The Forza Motorsport series is known for its dedication to realistic physics and simulation-style race driving. Forza Horizon, released this week to Xbox 360, represents a considerable departure from the formula established by the first four entries to the franchise. Featuring an open world with hundreds of miles of road to explore and race upon, and challenges which measure style as well as speed, it's markedly different but still undeniably Forza.
Turn 10 wanted to do more than make another game about racing, fun as that can be. Their goal was to create a game which was about the fun and freedom of driving cars; A game that would, in the words of Creative Director Dan Greenawalt, "turn gamers into car lovers and car lovers into gamers."
Simulation was a means to this end, but it's certainly not the only path. Horizon is built on the same physics as Forza, but the motivation is different. In traditional Forza, the goal is to shave seconds off your time, while Horizon's focus is about the experience of driving the car as an exercise in enjoyment, bringing together music and driving, to create a road trip atmosphere.
"Motorsport has a set candor," said Greenawalt in a recent conversation with Destructoid. "We have some very big ticket features which are expected for the genre. We prided ourselves on doing a lot of innovation in [Forza 4] because we established some of those core features. Horizon had no expectations.
"We needed to develop a vision and features which fulfill that vision," he continued. "We went to the [Playground Games] guys hoping that would bring new things to the franchise. The concept they brought was 'summer music festival,' which lead to the open road, and building relationships with cars."
Centering the game around the fictional Horizon Summer Festival provided ample opportunities to get creative. Drawing inspiration from open-world titles such as Red Dead Redemption and Assassin's Creed, the environment (based primarily on the US state of Colorado) is designed to evoke a sense that there's a new adventure around every corner and give freedom to the player to explore that.
It's not just the roads which offer opportunities for fun, but the spaces in between also, particularly when combined with the variety of modes found in the Playground Games. "Parts of the world have guard rails, but there are lots of open areas and when those are the arenas for playing these modes, it's a totally different feel to [Forza 4]," Greenawalt remarked. "We do that all the time here in the studio where we're playing 'Cat-and-Mouse.' I think players are going to respond really well to that."
Social engagement was clearly a focus, as well, and Greenawalt anticipates that Horizon's Facebook integration and photo sharing features will be a big hit within the game's community in the coming months as players begin flooding their networks with pics of their sweet digital rides.
Turn 10 is hoping that the concept of the Horizon Summer Festival instills in players the idea they are on an journey centered around the joy of driving. It's all about bringing together car lovers of all stripes, using the road trip to create a personal connection. "When going on a road trip with your friends," Greenwalt pointed out, "that car becomes one of your friends."
|11:15 AM on 04.16.2013|
The Forza Horizon 1000 Club DLC is free today
The free "1000 Club" DLC is live today for Forza Horizon. Essentially, it's a challenge mode that tasks you with besting literally 1000 tasks, with every existing car in the game. There's speed tests as well as other technic...more
|10:00 PM on 02.27.2013|
Forza Horizon's March Car Pack adds six new cars
The amount of DLC for Forza Horizon is really beginning to mount up. I mean, Turn 10 Studios hasn't quite reached Forza 4's level yet, but it's certainly getting there; and thanks to the recently announced car pack, we'...more
|12:00 PM on 01.14.2013|
Meanwhile, Forza Horizon debuts 2013 Honda Civic
While Gran Turismo 5 is showing off with their day-after announcement DLC for the awesome looking 2014 Corvette Stingray (see above story), Forza Horizon announces that they'll have a... Civic? Not hatin'. I'm a huge Honda fa...more
|12:00 PM on 12.26.2012|
Forza Horizon gets Recaro car pack on New Year's Day
Turn 10 and Microsoft have worked it out so that you can welcome the new year with six new cars for Forza Horizon with their Recaro car pack. In this pack, which launches on Jan. 1, 2013, you'll get a 2012 Cadillac Escal...more
|8:00 PM on 12.17.2012|
Forza Horizon Rally Expansion Pack hits tomorrow
The open world of Forza Horizon will journey off the beaten path tomorrow, December 18 with the release of the Rally Expansion Pack (1600 Microsoft Points). Free for season pass owners, this downloadable content adds five ve...more
|1:00 PM on 11.16.2012|
Forza Horizon devs talk up the coming content
The creative and community teams working on Forza Horizon are featured in this latest development diary, where they discuss what fans of the game have to look forward to with coming downloadable content. They also pimp the game's integration with Microsoft Smartglass and then call out gamers to compete with them in races.more
|9:00 AM on 10.30.2012|
Forza Horizon SmartGlass Experience is available now
Are you lucky enough to own both Forza Horizon and Windows 8? What are you? Rich? Well, Mr./Mrs. Baller, you're now able to download the free Forza Horizon SmartGlass Experience for Windows 8 PCs. This works as an interactive...more
|7:00 PM on 10.24.2012|
Unboxing: Forza Horizon Limited Collector's Edition
We've popped open a copy of the Forza Horizon Limited Collector's Edition so that you can peek inside for yourself. While the casing is nice (a steelbook and slip case), the innards of this package aren't much to look at as ...more
|12:30 PM on 10.23.2012|
Forza Horizon: behind-the-scenes look at the festival
The latest behind-the-scenes look at Forza Horizon digs into the festival atmosphere that the game is centered around. It's fireworks, lasers, dubstep, and bros, which may be right up your alley, or not at all. It didn't fit...more
|12:24 PM on 06.10.2013|
Forza 5's Drivatar will learn from you
Turn 10 Studios was on hand to tout its new Drivatar feature in Forza Motorsport 5 at E3, allowing us all to revel in yet another ridiculous made up word. Taking advantage of cloud processing, the Drivatar removes the need fo...more
|7:30 PM on 06.05.2013|
Forza Motorsport 5 runs at 1080p, 60 frames per second
In this video interview from GameSpot, Turn 10 Studios reminisces about the Forza Motorsport franchise leading up to Forza 5. A new console can and often will mean software that could have used more development time, but t...more
|12:41 PM on 05.21.2013|
Forza Motorsport 5 announced for Xbox One launch
During Microsoft's Xbox One reveal event, Microsoft Studios head Phil Spencer announced Forza Motorsport 5. Developed by Turn 10 Studios, this latest installment in the long-running franchise will be available as a launch ti...more