The time has finally arrived! It's time to rip through the grassy hillsides and road-lined coast of Southern Europe in the second hipster music/car Horizon Festival. The Forza Horizon 2 demo just dropped a few hours ago, and I thought it might be cool to share some impressions of it here. Here are my initial thoughts.
In the grand scheme of things, it's pretty inconsequential, but I loved the way the first Horizon opened up and the sequel arrives in similar style. Pulling off of a ferry in an exotic and powerful Lamborghini Huracan into the tight city streets of a sunlit coastal city clearly inspired by the likes of Monaco and Naples, it's immediately clear that this game has a bit of a different flavor to its car filled environs. Obviously the next gen graphical fidelity bump is pretty jaw-dropping on its own, but the Southern Europe style comes across very well, and it makes the game immediately feel distinct from its predecessor as you drive your beastly new Lambo along cliffsides and through hilly vineyards to finally arrive at the Horizon festival grounds just in time for nightfall.
The first Horizon was debatably one of the best games of the last console generation, and I feel like this game carries on that pedigree very well. Car detail seems to be on par with what was in Forza 5 and looks great, but it's the environments that are where the game really shines.
What catches my attention more than anything though is the detail of it all. The city streets are filled with stuff - a line of bikes, a souvenir stand, benches - and the hillsides are packed with swaying flora and fauna that makes this feel a lot more lively than the mountains of Colorado. There's the occasional shadow flicker, messy texture, and minor pop-in here and there, but in general, everything looks great and the draw distances are amazing - even the typical open-world issue of cars popping in just ahead of you seems to be a thing of the past. Also, there was clearly some time spent on refining the tire smoke to please the drift enthusiasts.
I'm sure some will bemoan the lack of 60 frames per second, but the solid locked 30 suits me just fine.
This largely feels like the same arcade-tuned Forza from the previous game. The biggest effort seems to have been put in to improving the feel of different surfaces and making it actually fun and desirable to take the car off-road, and it seems to have really paid off. When the new dynamic weather system kicks in and wets the road, the car handling definitely feels looser, turns wider, and generally feels a bit more squirrelly. The off-road rally style events in Horizon weren't that great, but the feel in the dirt here inspires hope that it will be a bit better.
The biggest change in the physics though is clearly in making going off-road and bounding over hills super fun. The Cross Country event in the demo is a load of fun, and I'm really looking forward to doing more.
With this being a limited demo, it's hard to make judgements on the size/scope of the full game, but what's here definitely inspires hope in me that it will deliver something at least on par with the last game.
The two normal events in the demo, a cross country race and a circuit race, both felt really good and were moderately challenging to work your way to the front of the pack. The drivatar system has returned from Forza 5 though, so it will be interesting to see how things change once your horribly aggressive friends enter the fray.
The over the top challenge events have also made a return. The event in the demo has you racing against an aerial display team, and it's just as fun and crazy as anything I recall from the first game.
In addition to the main events, the little side distractions of speed cameras and sign smashing also have returned.
There are also "Horizon Bucket List" events which appear to have taken the place of the sponsor challenges. The one in the demo is initiated by finding a parked Koenigsegg and "driving it like you stole it" which essentially boils down to hitting a particular target on a speed camera.
The online mode also appears to have been further filled out (it was a bit light in the first Horizon), but there's not a ton here in the demo aside from a video teaser and a sampling of online free roam.
I've already got my pre-order in and have the game preloading as we speak. I'm hyped to play some more in a couple of weeks.
What did you guys think?