Between races, players can always head out in search of XP and Fast Travel Discount signs. These appear on the map when you pass by their general radius, or you can buy a Treasure Map for three bucks to reveal them all. The Horizon Promo photo mode returns as well, unlockable in the newly expanded Skill Shop. Horizon Promo tasks players with taking sharable photos of the game’s 350 cars, doling out rewards for every new car’s image. Hunting for signs and new cars are some of my favorite parts of the game, as they really encourage exploration and discovery.
Speaking of cars, picking up DLC cars and new cars from the shop is still a slow and clunky process. You have to select each one, pick a community paint job or stock color, and wade through several confirmation screens and tedious loading just to pick up a car. The Forza series really needs to add a way to buy and upgrade cars in bulk. I’d be happy with the stock colors if it saved me several cumulative minutes of loading.
On the happier side, the long-missing Auction House makes a triumphant return in Horizon 3. Sure it involves lengthy loads at times, but you can find some great deals on other players’ cars. The Auction House is also a good way to pick up Horizon Edition cars, vehicles with special stat boosts like XP and credit multipliers. The only other way to get Horizon Edition rides is by winning the level-up wheel spin, so buying them from another player is a convenient option.
Forza Horizon 3’s most exciting new feature is 4-player online co-op. Xbox One and Windows 10 players can even play together, as the game is fully cross-play, with all progress shared between versions. As an Xbox Play Anywhere title, it’s even cross-buy if you buy digitally.
You won’t be able to jump straight into co-op when you start the game, though. Online multiplayer does not unlock until the second Festival expansion. The only benefit I can see to locking all multiplayer away for a while is the game wants to teach you how things work first before opening up the social experience. On the plus side, it only takes 1-2 hours to earn enough fans for the second expansion.
Once the player has unlocked multiplayer, the new Co-op Campaign becomes available. This allows up to four players to team up and complete races and other campaign tasks together. You can either join a random player’s Co-op Campaign, jump directly into a friend’s, or host your own. Hosting is a bit cumbersome, but it works.