Forza Horizon 2 Announcement
[UPDATED 6/25/14 at 12:30 p.m.]
Another video from IGN, this time exploring the wide open roads of Forza Horizon 2. In this interview, IGN spoke with Playground Games’ Ben Penrose, Douglas Watson, and Martin Connor about the creation of the game’s southern European setting. The entire level design team traveled to these idyllic spots to get a first-hand experience of what it feels like to drive on these legendary roads. Check out the full video for much more:
[UPDATED 6/20/14 at 6:07 p.m.]
Not one but TWO updates today! First up, IGN posted an interview with some of the key figures for Forza Horizon 2 – including Playground Games’ Ralph Fulton and Ben Thaker-Fell – talking about the social aspects of Horizon 2. Watch it now:
Next up, IGN’s Luke Reilly takes readers through the precise detail and care that Playground Games’ development team takes when recording audio for the cars in Forza Horizon 2. Reilly speaks with Playground’s audio designer Douglas Watson about the process of recording cars like the Lamborghini Huracán, including building custom microphones for car interiors, the challenges of recording the Huracán’s big V10 engine, and much more. If you’re a nerd for audio wizardry or you just want to learn more about how Horizon 2’s cars will sound on the open roads of southern Europe, give this story a read.
[UPDATED 6/18/14 at 3:18 p.m.]
From rain to wind to fog and more (and don’t forget the rainbows!) Today, IGN has a deep dive on the radical simulation approach to weather in Forza Horizon 2. Check out the interview with Playground Games’ Ralph Fulton as he discusses what fans can expect from the first implementation of weather effects in the history of the Forza franchise. Here’s a great quote from Playground’s Alan Roberts about how the team has taken Forza 5’s physically based materials system and adapted it for wet weather:
“We’ve modelled wetness into the physically-based material system now,” explains Roberts. “So we’ve researched how wetness affects materials and we’ve plugged that into our physically-based materials system.”
“So we know that when rain hits a surface, we know how it’s going to respond to that rain and therefore how light’s going to affect it. And all of that feeds right through to the simulation so you get effects like beading on the paintwork, and you can see the way rain affects the road surface; it’s all tied together in the physically-based system.”
[UPDATED 6/17/14 at 1:03 p.m.]
IGN's latest video preview of Forza Horizon 2 is here and it's got a full rundown of details on the game, as well as some never-before-seen footage. In other words, what are you waiting for? GO WATCH:
[UPDATED 6/6/14 at 12:18 p.m.]
There’s no better way to celebrate the end of an awesome week of announcements for Forza Horizon 2 than seeing the game in action. Earlier today, IGN posted the teaser for our E3 2014 trailer:
Sure, it’s all too brief but I can’t think of a better way to kick off the Forza Horizon 2 announcement week than an image of the Huracán tearing across a beautiful southern European landscape. Look for the FULL Horizon 2 E3 trailer on Monday, June 9 beginning at 9:30 a.m. Trust me, you don’t want to miss it.
[UPDATED 6/5/14 at 12:06 p.m.]
After three straight days of Forza Horizon 2 reveals, today’s IGN First feature focused on the Forza franchise in general. In an interview with Turn 10’s Alan Hartman and Dan Greenawalt, IGN editor Luke Reilly pieced together a compelling history of the studio, from the earliest days of working on the original Forza Motorsport, to last year’s groundbreaking debut of Forza 5 on Xbox One and beyond. If you want a peak behind the curtains of Turn 10’s decade-plus history or, like me, you are interested in hearing how game studios are organized (yes, I’m a nerd), this is a must-read.
In addition, Dan and Alan share some interesting thoughts about what makes the working relationship between Turn 10 and Playground so unique -- I like to characterize it as something approaching the racing game studio equivalent of the Special Relationship. There’s so much good stuff in there you need to just head over and read it now.
[UPDATED 6/4/2014 at 12:13 p.m.]
Yesterday IGN went big with the first ever hands-on preview of Forza Horizon 2 and, today, they are following that up with an interview with one of the key figures behind the game – Playground Games’ creative director Ralph Fulton. If you haven’t already done so, go read this extensive interview right now, or scroll down for some of the many highlights from the story:
Southern Europe makes an ideal backdrop for the racing action in Forza Horizon 2. As Fulton explains, while the Playground team had many locations in mind for the game (more than 30, in fact), the beautiful and diverse landscape of the south of Europe was the clear winner:
“Actually, we had a scoring system; we scored each of the locations based on their relative merits. Southern Europe ticked so many of the boxes we needed ticked. It’s such a beautiful part of the world. It’s unspoilt. It has fantastic driving roads, amazing environmental diversity, and just stunning vistas that you really want to explore.”
I’ve heard this question a lot since we announced the game: Are Barn Finds coming back? The answer is an emphatic YES. Here’s some of what Fulton has to say about the cars in the game, including how Barn Finds are going to be cooler than ever:
“You’ll see some of those [cars from Forza 5] coming over into Forza Horizon 2 but what’s great is that we’re also bringing new cars to the Forza franchise. Cars which really fit with the game.”
“So obviously the [Lamborghini] Huracán is the prominent example of that; it’s the year’s hottest car. It’s great to have it on the cover. We also have a real variety of new-to-Forza cars across the game that really reflect the things you’re going to be doing in Horizon that you couldn’t in Motorsport. So some crazy off-roaders; some real serious off-road beasts.”
“You’ll be delighted to hear that more than half of our Barn Finds in Horizon 2 are completely new to Forza,” reveals Fulton. “So when you find them you’ll never have seen them before, so restoring them is gonna be an extra thrill. We’ve got some great stories coming up about the cars that are new to Forza.”
Forza Horizon 2 will run in native 1080p and, like the original Horizon, at a locked 30 fps. Why is a “locked” frame rate so important? It’s all about making the best possible racing experience. Here’s IGN with more:
Dropped or torn frames have traditionally been a common bugbear with many console games that target approximately 30 frames-per-second. However, with the original Forza Horizon Playground found it was able to avert these issues entirely. The team adopted a zero-tolerance approach to frame drops (regardless of what level of rendering was required on screen the frame rate was never permitted to dip) and as such the game was rigidly locked at 30 frames-per-second. Most importantly, the locked frame rate (as opposed to a fluctuating one) resulted in a smooth and consistent racing experience. Playground has approached Horizon 2 similarly.
One of the features I’m personally most excited about in Horizon 2 is Car Meets, which will be a great chance for players to get together, hang out, check out one another’s work, and share tips about painting and tuning (that’s right, car tuning is coming to Forza Horizon 2!). Here’s Fulton, talking about Car Meets in greater detail:
“The great thing about Car Meets is that other people can see them as well. So you can go to a Car Meet and see what other people have been doing. I could drive in in a Mk2 Golf and I might see a couple of Mk2 Golfs in there with some amazing liveries, and I can grab that livery immediately. Or I can talk to the guy who created that livery. We can share tips on painting if that’s what I’m into, or tuning if that’s what I’m into.”
As you know by now, Horizon 2 is built off the Forza Motorsport 5 engine. It’s also using the same Drivatar technology that made the racing in Forza 5 so compelling, even when you weren’t going up against the completion online. Bringing the learning AI of Drivatars to Horizon 2 has been fascinating, especially watching it adapt to the open-world, go-anywhere nature of the game. As Fulton puts it:
“What it learns only in Forza Horizon 2, though, is when you leave the road, where you explore, the kind of places that you go. That’s an exciting new element to the Drivatar story.
“A super cool nuance of this, which is one of the organic things that just comes out of systems that are as complex as Drivatars, is that if your friend has found a secret collectible, or maybe even a Barn Find that you haven’t, sometimes you can just follow where he’s going. And because his Drivatar is driving where he has been, he can lead you to a collectible or a secret that you haven’t even found.
“So your friend is helping you, almost asynchronously, to play the game. It’s a system which just keeps on giving.”
It wouldn’t be a Horizon game without awesome music and Horizon 2 is looking to deliver in spades. BBC Radio One DJ Rob da Bank is returning to curate three of the radio stations in the game and, if past performance is any indication, we’ll all be humming these songs long after Horizon 2 is released.
“He’s curating the three main radio stations within the game,” explains Fulton. “There’s a cool dance electronic station, there’s a station which is much more indie rock, or alt rock depending on which side of the Atlantic you hail from, and then there’s a station which is all about really just living up to the world and the summer vibes that you have in Horizon; it’s all summery, dance-y pop which was really popular in the original Horizon.”
For the other stations Playground has partnered with three key indie labels to bring their back catalogues and summer release schedules into the game. The team are not announcing the labels at this stage, although Fulton did confirm two are from London and the other is from Los Angeles.
Look for more Forza Horizon 2 information on IGN tomorrow!
[UPDATED 6/3/2014 at 12:15 p.m.]
Earlier today, IGN posted the latest addition to their month-long coverage of Forza Horizon 2, as part of its IGN First initiative. Today’s article was a big hands-on preview of the game, and included loads of quotes from members of the Playground Games team who are at the helm of Horizon 2. In addition, the piece featured an extended discussion between IGN editors Ryan McCaffrey and Luke Reilly, discussing what they saw of the game during their recent visit to Playground. (By the way, if you’re wondering why the video behind McCaffrey and Reilly is blurred, it’s simple: We wanted to show off the first footage of Horizon 2 in all its glory and in full-screen HD, not in the background on a TV screen. Make sense? Look for actual gameplay footage of Horizon 2 during the Xbox Media Briefing on Monday, June 9!)
Now, Forza Horizon 2 is a massive game so it follows that the first hands-on report for the game would be equally as epic. If you haven’t already done so, I encourage you to get in there and read what IGN has to say about the game. If you’re looking for a (slightly) more TL;DR version, here’s a few of my favorite quotes from the piece, along with my commentary:
IGN: From the rolling hills of Tuscany in Italy, across the border into France and beautiful Provence and the glamorous Côte d'Azur. Incredible variety, amazing landscapes, amazing vistas for you to explore. So that doesn’t hurt, having a beautiful world to start with is a big start.
My Take: Forza Horizon 2’s southern European setting is an ideal, idyllic spot for racing, for cruising, or just taking a moment to snap some photos of your favorite car in one of the most beautiful places on the planet.
A Beautiful Engine
IGN: Looking real is something Forza Horizon 2 is already excelling at. We’ll be going into more detail on the game’s weather effects at a later date but, in terms of just the lighting itself, after seeing it deconstructed in front of us it’s properly admirable just how authentically Horizon’s sun, streetlamps, and headlights illuminate the world.
“Light is a really big deal for us for this game, and the reference points we’ve chosen for this game are famous for their quality of light,” says art director Ben Penrose. “So on this game we didn’t want to leave anything to chance. We didn’t want to give you an impression of what the places are like that we visited and have tried to reproduce. We wanted to model it as accurately as possible and have all that stuff work with the physically based set-up that we’ve got from Forza 5.”
“So what we’ve settled on is a physically accurate model of Earth’s atmosphere,” Penrose grins.
My Take: Forza Horizon 2 has been built off the Forza Motorsport 5 engine, with its emphasis on realistic materials, light, and atmosphere. In creating the beautiful world of Horizon 2, Playground has worked with the amazing strengths of that engine while evolving it in a powerful way. Full day/night cycles, dynamic weather, rain droplets collecting on cars… it’s all about creating a living world designed for living out your automotive fantasies.
IGN: Technical director Alan Roberts breezes through the ins-and-outs of a real-life optical phenomenon known as Rayleigh scattering, which is what causes both the vivid blue hue of the midday sky and the red and yellow tones of the sky at sunset. In a nutshell, the sky in Horizon 2 is blue because science dictates it, not because an artist glanced out a window and settled on the closest shade he or she could find.
“This now means that we can simulate the way that light interacts with particles in the atmosphere,” says Roberts. “We no longer have to have artists picking the colour of the sky from a colour picker; we can model the amount of particles in the atmosphere and the sky and the lighting reacts accordingly.”
“That’s how it works in real-life, and that’s exactly how it’s working here,” adds [art director Ben Penrose].
My Take: Modeling scientifically accurate phenomenon like Rayleigh scattering has allowed the Playground team to make the light and atmosphere of Horizon 2’s southern European setting more alive than ever before.
IGN: “Additional freedom is not the only thing that comes with all this bonus space, though. The extra room has allowed Playground to cram in more things for the player to do, and not just racing. Expect more things to collect and discover, more secrets and barn finds to track down.
“We have far more content than we’ve ever had before,” says Fulton. “More than 700 events across the world, contributing to, I think a conservative 100 percent completion time of well over 100 hours. We have absolutely packed this game with racing, with non-racing, with discovery, and the ability to just point your car in any direction and just explore. So that’s freedom.”
My Take: The world of Forza Horizon 2 is beautiful, it’s meticulously created, and it’s great fun to drive and explore in. Forza Horizon 2 is not only bigger than the original but, thanks to the increased freedom of being able to drive anywhere, there is more driveable area than ever before – a three-times bigger play space, in fact.
IGN: “We’re shown a demo of this in action and, despite the obvious complexities of such a system beneath the surface, on screen it truly plays out as simple as described. We watch as a car eases along a road; the game is in solo mode and the map is packed with traffic, lighting and atmospheric conditions, and Drivatars that are all unique to this particular session. With the press of a button, the game camera shifts around the front of the car (which is still moving) while the game transitions from solo mode to online play. In the space of half a sentence, the Drivatars are replaced with real players, and conditions and traffic are synced with an online session-in-progress. All the while the car is still cruising down the very same road, exactly where it was seconds before. Seamless, indeed.”
My Take: The old lines between “online” and “offline” are completely blurred in Forza Horizon 2. Now you can instantly switch to and from online play at any point in the world.
IGN: The improvements to the online experience aren’t exclusively technical, though. The Horizon 2 team has also gone back to the drawing board on clubs, which now allow you to create clubs of up to 1000 players, and has introduced what it calls Car Meets.
“It’s really inspired by what happens in the real world,” explains Fulton. “You can take your car to a Car Meet and enter an online hangout, basically, where you can hang-out, you can socialise, you can meet new people, you can chat.”
In a Car Meet you can show off your own custom designs or tunes, or browse those of others. Players can grab liveries, tunes, or even entire cars from each other within Car Meets (for which they’ll be compensated). Beyond that, Car Meets also serve as a place to party up with other players or, better yet, wait for friends to come online. Unlike a static lobby, in Car Meets you can trigger quick Showdown Races against other players within the Car Meet. At the conclusion of a Showdown Race you’ll be returned directly to the Car Meet. It means if you’re planning an online session with several mates, but a few of them are late, you can kill time with quick-fire races from within a Car Meet rather than stare gormlessly at an online spreadsheet of Gamertags.
My Take: You want Social? You want an evolving community with your favorite friends dedicated to collecting, racing, and customizing cars? Car Clubs in Forza Horizon 2, which can have up to 1000 members, are for you.
IGN: “The Bucket List is basically a list of challenges we’re laying down for the player, saying while you’re in Italy, while you’re in France, you’ve got to do these things. To facilitate that we’re leaving cars around the environment. So you’ll be driving around and you’ll see a McLaren P1, or there’s a Lancia Stratos. They’ll just be parked to the side of the road and you can go up and get into them and then we’ll give you a tuned challenge.
“The cool thing about the The Bucket List is that we’re going to continue to update it post-launch. There’s going to be two complete Bucket Lists for you to get into from day one, but after launch we’re going to keep updating new Bucket Lists to you for free just to keep giving you cool stuff to do within our world.”
My Take: No, we’re not talking about a bad Morgan Freeman movie; Bucket List challenges in Horizon 2 are built to give you more to do with some of the coolest cars in the game.
IGN: “It’s not an exaggeration to say that the day that we flicked the switch on Drivatar technology in Horizon 2, the experience changed completely. Suddenly the races were completely different. The unpredictable skills of Drivatars suddenly have cars going three-abreast into corners, undertaking and weaving. Doing things that only real players would do; computer-controlled AI would never think to, or have been programmed to do.”
The unpredictability of the Drivatars in Forza Motorsport 5 made the racing a lot more reactive and feels a lot less canned, and the same is true for our brief experience of Horizon 2. Opponents took different lines through the fields. Some seemed more adept than others at manoeuvring around civilian cars.
My Take: Drivatar technology transformed circuit racing in Forza Motorsport 5, bringing real human behavior to your races even when you were offline. When Drivatars of your friends and rivals are let loose into the open world of Forza Horizon 2, you can expect new levels of unpredictability and fun.
Stay tuned for more great Forza Horizon 2 content this week as IGN continues to peel back the curtain on this year’s biggest racing game!
[Note: This is the original story – ed]
Forza Horizon 2 is on its way! As revealed earlier today exclusively on IGN, the next great Forza game is coming exclusively to Xbox this fall. With just a week to go until E3 2014 – the big show kicks off on Monday, June 9 with the Xbox Press Conference – IGN is devoting a month’s worth of coverage to Forza Horizon 2 as part of its brand new IGN First initiative, and it all starts today. Go read the story and check out what the editors have to say about the game.
Forza Horizon 2 will take place in southern Europe and will feature hundreds of cars to drive, including the 2014 Lamborghini Huracán, which is the cover car for the game. The Xbox One version of Forza Horizon 2 is built on the Forza 5 engine, led by Playground Games. The Xbox 360 version is built on the original Forza Horizon engine, and is led by Sumo Digital.
All this month, we’ll be keeping you up to date with IGN’s coverage of Forza Horizon 2. We’ll be updating this story on a regular basis to give you the latest information on what IGN is revealing, as well as the links to the stories themselves. In addition, I’ll be throwing in my two cents whenever possible to give you guys some additional insight into the biggest racing game of the year. We’re just getting started, folks, so here’s to an awesome month of Forza Horizon 2 news. Stay tuned, because it’s going to be an awesome ride!