Forza Horizon

Spotlight

Digital FoundryForza Horizon Red Rock Time-Lapse Video

20km view distance and brand new time of day dynamic lighting. Tested with a quick time-lapse video.

Digital FoundryForza Horizon Gameplay Performance Video

Not once does Playground Games' debut Forza offering deviate from the target 30FPS.

Digital FoundryForza Horizon Replay Performance Video

A medley of replay segments put through Digital Foundry performance analysis tools.

Key events

Digital FoundryThe original Forza Horizon looks stunning on Xbox One X at 4K

No remaster required: another beautiful back-compat showcase.

Microsoft restarted its programme of Xbox One X enhancements for Xbox 360 games this week with four new titles - Forza Horizon, The Witcher 2, Crackdown and Fable Anniversary Edition. We're seeing the same 9x resolution boost on all releases in concert with improved performance where appropriate, but it's the first game in this new line-up that's our focus today. Image quality in Forza Horizon is off the charts in the transition to ultra HD and there are a couple of further, surprising enhancements that caught our eye.

Forza and Ryse to be next Xbox launch titles

Forza and Ryse to be next Xbox launch titles

Plus, a new zombie game and "strong" third-party support with FPS.

Crytek's first-person melee game Ryse will be a launch title for the next Xbox, according to a new report.

The Verge's Tom Warren, who has an excellent track record on Microsoft, said Ryse, announced during E3 2011 as an Xbox 360 game with Kinect functionality, has been reworked for the next Xbox.

Apparently Ryse is pitched as "Microsoft's new Gears of War / Halo mega launch title".

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Forza Horizon Rally review

Forza Horizon was the driving game released into the wild, its cars cast off into the fun and fury of the untamed open road. It makes sense that its first substantial add-on takes to the wilderness, then - although the Rally Expansion Pack initially feels tame.

This is a standalone add-on, and one that sits within its own menu tucked away from the open-ended sprawl of Horizon's main Colorado map. There's no sense of discovery here; instead, it's simply a succession of off-road time trial events, there to be unlocked until you've hit the points cap and reached the Rally final.

So what's Forza Horizon without that dizzying sense of liberty, that free-wheeling taste of adventure that marked the main game out? It turns out, perhaps unsurprisingly, that it's a well-crafted and enjoyable driving experience, even when torn away from the element that helped make it all so exciting originally.

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I finally saw the documentary Senna this year. I'm late to the party, I know. The film came out in 2010, and it chronicles the career of the late Brazilian Formula One champion Ayrton Senna, perhaps the best racing driver in history. I took my time getting around to Senna because I don't really consider myself a “car guy”.

FeatureBack on track: the UK racing scene revival

How UK's racing talent rose from the ashes.

Motor racing, despite its roots in France, its scarlet red Italian heart and its current domination at the top tier by a German and a Spaniard, is a very British affair. In the heart of England, amidst the pockets of nondescript countryside of Banbury, Oxford and Woking there's the self-titled Motorsport Valley, where a large part of the global circus that's F1 calls home.

Greetings! This is the spot graciously given us by Eurogamer to lay out a video sampler of what's been going on at Outside Xbox in the past seven days.

Judged in terms of established precedents, Forza Horizon simply has no right to be this good. Handing off the keys to a prestige franchise to an all-new development studio was a massive gamble in itself, but the risk-taking doesn't end there. Playground Games didn't take the obvious safe route and simply iterate on the existing formula using the established engine: instead the fledgling developer took that technology, retained its core attributes and then expanded upon them, taking the whole franchise in a new direction.

During production of yesterday's Digital Foundry vs. Forza Horizon article, we reached out to Playground Games with a view to adding their input to our analysis on this exceptional game. We could only include some of their information in our piece, but the team was so lavish and exhaustive in its replies to our questions that we realised that we'd be doing our readers a disservice by not publishing the entire transcript verbatim.

Xbox 360 SmartGlass app launches free this week

Xbox 360 SmartGlass app launches free this week

Compatible games include Forza Horizon, Dance Central 3.

The free Xbox 360 SmartGlass app arrives this week and lets players stream and share content across Microsoft devices.

The app brings SmartGlass functionality to Xbox 360 on 26th October, Microsoft's Major Nelson stated, the day Windows 8 launches. Apps for other platforms - Windows 8 PCs, tablets and smartphones - will follow.

Initially you can hook up your Microsoft device while using the new Xbox Video and Xbox Music services. These are widely available from today, when the new Xbox 360 dashboard update begins the next and final stage of its roll-out.

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Forza Horizon Rally Expansion due 18th December

Forza Horizon Rally Expansion due 18th December

Costs 1600 Microsoft Points (£13.60), or part of £34 Season Pass.

Forza Horizon's first major slice of DLC will be the Rally Expansion Pack, developer Playground Games has announced.

The add-on will be available to download from 18th December, priced 1600 Microsoft Points (about £13.60).

Alternatively, it comes free when you stump up 4000 Microsoft Points (£34) for the game's DLC Season Pass.

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Forza Horizon review

Forza Horizon review

You have reached your destination.

Forza Horizon is one of those games that tries too hard to look hip. Its characters and setting - a festival of music and motor racing - share the same sanitised vision of youth culture you see in ads for mobile networks. Its colour scheme is black with hot pink and every menu rests at a 15 degree angle. Achievements have titles like 'OMG' and '#WINNING'.

Perhaps it's trying to correct the famous lack of charisma of its parent series Forza Motorsport, from Microsoft's in-house team Turn 10. Or perhaps it's trying to cover up a strain of rank commercialism, since it's plastered in sponsor logos and invitations to buy tokens for shortcuts. An offshoot made by another studio - new UK outfit Playground - Forza Horizon comes across like a marketing drive first and a game second, tainted as it is with buzzwords like "brand extension" and "annual cadence".

Prepare to swallow your cynicism, however, because Forza Horizon is a quite brilliant racing game - one of the best of its generation. It's also a lesson in how to make that development model work to create something greater than the sum of its parts.

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Forza Horizon demo live now

Events and a bit of the map to explore.

The Forza Horizon demo is out now (1.57 GB). You can grab it from the Xbox Marketplace if you're a Gold member. It goes live for non-Gold subscribers next week.

Microsoft line-up announced for Eurogamer Expo

Microsoft line-up announced for Eurogamer Expo

Fable, Gears of War: Judgment and Dance Central 3 join Halo 4 and Forza Horizon on the show floor.

Right. Can't remember if we've mentioned this, but we're doing a show at Earls Court in London next week. It's called the Eurogamer Expo. (Bit pretentious?) Anyway, we hope some of you will come. To help make it more interesting, we've asked Microsoft to bring everything they have in development for Xbox 360 for you to play. They said yes.

So, if you come along you'll be able to sample Halo 4 Infinity Multiplayer, Forza Horizon, Fable: The Journey for Kinect, Gears of War: Judgment's OverRun multiplayer mode, and Dance Central 3, plus various Xbox Live games.

We're also told that "the Mountain Dew crew" will be distributing drinks to people throughout the show. Presumably they'll be distributing Mountain Dew, unless that label is just a massive coincidence.

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Season pass confirmed for Forza Horizon

Season pass confirmed for Forza Horizon

Monthly DLC and big December expansion inbound.

Turn 10 and Playground's forthcoming open world racer Forza Horizon will be receiving monthly DLC updates, and it'll be getting a full expansion pack on 18th December.

Which isn't too dissimilar to what its predecessor Forza Motorsport 4 does, really. Like Forza 4, the monthly DLC updates will take the form of car packs, and like Forza 4 they'll be available either individually or can be drip-fed through Turn 10's petrol-teat via a Season Pass.

Forza Horizon's a collaboration between Turn 10 and Playground, a new UK studio formed of veterans from the racing scene. It's also to utilize a Kinect feature that allows you to control the GPS unit by voice alone, proving that the future of motion control is perhaps just about moving your mouth around a bit until noises come out.

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FeatureThe hardcore experience of Forza Horizon

No assists, no racing line and the in-car view - taking on the open road in Playground's racer.

When the Washington-based Turn 10 makes Forza games, it does so with a European accent. It's a slightly forced one at times, but there's still an understatement and refinement to the Forza Motorsport series that belies the game's American roots.

Forza Horizon developer session at Eurogamer Expo

Ralph Fulton showing it off. Game also playable on the show floor.

MY WORK IS NEARLY COMPLETE. Yes, as soon as two more people give me sign-off then I can tell you about the remaining secret treasures that will soon occupy the lingering gaps on this year's Eurogamer Expo developer sessions schedule page.

Forza Horizon release date announced

Forza Horizon release date announced

UPDATE: E3 trailer shows first gameplay.

Forza Horizon made its official debut at Microsoft's E3 conference and duly had a release date slapped on it, with Playground and Turn 10's open world racer coming on October 23.

While few concrete details have emerged on Forza Horizon - a collaboration between Turn 10 and Playground, a new studio headed up by former Codemasters staff - a new trailer seemed to confirm it as an open world racer that takes place in the wilds of the American west.

We'll have a full blowout on the game coming your way as Microsoft's conference wraps up at 7pm BST.

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Forza Horizon Preview: The Open Road Dream

FeatureForza Horizon Preview: The Open Road Dream

Top UK talent and Turn 10's tech present a festival of music and open-world racing.

Forza Motorsport and Gran Turismo pride themselves on a passion for cars. Simulated handling, fastidiously recreated bodywork, under-the-hood tinkering, carefully curated car lists: they leave no stone unturned in satisfying the ownership fantasies of every car lover.

But there's one vital aspect of autophilia that these circuit racing games can't satisfy. It's the thrill of getting into your car, pointing its nose at the vanishing point, opening the throttle and seeing where it takes you. People don't just love cars because they're beautiful and fast - they love them because they hold the promise of freedom and exploration, of power over your own destiny. It's a dream no amount of laps of Silverstone or Laguna Seca can realise, and it's one that's close to my heart.

In modern gaming, that dream is best expressed by the ramshackle yet loveable Test Drive Unlimited games, with their full-size recreations of the islands of Oahu and Ibiza to cruise around. There are some fine open-world arcade racers too, especially Criterion's Burnout Paradise and Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit, but their hyperactive, drifty action racing is too far removed from reality to count as wish-fulfilment. That's why I love TDU more than it arguably deserves.

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Forza looking to hit 'annual cadence'

Series looking to rival F1 and NASCAR in popularity.

The announcement of Forza Horizon sees Microsoft's driving series moving towards annual releases - and Turn 10's Dan Greenawalt says it's his ambition for Forza to be as big as both NASCAR and F1.

Forza Horizon announced for 2012

Forza Horizon announced for 2012

Playground Games joins the Forza world for new game.

Forza Horizon, a new game developed by Playground Games, has been announced, and will be coming to Xbox 360 this autumn.

Details on the game, announced at Microsoft's Spring Showcase, remain thin on the ground, although speculation has it down as an open world racer in the mold of Test Drive Unlimited.

Questions regarding the nature of Forza Horizon were swiftly dodged. "I don't believe it's against the ethos of Forza to do a lot of different things," said Greenwalt. When asked whether Horizon would offer a sim-based driving experience at 60fps - two things that have to date defined the series - his answer was equally vague.

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