Forza Horizon was developed by Playground Games and published by Microsoft Studios, exclusively on the Xbox 360. The game was released on October 23, 2012 and is the first non-track racing structure for the series.
In August of 2016 the game was included in the Xbox One Backwards Compatibility programme with slight performance improvements being made when played on the Xbox One console.
The game takes the concept of in depth vehicle physics simulation off the race track and onto the open roads. The game is centered around the 2012 “Horizon Festival”. The festival is a celebration of all things cars where the player can buy new cars, trade cars or enter in races both online and off. The player can drive around a vast open world. The game also features full day-and-night simulation and off road racing, all a first for the Forza series.
Forza Horizon uses the physics and graphics engine’s from Forza Motorsport 4. To accomodate the requirements of an open world and it’s inhabitants, the frame rate was lowered from 60 frames per second down to 30. This allows the development team to increase the visual fidelity and expand the draw distance up to an impressive 20 kilometers. In order to retain precise control input the developers have designed the controls to update at twice the visual frame rate while the physics engine still runs at Forza 4’s rate of 320 frames per second.
Tuning is no longer an option as all the cars have been setup by the development team for open road driving. This should make the game more accessible to the casual player but still enjoyable for hardcore racing fans. Although tuning has been removed, cars will still be upgradable via the purchase of aftermarket parts to make any car competitive in higher tier events. Damage remains in the game, but unlike Forza 4 it is purely cosmetic. This is most likely due to the fact that the game features traffic and a simulation damage model would be prohibitive as accidents will become more frequent.
Forza Horizon takes place in the open world of Colorado. Players are free to drive around the world and challenge other racers on the road to races for credits which are used in the game to buy cars and upgrades for their cars. Players can reduce the price of upgrades by smashing upgrade signs located around Colorado, with each sign increasing the discount by 1%. There are one hundred signs in total, meaning a full 100% discount if the player smashes all of them.
Within the world there are a variety of races including point-to-point and circuit races which can take place on asphalt, dirt and gravel as well as a combination of the three. These race types are further broken down into festival, rivals and street races which are further filtered by a variety of factors including a car’s class, country of origin and drivetrain (ie. only “B-Class” cars from Asia that are rear-wheel drive). Festival events are used to increase your standing within the Horizon festival and grant you points which are used to obtain wristbands that allow entry into later races. Rivals events take place once the player has completed the requirement for their next wristband and involve a race against a named opponent. If the player wins these races they are given the opponent’s car. Street races do not confer festival points but will give the player a larger sum of credits than sanctioned races and typically take place at night with pedestrian traffic on the track.
There are also a variety of challenges hidden throughout the world. These challenges include speed traps and speed zones which record your speed at a specific point and your average speed across a section of road, respectively. Throughout the game, players will also be given hints as to the locations of vintage cars which must found in a barn before being restored by the festival mechanic. While completing all of these goals players will also rack up popularity points from stylish driving skills such as drifting, clean passes and destruction of road side decorations. Every 25 levels of popularity will then unlock a showcase event in which the player races a car against a plane, helicopter or hot air balloon and success is rewarded with the car they raced with in that event.
Outposts are fast travel spots that must be found while driving around the city. Once an outpost is discovered, players can travel to that spot anytime by selecting it on the map for a fee of 10,000 credits. Players can also choose to complete three different events to reduce the travel fee in increments of 25% for each of the events completed. Once all three events are completed, fast travel to that outpost is free of charge.
Returning to the series are car clubs, rivals challenges, and online multiplayer racing. Online events are limited to eight racers, which is a reduction from the 16 that were allowed in Forza 4. Non-race focused games, such as tag, return as well.
File Importing from Previous Games
After an initial introduction to the game, Forza Horizon can read your hard drive and look for stored saves from Forza Motorsport 3 and 4. Players will be granted free cars in the game based upon their driver level in the previous games.
Vinyl groups are importable from Forza 4 to Forza Horizon. This will allow car painters to repaint their cars in Horizon and to sell the vinyl groups and car liveries in the online store within Forza Horizon.
On October 9th, Playground Games released a demo for the game. The demo was exclusive to Gold members for a week and afterwords would be become available to download for Silver members.
When players picked up the full game at launch they were allowed to unlock the 2013 SRT Viper GTS as a thank you for playing the demo. The demo incentive car would be only be redeemable for 30 days after launch.
DLC & Bonus Content
You can find a full list of all cars available in Forza Horizon, including DLC cars, on the Guide at the top of this page, or by clicking here.
Players can purchase a Season Pass that guarantees DLC every month from November 2012 to April 2013. Season Pass holders also receive any expansions that may release during the same time frame. Each monthly pack includes six cars to choose from.
Rally Expansion Pack
The Rally Expansion was released on December 18th. It is not seamlessly added to the original game, but a separate map filled with rally stages. Players will now compete in those stages in the Horizon Rally Championship. Cars in the traditional Horizon festival can be customized to meet rally specifications, and the customizations are not limited to the Horizon rally mode itself, but can be used all over Colorado. A few cars are also included in the Expansion pack:
- 2005 Subaru Impreza WRX Sti
- 1982 Lancia 037 Stradale
- 1992 Ford Escort RS Cosworth
- 1992 Toyota Celica GT-Four RC ST185
- 2004 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VIII MR
- 2003 Ford Focus SVT
1000 Club Expansion Pack
The 1000 Club is a free expansion released on the 16th of April which adds car-specific challenges for each car in the game, 10 new achievements worth 250 points, and two new cars:
- 1995 RUF CTR2
- 1956 Ford F100
As of April 2013, there are 7 monthly car packs, each containing 6 cars, available for Forza Horizon.
October Car Pack
- 2012 Alfa Romeo 8C Spider
- 2012 Ferrari 599XX Evoluzione
- 2012 Ford Mustang Boss 302
- 2012 Gumpert Appolo Enraged
- 2012 Lamborghini Aventador J
- 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air
November Bondurant Car Pack
- 2012 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon
- 2012 Lamborghini Gallardo LP570-4 Spyder Performante
- 2012 Shelby 1000
- 2012 BMW M3 GTS
- 1994 Nissan 240 SX SE
- 1965 Shelby Cobra 427 S/C
December IGN Car Pack
- 2011 Ford F-150 SVT Raptor Halo Edition
- 2008 Aston Martin DBS
- 2012 Ferrari F12 Berlinetta
- 2006 Ford GTX1
- 2006 Hummer H1 Alpha Open Top
- 1993 McLaren F1
- 1971 AMC Javelin-AMX
January Recaro Car Pack
- 1983 GMC Vandura G-1500
- 1995 Ford Mustang Cobra R
- 2012 Cadillac Escalade ESV
- 2005 Mercedes-Benz SLR
- 2012 Lexus LFA Nurburgring Edition
- 2012 Lotus Exige S
February Jalopnik Car Pack
- 2013 Subaru BRZ
- 1991 Ferrari 512 TR
- 2012 Toyota FJ Cruiser
- 1970 Nissan Datsun 510
- 1973 Mazda RX-3
- 1966 Ford Country Squire
March Meguiar’s Car Pack
- 2013 Audi RS4 Avant
- 2013 BMW M135i
- 2012 Mercedes-Benz G65 AMG
- 2003 Ferrari Challenge Stradale
- 2004 Peugeot 206 RC
- 1998 Nissan R390
April Top Gear Car Pack
- 2012 Aston Martin Vanquish
- 2012 Bowler EXR S
- 2011 Alfa Romeo TZ3 Stradale Zagato
- 2011 Ford Transit SuperSportVan
- 1998 Mercedes-Benz AMG Mercedes CLK GTR
- 2002 BMW M3-GTR
End of Life Status
In September 2016, series community manager Brian Ekberg announced that the game had reached “End of Life” status meaning that the game and all of its downloadable content would be removed for sale from the Xbox storefront effective as of October 20h 2016.
Limited Collector’s Edition & Pre-Order Bonuses
The Limited Collector’s Edition comes in a SteelBook case and includes VIP membership and a Forza Horizon “Festival Ticket”.
VIP membership includes special recognition in the Forza community, access to exclusive in-game events, and five exclusives cars including the 2012 Audi R8 GT Spyder, 2011 Koenigsegg Agera, 2011 Lamborghini Sesto Elemento, 2012 Pagani Huyara and the 2012 Ruf Rt 12 R.
The “Festival Ticket” unlocks additional content including a five-car DLC pack, five exclusive car pack liveries and an accelerator token pack.
Along with the collector’s edition, one of five exclusive cars were offered at different retailers as a pre-order bonus. The five cars in question are now available to players who did not pre-order the game as the Pre-Order Car Pack DLC.