Gamers, we have a new champion of video game visuals in 2016, and that game is Forza Horizon 3 for the Xbox One and Windows 10 PCs. Although, to fully appreciate its brilliant visuals you must have some up-to-date gear to do so. This includes the Xbox One S and a 4K TV with HDR using the HDR10 standard, so it’s going to cost you if you don’t already have a capable setup. A high-end PC rig should also suffice, but those are even more costly than the new One S.
Forza Horizon 3 achieves its amazing visuals on the Xbox One S through its HDR support, which is the first Xbox One game to include the feature. HDR stands for High Dynamic Range, and it offers much more vibrant colors, deeper blacks, and bright whites. All of which benefit a title like Forza Horizon 3 thanks to its already vibrant graphical presentation and world, which consists of different environments and lighting styles to bring them to life. The game still looks top notch even without 4K and HDR, but the difference with those technologies enabled is as clear as water and worth pursuing if you have the funds and an appreciation for visual fidelity to do so.
Thanks to the Xbox One S’s 4K capabilities, Forza Horizon 3 already gets a resolution boost on the console thanks to its upscaling abilities, which can render standard HD content (think 720p and 1080p) in 4K, or 2160p. This improvement alone is enough to showcase how amazing this game looks on a current-gen console, but the inclusion of HDR support takes it to the next level. With a TV that supports the HDR10 standard (Sony, Samsung, some Vizios, and LGs should) this effect will be enabled automatically once you fire up Forza Horizon 3. While the 4K resolution looks much cleaner than 1080p, it’s the HDR feature that sets it apart from all of the games released in 2016 for consoles.
As promised the HDR version of Forza Horizon 3 has whiter whites, blacker blacks, and more vibrant colors in general, which make the visuals look pristine and near lifelike, especially in terms of the lighting and environments. This effect isn’t one just observable by videophiles either, as HDR support provides a very noticeable upgrade in visual quality that even non-tech heads will realize and appreciate, which can’t really be said for straight up 4K resolution. It’s the HDR aspect of these titles that provides the “Wow” effect so many of us gamers shoot for when we shell out cash to improve our PC rigs, or to buy the latest console featuring new graphical standards.
It’s easy to make the claim today about Forza Horizon 3 being the best looking console title to date, but that may and probably will change with the arrival of more HDR enabled games for the Xbox One S, as well as Sony’s New PS4 Pro, which will be able to render games in 4K as the One S can’t do this. Sony also released a firmware update for the PS4 and PS4 Slim, so once developers release HDR enabled games for the platform, those consoles should also be able to display games with more vibrancy. Although, they won’t be upscaled in 4K, so they probably won’t look as clean as a console that can up a game’s native resolution.
Does this mean you are missing out if you don’t own capable hardware for 4K HDR gaming? Absolutely not, but thanks to the price of 4K HDR enabled TVs coming down and more content becoming available, it does make upgrading a bit more enticing in 2016. Either way games like Forza Horizon 3 should definitely be experienced in upscaled 4K with HDR, so if you don’t own a capable setup, find a friend who does to see just how glorious games can look with the format. I apologize to your bank accounts in advance.
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