Why Forza Horizon 2 wants to be the imperfect racer

"It's one of those kind of things where we recreated that in the game but it wasn't until we had the Xbox One that we could do it right because at lower resolution it looks like visual artifacts, it looks like bugs. But at 1080p it looks like the real thing, and it's cool because car guys see it and theyre like 'oh wow man, they even recreated orange peel'.

"The cool thing is that the people who don't know what orange peel is or don't know cars, they see it and they just say 'man that looks real, I don't know what it is but theres something very real about it and it's because that's how they're used to seeing things in the real world with these slight imperfections. Machine marks on the brake rotors, the orange peel in the pain, these little micro scratches in the headlight covers and things like that, those are the things that, whether they consciously process it or not, they're used to seeing. And when they see it in the game there's something very comforting and real about it."


Blame it on the rain

Forza Horizon 2 runs at 1080p on Xbox One but sticks to 30fps, which ruffled a few feathers among gamers when it was confirmed. But Wendl says it's all part of the "balancing act", telling us that the game's weather system was the main culprit.

"Honestly a lot of it was the open world, but also the dynamic night and day lifecycle. Along with rain. Rain is a very heavy effect, with particles and drops and reflective surfaces and things like that. It's a very expensive environment to render, and you combine that with an open world and dynamic time of day, and Playground felt like, and we agreed, in order to get the level of visual fidelity with those features they would go to 30. And we agreed for that game in particular, because it's more of an open world and not such a serious simulation racer, they could afford to give up our framerate a little bit to get that over the top visual spectacle."


So what of the state of the racing genre then? Is it in need of a shakeup, or is it a case of just waiting for some fresh meat on the new consoles?

"I don't believe there's anything drying up," Wendl tells us. "I think racing is bigger and better than ever. I think the response to Forza 5 has been great, the response to Driveclub will be great, and when a new Gran Turismo ships on the next gen as well I'm sure that will be great and people will love it.

"I think the situation with Need for Speed is just that it's a development challenge. They went through some turmoil with different developers and they had some turnover, and hitting an annual cadence is a hard thing to do. We've been doing it for the last four years now and it's not easy so it doesn't take much to go wrong to miss that window.

"So for them to stand back and say 'you know what, we're actually going to hurt our franchise if we try to ship something this holiday, lets regroup, let's try to figure out the right thing to do'... I'd be very surprised if they don't come out swinging next holiday with a great product as well. I haven't seen any indication that that space is waning or that customers aren't very passionate about it. In fact, there are better efforts being put into it. and I know we haven't seen the last of Need for Speed."

But until then we have Horizon 2, Driveclub, The Crew and Project Cars to look forward to. Don't call it a comeback.

Hugh Langley

Hugh Langley is the ex-News Editor of TechRadar. He had written for many magazines and websites including Business Insider, The Telegraph, IGN, Gizmodo, Entrepreneur Magazine, WIRED (UK), TrustedReviews, Business Insider Australia, Business Insider India, Business Insider Singapore, Wareable, The Ambient and more.

Hugh is now a correspondent at Business Insider covering Google and Alphabet, and has the unfortunate distinction of accidentally linking the TechRadar homepage to a rival publication.