Following its excellent predecessor, developer Playground Games has raised the stakes, somehow breathing even more life into its already robust open-world racing formula. This time around, the Horizon festival moves down under, to the heart of Eastern Australia. The result is a gorgeous, vibrant world that makes it the most varied Forza yet, selling the thrill of the open road unlike any other game before it.
It retains the sense of balance between simulation authenticity and arcade bombast. In the game’s confident opening, you’re thrust into a Lamborghini Centenario before seamlessly transitioning to a bunch of hefty 4X4s as they hurtle along the sandy dunes of Byron Bay. Then, without warning, you’re racing against a jeep through the rainforest. And the jeep is dangling from the bottom of a chinook.
It’s this kind of attitude toward racing that keeps Forza Horizon 3 exciting even in its low key moments. Not all of its race events are absurd, but it offers you the keys to the festival, letting you choose which kinds of races you want to partake in, even letting you set up your own racing events, which you can customise and post online for friends to try.
Whether you’re competing in street races, earning points in drift events, racking up skill challenges or ticking off the many bucket list challenges that litter the enormous world, Horizon 3 keeps on giving. It has a wonderful replay loop that gives you an immense sense of satisfaction when you dominate an event.
Even if you decide to just take a cruise around the world, ignoring the high octane racing for a while, just driving around is a delight. There’s nothing more enjoyable than taking your baby blue 1957 Chevy Corvette and just hitting the road.
After the success of the previous Horizon games, it’s a wicked surprise to discover the series still has lots to offer. Playground Games should be commended for the presentation and personality it’s injected into every part of the game. It’s one of this year’s best.