If Forza Horizon 3 is the standard for Play Anywhere, sign me up
Forza Horizon 3 fever has hit the SA Gamer office pretty badly. We haven’t seen Dawid for weeks, but we can find him on Xbox One where he accepts party invites and talks about cars. A lot. We aren’t even sure if he is eating or sleeping but he is level 172, so I guess he is getting sustenance in some way that he can keep performing in the races.
In fact, the bug has bitten me too. There is something about the game, the celebration of fast cars and beautiful locations that just segue into one another, the crazy fantasy of it all that really appeals. The game is seriously fun and is as casual or intense as your want it to be. Like assists and the AI giving you a chance and making you feel like an amazing driver? It does that. Or want more of a challenge in exchange for better cash rewards, more XP and bragging rights? Just bump the difficulty up a bit.
Whenever I get a PC version of a game I feel slightly nervous. Will this be a shoddy port? Am I going to be stuck at 30 fps? Will the graphics options be a link to changing the gamma and nothing else? Thankfully this is not the case here. You have full control of the graphics of the game, or if you dislike fiddling and are not sure what all these post-processing and anti-aliasing and anisotropic filtering are all about, there are recommended options and a dynamic optimization setting that changes your graphics options as required to keep you at the targeted frame rate and have things super smooth.
If your GPU isn’t beefy, the game can limit the frame rate to 30 to make sure things are smooth. A GTX 960 2GB card can get around 40-50 fps at 1080p on medium settings, with some dips at high speeds or in busy areas, like the cities. When you start playing at 21:9 you need a pretty beefy GPU. Even a GTX 1060 dips below 60 fps on 2,160 x 1,080 to around 55 or so before the dynamic optimization kicks it back up to 60.
The game looks really beautiful and if you think the countryside looks perfect, just wait until you see it at 21:9. As George Takei would say, oh my! I would share shots of how nice it is but the Game DVR system still needs some work. Even shots when my car is parked have a lot of things out of focus.
That seamless mix doesn’t just apply to the game’s various biomes or the graphics settings. The ability to party up with friends, join their game and race around is so well done that I can’t believe we haven’t been doing this forever. Here I am, at my PC playing a multiplayer game with Dawid on his Xbox One. I don’t need him to fire up Skype on his notebook and keep it next to him on the couch for chat, as far as he is concerned I am on my Xbox One too, except I am actually in Windows 10 with the Xbox app open for party chat and looking at achievements, with Forza Horizon 3 giving my GPU a nice workout. No mess, no fuss. Just play. I can’t believe how invisible the system is that you aren’t aware of anything special being done to make it all work together.
If this is how the ‘Play Anywhere’ system is going to work going forward, and the quality of the PC version for those games will be this high, I think I will be spending a lot of time playing games with friends on their Xbox One. Now I am going to spend the rest of the day trying to get good screenshots… for work of course.