This year marks a pretty big turning point (pun intended) for Microsoft’s Forza racing franchise. Now that Motorsport 7 is out in the wild, the Forza series is now fully multi-platform, spanning across Xbox and Windows. Thousands, if not millions, of newcomers (myself included), now have the opportunity to enjoy the full Forza experience. But which flavor is best: Horizon or Motorsport?
As someone who’s never owned an Xbox console, my knowledge of the Forza series was quite minimal up until last year when Horizon 3 released. It’s wasn’t the first Forza game that I’ve played, but it’s definitely the first one I’ve had the opportunity to own thanks to the Xbox Play Anywhere program.
While there were some folks who were mad about the Xbox One having to share its exclusives with PC, I’m very happy Microsoft made this decision. Ultimately, it only benefits gamers.
I was surprised to find out the difference between the Horizon and Motorsport games. While they both carry the ‘Forza’ label, they’re different experiences. So when it comes to deciding which one is the ‘best’, what it really comes down to is figuring out your individual tastes. I myself have been into racing games since a very young age. I’ve played and enjoyed a wide variety over the years, so Horizon being different from Motorsport means very little to me. Even so, it’s certainly been an interesting experience. Here’s what I enjoyed most about each title.
HORIZON 3: THE CRAZY HOT ROD
An open-world, high-octane party on wheels.
When I first laid eyes on Horizon 3 back at E3 2016, I was almost immediately pumped. The game just screamed “fun!” with every clip. When I finally got the chance to play thanks to the demo that was released on the Windows Store, it had me sold from just the very first few minutes. I was able to grab the full game earlier this year, and now I’ve put over 90 hours into it so far.
What’s kept me coming back so much is the sprawling open-world of Horizon 3’s Australia. Playground Games did a great job at crafting an environment that has both decent variety and size. While I’ve explored most of the game’s world at this point, it has yet to grow stale. It’s always such a blast to go charging through the Outback one minute, then careening through the tight corners of Surfer’s Paradise a little while after. Combine that with the insane amount of cars to collect, and it basically feels like the game just keeps throwing stuff at you. On that note, since I’ve always been a huge fan of car customization another feature that’s kept me entertained is being able to paint and tune my cars exactly how I want. Pure satisfaction.
Horizon 3 doesn’t exactly take itself very seriously, and that’s its beauty. It’s basically just one giant party (festival, to be exact) with sweet rides, awesome stunts, and great music. The release of the Hot Wheels DLC earlier this year further pushed the game’s emphasis on absurd fun. It’s not trying to be hyper-realistic, and that’s totally fine. Playground Games managed to strike a surprisingly solid balance between an off-the-wall arcade racer and a tuned simulator. As a result, Horizon 3 best suits race fans who are looking for an approachable game that’s all about freedom and fun.
MOTORSPORT 7: THE SOPHISTICATED SPEEDSTER
A car enthusiast’s dream.
If Horizon 3 and Motorsport 7 were real human siblings, then I guess Horizon 3 would be the crazy, irresponsible one that’s probably hit his head a few times too many, while Motorsport 7 would be the one that’s more sophisticated, down-to-earth and a just little uptight. I had the privilege of reviewing the PC version of Forza Motorsport 7 for PC Gaming Enthusiast. Since it was my first time truly playing a Forza Motorsport title (minus Apex), I was surprised as to how much different it felt from Horizon 3. But it wasn’t a bad difference, just something very noticeable.
While Horizon 3 allows me to vault off of rooftops, and take tight corners in the rain as if it’s some type of roller coaster ride, Motorsport 7 forces me to be much more careful and precise. Keeping your finger on the gas only ends up in disaster this time around. Rather,you’re expected to learn how to anticipate turns; seeing them mentally before they actually appeared. I’ve put over 30 hours into the game so far, and I still haven’t fully mastered its more complex mechanics. Even so, it’s been enjoyable in its own way.
Even if you turn all the driving assists on, Motorsport 7 isn’t nearly as forgiving as its more arcadey sibling. Every car feels like it has its own temperament, and every track presents its own challenge and style. As a result, you’re constantly having to adapt and improve. While I do get a kick out of the stunts in Horizon 3, Motorsport 7’s more sophisticated approach to racing has a different charm. It forces you to be more patient and observant of the other drivers. This is definitely the choice for those of you who want a more authentic driving experience.
SO WHO WINS?
They’re both pretty amazing in their own way.
As I said earlier, neither title is exactly better or worse. Having played them both extensively, I can definitely understand why Microsoft decided to split the Forza franchise into these two categories. There are race fans who enjoy the off-the-wall absurdity that a title like Horizon 3 offers. On the other hand, there are folks who think that style of racing is too simplistic and ‘fake’, which is why the Motorsport series has stuck around to provide a more complex driving experience that tries to be as realistic as possible (without being overly complicated).
I personally find both titles to be amazing in their own right. If I really had to pick a favorite, though, it would probably be Horizon 3. There have just been so many crazy moments already, and they just keep on coming every time I fire up the game. Even so, Motorsport 7 has definitely impressed me with its balance between being more realistic yet still pretty approachable. All Turn 10 has to do is fix the memory leak issue plaguing the PC version and then Motorsport 7 will truly be one of the best racing games I’ve played yet.
All-in-all, each of these titles are highly recommended if you’re a racing fan. Now that the franchise is available on both Xbox and Windows, millions of gamers can enjoy the fine-tuned experiences that each ‘flavor’ has to offer. As time goes on, I look forward to seeing where the Forza franchise as a whole goes next.