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How Drivatars are Changing Forza Horizon 2

by Eric Frederiksen | June 13, 2014June 13, 2014 5:30 pm PDT

There are some series I love, but, for whatever reason, I end up not picking up one sequel or miss a year in the iterations. Maybe a handheld version comes out and I miss that.

But Forza Motorsport, I own every Forza Motorsport game that has hit the shelves. The Forza Horizon series was a risk for Microsoft, but it paid off in the end and the first Horizon became one of my favorite titles in the series. Suffice to say, I’m excited to see what Forza Horizon 2 can add to the Forza name.

I had a chance to run a race in one of my favorite cars, the Nissan GTR Black Edition, and then had a short chat with Turn 10 Design Director Jon Knoles about how Drivatars are changing Forza Horizon 2.

Despite being under development by a different studio – Playground Games – Forza Horizon managed to feel like a Forza game while offering a more arcade-like experience. There was obviously some interaction between Forza Motorsport developer Turn 10 and Horizon‘s Playground Games, but it’s an even bigger part of Horizon 2, thanks in part to Drivatars.

Horizon 2 picks up on some of the changes we saw in the last couple Motorsport iterations. Progression is more like Forza Motorsport 4, for example. Forza Horizon had you climbing the ranks and taking on boss characters. It added some variety, but it also made for some particularly annoying races that you couldn’t really work around.

Now, you can progress how you want. There is gameplay for every car, Knoles said, and you won’t be forced into new cars to progress if you’re particularly attached to a given car. Experience raises your driver level and driver level opens up new wristbands. Anything that brings in experience – random pick up races, event races, and showing off your skills will all help you progress.

Those bosses are actually completely absent this time around. Drivatars have replaced all drivers in Forza Horizon 2.

The open world, though, means that Drivatars had to undergo some serious changes. Their actions aren’t taken as literally as they were in Forza Motorsport 5, according to Knoles. It’s more about overall style. How fast you go and how aggressive you are matter, but how you brake in a given corner doesn’t hold much sway in a game where you can leap off the road and into the dirt. In fact, Drivatars have behaved in some surprising ways.

“Drivatars started taking some unexpected paths off-road, searching for shortcuts,” Knoles explained. “Those shortcuts eventually became part of the new cross-country events.”

Those Forza Horizon Drivatars have contributed back to Forza Motorsport 5, as well. What the team found is that some of the Drivatars weren’t seeing other cars.

That guy who rammed into you while you were taking a corner? He wasn’t being a dingleberry. He literally didn’t know you were there.

While the Turn 10 team has been working for the last nine months scanning and building Nurburgring into Forza Motorsport 5, the Horizon team has been experimenting with Drivatars. These new findings will work their way back into Forza Motorsport 5 before too long.


Eric Frederiksen

Eric Frederiksen has been a gamer since someone made the mistake of letting him play their Nintendo many years ago, pushing him to beg for his own,...

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