Microsoft and developer Playground Games just released the Forza Horizon 3 demo. It may be only a slice of the game’s large open-world representation of Australia, but I like what the game is putting together so far.
THE LAND OF OZ
This isn’t the first Forza Horizon title on Xbox One, but it sure feels like stepping into a gorgeous new world. Whether it’s the beautiful Australian scenery or simply the power under the hood of the Xbox One (or both), the game looks amazing. I don’t know if Forza Horizon 2 was held back at all by the fact that it was also out on the Xbox 360 at the time (that’s pure speculation), but with this game it definitely feels like all the might of the console is being brought to the table. The environment is gorgeous and varied, and the sense of speed is strong. Beaches, jungles, and residential areas make the game feel like there’s something around every corner, and I hope that continues with the full game. The dusty outback, bigger cities, and who know what else awaits.
FREEDOM & PROGRESSION
One of the things I didn’t like with Forza Horizon 2 was I didn’t feel that it balanced the carrot to progress your Festival experience with the freedom of the open world. I think FH 3 might have solved this with the fact that part of your job as the Festival organizer is to build out the Festival itself. At the end of the demo, I was able to choose the next Festival tent (outback or in the city), which would have naturally introduced me to a new area of the map. This feels like it functions similar to the Outposts of the original Forza Horizon that were missing from FH 2. I missed this kind of breadcrumb structure that didn’t impede the need to explore from the last title, and am glad it’s back in the form of choosing new Festival sites.
Even with this roadmap for the Festival, the demo proves that the game still encourages plenty of freeform exploration. I didn’t even care that I was in a expensive sports car – it had four wheels, so I was taking it wherever I wanted to: up hills, in the water, through ravines, off cliffs. There are still plenty of billboards to collect, bucket list challenges, and events to happen upon while you’re exploring. I even think I found some barn find locations that were deactivated for the demo, but who knows.
The Forza series has proven that its Drivatars are a great, stable way to produce the illusion that you’re racing those on your friends list even though they’re not there in real-time. FH 3 and the demo expand this by giving players four slots to add captured Drivatars to your lineup. After you find and beat a Drivatar in a specific event, you can add them to this list. Once there, they generate XP, fans, and money for you. It’s going to be cool constantly swapping out Drivatars as you beat better ones so they can help you up the ladder.
The Forza Horizon 3 demo constitutes roughly the first hour of the game, but even though that’s just a drop in the bucket of the overall experience, it certainly teases a lot of promise.
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NASCAR Heat Evolution (PS4, Xbox One, PC) September 13
NHL 17 (PS4, Xbox One) September 13
Pro Evolution Soccer 2017 (PS4, Xbox One, PS3, 360, PC) September 13
NBA 2K 17 (PS4, Xbox One, PS3, 360, PC) September 20
FIFA 17 (PS4, Xbox One, PS3, 360, PC) September 27
Forza Horizon 3 (Xbox One, PC) September 27
A quick rundown of some of the sports news from the week.
FIFA 17 Has Been Rolling Out Its Player Ratings
Click along the right hand side for the various categories.
FIFA 17 Demo Out September 13; Includes The Journey
September 13 sound familiar? It’s also the release date of FIFA competitor Pro Evolution Soccer 2017. Well played, EA. The FIFA 17 demo naturally features exhibition play and skill games, but is also notable because it lets players get a taste of the game’s story mode, The Journey.