Australia has already provided us with the most diverse setting that we’ve seen in the Forza Horizon series thanks to its varied environments and race surfaces, so how do you further improve upon that for the game’s first paid expansion? The answer that Playground Games came up with is to take everything that you loved about Forza Horizon 3 and set it in the snowy conditions of "Blizzard Mountain".
Set as a new standalone area that acts as a miniature version of the main game's world, you travel to "Blizzard Mountain" via helicopter. Being a Forza Horizon game, you’re not inside the helicopter; instead you're suspended below and then dropped into your new winter playground before racing off to become the King of the Mountain. At first, it felt like a missed opportunity that we couldn’t simply drive to the new destination, but the opening set piece as you drop into the snow really makes up for it.
Visually, the new expansion leaves the dusty browns and lush greens from the main game behind but the attention to detail in both the sound and visual departments is just as high. Light sources reflect realistically off the snow and ice, tyres leave imprints behind in the fresh snow while busier roads are reduced to slush that sprays from the rear wheels of the vehicles that are ahead of you, and vehicles become caked in snow. The most notable change comes in the dynamic weather. When a blizzard rolls in, visibility is reduced to just a few feet, gale force winds howl loudly, trees shake violently and snow swirls all around you. It’s a beautiful effect that is amplified further when racing at night as you try to remain on the right track without hitting everything around you.
It’s not just a visual treat, however; the new conditions noticeably affect the car handling, even with the new snow tires fitted. With 26 races in which to compete across 50 new roads, you’ll find yourself racing across snow, ice and slush with each different surface offering a unique feeling of grip that you will need to master. On "Blizzard Mountain", you’re no longer trying to beat just your opponents -- the environment needs to be conquered, too. Thick snow will slow you down, meaning that going off course isn’t always the best tactic like it was in the warmer climates of Australia. Icy patches will leave you fighting for grip while your backend loses control. It makes the racing tougher but ridiculously fun in equal measure.
To help you to become King of the Mountain, Playground has thrown in a host of new vehicles as well as fitting snow tyres to any of the vehicles in your garage that can have them. This makes experimentation on different races fun, although you might have to leave some of your previous favourites locked away as they no longer cut the mustard in the trying conditions.
Progression in "Blizzard Mountain" has changed from the base game. Assuming that you’ve gained enough followers already, races in "Blizzard Mountain" now reward you with stars. To win the maximum three stars in each race, you’ll have to finish in first place while also completing an objective, such as a specific number of ultimate clean racing, wreckage or drift bonuses. This raises the stakes a little from races in the main game for those of you that were already dominating the higher difficulty level AI opponents and adds some replayability for those of you who want to try and earn the full 160 stars that are available in the expansion. At the same time, however, it also allows players who want to play more casually the chance to simply race and earn the 100 stars that are required to progress through the Kingmaker tournament.
The standard Forza Horizon assortment of side activities like speed traps, danger signs, drift zones, bucket lists and a new barn find also populate the map, each one also rewarding stars to help with your progression through the Kingmaker tournament. The only thing that is lacking is a showcase event, one of Horizon’s over-the-top races that sees you face off against anything from planes to trains. There’s also the ability to blueprint your own races and bucket list challenges with which to challenge your friends, as well as allowing you to take part in other people's events. At 26 races, this isn’t the biggest expansion but there’s an unlimited amount of replayability that is available for you to discover and challenge yourself.
Like the new area, "Blizzard Mountain's" achievements are like a scaled down version of the main game. You'll need to progress through the races to become the King of the Mountain, do tasks like drive down all 50 roads, smash all bonus boards and complete all bucket lists. It’s pretty much what you would expect from a Forza Horizon 3 expansion.
SummaryBlizzard Mountain's map may be small compared to the warmer parts of Australia, but there are enough new races and activities that are included to keep fans of the game busy. Forza Horizon 3 was already the pinnacle of racing games; the stunning new environment, refreshingly challenging handling and difficult weather conditions just highlight that fact even further. It is an essential purchase for anyone looking to expand their Forza Horizon 3 experience.
- New environment is stunning
- Handling feels spot on
- Star system for progression is a welcome challenge
- Can be short if you don't try to do everything that is on offer
The reviewer spent approximately 10 hours racing through the snowy conditions while unlocking 15 of the 28 new achievements. An Xbox One code was provided by the publisher for the purpose of this review
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