The Forza series is revving its engines once again, as Microsoft and Playground Games prepare to take us on a road trip with Forza Horizon 3. The September-bound sequel in the more scenic, laid-back racing series (at least compared with its older sibling, the Forza Motorsport games) is bringing plenty of new features with it in order to make this the broadest Horizon yet.
Location, location, location. The first Forza Horizon took place in Colorado, while the second title in the series moved to Europe. Forza Horizon 3 flies even further from home, setting its races in Australia. The map is said to be twice the size of Forza Horizon 2, which was itself significantly larger than the original Forza Horizon. Expect a large variety of scenery, ranging from lovely oceanside views to the expansive outback and everything between.
It wouldn't be much of a racing game without a good vehicle selection, and Forza Horizon 3 will have plenty of them. There will be at least 350 cars from real-life manufacturers to choose from at launch, with more likely to come in the following months as DLC. Again, for comparison, Forza Horizon 2 only broke 300 after several DLC packs were released, so it's no small addition. There are also new categories of vehicles to drive, including open wheel buggies and extreme offroaders.
The Forza Horizon games are so named because they all take place during a fictional event called the Horizon Festival. In Forza Horizon 3, not only are you attending the festival, you're in charge. That means part of the game will be somewhat like Forza Racing Tycoon, as you plan where to expand the festival, what music will play, and customize events using a new feature called Horizon Blueprint.
Change the route of a race, change the time of day and weather, set vehicle restrictions, and more. You'll also be able to share your creations with other players and friends in order to challenge them to your events.
There are at least three new challenges to take advantage of in Forza Horizon 3: Danger Sign Jumps, Convoys, and Drift Zones. In Danger Sign Jumps, your goal is to get as much air as possible, ramping off steep inclines to soar your metallic ride through the sky. More information is yet to come for the other new events, but we've at least seen how Forza Horizon 3 will handle Showcase events this time around.
Showcase events, in case you're not familiar, are the Hollywood blockbuster moments of the Horizon games. During an E3 demo, we saw a buggy race a helicopter which was carrying a Jeep, jumping and bounding over terrain before finally engaging in a dead-on sprint to the finish line. There's also been mentions of races against powerboats and zepplins. You know, stuff you do at your typical car festival in the outback.
Making your cars feel like they're really yours has always been a big part of the Forza games, and Forza Horizon 3 is no different. Paint jobs, decals, interior, exterior, exhaust pipes, spoilers, etc. Pretty much every aspect of your ride will be customizable, and Forza Horizon 3 is adding 30 new rim styles and widebody kits.
Forza Horizon 3 is also expanding options for racing with your buddies. While previous games in the series have supported friendly multiplayer, Forza Horizon 3 will be the first to support a four-player co-op campaign. Even when your friends aren't playing, you'll be able to find their AI-controlled counterpart (AKA "Drivatar") and hire them for your festival. Of course, if those friends' Drivatars perform poorly, you're also allowed to fire them.
If you're looking for new friends, Forza Horizon 3 will support the upcoming Clubs feature for Xbox Live, letting you form or join large-scale groups centered around the game. Matchmaking is seamless, letting you drop onto the new continent without hassle or lobbies.