Playground Games has created one of the most popular racing franchises in the form of Forza Horizon. When you think about games that suck you in and immerse you in its beauty; open-worlds are the most common. Open-world racers aren’t very common each year in gaming, but Forza Horizon has established a cadence of a new game every two years.

This year marks the time when a new Forza Horizon arrives, and Forza Horizon 3 finishes at the top of its class. The game is incredible no matter the element of the game you are looking at. Racing around the world of Australia is a silky smooth time, and I always felt like the living-world flowed well with the experience.

Enticing progression is dripping out of every crevasse of Forza Horizon 3. Thrilling gameplay appears around every twist and turn. Immersive terrain fills the massive world of Australia, where Forza Horizon 3 takes place. This experience is one I still can’t get enough of and it advances many of the series’ pillars in a meaningful way.

The visuals in Forza Horizon 3 are stunning no matter if you are in the middle of the woods or somewhere on the coast. Thanks to the visual benchmarks Playground Games has established, Australia is brought to life in a spectacular way. You feel each type of terrain you race across and its look is convincing.

Racing through the woods of Forza Horizon 3 (Courtesy of Microsoft).
Racing through the woods of Forza Horizon 3 (Courtesy of Microsoft).

Beach events add that quicksand feel for those who lose control of their car or happen to go too far into the wet sand areas. On the other hand, the rainforest has brilliant streaks of life that manage to sneak through the heavily wooded areas. Terrain here also varies and it forces gamers to adjust accordingly.

The land is vast and varied in Forza Horizon 3. I’ve already spoken about the Australian beaches and rainforests, but there’s so much more to its terrain. Surfers Paradise is a more concrete-centric type of environment. It gives a crowded, metro feel I’ve found in other racers that showcase massive cities. Finally, being able to rip through countryside vineyards harkened back to those I tore up in Horizon 2. The landscape of Forza Horizon 3 is massive and never gets boring.

Car models are extremely impressive to behold, particularly when you think about the non-linear environments players move through. The reflection of the exquisite sky, trees, houses, hills and water all contribute a masterful level of intricacy to Forza Horizon 3′s cars. Rain streaks across your screen when the rains come, and puddles on the ground form correspondingly. Weather forms naturally, giving an even greater feeling of immersive authenticity.

Personalization is achieved through the game enabling players to completely rework events to their liking. This gives a new level of customization and truly helps players feel like they are owning their experience. For folks who enjoy playing events created by their friends, Forza Horizon 3 enables the function easily.

Rain or shine, Forza Horizon 3 is stunning (Courtesy of Microsoft).
Rain or shine, Forza Horizon 3 is stunning (Courtesy of Microsoft).

Horizon Blueprints are excellent because they provide immense customization and different combinations. I was able to choose what the weather and time of day were like, in addition to being able to add a name to my event. And if you’re worried about not receiving the same rewards as you would an official event, Forza Horizon 3 does not discriminate and rewards do not change.

Speaking of friends being involved with your Forza Horizon 3 experience, co-op has come to the game’s career mode. You can seamlessly jump in and out of multiplayer and up to three friends can join you for online action. Being able to play career mode with friends online or by yourself gives players a new level of freedom.

Music is a crucial element to many gaming experiences these days. Whether you’re talking about a winter sports game or you are talking about a racer, music is key. While Forza Horizon 3′s music selection is impressive, the game allows you to play music of your own. Even if you have a passing interest in turning on your own music, you should give it a shot because of how much it can further personalize your experience.

Other auditory notes worth mentioning are the sounds of engines, tires and exhausts. Forza Motorsport has done a fine job of raising the bar for sound, but I must say Forza Horizon 3 surpasses it brilliantly. The rip-roaring echoes of cars sprinting through the Australian canvas is a joy worth savoring. It’s quite amazing how much sound improves the overall experience of Forza Horizon 3.

Microsoft has been one of the most consistent publishers when it comes to delivering high-quality exclusives to its core platform. Quality and polish are things some games struggle with immensely, but I can’t say that has been much of a problem with the works from Microsoft. Xbox One gamers continuously enjoy hit-exclusive after hit-exclusive and Forza Horizon 3 is no different.

Playground Games had an incredibly difficult task of surpassing what they established with Forza Horizon 2. The game set the open-world racing bar so high, and quite frankly, it hasn’t been touched since 2014. Forza Horizon 3 had an extremely big order to beat what its predecessor established and I’m happy to say it absolutely has.

Forza Horizon 3 is the best racer of 2016, and it would be a surprise if any other game comes close to competing with it this year. The game is available now on Xbox One and Windows 10. Stick around here at We Write Things for more on Forza Horizon 3Microsoft provided We Write Things with an Xbox One code of Forza Horizon 3 for the purposes of this review. 

Forza Horizon 3 is available now on Xbox One and Windows 10 (Courtesy of Microsoft).
Forza Horizon 3 is available now on Xbox One and Windows 10 (Courtesy of Microsoft).

About Steve Ruygrok

Gaming, Spirits, and Craft Beer enthusiast. If you say you don't like beer, then you just haven't had the right type yet. Great spirits keep away the bad ones. Video games are kind of amazing, just do it...or something like that.