While Forza Horizon 3 has been out on the various iterations of the Xbox for the past couple of years, the recent PC release has earned it a second glance from those of us who may subscribe to ‘PC master race’ philosophy, and as such, I recently took advantage of a 50% off sale by Microsoft to purchase the Ultimate version of the game, which includes VIP status, and all the car packs. This article is meant less as a review of the game—it’s been out so long that there are plenty of reviews of the game as a game—and more of a quick look at all that has changed between the PC version and the console versions that I can tell, because there are certainly differences between the two.
Hopefully you are fortunate enough that your computer can handle the higher graphics levels, because if that is the case, the differences are immediately apparent upon launch. I am playing on an i7 equipped PC with a NVidia 1080GTX overclocked a bit—what can I say, I like my games like I like my cars; fast—and once the game preset to Ultra, the beauty of the game quickly became apparent. When I played the game on console, it was on an Xbox One (non-S), and probably played at the level of ‘medium’ graphics compared to my PC, and while it looked very pretty and bright, playing on Ultra lets the detail that went into programming and modeling the cars come to the forefront.
Once you get past the pre-requisite cut scenes in the beginning, you are thrust into an opening race whose scripting will be familiar to anyone who has played the console version. They put you through all of the terrain, by first starting you in a Lamborghini Centenario on tarmac, and then a Trophy Truck through the forests and on the beach. Once you get to the end of the beach, the gameplay differences between the two platforms begin in earnest, as you are asked to choose your character. To my recollections, this didn’t happen on the console, and once your avatar is chosen—from about 10—they are the character in the cut scenes, as well as the driver’s seat during gameplay. As a replacement for Faceless Driver #39038, this is a welcome addition. Further increasing the personal feeling of the game—it is supposed to be YOUR music and driving festival after all—you are then asked to pick your name. With examples like “Bro” and “Bud”, the names may not be to everyone’s liking; I picked Baron. Once your name is picked, cut scenes, scripted phone calls, and in-game text will utilize that name; a neat little trick. Another neat little trick is the integration of the mic to activate the in-game assistant by saying its name: ANNA.
After you pick your festival boss/driver, you are faced with the classic ‘Pokémon’ choice between three starter cars, like on console versions. There are three to choose from, hailing from Europe, Japan, and America; however, the choices themselves are updated for the PC. On console, I distinctly remember picking a green mk4 Toyota Supra, and eventually tuning it into a straight-line car. On PC, the choices are instead a BMW M4, a Shelby GT350R Mustang, and a widebody race-prepped S14 Nissan Silvia. I followed in my previous footsteps, going with Japan, picking the Silvia.
From here, you are expected to go out, learn the game, earn credits, and open festivals. I should say that while I am playing on a PC, I am playing with a Microsoft Gamepad; essentially an Xbox controller for a computer. As such, my controls were immediately familiar, as they were exactly as I had played on the console. I highly recommend investing in a controller if you do not already have one, not only for the ease of use, but due to the delicate movements you can input using a thumbstick of a controller. As you explore, you begin to earn experience, as well as skill points. After earning about 5 skill points, you will be shown into the skill selection menu, where another new addition can be found: Drone Mode. Drone mode is exactly as it sounds, acting as if you threw a drone out your cars sunroof. The flight ceiling is relatively low, but the drone allows you to snap great photos of your car, and any signs discovered while in drone mode, show up on your map while driving.
On the topic of photos, Forza has almost-always facilitated people who want to admire their creations through the Forzavista mode, which allows you to hard park your car and open the doors, engine bay, and interact with some features such as lights. I have never really explored this feature on the console, so I cannot speak as to its newness, but when in Forzavista mode, and the Photo sub-mode within that, the Forza team has given people an insane amount of camera settings to mess with. These include expose, shutter speed, and many more, and I am sure allow people to catch some really great snaps.
So far, I have opened my 2nd festival and gotten both to level 2, and as far as I can tell, those are the most obvious differences. While the game might be new to PC, it isn’t new at all, and as such, the Blizzard Mountain snow/off-road expansion pack and the Hot Wheels expansion are both available to those who are interested. While the stellar 50% off deal I utilized is concluded, there is a free demo of the game to see how it is and how it runs on your computer. I highly recommend you download it.
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I recently recieved a degree in History from the University of Nevada, Reno.