The racing genre seems crowded. Not only do action games such as Batman’s Arkham Knight feature a heavy dose of racing, but getting behind the wheel and rushing to a finish line is an integral part of most open-world games (Watchdogs 2 is right around the corner). Racing games have an uphill battle to expand beyond the virtual grease monkeys that will pick up every possible title, and Forza Horizon 3 does just that.
Forza Horizon 3 (Xbox One)
The Australia depicted in Horizon 3 is jaw-dropping gorgeous. The draw distance is admirable, and while there are slight pop-up issues at times, mostly with vegetation, things are generally moving so fast you’re either crashing from gawking at the sunset behind a mountain, or flying off the beach and into the water just so you can watch the waves crash against your car. The jump from Horizon 2 to Horizon 3 isn’t as impressive as the one we experienced in the hardware changeover, but the setting is still stunning. Forza Horizon 3 Creative Director Ralph Fulton explains how they got Australia to look so damn Australian to Heavy:
Once we’d identified the areas we wanted to include, we sent teams to research each on location. They drove the roads, filming in HD everywhere they went, and they stopped to photograph everything we’d need to build the game: road surfaces, buildings, fences, trees, rocks, everything. We use a cutting-edge technique called “photogrammetry” which allows us to turn hi-def photos of objects into game-ready 3-D models and that’s how the rocks and tree trunks, among other things, look so realistic in our game. We also created an entirely new technique for capturing authentic Australian skies using a custom-built, 12K HDR camera rig and we camped for the entire summer in a field capturing everything the sky did during that time. These images were brought back to the studio and fed through a custom process that streams the data into our system, producing the most dynamic, evolving skyscapes ever seen in a game.
This attention to detail shines through. Every inch of the environment looks painstakingly crafted with love.
Horizon 3‘s 4K upscaling belongs under innovation. This is one of those games, along with Gears of War 4 that is going to sell Xbox One S’s. Yes, the game looks great without a new, expensive TV, but it’s going to jump to another level with the higher resolution.
Watch this dude gush over the 4K beauty: