Forza Horizon 3’s (opens in new tab) final expansion took me completely by surprise. It was a bold move for a series that started as a realistic racing simulation to build an island out of licensed Hot Wheels tracks, looping and winding in impossible curves around the gigantic turkey legs of animatronic T-Rexes. But Hot Wheels represents exactly what I wanted from Forza. Blizzard Mountain was a more traditional, sim-based expansion (opens in new tab), playing around with weather conditions and road textures. Hot Wheels expands on Horizon 3’s best remaining qualities, encouraging you to go fast in fantastic supercars and supercharged Surge-branded vans, and to mess with your friends with reckless, heartless, thirsty abandon.
Between this (and Burnout Paradise) car games may as well just go ahead and pack it in, and these gifs explain why.
Forza has booster pads now
Booster pads? Speed zones? Speed boosts? Whatever they’re called, driving over them makes the screen blur and the speed number shoot up. Gotta go fast!
Criss Cross Crash is built in
Those booster pads turn every intersection into , which my Aunt Betty got me for my fifth birthday. My mom threw it in the trash a few days later because I started making direct eye contact with everyone and mouthing explosion sounds. Anyway, it's better with friends, because alone, on an island of Hot Wheels tracks, I still manage to crash into trees more often than other cars.
The map doesn't make any damn sense
And I wouldn’t have it any other way. While it looks like an upturned bin of old VGA cables, the utter confusion I feel trying to figure out how to get across is blotted out by the expansion’s reckless dedication to loops and curves. Getting anywhere is a nightmare, and that's the point. Just follow your heart to the nearest loop-de-loop.
Loop-de-loops work exactly like they should
Gravity is still in the game, yes. Be sure to maintain speed on them.
The engines on this car are big and dumb
You can barely see when driving in first person. It’s incredible. There’s no reasonable way this car should exist. But it does, it can go 200 miles-per-hour, and you can almost drive it into the sun. It’s also just one of four especially dumb Hot Wheels cars included in the expansion.
The tracks are merely a suggestion
Because if you hit an edge hard enough or don’t get enough speed before a ramp, you’ll fly off into the ocean or directly into an animatronic T-Rex’s bum. While the tracks make for more traditional, one-way races, they're challenging and complex courses. Even so, they intersect and diverge in subtle ways to avoid feeling too constrictive.
And yeah, there are animatronic tyrannosaurs and for no other reason than to look cool and recall one of the many Hot Wheels T-Rex toy sets (opens in new tab).
You can represent your favorite brands (Doritos and Mountain Dew) within a brand (Hot Wheels) within another brand (Forza). The Forza custom decal community is truly a gift to PC gaming.
It’s the final resting place for vans
RIP SODA pic.twitter.com/LxVvstZVGXMay 9, 2017
I should've heeded the warning Forza gave me when I returned to the garage for my soda van. I supercharged my baby to get it loop ready and now I can’t drive it anywhere without spinning out. It also takes curves too fast to stay upright and loves to stall on loops. The Hot Wheels expansion doesn't work well with the best vehicle, tragically. Couldn’t bare to watch it struggle anymore, so I sent it to its final resting place at the bottom of the ocean, where all vans and snack brands and humans will one day sleep together, forever.
Thanks, Hot Wheels.