E3 2016: Forza Horizon 3 Heads To Beautiful Australia – Hands-On Preview

As part of Microsoft’s Xbox: Play Anywhere program, Forza Horizon 3 was announced during its press conference. This will mark the first time that an entry in the Forza series has debuted on a platform other than Xbox on release. For console gamers this means that the install base is likely to be much larger as they can invite friends who may not own and Xbox One to play alongside them. For PC gamers it means that AAA racing games are actually becoming a thing. Quite a rare sight, indeed.

Forza Horizon 3 is arguably one of Microsoft’s most attractive upcoming exclusives. Thankfully, it’s featured on the E3 2016 show floor and we had the opportunity to get our hands on it.

What we played wasn’t the PC version. Instead, it was playing on the upcoming Xbox One S. It’s worth mentioning that the console appears beautiful in person and is much smaller than it appears in images. More importantly, despite being bound by nearly three-year old hardware, albeit with some minor tweaks, it still holds its own. Framerates were steady throughout the demo no matter how much beauty and chaos was on-screen.

Speaking of beauty, Playground Games has migrated the franchise to Australia, where the landscape is much less one-dimensional than when you last saw Horizon. Multiple biomes provide distinct surroundings as you weave your way through the world, which is twice the size of the last installment. It isn’t just big, either. The landscape is very diverse with ridges, canyons, and all sorts of unique geometry that affects the driving line. Made better, the sky box is mapped with high resolution photographs providing a realistic backdrop for the world, a neat touch by Playground Games.

In the case of rivers and other bodies of water, you’ll need to learn how to combat hydroplaning. The water mechanics that Forza Motorsport 6 pioneered are here in full force, and they add a brilliant layer to gameplay. Playground Games has been liberal with water placement to ensure that players have plenty of opportunity to experience their impact. Players who become experts at handling in the wet will find themselves with moments of opportunity to perform Senna-esque overtakes.

The world size isn’t the only thing that’s grown since the last Horizon. There are 150 more cars than Forza Horizon 2, totaling at 350+. New vehicles include the Lamborghini Centenario, Penhall Cholla, Ariel Nomad, and quite a few off-road vehicles such as the B.J. Baldwin Trophy Truck. There’s a balanced portfolio of cars to support the various disciplines included in its massive event list.

When in the shop you can customize your vehicles to great degree. License plates are configurable, and Ttners will be particularly glad to hear that there are new wide body kits that can be thrown onto their favorite cars. For those wondering, yes, you will be able to change your character driver.

Player manipulation of their experience is the name of the game with Forza Horizon 3. The game goes as far as to grant players complete control of Horizon Festival events, the music playlist, and custom creation of gameplay challenges to be shared socially. You can even invite your friends to join you, no matter the circumstances, to make even the campaign a social experience.

Forza Horizon 3 is shaping up to be one of this Fall season’s most attractive games. It will debut on Xbox One and Windows 10 this September 27th.