E3 2014: Forza Horizon 2 Preview – Come Rain or Shine
Written Friday, June 27, 2014 By Dan WebbView author's profile
For me personally, the original Forza Horizon was the breath of fresh air that the franchise needed, and while yes, I am a fan of the Forza Motorsport series, no other Forza game came close to giving me that feeling of freedom. While the original did give players the sense of freedom I'm referring to, Forza Horizon 2 is set to do that and more, instilling a few new important elements into the franchise as a whole that have been needed for an awfully long time.
Developed – on Xbox One, anyway – by the hugely-talented folks at Playground Games, Forza Horizon 2 marks a return for the Horizon festival to the big screen, this time with it taking place in Southern Europe – a playground (geddit?) that is three times bigger than the original Horizon title. With over 700 events – with the impressive “Showcase” events making a triumphant return, this time featuring races against steam trains and the like – and 200 cars, if Forza Horizon 2 was a pure numbers game, the original pales in comparison.
It’s not though, and obviously the new key additions to Forza Horizon 2 – and you’d expect Forza Motorsport from here on out – are the long requested weather elements and the introduction of a day/night cycle. Sure, the franchise has dabbled with dusk in previous incarnations of the franchise, but this is a whole new level.
First things first, let’s talk weather. Not only will Forza Horizon 2 feature weather for the first time in a Forza game, but these involve dynamic, unscripted weather events too. That means high winds, misty mornings, fog, torrential rain, but perhaps the most jaw-dropping aspect of the weather is how it affects the world.
Rain will first start to fill the cracks in the road, surface then will start to cause puddles and then will eventually consume the road. It’ll even clatter off the bonnet and drip down the windscreen, which is set to make cockpit cam a bit more of a harrowing experience. It’ll dry realistically too, with the tarmac drying in patches as it would do in real-life. Never has rain been so wonderful.
Then there’s the new day/night cycle… which is well, night and day. There isn’t much more to say there, except that it’s a night and day cycle. You get that? It’s got a night and day cycle. It is, however, a much needed addition for a title such of this. Combine that with the fact that there are no artificial or invisible walls – like fences and barriers that accompanied pretty much every road in Horizon – and the game is essentially completely off-road compatible this time, so players could sure have some nerve-wracking late night jaunts through the forests if they so wish.
The Drivatar makes a triumphant return in the latest Forza title too, meaning the random cars you bump into around the huge open-world will be those of your friends. It doesn’t just map how you drive now either, it maps where you drive, whether you take shortcuts, go off-road; the new Drivatar system will keep track of that and when you’re not at the controller, it will race as if it was you at the wheel. At least, that’s the intention.
But Forza Horizon 2 is more than just bigger numbers and a few new major engine additions. The game also says hello to things like perks, allowing for players to unlock the ability to fast travel anywhere and its online is getting a bit of a revamp. No longer does Horizon have a separate multiplayer mode; instead, in the sequel, it’s seamlessly integrated and is part of the whole Horizon experience now.
That means you’ll now be able to join Car Clubs – of up to 1,000 members – and even go to Car Meets, which are essentially online hangouts, and from there you can go on online road trips, get involved in online races or do whatever the hell you want. That’s the beauty of Horizon 2’s multiplayer. The seamless connected online world is something that fans were crying out for in the original, and now they can sleep at night knowing they’re coming in the sequel.
With the addition of dynamic weather effects and a day/night cycle, Forza Horizon 2 was already shaping up to be a great sequel to the 2012 hit. However, throw in the online seamless world, the new ‘Showcase’ events, the inclusion of Drivatar, a bigger world, a more open-world, the ability to go to Car Meets, ride with friends online and so on, and it’s clear that Playground Games is attempting to go above and beyond what people expect from a sequel in this day and age, which is nothing but a good thing. Forza Horizon 2 is shaping up to be the racing game to buy this year, that’s for sure.
Forza Horizon 2 is scheduled for a September 30th release worldwide on Xbox 360 and Xbox One. This preview is for the Xbox One version, the Xbox 360 version is being made by Sumo Digital using a different engine and will be a different game.