in which you are able to compete in races.
It was an absolutely awesome experience to play against other players. The computer controlled racers always drive so perfectly and are in some sort of fashion boring because of it. Human imperfection is something truly beautfiul as you will see a lot of enjoyable chaos coming from it.
A good time can come from racing with other people and even having conversations with them while doing so. A praise to Microsoft for their implementation of crossplay between PC and Xbox One also needs to be given here. All in all, the multiplayer adds a lot of value to the game as it shakes up the racing to be something truly special.
As Red Value Gaming, we try to review games a bit differently to others, by giving a second review score in form of a monetary value. With this value, we try to give you an objective measure of the content of the game, which is evaluated seperately from the review score we give to the game. The best way to do so is by comparing it to other games that we’ve reviewed in the past. Let’s just use Need for Speed as a comparison, which we’ve valued at 28 Dollars.
Using data from howlongtobeat.com, Forza Horizon 3 edges out the main playtime of Need for Speed with 17 hours compared to 15 hours. The difference becomes a lot starker when going for a completionist approach. The environmental variety and open world in Forza Horizon 3 is miles ahead of Need for Speed. While Need for Speed only features a city as a location, Forza includes a city, deserts, plains and a rain forest. The terrain you drive on greatly affects the handling of the car in Forza, as it has a much larger simulation complexity that also includes fine tuning of the vehicle properties.
Forza offers a vast array of options; adjusting difficulty, graphical fidelity and general racing is much more fleshed out than in Need for Speed. Both games feature really good car customization, but in terms of atmosphere Forza once again takes the cake in part due to Need for Speed’s incomplete day and night cycle. Last but far from least are the online features of both games. Need for Speed is always online, while Forza Horizon 3 offers you a vast amount of options.
All in all, this would prompt us to value Forza Horizon 3 at very close to its MSRP. While the game is extremely polished and offers a great variety in its racing, it stays within the genre standards, which means it would need to try very hard for us to give it its full value. However, the game actively tries to sell you things in the game.
Each time you try to buy a car or its upgrades, you will be asked if you would like to purchase the stuff with Car Tokens, a microtransaction currency, instead. Then is the integration of Groove music, which the game also asks you to subscribe to with a free trial period. And finally, the game played unskippable trailers for its Blizzard Mountain and Hot Wheels DLC packs with a prompt afterwards asking you to purchase them. This is quite frankly ridiculous and greatly diminishes the quality of the game making it feel more like a free mobile game rather than the Triple A behemoth it really is. All of this combined is why we are unable to value the game any higher than $49.
The excellent polish and quality in the racing, along with the beautiful and vast amounts of options makes us give the game a high rating of 89. Any fan of racing games should jump on this game immediately, as it looks to be one of the definitive games of the genre. The vast amount of options, the high degree of car simulation and the ability to play the game your way makes it a great purchase for a vast spectrum of racing fans.
The general gamer will probably enjoy the game too, but might feel like the game is a bit repetitive, since it stays within genre standards and includes a somewhat lacking story. For the game to get a higher score from us, it could’ve either improved on the story or added in something out of the ordinary for a racing game that would make the game appeal to a larger group of people. Overall, if you are interested in a great and somewhat realistic racer, Forza Horizon 3 is a great place to go.
(out of 100)
Any fan of racing games should jump on this game immediately, as it looks to be one of the definitive games of the genre. The vast amount of options, the high degree of car simulation and the ability to play the game your way makes it a great purchase for a vast spectrum of racing fans. However, be aware that the game can be a bit pushy in trying to sell you extra things.
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