Innovative driving games ‘are about more than racing’

The man behind Forza Horizon 3 has told Newsbeat that driving games don’t have to be “just racing cars around tracks”.

The third instalment in the Horizon series is set in Australia.

It lets players explore the terrain outside of the constraints traditionally seen in driving games, like Gran Turismo.

Ralph Fulton, Forza’s creative director, says it’s important for the genre as a whole to have variety of play styles.

He says that the driving game genre should not only be made up of the intense track simulators that have dominated in the past.

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“Forza Horizon 3 speaks to the diversity of experiences you can have with cars. It’s not just racing cars round tracks,” he explains.

“There’s nothing wrong with that at all, but those experiences are pretty well covered already so we’ve tried to do something different.

“We’re taking players on a dream vacation that they might never have in real life, we’re taking them to places that they might never go.”

Forza Horizon 3

Co-operative game play is another area where Ralph thinks racing games can often lag behind other genres.

“Traditionally, the online modes are very adversarial, it’s you against the racers in the race.

“But we try to focus on allowing you to play with your friends through things like campaign co-op, where you can play the whole of this game, start to finish, as a team.”

Forza Horizon 3Image caption Developed in the UK by Playground Games, Forza Horizon 3 won 37 awards at the E3 convention in Los Angeles earlier this year

Given the game is set in an open world, Ralph says the setting is as important as the cars themselves.

“We go to great lengths to research everything that’s in our game. We went to Australia, the other side of the world.

“We sent a team there and they drove all over Australia, they took photos and videos.”

Ralph admits this quest for authenticity means they have to use some pretty extreme measures.

Forza Horizon 3

“We even captured the sky with a new technique we invented.

“Our staff sat in the outback with an enormous camera rig and captured everything that the sky did. Then we bought the footage back to the studio and our tech guys found a way to stream that into the game.”

Forza Horizon 3 is designed to be a “gateway” racing game, and hook in people who might not be fans of the genre as a whole.

Forza Horizon 3

“Something we hear a lot from people is, ‘I’m not really into racing games, but I love Horizon,'” Ralph explains.

“We love hearing that because I think everyone can have fun with the cars we have in the game.

“In the world we’ve created, you don’t have to be a massive petrol head.”

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