After everyone accepts your invite and joins your group (essentially a game-specific party similar to what Halo games have always offered), the host player must press the B button a couple of times to back out of all menus and return to the game. At that point, the host presses the X button to actually initiate co-op. The host can then drive around while waiting for the other players to actually enter the game.
In online co-op games, everyone visits the host’s world. Most races can only be initiated by that primary player, which will start the race for everyone else no matter where they are on the map. Visiting players can request to initiate Bucket List challenges (which are instanced), but the host still has to approve them. Strangely, Bucket Lists only seem to allow 2-players to participate, even in 4-player co-op games.
As for the actual races, any race that involves competing against AI drivers (Championships, Exhibitions, Street Races, etc.) become team-based in co-op. Human players will automatically be on one team and Drivatars make up the other team. Each player’s position in the race contributes to the overall score of the team. If your collective score beats the Drivatar team’s score, then everybody wins.
Team scoring is cool because a couple of skilled players can carry the team. But if the majority of the team tanks the race, everybody loses. The host player can adjust the Drivatar AI difficulty if needed. Win or lose though, everybody gains XP, Credits, and Fans for every race – including a team bonus to further incentivize co-op play.
Forza Horizon 3 also supports online clubs, which are essentially the racing version of guilds or clans. Clubs don’t unlock until your fifth Festival expansion though, which will be 5-6 hours into the game. Clubs are unchanged from Horizon 2, which means they provide credit bonuses and leaderboards but not much else. It’s too bad Playground Games didn’t increase their functionality in this installment.
Online co-op is a great addition to Forza Horizon 3. Although everyone’s at the mercy of the host as far as starting races goes, you can otherwise explore and do what you want while occupying the same world as friends. The only feature you lose out on in co-op is Horizon Promo, the game’s photo mode. That definitely stings a bit, as someone who only plays co-op will never make progress towards photographing cars in the game. But teaming up to win races is so much fun, you can always save the photography stuff for later.
Forza Horizon 3 is the ultimate open-world racing game. Most of us will never get to visit Australia in real life, but tearing through its streets, forests, beaches, and deserts in virtual form is still legitimately thrilling. With phenomenal production values, a huge diversity of built-in and player-created events, cross-play and cross-buy, you really won’t find a better racing game any time soon. Especially not one with online co-op.
The Co-Optimus Co-Op Review of Forza Horizon 3 was reviewed on Xbox One and tested on Windows 10 using a code provided by the publisher for review purposes.
The Co-Op Experience: Up to four-players can team up online to tackle the co-operative multiplayer campaign. Cross-platform play between the Xbox One and Windows 10 versions is supported
Co-Optimus game reviews focus on the cooperative experience of a game, our final score graphic represents this experience along with an average score for the game overall. For an explanation of our scores please check our Review Score Explanation Guide.