The Forza Horizon series of racing games representing the Xbox game studio as a company as well as the console device Xbox. Now beyond the Xbox console, it deserves to be called the best racing game. The scope of support has been expanded to include not only Xbox, but also play on mobile via the cloud, and a PC version that meets the release schedule.
Forza Horizon, which has been exclusive to Xbox players in the past, has been released for the third time on PC, and this time, it is more active in the development of the PC platform than ever before. The director himself said that he developed all platforms as target devices. In fact, unlike the previous work, which entered Steam only a few years after the first release, this work will be released on the same day as the console and MS Store, along with Steam.
Forza Horizon 5 is now available for more players to enjoy. Mike Brown, Creative Director of Forza Horizon 5, and Gareth Howud, Technical Art Director, Playground Games, interviewed to hear about the development of the PC version of Forza Horizon 5 to meet more gamers.
Xbox has the next-generation version of its own console, the Xbox Series X|S. However, since it is not easy to obtain, the number of units supplied is inevitably lower than that of PCs. As a result, in Korea, there are likely to be many more users who access the game through the PC version. Director Mike first talked about the advantages of the PC version, which Korean fans will enjoy a lot.
In the case of the PC version, unlike the Xbox console, each player has a different PC with different specifications. Of course, a high-performance PC can experience performance beyond the Xbox console. Even if you look at the simple graphic level, you can see the various scenes that can be experienced in Forza Horizon 5 in higher quality. In particular, if only performance is followed, games can be played at a resolution of 60 frames per second or higher, unlike consoles that have a frame limit as well as high resolution.
In addition to playing at the highest spec, the recommended specs to enjoy the game are also relatively low considering the visual beauty shown in the video or console preview build. High-resolution textures are included, so the capacity itself is larger than 100GB, but if the processor is an i5-8400 or Ryzen 5 1500X processor, and the GPU is a GTX 1070 or RX590, the recommended specifications are sufficiently satisfied.
Director Gareth said the secret of optimization is concurrent testing with scalability in mind. He said that he plans to develop and think about scalability in advance, regardless of whether it is a game or an asset of Playground Games as well as Forza Horizon 5. Through this, it has been possible to release various platforms as well as high-end devices and console platforms already in the development stage.
To this end, we considered various technical factors such as texture elements, perspective shaders, and parallel mapping functions that can be burdensome on various devices. Whether or not lighting is processed per vertex that will not be processed in pixels is also applied in various ways. Multiple setting options are supported so that players can turn on and off various options directly inside the game, so that it can run on a PC with relatively low specifications.
Another avenue for optimizing your PC is testing. Playground Games Office uses a machine that can test five games at the same time. Test and compare games with 5 different devices and different performance with one controller to find improvements. Director Gareth said that by operating so many devices at the same time, it is possible to test more devices than usual to provide an optimal experience for players.
The performance itself is superior to the PC, but the Xbox Series X|S has already applied various technologies that cannot be experienced on the PC yet. Direct storage that utilizes SSD to process more data without CPU load makes it possible to capture more effects beyond improving loading speed. In addition, technologies considered as next-generation technologies such as auto HDR and ray tracing are applied.
And in the PC version, you can meet the technology applied on the console. Various technologies to be introduced through the next-generation OS, Windows 11 and DirectX 12 Ultimate, have already been introduced.
Playground Games plans to introduce various new technologies applied to Windows through continuous updates throughout the lifecycle of Forza Horizon 5. Through direct storage, you can enjoy the game faster by taking full advantage of the performance of the SSD, and with high-resolution textures, you will have more realistic textures of objects, high game resolution, and reduced loading time.
The console also unlocks the frame rate cap of 60 frames per second in performance mode and 30 frames per second in quality mode, as well as support for resolutions up to 8K beyond 4K.
Ray tracing, which uses real-time ray tracing to achieve more realistic light and reflection, is also available on the latest available GPUs. If ray tracing is applied, you can appreciate the texture of the car body and the reflected objects more clearly and realistically. However, ray tracing is limited to Forza Vista, where you can enjoy the appearance of an automobile or ride inside, just like the console.
Just because the ray tracing feature is only available in Forza Vista doesn’t mean it lacks graphics in racing or open world. Rather, the use of light is very natural and realistic, and the development team’s concerns are also included here.
Director Gareth wanted to understand Forza Horizon 5’s use of light sources in the context of scalability. With Ambient Occlusion, more faithful lighting effects are applied across all platforms, and various shadow effects, including contact shadows, have been improved.
In addition to the technical aspects, real light was reproduced and applied physically to realize a realistic light source. HDR is applied to create and implement real-world light directly for various level ratios of the sky seen from afar, as well as for car lights and artificial light sources in games, and the data was imported and tested. This made it possible to implement a more realistic light source.
As important as the application of more diverse platforms, accessibility was important in this work. The game provides options to change the color of the UI or visible elements in the game, such as the size of the subtitles, the emphasis on specific text, and the first, second, and third color blind color filters. These are options that help players who find it difficult to enjoy gameplay without additional adjustments.
In addition to the settings contained in the accessibility menu within the in-game, a menu that considers accessibility in a wide variety of areas such as detailed controls, HUD, and difficulty is included. When asked about the accessibility direction, Mike said, ‘What I learned while making the game is that no matter how many options the user can handle, it is not too much.’
During development, he said, it is not enough for developers to assume that players will want them and provide them with preset settings. He also added that players should be able to customize their own experience while playing the game so that they can immerse themselves in the game more deeply.
Director Mike hoped that through the color blind mode, people who have difficulty recognizing specific color information could enjoy the game without any burden. Furthermore, it supports the ability to adjust the speed of the game itself. If you adjust the game speed, the overall speed of the game will be lowered, so that players who have difficulty responding to the fast speed can adapt to the game.
Although this game speed only applies to offline mode, the developers added various events to enable multiple offline play against AI. Also, slowing down doesn’t slow down the sound, so it doesn’t detract from the gameplay experience.
Playground Games’ direction towards diversity is also reflected in the wider application of the game wheel. In the past, there was a disappointment in the application of the wheel of Forza Horizon, and the controller’s responsiveness was good, so the preference for the controller was high.
But this time around, it includes a number of improvements for racing wheels, as well as a hugely boosted controller assistance system. Through the peace podback and faster reaction speed than before, it delivers realistically even the appearance of bumpy ground that is transmitted to the tires. Director Mike added that most of the brakes and gears on the market can be used as they are by supporting wheels from major manufacturers. He also said that he prefers to enjoy this work with a wheel, and if there is a racing wheel, he recommends playing through it.
Director Gareth mentioned the user’s interest in Steam in addition to the technical aspects previously described about the release of this work on console and PC at the same time. He said he is well aware that many players use Steam as their primary access platform, and that he has worked hard to create a cross-play environment that can be enjoyed regardless of device. The strength of the PC version is also that it can be experienced on Steam without any difference from the MS Store, so you can enjoy the game freely regardless of the platform.
However, unlike cross play, in the case of cross save, the Steam version and the MS Store version are different.
Finally, we asked the fans who will enjoy Forza Horizon on PC a word. Director Mike said that even without an Xbox, PC users will be able to experience a great experience with the best graphics, great open world, more than 500 cars, and high-frame and high-resolution performance. .
Forza Horizon 5 will be released on the Xbox console, MS Store, and Steam on November 9th, and buyers of the premium edition can enjoy the game five days earlier than the official release date.