Since Forza Motorsport originally launched in May of 2005, the game has, for the most part, followed the same theme. Using real world driving dynamics, the Forza series has allowed players to experience the world's best cars on the race track, both real and fictitious. Of course, the game has developed quite a bit over the past seven years, with Forza 2, 3 and 4 bringing improved graphics and realism, as well as new cars, new tracks and new features.
Now the Forza franchise is going in a significantly new direction. Forza Horizon, announced officially today at E3 in Los Angeles, represents a significant departure from Turn 10 Studio's previous offerings. Developed in conjunction with Britain's Playground Games, which is responsible for producing games like GRID and DiRT, Horizon leaves the confines of the racetrack and heads out onto the open road.
Ahead of the game's reveal we sat down with Dan Greenawalt, Creative Director for Turn 10 Studios and Ralph Fulton, Design Director at Playground Games, who gave us a better idea of what Horizon is all about, as well as a brief demo of the game. Scroll down to read what we learned about this latest Forza title.
What exactly is Forza Horizon?
Horizon won't lose any of the real world driving dynamics that players enjoy in Forza Motorsport.
"Our hope really is to be painting more of the car culture map," Greenawalt tells us, after we ask him what he hopes to achieve with Forza Horizon. "It's able to cover multiple genres while still having a lot more soul than you might see in the overall motorsport coverage. You get a lot more of a social or a cultural vibe.
While Turn 10 Studios describes their motorsport title as a driving simulator, they refer to Horizon as an action racing game. It may just be because we're more familiar with the automotive industry than the gaming industry, but that doesn't really give us too much information about what Horizon is really about. Fulton, however, did his best to describe exactly what that means.
"The problem with arcadey games is that the cars all start to feel the same. That doesn't work for Forza."
"Action racing is all about pick-up-and-play fun. This game has been designed so that if you love driving cars fast, if you love smashing through stuff, weaving in and out of traffic, you're going to be able to jump right in and have fun straight away."
Fulton, though, is adamant that Horizon won't lose any of the real world driving dynamics that players enjoy in Forza Motorsport.
"What Horizon brings to the genre is authenticity," he continued. "That's what Forza stands for. In the past there's been a problem with open road driving games in that they can feel a little arcadey. The problem with arcadey games is that the cars all start to feel the same. That doesn't work for Forza. In Forza the car is the star."
The Horizon Festival
Providing the backbone for Forza Horizon is the Horizon Festival. Think of it as a virtual place of gathering for car enthusiasts. "We imagined a festival of speed, of music and of style," Fulton told us. "We imagined a mecca for car lovers. A place that combines a race meet with an auto show with the vibe of a summer music festival. It's a place where you can take your car and take your friends. It's a place where you can go to race or to party, a place where speed and youth culture and music all collide. That's the Horizon Festival."
The Horizon Festival won't just be about hanging out, though. Players can race in festival competitions to further their careers, with events becoming more and more difficult. There's more racing to be done outside the festival, though. Just like in Forza Motorsports, any races can be done in individual mode or in online multiplayer mode.