Forza Horizon 3 release date, gameplay and car list: Hands on at Gamescom 2016

Forza Horizon 3 might be out in just a month’s time, but it’s also been available to play at Gamescom 2016 – and so far it’s shaping up to be one of the best racers around. After my preview you’ll find everything else you need to know about the game, including its release date, car list and a cool gameplay video from this week’s Gamescom 2016.

Before I get into the preview, it’s worth explaining exactly what Forza Horizon 3 is and what it’s trying to be. Forza games come in a cycle, with a sim-based Motorsport game one year, and a more casual Horizon game the year after. While the Motorsport games tend to be track-focused, the Horizon games are more open-world, and focus on more arcade, Need for Speed-style gameplay. That means Forza Horizon 3 isn’t trying to compete with Assetto Corsa or GT Sport, it’s trying to follow the likes of Burnout, Ridge Racer and Screamer – and in that respect, it’s pretty damn good.

Read our Forza Horizon 3 review here, on our sister site Expert Reviews

From the very beginning, Forza Horizon 3 is as much about the objectification of cars as it is about driving them. After jumping in the pointiest Lamborghini available, you’re thrown into a high-speed race on some slick, Australian roads. Flying through gorgeous landscapes and forests, dense with vegetation, the first thing you notice is just how good Forza Horizon 3 looks. Despite running at a smooth framerate, the game is able to pack in a huge amount of detail, and that means an amazing sense of speed can be achieved.

The other key thing to talk about at this stage is the handling. Although I couldn’t configure the assists in the game, Forza Horizon 3 had good handling on the settings I used. The three cars I drove – both on- and off-road – weren’t exactly difficult to manage, but they were predictable and fun to push with. Playing with a pad, it wasn’t too hard to keep the cars on the track, but going faster required surprisingly precise control. That can only be a good thing.

So far, then, Forza Horizon 3 could be one of the most surprising racers of the year. It’s not going to compete with the more serious driving titles, but for a no-strings-attached blast behind the wheel, Forza Horizon 3 could end up being the best choice in 2016.

Forza Horizon 3: Everything else you need to know

Unlike Forza Motorsport games, though, Forza Horizon 3 isn’t content with just giving you a timing clock and speedometer. Instead, it throws a range of achievements, driving skills and other unlocks at you, so you’re constantly trying to push the car to the limit. I tended to get these bonuses without trying, but it’s clear they’ll increase game’s replayability in the long run. It’s at this point I’d like to point out the driving in the video isn’t mine – because, yeah. Forza Horizon 3 might not feature the circuits you’d expect to find in a Forza Motorsport game, but it looks Microsoft is giving us a huge selection of cars. Every week, Microsoft has revealed a new ‘garage’ of the cars you’ll be able to drive in Forza Horizon 3 – and its included some awesome vehicles.

In addition to your racing car staples like the Nissan GT-R, Mercedes-Benz GT S and Audi R8 V10 Plus, it looks like Forza Horizon 3 will also features some leftfield choices for more niche audiences. Being a fast-estate fan, I’m excited to see the Volvo 850R featured, and when you put it alongside classics like the Nissan R390 and Escort RS Cosworth, it’s clear car fans will be spoilt for choice.

Sure, I’d prefer to test those cars on a circuit like Brands Hatch or the Nordschleife, but with so many cars and the prospect of the open road ahead of them, I’m more excited about Forza Horizon 3 then I expected to be.forza_horizon_3_release_date_car_list_pic-2

As expected, Microsoft showed off Forza Horizon 3 at its E3 2016 conference, and it’s shaping up to be another cracker. Here’s everything else we know about Forza Horizon 3, Microsoft’s next open-world racer. 

1. Forza Horizon 3 has a 2016 release date

Microsoft says Forza Horizon 3 will be available as an Xbox Play Anywhere title on 27 September, which means it’ll be available on the PC and Xbox One. If you’re keeping track of these things, that puts it behind Assetto Corsa’s 26 August release date.  

2. Forza Horizon 3 will be set down under – and you’ll encounter a variety of surfaces and terrain

Like the last Forza Horizon game, Forza Horizon 3 will take place in a specific part of the world, and this time round Microsoft has settled on Australia. If you watch the trailer below, you’ll see that this setting has allowed Microsoft to give Forza Horizon 3 players a variety of stages – including winding forest roads, dirt stages and even a route around a beach.

3. Forza Horizon 3 has amazing weather and night-and-day transitions

Forza Horizon 3 uses all the power of the Xbox One, or Xbox One S, to produce vivid skies and surroundings – and you’ll find them constantly changing as you race. Alongside day-and-night transitions, Forza Horizon 3 will also have evolving weather conditions – and from what we’ve seen, they’re very impressive. In fact, they could be a match for Driveclub on the PS4, which clearly has some of the best weather effects we’ve seen in this console generation.

4. Forza Horizon 3 will put you in a variety of vehicles

Sure, Forza Horizon 3 will have Lamborghinis and other exotic supercars, but it will also have a host of other vehicles from when you leave the tarmac. The trailer Microsoft showed at E3 suggests you’ll be able to drive everything from hypercars to 4X4’s and dune buggies – and Microsoft says there’ll be 350 vehicles in total.

5. Forza Horizon 3 is BIG

Playground Games says Forza Horizon 3 is the biggest game yet, and is set to be around twice the size of Forza Horizon 2.

6. Forza Horizon 3 will make you race with your friends – on PC and Xbox One

Microsoft has confirmed that you’ll be able to play four-player campaign co-op races as well as head-to-head multiplayer, and you’ll be able to play cross-platform, so Xbox One racers can race against PC gamers.

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