Forza Horizon 3 Hands-On Preview [E3 2016]

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If you were to ask me what the best racing game of all-time is, I’d be hard pressed to not say Forza Horizon 2. The Xbox One exclusive was as fun and immersive as it was beautiful and mechanically impressive. Although its predecessor was great, the sequel took things to a next level with its exotic European locations and large scale campaign.

During Microsoft’s E3 press conference, the company made my day by announcing a brand new entry in this ever impressive series: the often rumoured Forza Horizon 3. And, by taking it to Australia, they’ve made a game that’ll let us drive through one of the world’s most beautiful continents.

Now that I’ve been able to go hands-on with the next outing in the series, I’m even more excited about what Turn 10 has in store for us fans. The game’s three event demo merely showed off a small portion of what the full experience will offer, but it was enough to show me that this is another step in the right direction for racing’s best brand.

Forza Horizon 3‘s E3 demo began by letting me select from three different cars, including its incredibly fast cover car. I didn’t pick that super beast, though, and instead went with something that wasn’t a supercar: a Shelby GT. It fit my play style more than the supercar, and was more in line with what I usually drive in these games.

The first event was simply a fast-paced friendly, which had myself and several other high-ranked driveatars speeding from one point to another. It was an extension of the group roadtrips that figured heavily into Forza Horizon 2, and was a nice introduction to the gorgeous Australian world found in this sequel. I was able to settle back into things with ease and it wasn’t long before I was driving like I owned it.

Following the completion of the roadtrip, another driver — in a heavy duty, Monster Energy branded Hummer — entered the fray and became my avatar. The game quickly transitioned me from the steering wheel of one vehicle to the other, and I was then on my way, competing in a relatively intense race. Then, following that, it was on to a visceral and crazily extreme showcase event, featuring a rival whose jeep was being towed by a helicopter.

Yes, you read that right.

As I sped along the ground — and through the occasionally water-logged Australian jungle — my opponent soared through the sky and came close to taking the second stories off of residential houses. It was pretty crazy to see, but my eye was on the prize and I eventually overtook him in spectacular fashion, just before the finish line appeared. It was a balls to the wall, white knuckled affair throughout, as I wasn’t sure if I’d end up winning as I had made a couple of relatively minor mistakes along the way.

From start to finish, this early look at Forza Horizon 3 was damn impressive. It was rich, had lots of varied terrain (roadways, beaches, jungle, etc.) and mixed in water in realistic ways. On top of that, it was gorgeous, immersive and just downright fun. As a result, it’s easily one of my most anticipated upcoming releases and one of the most enjoyable things I’ve played thus far at E3.