Title: Forza Horizon 3: Blizzard Mountain
Developer(s): Playground Games
Publisher(s): Microsoft Studios
Platform(s): Xbox One, PC
Release Date: December 13th, 2016
Requires Forza Horizon 3,
Included in Forza Horizon 3 expansion pass,
Not included in Forza Horizon 3 ultimate, deluxe or standard editions
Platform(s) played on: Original Xbox One
Time played: 6 hours
By Shaun Quaintance – If, like me, you spent many an hour playing the hell out of Forza Horizon 3 this year and if, like me, you like it when developers create proper expansions and not just release a few different skins and tweaks under the banner of expansion then, like me, you’ll probably love Blizzard Mountain, the first expansion for Forza Horizon 3 (say we seem to have a lot in common. Tell me, does your left arm also go numb occasionally along with the odd chest pain or two?…no?…I think I might have to see a doctor sometime soon then).
Visually Blizzard Mountain is as stunning as the base game. The sun glistens off of the settled snow and ice beside the road, blizzards engulf you whole as your vision is shortened to just several feet ahead and snowflakes build up on your windscreen as your tyres shift and deform the snow that has already fallen. A lot of attention has been made to the little details that help mesmerise and immerse you into the stunning world. All of this, of course, is best experienced in the cockpit view because if you ain’t in cockpit view then you ain’t normal (side note: use whatever camera you want, you bought the expansion, it’s your choice…as long as it’s cockpit view).
As well as wasting an uncountable amount of minutes just staring at the views I did actually play the game at times as well. Blizzard Mountain provides you with a whole new winter wonderland stuffed with 50 roads and 26 events for you to blaze along, if that’s not enough then there’s also the return of activities such as bucket lists, speed traps and b-e-a-uty spots (and if you’re one of those scumbags that think drifting events should be anywhere near a racing game then you also have the drift zones…there…you happy now? You’ve tainted yet another perfectly good racing game with your drifting shit!). If that’s STILL not enough then not only should you soon come to terms with how entitled you are but you’ll also be happy to hear that some brand spanking new vehicles are included. The vehicle variety in Blizzard Mountain seems to favour the off-road style with rally cars and them big trucky bastards taking the spotlight, if that sounds a bit disappointing to you then fear not! You are able to use any and every car you already have in Forza Horizon 3, just remember to slap some snow tyres on them…you’ll find out why soon.
Not only have Playground Games done a stellar job at visuals and content but they’ve only gone and bloody nailed the gameplay as well! The new environment, along with a reworked progression system, means that Blizzard Mountain provides a fresh experience with a whole new driving style to learn no matter how many endless nights you’ve spent playing the base game.
The built up snow across the sprawling hills makes it harder to build up momentum, a lake of ice destroys any confidence you had in your cars grip and patches of black ice found conveniently in every single one of my bloody braking points means that you have to take extra care with every single aspect of handling your car, unless you aspire for your driving style to be like my dear ol’ nan’s and consist of screeching tyres, uncontrollable spins and non-stop swearing. These changes truly make every second thrilling with the knowledge that you could no longer be in control of your car at any point.
A new star system replaces fans from Forza Horizon 3 (who needs fans anyway?). Rather than build up a fan base with each event you must earn as many stars as possible. There are 3 stars to be had in each event with each star becoming increasingly harder to achieve, simply completing a race will get you one star, winning said race will get you the second and winning the race as well as completing the bonus objective will grant you true stardom (3 stars). The bonus objectives can range from things such as obtain a certain amount of skill points during the race to execute a set number of drifts (again…fuck drifting in racing games, just give me some nice smooth, clean and tidy cornering instead because I can’t drift for shit…damn kids with their fancy pants cornering these days).
What this all results in is a greater pressure for success in events. Overall I prefer this new system, I like Forza’s approach of winning every race not being necessary or even possible (after all, an F1 driver doesn’t need to win every race to come out on top overall, all you need is consistency…and luck) as it encourages you to continue a race after making a mistake rather than hitting that rewind or restart button. However, Forza Horizon 3 took it a bit too far with your finishing position not mattering at all, sure it helps casual players enjoy themselves a bit more and you did still get more fans and credits for finishing higher but that doesn’t feel like enough to make people want to improve their racing. The star system perfectly fixes that issue in all but one area…the bonus objectives.
Sometimes the objectives are simple enough to execute whilst still keeping most of your concentration on winning the race, however, there are times where it feels more like an intrusion and an annoyance. Let’s take Mr Drifting as an example again. Why on Earth would I ever want to execute God knows how many of those bastards in a race when it’s much faster to take a different approach to the course? If you want me that badly to drift in the game then create a separate mode where I have to do just tha…oh wait you did…so why do I still have to drift in this completely different mode!? (I hate drifting if you hadn’t gathered by now).
Performance wise I haven’t had any issues on the Xbox One version. I did do some research into the PC version as well as watch a few Let’s Plays and it does seem like there is a chance of problems found in the PC version of Forza Horizon 3 coming back again. My advice would be if you suffer from problems with the base game then be prepared for them to crop back up in Blizzard Mountain…or buy a better PC…or if you already have the best PC possible then can I have some of your wealth please so I too can upgrade my PC?
In summary, Blizzard Mountain is an excellent expansion to an already stellar Forza Horizon 3. The new environment provides plenty of stunning scenes as well as improving on the base mechanics and creating new ones. It expands on Forza Horizon 3 in nearly every way.
So, should you buy it? Well like any other game, expansion, DLC etc entirely depends on if you’re a Forza or general motorsport fanatic then without a shadow of a doubt yes you should get this. If you completed the base game and are hungry for some more car on car action then once again yes go and get Blizzard Mountain right now! However, if you’re not too much of a car guy/gal (and if so why on Earth are you reading a review for an expansion to a game consisting solely of cars?), if you’re still nowhere near finished with the base game events or if you’ve just bought Forza Horizon 3 for yourself or for someone else as a lovely gift then I’d say consider waiting for a little while.
The reason for waiting isn’t because the price tag is too steep (I find it perfectly justifiable although I can see why some people would be a bit put off by it), instead it’s because Forza Horizon 3 itself is just such a good game, there’s a humongous amount of content there for you and while you play through that first you may find that you can acquire the gem that is Blizzard Mountain for a few pennies less. Of course, if you’re not a stingy bugger and want to support Playground Games then go right on ahead and press that purchase button now…they sure as hell deserve it.
Keep on gaming.
A proper expansion that not only introduces additional content but also builds upon the mechanics of the base game
• Builds off of an already solid racing game in Forza Horizon 3 • A new reward system that encourages you to race to your full potential and increases replayability • Stunning visuals and weather system • Can still suffer from the occasional performance problems on PC • Price may mean you're better off waiting if you're not already drooling from the mouth for more Forza Horizon content • Put snow tyres on...you're fucked otherwise