Screenshot of Forza Horizon 3 Cover Image

What is Forza Horizon 3?

Forza Horizon 3 was published by Microsoft for Windows and Xbox One. The open world racing video game was developed by Playground Games and released in September 2016. Its developers decided to have two distinct releases spanning over one week, one for "Ultimate Edition" and the other for "Deluxe Edition" players. Overall this is the ninth installment in the franchise and the third Forza Horizon game.

Key facts about Forza Horizon 3

  • Forza Horizon 3 has the best looking environments of all the games in the series.
  • The controls are more accessible and responsive, which makes it easier for beginners to drive.
  • Forza Horizon 3 has a complex reward system for those who persevere and play many races.
  • The game features an eclectic mix of traditional and off-road competitions.
  • Forza Horizon 3 was initially plagued by some performance issues which were fixed in patches.

Gameplay of Forza Horizon 3

The gameplay of Forza Horizon 3 is similar to the one of its predecessors and other titles in the Forza franchise. It features bigger maps than any of the previous installments and takes players to iconic players in Australia. The races unfold in areas such as the Outback, Yarra Valley, Byron Bay and Surfers Paradise. There are more cars available in this installment than in any of the other games, with a total of 350 vehicles to choose from.

The core game mechanics haven’t changed, but the narrative behind the game is slightly different. Players no longer focus exclusively on the racing events, but also act as directors of the Horizon Festival. Before races start, players can customize and organize the competitions. It is even possible to hire and fire drivers and do whatever the Festival director things it’s necessary to make the most of this celebration.

Forza Horizon 3 takes customization to the next level, with new custom paints and designs for all the cars. Most of the popular manufacturers are featured with their body kits, unique upgrades and everything in between. The drivers are still at the cornerstone of this videogame and they take their missions from the Barn Find. It acts as a rumor mill, where players decide which quests are worth embarking on.

The Forza Horizon 3 gameplay is further enhanced by the addition of the Auction House. This is actually a real-time hub for interactions between players who bid on cars and accessories. The goal was to bring players together and to create a community similar to the ones in RPGs. Players also have the option of using other features, such as the online free roam or the competitive Playground Games.

Screenshot of Forza Horizon 3 Impact

Plot of Forza Horizon 3

Racing videogames rarely have a story, but the plot of Forza Horizon 3 is actually more complex than expected. That’s the result of players assuming the role of Festival directors, rather than being relegated to the position of simple drivers. They have multiple prerogatives, such as organizing races, hiring and firing drivers. There is no single player campaign that will take players through a series of quests en route to solving a puzzle. Instead, the single player experience consists of a string of missions and challenges.

The sense of progression is given by the fact that players can unlock multiple cars and customize them in many ways. Forza Horizon 3 action takes them to Australia for the first time in the entire series, with the emphasis on vastly improved visuals. Car races are more or less the same, but the developers brilliantly succeeded in their attempt to make them feel unique. The road markings, the backgrounds and the other colorful details make each track look and feel different.

The video game was released with high expectations and right from the start would challenge some of the leading games. While the plot doesn’t match up to the ones in The Crew or Grand Theft Auto V, the visuals are almost as good. The size of the maps pales in comparison to the aforementioned titles, but they dwarf most of the regular racing games. Players race in dense rain forest, arid deserts and urban areas, all of them with the beautiful Australian backdrop.

Screenshot of Forza Horizon 3 High Velocity
Screenshot of Forza Horizon 3 High Velocity

Development of Forza Horizon 3

The team working on the open world racing video game announced the new title in June 2016. Forza Horizon 3 was developed in a records time, as the first players were already able to play it in September. The decision to release it in two stages wasn’t controversial, because both bundles hit the stores within the same week. Both games could be played on Microsoft Windows powered PCs and Xbox One consoles.

The Ultimate Edition version was the first to be made available on September 23 and had six downloadable content packs. Its cover vehicles are the 2017 Ford F 150 Raptor Race Truck and the Lamborghini Centenario and the soundtracks are played with Groove Music. The game benefited from an expansion pack which was released in November and went by the name of Blizzard Mountain. Those who acquired the Expansion Pass got it for free and will benefit from the newly announced DLC bundle.

Where can I download Forza Horizon 3?

The Playground Games website and the games section of Microsoft are the places to go if you want to download Forza Horizon 3. This is where players can preorder the titles produced by the video game developer or acquire any of its other products. The other games in the trilogy as well as all nine games in the broader series can be purchased. The bundle is available at a discounted price and players will receive all the DLC packs for free.

Racing fans will spend a lot of time playing this game, but they should know that other alternatives exist. Grand Theft Auto V, The Crew and Need for Speed 2015 will keep them at the edge of their seats. These games feature larger maps, have a more compelling single player and side quests. It’s the subtle differences between the two genres that make them so popular among racing fans. All these games can be played on Xbox One, so console owners don’t have to make other investments.

Screenshot of Forza Horizon 3 Wet Track
Screenshot of Forza Horizon 3 Wet Track

What are others saying about Forza Horizon 3?

Forza Horizon 3 reviews were extremely positive and the game received universal acclaim from players and critics. The fact that it spent so little time in development and it was released on time also constituted to its success. The developers went to great lengths to provide players with immediate and cheap access to downloadable content. Top review scores were given to the Xbox One version, with the Windows game following closely behind.

The game was cited for its great dynamic, beautiful environments and surprisingly large maps. In the open world racing video game genre, it is second only to blockbuster hits such as Grand Theft Auto V and The Crew. Players enjoyed the steep departure from traditional landscapes and jumped headfirst into the races with Australian backgrounds. The emphasis on off-road options didn’t go unnoticed and was appreciated even by traditional races fans.

My rating of Forza Horizon 3

I need a lot of convincing when it comes to playing another racing video game. It’s not that I don’t like the genre, quite the opposite. The problem is that many developers regard franchises as moneymaking machines and don’t bother with innovations. Each game looks and feels a whole lot like its predecessor, with a different polish. I’m happy to say that Forza Horizon 3 doesn’t fall into this category and manages to innovate. The off-road races are really amazing and a welcomed distraction from classic tracks.

I’ve always dreamed about visiting Australia and after spending so many hours racing here, I’m twice as motivated. The scenery is spectacular; in fact, it's so good that it can even act as a distraction from the actual race. There aren’t too many racing games out there that make you care less about winning or losing just because the backgrounds are so good. To wrap this up, Forza Horizon 3 is one of the best racing games of 2016. A must play for any fan of the genre, it earned its review score of 9/10.