Tag Archive: Forza Horizon 3


It’s very hard to whittle down a year’s worth of games to a list of merely five. EGM had almost 120 games up for best of the year voting this time around, of which I personally beat 87 at the moment of my writing this. (Who needs a family anyway? So overrated.) Nevertheless, some games took weeks, almost months to get through; some barely took more than a lunch break. But at the end of a grueling and arduous processing period that would have broken lesser men, I emerged with a list of my personal top five from 2016. I give these games my highest recommendation, and hope you enjoy them as much as I did.

#5
Publisher: Microsoft Studios
Developer: The Coalition
Platforms: Xbox One, PC
Gears of War 4
I was cautiously optimistic when it came to Gears 4 prior to release. The original trilogy had wrapped everything up so nicely, and the prequel was so lackluster, that I really wasn’t sure if an adventure that followed Marcus’ son could capture the magic of the original three. But, thankfully, my fears were quickly assuaged. New enemies, a Sera wracked by new natural disasters as a result of Gears 3’s ending, and a new cast was just what the doctor ordered to put Gears of War back on top. Along with the thrilling campaign, the multiplayer was a return to form, too. New weapons, maps, and modes, plus the card system to reward players for playing certain ways, gave it a much-needed shot in the arm. If I ever find the time, this is the one multiplayer I’m returning to.

#4
Publisher: Microsoft Studios
Developer: Playground Games, Turn 10 Studios
Platforms: Xbox One, PC
Forza Horizon 3
As much as I love racing games,—and the Forza series in particular—it’s hard to believe it made my top five. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I’m saying it snuck in here. On the contrary, I just can’t believe how much I loved it. Sports and racing games sometimes get forgotten, or left in a category all their own (or weirdly mashed into one category). When it comes time for Game of the Year, for me anyway, everything is on the table. And hands down, no doubt, Forza Horizon 3 is one of the best all-around experiences I’ve had in 2016. If it wasn’t for the fact that my job requires me to play dozens of games a year, my tires would still be warm on my precious dune buggy as I bound over the hills of the Outback. With tons of championships still to be won, I can’t wait to dive back into this one over winter break.

#3
Publisher: The Pokémon Company
Developer: Game Freak
Platforms: 3DS
Pokémon Sun/Moon
I’ve said it a hundred times I think at this point, but I’ve been playing Pokémon since it first hit these shores almost 20 years ago, and I don’t think since that original entry has a game in the series made me so happy. Pokémon Sun/Moon’s removal of traditional gym battles, reimagining of friends and rivals, integration of legendary Pokémon into the story, and multitude of side activities to do blows away every previous entry. The fully-realized 3D world and movement make a huge difference when roaming around the islands of Alola, and the removal of HMs and adding ride Pokémon to get from point A to point B quickly make the chore of traversal a thing of the past. Almost every issue we’ve had with previous Pokémon games has been addressed, and the game still has all the great battle strategy and training we’ve come to expect over the years. I can’t wait to see where Pokémon goes next.

#2
Publisher: EA
Developer: Respawn Entertainment
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC
Titanfall 2
If you want to see a master course in level design in action, play Titanfall 2. Rectifying one of the major gaffs of the first game by including a campaign this go around, Respawn Entertainment turned my world on its head and inside out, and I loved every second of it. If you told me I was going to cherish the relationship between a pilot and his robot at this start of this, I’d have laughed you out of the office. Now, though, I think it’s one of the strongest bonds conveyed in a game. It’s not the best written, since gameplay definitely still takes the reigns most of the time here, but if you want a non-stop, adrenaline-fueled roller coaster ride with giant robots, then you need to play this game. Plus, the multiplayer is just as tight this go around as in the first one. It almost doesn’t get better than this.

#1
Publisher: Playdead
Developer: Playdead
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC
Inside
I’m just as shocked as anyone that I picked indies as my game of the year in back-to-back years now, but the truth of the matter is that I absolutely adored Inside. There was no other game that I was talking about well after I beat it more than this near-perfect little puzzle platformer. The adventure of trying to escape a world making its best attempt to crush you in every way imaginable surely has more metaphors buried in it than I can uncover here in this blurb, but throw that in with an insane ending that you’ll never see coming, and I’m still excited about it even just writing this. I did not know how Playdead would be able to top their first amazing effort with Limbo, but they did, and if anyone believes in the sophomore slump, they clearly never played Inside.
The 6th Annual “The Colors, Duke! The Colors!” Award for Most Colorful Game presented by Popsicle (not really)
Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
Continuing my annual tradition, for as many great looking games as were out there this year, none looked as good to me as Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End. From the animation for all the characters to the remote locales that Drake explored, the game was simply gorgeous. Driving my jeep through the mud, boating on crystal clear waters, and climbing through overgrown jungles are all things we’ve seen in games before, but I don’t think any game has ever done them better. So, it may not have made my Top 5, but I needed to at least shine a small light on the beauty of this visual gem.
The Michelle Obama Award for Battling Obesity
Pokémon Go
Although strides have been made with motion controls and virtual reality, gaming has always been, and really remains, a pretty sedentary activity. Then Niantic released Pokémon Go this summer, and millions of people got up out of their chairs and started walking around—including yours truly. Heck, even to this day it affects my lunch habits, as I’ll walk places now in order to hatch eggs and get candy in the game. I met new people, found new places in and around Los Angeles, and spent more time outdoors than I had in a very long time. I’d still love to see battling and trading implemented at some point, but for now, kudos to Niantic for doing what almost nothing could for me for a long time: giving me a reason to get up and go outside.
The “Reality Sucks, Let’s Go Somewhere Else” Award
Robinson: The Journey
2016 will be remembered as the year VR really hit mass-market, and so it seemed fitting to shine a light on one of the best games out there for it. While many games successfully brought the sensation of piloting mechs or planes to life, my favorite experience was when I got to explore a strange new world on foot. Robinson: The Journey revolves around a spacefaring boy lost on a strange planet filled with dinosaurs. Avoiding Velociraptors, T-Rexs, and Pterodactyls was invigorating, and got me using my PS VR headset probably more than any other game out there. This experience, more than any, other has sold me on the future of VR.
EGM’s Best of 2016 Coverage
We’re taking a look at the best games of 2016 all week, from Christmas day through December 30th. Check back every day for our Top 25 Games of 2016, as well as our personal lists for the games we loved most this year. Check here for everything that’s been posted so far.
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When Forza Horizon first launched four years ago as a spin-off of Forza, many of us were pleasantly surprised by how it was able to tone down the seriousness of the main series while still making an extremely competent racing game. As time has gone on and we’ve fallen into an annual cycle of Forza followed by Forza Horizon, what once was a spin-off has now turned into a series all its own—one that now rivals its parent in every way. And, with the release of Forza Horizon 3, it may even surpass the mainline series in key areas.

For those who might be unaware, the Forza Horizon games are set up around a traveling fictional festival called Horizon that’s like a cross between Woodstock and Top Gear, and this year’s game is headed to a land down under. Whereas the original saw you rise up the ranks to dominate the event, and the second one had you as king of Horizon from the start, Forza Horizon 3 basically just makes you the festival’s God this go around.

From what radio stations can be heard at the festival’s hubs throughout Australia, to what part of Australia Horizon will expand to next, all the decisions are yours. You can even customize your license plate and what your assistant will call you via a list of names. Yes, I admit I enjoyed the fact that my assistant actually called me Ray and all my cars’ license plates said “Carsillo” on the back—it’s a little thing, but that added hint of personalization was a nice touch. Unfortunately, it also made the fact that you can then only choose from a dozen or so generic, hipster-looking avatars to represent your “face” just as disappointing as the license plate customization was fun.

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These are only minor details, however. The heart of Forza has always been the cars, and Horizon 3 does not disappoint. Over 350 cars are available at the game’s launch—the most in Forza Horizon history—and, as always, plenty of car packs will be coming in the future. The game also maintains the series’ high standard of stunning car models that contrast terrifically against the picturesque backdrops inspired by an amalgamation of Australia’s coasts, forests, and deserts. The big additions this time around aside from the usual list of new supercars are dune buggies. Since a quarter of Horizon 3’s mashed-up rendition of Australia is the Outback, dune buggies are great for crossing the desert terrain at high speeds and pulling off crazy stunts to fill up your score meter.

At first, the buggies took some time to get used to, because they handle completely differently from any other car in Forza’s long lineage. By the time I was done with the game, though, I was hooked. I couldn’t get enough races inside these off-road masters, bobbing up and down through the countryside, and was actually disappointed when I was placed back in a luxury car or sporty speedster depending on what race I was doing.

Speaking of racing, it remains at the core of what you’ll be doing in Horizon 3. There are 63 tracks set up across the game for you to unlock and play through, with more unlocked by expanding and growing the festival. This is done by earning fans, which you can do through winnings races, completing one-off special objectives in 30 brand-new bucket list courses, winning showcase events against unusual race opponents like speed boats and fighter jets, and completing “PR stunts” like daredevil jumps and burning rubber through drift and speed zones.

OffRoadRainforest1160

Each individual race location not only has the standard single race, but later you can also unlock three-to-five race championships with new themes for each course. For example, a single exhibition race in the Outback might have you racing off-road trucks like the Ford F-150 Raptor, but the same course’s championship might be themed around rally legends like the Suburu Impreza, giving each track more replayability as you race different vehicles.

If that wasn’t enough, Forza Horizon 3 also introduces the new Blueprint feature to both racecourses and bucket list events, which allows you to set your own stipulations that you can then share with the Forza community. You could create a perfect storm of racing nothing but high-end supercars like the Lamborghini Centenario along the curving coastline, or punish people by sticking those same sports cars on an off-road track in the rainforest and see if they can’t maintain their traction. The same goes for the bucket list Blueprints, but like most other games where you can create your own courses, you have to be able to beat your own challenges before uploading for others to play. In theory, you could have an endless stream of fresh content coming into Forza Horizon 3 long after this initial launch window.

Another major addition to Forza Horizon 3 comes in the form of its online multiplayer. You’ve always been able to take on friends head-to-head, but Horizon 3 adds it so that you can now experience the construction of a Horizon festival from the ground-up together. Campaign co-op, which is also available in cross-platform play, allows you to join a friend’s game or vice versa in order to help each other complete objectives or find hidden bonuses like landmarks or barn finds to fill out your worlds. Any progress made in each other’s games carries over to your single-player game as well, so there’s no need to do something twice if you don’t want to.

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The emphasis on co-op doesn’t end there, however. Even if your friend isn’t online, the new Convoy feature means their Drivatar can ride with you and help you, too. By winning street races against specifically marked Drivatars, you can add up to three Drivatars to your Convoy. And if you want to replace someone in your lineup, simply street race another person and fire one of the old drivers. Having and riding with a full Convoy means not only a better chance for you to find hidden secrets and earn more credits, but your friends will be earning credits even while offline.

Of course, more online-driven endeavors has meant more server strain that normal in the Forza community. Even a week after launching, there are still occasional connection issues in regards to things like leaderboards, some of the Blueprints, and finding strangers online to race with or against. Groove Music—Microsoft’s digital music streaming service that has been added to the game to allow players a chance to finally have custom music playing while driving—works only about half the time, too. I’m driving a million dollar car, and the damn radio is broken.

These online hiccups aside, Forza Horizon 3 is a racing lover’s dream. The insane stunts and off-the-wall challenges remain hugely entertaining, and being able to incorporate your friends more into that has only added a new wrinkle of replayability to the game. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a more complete racing experience than this one, and in many ways has possibly eclipsed the mainline Forza series in terms of fun and enjoyability.

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Publisher: Microsoft Studios • Developer: Playground Games • ESRB: E – Everyone • Release Date: 09.27.16
9.5
Forza Horizon 3 pulls out all the stops to provide one of most fluid and enjoyable racing experiences out there. A must have for casual car fans and hardcore gearheads alike, Forza Horizon 3 may even surpass the mainline series in terms of fun with this effort.
The Good Gorgeous looking, excellent handling, and more content than ever before in one package.
The Bad Occasional issues with connecting to people and features online.
The Ugly Constantly forgetting that Australians drive on the other side of the road and getting into lots of head-on collisions because of it.
Forza Horizon 3 is available on Xbox One and PC. Primary version reviewed was for Xbox One. Review code was provided by Microsoft for the benefit of this review. EGM reviews games on a scale of 1 to 10, with a 5.0 being average.