Since the late 1960s, the Hot Wheels brand has been an iconic part of growing up. Yes there has been Matchbox to ensure the younger petrol heads were kept happy, but if you wanted something a bit ‘out there’, then Hot Wheels were the cars to be seen with.
But since the advent of the videogame, and the huge rise in its popularity, playing with toy cars has been on the wane. Instead kids have been glued to tablets, phones and consoles like the end of the world was nigh. It therefore makes complete and utter sense for the Hot Wheels name to make its way to the video gaming scene, and after a few drops in the ocean with Hot Wheels car packs for Rocket League and both Forza Motorsport 5 and 6, it’s time for them to hit the big time with a full-on expansion for Forza Horizon 3. An expansion which delivers a whole ton of fun.
On the face of it, Forza Horizon 3 and Hot Wheels are a match made in heaven. Whilst the Forza Motorsport series could probably be thought of as the more serious ‘Matchbox’ racer, the Horizon series, and the latest title in particular, can most definitely be mentioned as the ‘Hot Wheels’ equivalent.
Miles upon miles of the iconic orange and blue track has been airlifted to a number of small islands off the coast of Australia, with the Hot Wheels team lovingly creating loops, twists, jumps, mechanical dinosaurs and more for those who want to do nothing but race. And with those loops come new events; new races, new championships, new speed zones, new drift zones, new barn finds, new bonus boards to smash and five new Bucket List events for you to get involved in. There are even some brilliantly recreated Danger Sign jumps that have been given the Hot Wheels treatment, seeing you jumping through a blazing ring of fire. If you’re familiar with what Horizon 3 brings, then you’ll not find anything massively different, as the events are what we’ve come to know and love, but as is always the case with something that comes with the Forza name attached, it is all of very high quality.
A slight change from the standard FH3 formula though is the way you progress through the Hot Wheels expansion. Much more in line with the Blizzard Mountain star system, Hot Wheels brings in medals instead of the default fan accumulation way of life we are used to in the base game. This works well, and is simple to understand – race well, cross the finish line first and hit a specific objective each time and you’ll gather up to three medals which unlock further races and events. With faster car classes coming attached to your progress, and one huge Goliath race signalling the culmination of your efforts, you’ll find that the Hot Wheels expansion takes up a good couple of hours of your time. Even more so should you wish to collect all 177 available medals, before running through all the unlockable Championships that it also brings.
New cars have also been dropped into the action and even though you don’t have to utilise them, it wouldn’t be Hot Wheels without us having the chance to speed around at stupid speeds in the likes of the iconic Twin Mill, Hot Rod or Bone Shaker. It’s a joy to find yourself behind the wheel of such vehicles and they have been, as you would expect, lovingly recreated for Forza Horizon 3 players to race with.
Of course, should you bore of driving round in circles alone – although the sweeping bends that the new tracks bring rarely let that happen – you can drop in on the multiplayer side of Hot Wheels. Again, those familiar with the FH3 online scene will be glad to know that the Online adventure, free roams and Rival events are ever present, bringing a number of competitive options. Additionally, the brilliant co-operative and private sessions will allow you to play the game your way. It all yet again just works as intended.
For as good as the Hot Wheels expansion is though, there are a couple of little niggles I have with it. Firstly, the tracks, loops, banks and more that make up the entirety of the events are just too tight, twisty and unforgiving for the super fast S2 class cars to really be enjoyed. In fact, should you be one of those who race primarily in the fastest car classes, and prefer to run with the Rewind feature switched off, then you’ll probably find yourself getting hugely frustrated with the combination. Thankfully, anything from S1 class and down are near perfect fits though and aside from the few latter races that require the use of an S2 motor, you can easily manage to speed your way through everything included with the ‘slower’ classes.
Additionally, the whole open world, free-to-go-anywhere vibe that the Horizon series plays on is cut down a notch or two with the linear Hot Wheels tracks. Granted, you can easily decide to not hit their verticality and just mess around on the beaches down below (and you’ll need to do that in order to pick up the numerous XP boards available), but once you get driving round the tracks, will find that it’s a pretty restricted affair. Your use of sat-nav will be vital in order to help you navigate your way round the interlocking circuits, but thankfully the one included in Horizon 3 is absolutely top notch.
But those are two very picky negatives and overall the Forza Horizon 3 Hot Wheels expansion is another stunning addition to the Horizon experience. If you are done with everything that has come before it, and need some new races to get involved in, or just want some fun for you and your mates, then the price asked is a good one… if only for the huge amount of fun you’ll find on the iconic blue and orange tracks.