I don’t know if I’ve ever really looked at a video game the way that Forza Horizon 3 begs you to do so. I don’t know if I’ve ever gotten into the rhythm of a driving game quite the way Forza Horizon 3 lulls you into doing so. And in fact, looking back at it, I don’t know if I’ve ever just enjoyed a driving game as much as I did Horizon 3. Now, thanks to a free update and the new Xbox One X, I’ve found myself getting lost in the digital outback all over again.
2017 was a dumpster fire. This much is noted and agreed upon by most of America, and therefore, the things that let us escape the news and tune-out for a while became far more important than they maybe would’ve been in any other year. I’m saying this in hindsight, but I honestly think Horizon 3 was the game that brought the most out of me in the darkest months of a trash year. It’s the game I look back upon most fondly. Even if it fell off the wagon a bit with the Hot Wheels expansion, I still hold my time with Horizon 3 as some of the most important I’ve ever spent with a racing game.
Horizon 3 isn’t flawless, however, even after some major updates. I still run into the occasional odd texture, model, or bug that would pull me out of the drive I was on, which was always a nasty bubble to burst. After the treat last year of finding myself with an Xbox One X and Forza Motorsport 7, I knew what was possible by letting the extra power of the X take charge and letting the Forzatech engine fire on all cylinders.
Loading Horizon 3 with the Xbox One X enhanced patch was like walking somewhere familiar with a fresh pair of glasses. You can’t imagine the space ever looking this good, but knowing that the beauty was there the whole time. While it’s been cold and dreary here in Austin, I’ve found myself without the ability to really drive and let myself fall into the rhythm of the road. That’s where Horizon steps in, much like it did in 2016, sweeping me off my feet and taking me away to a fictional, digital version of the land down under. A place where the promise of Forza really takes hold. A stunning world filled with the fastest and most interesting cars on Earth, and almost no rules. A world that looks so good you can’t imagine anything ever looking better.
The update is free to all Xbox One X owners and I implore you to check it out if you have the means. It’s a stunner, it’s an escape, and god dammit, it’s perfect and joyful when almost nothing is anymore. And that’s worth more than I think they know.
[Disclaimer: Patrick was sent an Xbox One X to review the updated console and its visual benefits.]