Forza Horizon 3 in the test - This is exactly what the PC needed!

Author: Dimitry Halley
Date: 2016-09-23 17:04:00
The open-world racing game Forza Horizon 3 also sets new playful standards in the PC version. But is the port also doing well technically?

The Forza PC maiden voyage

Driving fun workaholic

Speaking of fans: In order to expand the Horizon Festival, we primarily need people who are interested in our racing event. We collect them with every challenge we master - the more spectacular, the more followers. And how do you spice up a race in terms of opulence? Right, with increasingly blatant carts. We activate them with credits (i.e. money) and through experience points, which we also get for almost every action in the game world, we increase our multipliers, which in turn rake in more money in our pockets. With these three currencies - fans, money credits and experience - the developers create a conglomerate of reward spirals that keep us going for dozens of hours .

The countless challenges that we can tackle in Australia's gigantic open world ensure that this is also fun. The classic round and point-to-point races are already part of the standard inventory, we also slide stylishly through drift challenges, pass speed cameras at as much speed as possible, challenge AI drivers to fast matches in the game world, look for spectacular ones Jumps, discover secret cars in abandoned barns, look at the sights of Australia and, and, and. A special highlight is the so-called spoon list, a compilation of various special races. For example, you have to race through the jungle in a Warthog military jeep from Halo to the sounds of the corresponding theme tune or reach ridiculously high speeds in the cockpit of a Königsegg prototype (and we only mention the more harmless missions here for spoiler reasons).

When it comes to the spectacle, this is only topped by the five show races in which we compete against a helicopter, a sports boat squadron and other curiosities. At all of these events, we largely decide ourselves in which order and with which vehicle class we want to start. For example, we can first upgrade the outback as a location and unlock more and more races there, or we can evenly distribute the resources and pave the entire game world with challenges. A great thing, but the player guidance is not quite ideal: The first five hours of the game we are completely bombed with new aspects of the game, which we should also please tackle directly (often Forza doesn't give us a choice) - other, equally important facets are withheld from us the game. How to form a column with other cars for more money, for example. How the tuning works in detail. And which aspects, racing modes and vehicle classes should you concentrate on as a beginner.

On page 2 you can read all the details about PC problems and find out why Forza Horizon 3 is still probably the best racing game of the year.

Outside hui, inside hui

As usual for Forza, under the dazzling surface of myriads of humorous driving fun events there is an extremely solid game mechanics that we can adapt to our own wishes. Specifically: We choose whether we shift and clutch manually, switch the damage model from "purely cosmetic" to "our engine can fly around our ears", switch off ABS, ideal line and rewind function - and thus Horizon 3 as an arcade racer so close as close as possible to the simulation feel of the Forza Motorsport series. However, if we just want to accelerate and steer carelessly, that works just as well. The tuning extends to new components that increase performance, complicated curve calibration in the driving behavior, optical attachments, paintwork and community designs for downloading. The level of difficulty can also be adjusted manually and gives us more credits at high levels - that much freedom is really great. However, some of the races on the "unbeatable" level cannot actually be won.

This is due to the so-called Drivatar AI . Forza Horizon uses a completely different system than Need for Speed, which is often criticized for its rubber band intelligence. Opposing drivers adjust to our own speed there in order to keep the races as exciting as possible. The catch: Your position in the race doesn't depend 100 percent on your own performance. Forza Horizon 3 takes a different approach. Adversaries are called Drivatars and are computer images of other players all over the world, but especially from their own friends list. According to the developer, the individual behavior is registered and converted into an algorithm - in reality, this is noticeable in the small differences in the aggressiveness of the driving behavior.

The Drivatars are mostly racing smart, it feels demanding and fair to compete against them. With the exception of the very high levels of difficulty. Since in Horizon 3 you always start far back in the line-up and cannot influence this, you tend to get into tussles with other cars in the first lap - the AI driver at the top, meanwhile, makes off and is often simply impossible to catch up . But that doesn't happen in all races at this level.

And that's why those little problems are likely to disturb especially the players tackle the Horizon 3 with real power ambition. It is also annoying that switching between different cars, tunings and vehicle builds before a race is extremely fiddly. A professional wants to drive a route with different engine optimizations and has to chug back to the Horizon garage before every attempt to manually change the parts. That would definitely have been more elegant. On the other hand, the majority of Forza players will not even come into contact with these smacks of detail. Because Horizon 3 should primarily be understood as a fun arcade racer with optional simulation tweaks and a bombastic open world. And if this test sounds a bit sober in view of the extremely high rating of Forza, it is only because we save the big guns until the end.

On your marks, set, praise!

Forza Horizon 3 is a playful masterpiece . Seldom has a racing game in the arcade sector tied us so intensely in front of the screen for so long. The Open World of Australia with all its sights and hundreds of challenges impresses around every corner - and that this is far more than optical eyewash, the game owes its excellent driving experience. No matter which car you pick up from the fleet of almost 350 vehicles - it drives unique, comprehensible, varied and easy to grip. A muscle car roars and vibrates with horsepower below us, super sports cars whiz uncontrollably towards the horizon and the numerous off-roaders demand extreme skill in the jungle, but can cope noticeably better with bulky terrain. Tunings, weather conditions and floor coverings also affect the handling of the carts.

Technically, the game sets new standards in the racing game genre in principle (!). On the PC, Horizon 3 naturally benefits from the additional 4K option and better anti-aliasing compared to the One version. On ultra-details, however, the races are a feast for the eyes through and through, even in lower resolutions; a show race against a helicopter in the dense jungle of Australia looks like an image film of the tourism industry that has become a game. And even in “only” high details you can't get enough of the landscapes.

Pc problems

If you want to enjoy the highest settings, you should start with a high-end system with 16.0 GB of RAM and a fast graphics card with at least 4.0 GB of VRAM. Our problems mainly relate to the PC-exclusive unlimited frame rate - if you set the game to 30 frames per second, just like the Xbox One version (the option is available), the average result is just as smooth as on the console. If that weren't possible, we would have devalued a whopping ten points . But since you can theoretically and practically play the PC version at the level of the console version in 30 frames sufficiently smoothly and without problems, we limit ourselves to five points. Nevertheless: We expect stable 60 frames per second in Full HD from a PC optimization in 2016 with correspondingly fast hardware, and these are not always given in Forza Horizon 3 according to the current status.

This technical hiccup doesn't change the fact that the title is playful all along the line: Horizon 3 virtually grabs the best aspects from the more simulation-heavy Forza Motorsport and translates them into a light-hearted and entertaining open world concept. If you think of the fun of driving as a complicated melody, Forza Horizon 3 manages to hit all the right notes with pinpoint accuracy like no other racing game has managed in recent years. Oh, and speaking of music metaphors: The soundtrack also mixes almost 150 licensed pieces of music from classic to modern electro to punk and metal on eight thematically different radio stations to create an incredibly atmospheric playlist for many tastes. Anyone who drives a Bugatti Veyron towards sunset, sees the freely navigable outback with all its sights to the left and right, leaves the competition behind and listens to Chvrches' radio Lauren Mayburry, experiences an unbelievable feeling of elation. And at least that was the case even after 50 hours of play.