Forza Horizon: Is Continuous Content always a good thing?

Forza Horizon is the latest motor sport offering in the ever-popular Forza series. Launched on 23 October 2012, the game is set in the Colorado area of the US of A and has already received a wealth of DLC. As someone who received the game for Christmas, I was keen to not only get into the game, but also get on board with the DLC that the publicity machine made clear was going to be available and enhance the gaming for the discerning racer. I’ve not explored the DLC side of many games, so this turned out to be quite an interesting experience for me, and frankly, I couldn’t think of a better place to get my start.

I think it’s fair to say I had high hopes for it, given the game’s history of producing ever-expansive games in the past. But is continuous support always a good thing? Have I got my hopes up too much?

Promotion for Horizon began before the game was released, when Forza advertised its VIP program in September 2012. Those pre-ordering the Collector’s Edition of the game would have access to exclusive content, including a 5 car VIP Car Pack, consisting of:-

  • 2012 Audi R8 GT Spyder
  • 2011 Koenigsegg Agera
  • 2011 Lamborghini Sesto Elemento
  • 2012 Pagani Huayra
  • 2011 RUF Rt 12 R

Once the game was released, however, it was on to the DLC proper.

The first car pack was made available on 23 October 2012 on the Xbox Marketplace at 400 MS points. No additional costs are incurred for Season Pass holders, but for those that aren’t, each car comes at the cost of 240 MS Points per car. It includes:-

  • 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air
  • 2012 Alfa Romeo 8C Spider
  • 2012 Ferrari 599XX Evoluzione
  • 2012 Ford Mustang Boss 302
  • 2012 Gumpert Apollo Enraged
  • 2012 Lamborghini Aventador J

Except the Chevrolet Bel Air, these are all modern cars and don’t offer a look back at racing yesteryear. Still, it’s an interesting pack, and lets you savour some modern day delights.

It was then announced that there would be a monthly offering of cars for racers to purchase and enjoy. Each pack was set to contain 6 cars that would offer varying experiences to gamers and would add new dimensions to the races. These packs would be included in the Season Pass until April 2013, or the 400 MS points for those who wanted to pick and choose their options. It would also be possible to earn points in order to purchase the cars individually in-game for 240 MS points each.

Each month there are also a variety of contest events held that include racing rivals in a variety of cars and settings, and adding an extra element of challenge to suit a range of driving abilities.

The Season Pass, which costs 4000 MS points also includes 5 bonus cars exclusive to the Pass, with an additional bonus car each month. Each car is individually special, but when added to your garage adds an extra dimension to each of the races you take on.

That’s a lot of work for the development team, but also shows the game will be supported way past its launch window. This Season Pass acts as a signed and sealed contract between them and the players.

The next car pack was made available in November 2012 and called the Bondurant Car Pack. This contained the following vehicles:-

  • 1965 Shelby Cobra 427
  • 1993 Nissan 240SX SE
  • 2010 BMW M3 GTS
  • 2012 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon
  • 2012 Lamborghini Gallardo LP570-4 Spyder Performante
  • 2012 Shelby 1000

Again, a pack mostly dominated by recent cars, though the 93 Nissan makes for an interesting turn of a course.

The 04 December 2012 Car Pack was the next to arrive, and contained:-

  • 1971 AMC Javelin-AMX (the month’s free sample car for all Xbox LIVE Gold members)
  • 1993 McLaren F1
  • 2006 Ford GTX1
  • 2006 Hummer H1 Alpha Open Top
  • 2008 Aston Martin DBS
  • 2011 Ford F-150 SVT Raptor Halo Edition – yes, I said Halo 😉
  • 2012 Ferrari F12berlinetta

This is a really mixed pack, and offers a nice mix of styles. One of my favourites.

The 01 January 2013 Car Pack soon followed, delivering another assortment of cars from Santa.

  • 2012 Cadillac Escalade ESV
  • 1995 Ford Mustang Cobra R (the month’s free sample car for all Xbox LIVE Gold members)
  • 1983 GMC Vandura G-1500
  • 2012 Lexus LFA Nürburgring Edition
  • 2012 Lotus Exige S
  • 2005 Mercedes-Benz SLR
  • 2009 Pagani Zonda Cinque Roadster—Season Pass bonus car

The thrill of taking a Cadillac for a spin is a joy that cannot be understated. Same with the 2005 Mercedes-Benz SLR.

Following this, the Honda Challenge Car Pack. This was released on 15 January 2013 and the best part? It was absolutely free. Good times!

  • 2013 Honda Civic Si Coupe
  • 2012 Honda HPD Fit
  • 1986 Honda Civic Si

February’s Jalopnik Car Pack was releaed on 05 February, and this pack included another 6 cars that set the heart racing.

  • 1970 Nissan Datsun 510
  • 2012 Toyota FJ Cruiser
  • 2013 Subaru BRZ
  • 1991 Ferrari 512 TR
  • 1973 Mazda RX-3
  • 1966 Ford Country Squire (free sample car for all Xbox LIVE Gold members)
  • 2010 Devon GTX – Season Pass Bonus Car

There’s never a bad time to go cruising with a Ferrari on the open roads and this pack was an absolute pleasure.

Finally, the Meguiar’s pack, the most recent of the DLC car packs available, released on 05 March 2013.

  • 2013 Audi RS4 Avant
  • 2013 BMW M135i
  • 2003 Ferrari Challenge Stradale
  • 2010 Joss JT1 (Season Pass Bonus Car)
  • 2012 Mercedes-Benz G65 AMG
  • 1998 Nissan R390
  • 2004 Peugeot 206 RC

All in all, there are a lot of decent cars available to win as standard, purchase, or find in secluded barns before your mechanic restores them and upgrades them from the DLC packs.

Forza has added around 50 extra cars so far. Some might say this is wholly unnecessary as you’re not going to be able to try them all. However, others would say they are more than necessary as they continue to keep the experience fresh. Regardless of where you sit, the margins of winning and losing in some races can be nanoseconds, especially in the rival challenges that are available where your choice of car is crucial if you want to win. You need that big selection to make the right choice.

Let’s also not forget the awesome Forza Horizon Rally expansion pack, which launched on 18 December 2012. No point having all of those 4×4 cars in your garage without some way of testing them out properly, is there? This is available at 1600 MS points or included as part of the Forza Horizon Season Pass. This offers the home-based speed fraternity not only the opportunity to race around the mean streets of Colorado, but to take it off road and experience all the thrills and spills that the rally circuit can offer, including co-driver instructions and some seriously rough terrain.

In the modern gaming world, DLC can often make or break a game. Spending between £40 and £50 on a game that you can finish in 2 days is not what people want. Games such as Assassin’s Creed, Uncharted, Call of Duty, et al rely on on-line gaming and DLC to keep gamers interested once the campaign is completed, and spending more hard-earned reddies on the latest car, map or adventure.

If you like car racing games, then the DLC available for Forza Horizon is right up your street. However, there comes a point when you feel like it’s not adding enough to the game to keep you interested. It’s not the additional availability that is the problem. I love the fact that there are bajillions of car-based opportunities. However, despite all these additional extras, I found myself racing a classic Mini amongst Ferraris and Paganis, just to see what chaos would ensue. This was mildly amusing, but ultimately pointless. That mini was never going to be at the forefront of my Forza Horizon experience.

To be honest, I tend to gravitate to the same cars and enjoy the game through them. After the initial thrill of testing a new car, I find myself missing old-favourites and will go out of my way to find them because that’s where I’m most comfortable and have the most fun.

In terms of DLC, you can’t fault the amount of cars and added value Turn 10 have provided Forza Horzon, but I do question just how much these content packs really add to the game in terms of longevity and my desire to keep coming back for each new add-on. While these packs are great, and they’ve provided me with many, MANY, hours of entertainment, I feel my enthusiasm for the further expansion of the game is starting to burn out. Especially since next-gen is fast approaching. We all know a new Forza game is sure to come with it, and the DLC from Forza Horizon is unlikely to be cross-format compatible. This concerns me, especially for those who’ve spent a great deal of money on Horizon (and Forza 4 before it), knowing all that money will probably go to waste. With other games, it’s possible to look past that, but with the wealth of expansion available for Forza Horizon, should we really just ‘accept’ this and cough up our money all over again?


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