Blizzard Mountain, Forza Horizon 3’s (opens in new tab) first DLC expansion, is out now, and it’s everything I hoped it would be: more Forza. It’s available in the Season Pass ($35) or as a standalone purchase ($20), and opens up a new snowy location that you can transport to from the main map.
In it, you’ll be doing exactly what you did in the main game: knocking out races, checking off creative bucket list challenges, and driving around the slick, mountainous landscape like a maniac. The big, white, freezing difference are the weather conditions and how they change vehicle handling to emphasize powerslide use and recovery skills above all else. Ice and snow are slippery, it turns out.
Snowy and icy road conditions are central to Blizzard Mountain’s appeal. While the more slippery roads in Forza Horizon 3 (dirt and wet asphalt) shot you off the road if you hit a corner with an ounce of extra speed, the snow and ice in the DLC aren’t as punishing as expected. Deep snow makes steering feel heavier and corners will almost always send you into a slide, but whiplash is equally easy to steer out of.
The same goes for ice. Steering and acceleration are easier, but drifting around corners is a near guarantee. There are some corners or wide turns you can take at full speed, sliding into and out of drifting with more ease than any vehicle or course from the main game. As someone who couldn’t drift worth a damn before, sliding around an icy corner at 70 miles-per-hour without flying off the road is pretty empowering.
You won’t be able to control a drift without first equipping snow tires, which won’t necessarily make every vehicle ideal for driving around Blizzard Mountain, but they ensure that the Forza toybox remains open to whatever horrible ideas you have in store. Want to set up a custom event where a mob of huge, heavy vans race up a mountainside? Go for it.
If you’re playing with a gamepad or wheel that supports rumble, the transition between feedback effects as you switch between roads of varying conditions is especially notable in the snow. Nailing a long drift that moves from the soft hum of deep snow to the rough staccato of a road frozen over with a thin layer of slush and ice is a lovely tactile flourish. Paired with the first person camera and a horrible snow storm, Blizzard Mountain is host to one of the prettiest, most engrossing experiences I’ve had in a racing game.
The DLC’s best feature is its blizzards, a weather effect that turns the most casual rally race into a tense, moody sprint to the finish. It’s hard to see more than a couple dozen yards ahead, especially at night, and coupled with the adverse conditions of snowy roads the vehicles look like they’re stumbling over one another in a desperate attempt to survive. An endearing clumsiness overrides the clean, professional nature of summery Australia’s events, and while you’re still performing in the same types of events across the board, they feel entirely new due to the unpredictable pacing that snowy roads ensure. One race might fly by without issue, but the next might be a night time blizzard pileup machine.
While you’re still hosting a festival, this time you’re not recruiting fans. Traditional racing events are measured with stars in Blizzard Mountain, with one star typically awarded for completion of the race, two stars awarded for first place, and three stars awarded for first place and meeting a skill challenge. The stars work well to as a more encouraging means of getting players to try for clean, stylish wins rather than a win alone. I’ve crashed and smashed my way to the front regularly, and it feels much better to get first without intentionally driving the rest of the competition off the road. Unless your competition is Tom Marks. In that case, take him out.
Besides Tom’s tomfoolery, my one big problem with Blizzard Mountain is with how it handles online co-op play. Tom and I tried to get a game together in the DLC for about 10 minutes before realizing that the co-op campaign for Blizzard Mountain is entirely separate from the primary game’s co-op campaign. It’s already a bummer that you need to load into Blizzard Mountain—I like lazily exploring the entirety of Forza’s map, performing in events at my leisure—but making it a separate online instance makes bouncing between the DLC and main game a more cumbersome process than it should be. I worry that once we’ve had our fun in Blizzard Mountain, there won’t be much incentive to play it over the bigger, more varied map from the Forza proper. Tom also experienced the same random hitches he got while playing the main game a few months back. If you’ve had huge performance problems with Forza Horizon 3, they’ll probably show up in Blizzard Mountain too.
The fun I’ve had with Blizzard Mountain so far outweighs the woes. It reinforces the already extensive vehicle fantasy of Forza Horizon 3 by adding more variables in terms of cars, weather conditions, and course design. As more Forza, it’s unsurprising, but as a new jungle gym to romp around on with toys, new and old, it’s an easy recommendation. The slippery conditions won’t do it for every driver, but it’s this dedication to breadth that I admire about Forza Horizon 3—it has a toe dipped into every kind of car enthusiast's pool. I won’t become a master of street racing or drifting around icy corners anytime soon, but Forza makes it easy to try.