This probably wasn’t the content that Forza players were asking for, but sometimes you don’t know you want something until you actually get it. With the Hot Wheels expansion, Playground delves into new territories as the Forza franchise gets a chance to show its more playful and lighthearted side.
Right off the bat, the expansion throws us into the fray as we’re launched onto the tracks of Thrilltopia, the newest installment in the Horizon festival. The asphalt roads and dirt of Australia make way for a giant network of bright plastic roads, twisting and turning across this island just along the coast. It’s pretty much clear right off the bat that this franchise in the festival is a different beast altogether (if the Hot Wheels branding didn’t make that clear in the first place, of course.)
Rather than focusing on a different type of motorsport like the Blizzard expansion, players are now thrown into the most outrageous style of gameplay that the franchise has seen as of yet. Featuring twists, turns and even loops, all suspended high in the sky, a completely different style of gameplay takes over as the familiar physics of Horizon are mixed with the wild imagination we all had when we were kids, boost pads and all.The handling model of the game hasn’t really changed (of course, this is a case-by-case basis, including the new cars), but the new surfaces and the crazy layouts of tracks do make for quite a challenge when it comes to making your way throughout the courses. Highly banked turns, loops, boost pads and more make for a very different style of driving. It’s such a departure from the main game, though in a very refreshing way, offering a much-welcomed change of pace to keep things fresh.
Thrilltopia’s Horizon festival consists of multiple tiers of races, ranging from class-to-class as players make their way to the final “Goliath” event. Players progress through the festival by earning stars, of which 3 can be earned per race. The stars are earned by not only winning events but by completing additional objectives, such as achieving a certain skill score or beating a specific lap time. You don’t have to win all of the races to reach the final event but in all honesty, in all of the fun, it’s pretty hard to resist to do so. Additional stars can also be gained by completing drift zones, speed traps and such, which all consist of 3 stars as well, along with a new bucket list.
The Blueprint system has been changed up a bit for this expansion as well. Rather than focussing on car classes and such for each race, Hot Wheels offers us the ‘Stunt Swap’ system, which lets us swap special segments throughout the track. These usually consist of a few elements, but the system is quite limited in terms of customization, which made me ignore the feature most of the time because it didn’t really change that much.Thrilltopia’s environment is a little bit more linear than the main game and the Blizzard Mountain expansion due to its course-style. Other than a few small islands of sand down below there aren’t a lot of sections to go off-road, but this, for me, was pretty much a non-issue as this actually works towards the expansion’s strengths. The new map is stunning and fun to explore. Despite its smaller size than the main game, its replayability doesn’t seem to suffer that much either due to its more active and fast-paced style of play.
In all honesty, nobody, me included, ever expected Playground Games to take this route with its next expansion, but I’m very glad they did. Whilst it may not cater to players who want a more down-to-earth arcade experience, the Hot Wheels expansion is a breath of fresh air in a genre that nowadays often seems to take itself a little too seriously.
The Hot Wheels expansion pack may not be what players were expecting from the franchise, but by combining both the spirit of the main game with the insanity of the brand, Forza Horizon 3: Hot Wheels is about as much fun as you can possibly have.
The Windows 10 version of this game was played for the purpose of this review. You can read our review policy HERE. Performance may differ on Xbox and PC’s with differing technical specifications.