If you’re a diehard PC gamer, you probably don’t have much of a history with the Forza franchise. This traditionally console-based series dipped its toe into the PC market with the free-to-play release of Forza Motorsport 6: Apex earlier this year, but Forza Horizon 3 marks the first simultaneous release on console and PC. And now that it’s been in the wild for a few days, we’re starting to see exactly how far Playground Games and Microsoft can push this engine on high-end PC hardware.
Even though Horizon 3 runs relatively smoothly at 30Hz on the Xbox One, the recommended specs for the Windows 10 version of the game are surprisingly high. The developers think you should be running at least a Core i7-3820 CPU, a GTX 970/R9 290X graphics card, 4GB of VRAM, and 12GB of RAM for a 1080p experience. Want to run the game at 2160p? Well, the “ideal specs” are listed as a Core i7-6700 CPU, a GTX 980Ti/R9 Fury X graphics card, 6GB of VRAM, 16GB of RAM, and an SSD.
After fighting with the Windows Store for a few days, the Digital Foundry team has finally given the game a once-over on a top-tier setup. With a Core i7-6700K and a Titan X Pascal, 2160p at a solid 60 frames per second was achievable as long as the anti-aliasing was configured to use FXAA instead of 4x MSAA.
Having spent a significant amount of time with the Xbox One version, the jump to 60fps alone is enough to make the PC footage stand out. Add in the longer draw distance, better textures, and higher resolution options, and it’s clear that the Windows 10 version of the game is the one to play — as long as you have a rig that can handle the heavy load.
Of course, it’ll be possible to run the game on cheaper hardware, but you’re going to need to compromise on graphical fidelity. If you’re rocking an older card or a less beefy CPU, you’ll likely want to lean heavily on the dynamic optimization option to keep your frame rate up at the expense of some of the bells and whistles.
On the console side, you’re going to be limited to 1080p for the time being. However, the Xbox One S will upscale the image to 4K, and the game supports HDR on day one. Early reports haven’t been particularly positive about either of Microsoft’s implementations, but some minor tweaks and firmware upgrades down the road might make the standard Xbox One version of the game look a bit better on UHD TVs.
When Scorpio hits store shelves next year, there’s a distinct possibility that we could see an update to Forza Horizon 3 that allows for a 30Hz experience at a native 4K resolution. But since we’re not expecting Microsoft’s next console to hit until Q4 2017, Forza Motorsport 7 will almost certainly be scheduled for release around launch.
Sadly, that could mean console gamers might end up waiting two more years before we get a 4K Horizon title. If you planned on holding off on playing Forza Horizon 3 until the release of Scorpio, you might be in for some disappointment. You’re probably better off either playing the game at 1080p on an existing Xbox One, or spending big on a high-end gaming PC for a native 4K image.