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Forza every year: Can Microsoft keep it fresh?

What will Microsoft bring to Forza Horizon?

The new issue of XBW is on sale now.

The next Forza won't be coming from Microsoft's Seattle-based Turn 10 Studios this time round. Instead Forza Horizon will be made right here in Britain by the all-new super-studio Playground Games.

Playground was established in January 2010 by a group of ex-Codemasters veterans and sold Microsoft on Forza Horizon - originallynamed Forza World - quickly enough to justify an almost unprecedented recruitment drive. Thistime last year Playground Games employed a mere eighteen people. Now they employ over one hundred at their Leamington Spa studio, with talent from across the UK's games industry, and more multi-discipline racing game expertise than just about any studio on Earth.

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There's a track designer from MotorStorm, an environment artist from Driver San Francisco, a vehicle artist from Criterion, and a character artist from Need for Speed: Shift.

Take just a quick glance at Playground's recruits and it seems they poached half the people who worked on Race Driver: Grid, and took on innumerable refugees from the Project Gotham and Split/Second developers at Bizarre Creations and Black Rock.

Horizon's first trailer teases clear roads and wide, open spaces. Chopped together from stock footage and licensed music, Horizon's sizzle video is all supercars blazing along desert roads, city streets and country lanes. In-game footage will have to wait until E3, but Horizon is a different direction for Forza, taking it off the track and onto the open roads for the first time in its history.

Turn 10's support for Forza 4 will continue up until Horizon's release. Last year Microsoft kept EA from putting Ferraris in Shift 2 so EA returned the favour by blocking Porsches in Forza 4; money heals all wounds, and Forza 4's May 22 Porsche expansion includes twenty Porsches, twenty new events, and ten new Achievements. DLC packs will continue until the autumn when Playground release Horizon.

Playground have only been fully staffed up since February, so that release date seems improbable, but the British team are almost certainly repurposing Turn 10's engine and assets library for their road racer, just in time to fill Forza Motorsport's off years. Turn 10 and Playground can tag team on Forza the way Infinity Ward and Treyarch tag on Call of Duty - Motorsport in the odd years and Horizon in the evens.

Instead Forza Horizon will be made right here in Britain by the all-new super-studio Playground Games.

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Turn 10 have already announced a 2013 release for Forza Motorsport 5, and with Microsoft's next generation console due in the autumn of next year it's unlikely to be a current generation game. Horizon is the last big racer in a generation of driving games that Forza has dominated.

We'll have more in June.

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