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Put the Hammer Down (Under) in Forza Horizon 3

Ever wanted to take a spin on the sun-drenched highways, beaches, jungles, and country roads of Australia, but can’t stomach long flights? Microsoft Studios and Playground Games have you covered – Forza Horizon 3, the touring-car companion to the critically acclaimed racing simulation Forza, is set in the Land Down Under, bringing you beautiful locations and even more beautiful automobiles to drive. This time, in addition to the bevy of supercars and trucks, Forza Horizon 3 will offer players a shot at true off-roading with buggies and jeeps, as well as plenty of off-the-wall racing challenges.

At the Xbox Showcase at E3 2016, we got hands-on time with the game and, right out of the gate, the controls felt as solid as ever. Driving the cover car – the Lamborghini Centenario – not only feels fast and powerful, but it’s easy to pick up and play. You don’t need years of expertise in driving simulators to have a blast here, even if you’re driving the supercars; the game has the optional driving line superimposed directly onto the road, so it’s easy to learn proper braking, turning, and acceleration, and you can spend your time enjoying the absolutely gorgeous scenery.

When you’re done tooling around, though, Forza Horizon 3 will present you with a series of challenges. At the Showcase, we had the chance to take a dune buggy and race against a classic military jeep – the twist being that the jeep was being carried by a cable attached to a gigantic Chinook helicopter. This type of racing challenge is typical of the Forza Horizon series, and gives players a chance to take the world’s greatest (and some of the not-so-greatest) cars and put them into unusual situations without stressing about split times, all while enjoying some sweet tunes on the game’s many integrated radio stations.

Forza Horizon 3 will also feature up to four-player co-operative gameplay, allowing players to seamlessly jump in and out of their friends’ games, with each game syncing up in real time to match the host’s time-of-day, weather, and traffic conditions. Friends can take on challenges together or challenge each other to races – but of course, if you’d prefer to simply drive through the many realistic, Australian locales, such as the Great Ocean Road outside Melbourne, you can do that, too, in a huge variety of unlockable vehicles.

Coming this September 27, Forza Horizon 3 will be one of the first titles released in Microsoft’s Xbox Anywhere program, allowing cross-platform play on both the Xbox One and Windows PCs, seamlessly, across the globe.