Forza Horizon 2
Microsoft and developer Playground Games have just released a demo* for Forza Horizon 2 on Xbox One in advance of the game's September 30 release, and we took it for a spin.
The demo (clocking in at over 10GB) contains the game's opening cinematic and setup, letting you select your first car and participate in a handful of events. Although it is from the full game's opening, remember it's just a slice of the final product.
After picking from three cars (Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X GSR, Audi RS 3 Sportback, or Bowler EXR S) you can choose one of two races that comprise the Castelletto Modern Rally Championship: a cross country or circuit race. Naturally, the cross-country race introduces you to the game's point-to-point, all-terrain racing, while the circuit contains laps. The cross-country race has checkpoints that you must go through to continue the race. Miss one and you'll be automatically set back on the course unless you go back and cross the checkpoint within a few seconds. I missed one during the demo and found that while there doesn't appear to be catch-up A.I. that makes the cars wait for you, It wasn't impossible to catch up to the racing pack. The cross-country race is also a good chance to see what kind of XP you'll garner for going off road, like plowing over fields (landscaping), getting air, and hopping your car (kangerooing).
The demo also features the game's first Bucket List challenge. These will be littered throughout the world, and put you in a specific car to complete a certain objective for money and XP. This one tasks you with racing a Koenigsegg Agera at a minimum speed through a speed trap a few miles away. Like in the full game, you can return to this spot at any time and retry the challenge.
Finally, you can participate in a Showcase race along the coast against a trio of jets screaming through the same checkpoints you're going through.
The demo does not contain the full game's one-button switching between online and offline, as you must enter the pause menu to go into the demo's online free-roam mode. Here you can play through the demo's events – including trying to hit the Bucket List's speed trap with another online player.
The full game contains Road Trips which are like playlists where everyone follows each other seamlessly from event to event, as well as car meets where you can trade tuning setups and perform other interactions with real players.
The world Playground Games has put together looks great, and the day/night cycle and weather really help it come alive. Traffic gets in your way, and the area as a whole feels genuine. Although the demo pens you into a defined area, you're free to cruise around and smash through XP and discount billboards and find speed traps. After playing just a little bit I'd discovered 23 of the area's 41 roads and earned enough XP to attain level three. Despite leveling up, the demo didn't feature the prize wheel for XP and credits, which will be in the full game, nor the skill tree that enables fast-travel around the world and other perks.
Avatars are populated in the demo, but you cannot challenge them to races when you encounter them. It was interesting, however, to see their behavior; veering off the roads and exploring the environments just like a real player.
If you're interested in playing the full game, check out this recent news on how to get eight free cars right out of the gate.
*This demo strictly applies to the Xbox One version of the game. A demo has not been announced for the Xbox 360.