Forza Horizon 2 has been out in North America since Tuesday, and many of the features that differentiate the series are reliant on networks and servers. Unfortunately, they don't work.
It's really disappointing that getting your game on release day and not being able to enjoy all the features it offers - especially those tied to a network - has become the norm. No matter how many failed launches you see, how many forum posts you read about other games, none of that can prepare you for the letdown.
My copy of Horizon 2 was pre-loaded and ready to go days before the release date. I wanted to start the game as soon as I was done with work, but thought I'd check that Forza Hub app to see what it was about. The app is supposed to be Forza's Waypoint; gathering news, community events and happenings, tracking your Forza Rewards progression and status, and even rewarding you just for visiting it.
All of that sounds great, except none of it actually works. The rewards section was not available, the news section had missing thumbnails, it chugged to get me to the next tab. "Must be launch day," I thought, shrugging it off, and just fired up the game.
After you're done with the game's opening section, you get a free car to use in the first championship, so as soon as I received it, I went straight to livery sharing to download a cool livery for my new car. That didn't happen. The game just sits there for a minute trying to load the tiles, then returns an error message about the servers not being available. Trying again for five or six times won't yield a different result.
So like any person with limited game time, I moved on and got on with the racing. Checking back at the end of the day, it still didn't work. And the next day. And the next and the next. And it's not an isolated case either, players on GAF and Reddit and more are all having the same issues.
So much so, that the developer posted several updates on the forums. Good on them, but it's still isn't fixed.
Forza Rewards, a system designed to give you free in-game cars and currency rewards based on playtime of previous games, also doesn't work. There's a thread with over 160 replies and counting on the official forums, many tweets at the official Forza Twitter, and other places.
What else doesn't work? Car Clubs - a feature which opens up after the first two hours or so of the game - I couldn't search for club names, and being in a club yields many bonuses that you want in this game. The feature worked the next day for me, but it's still down for others.
You may say that all of these features are ancillary at best, tacky at worst, and you might be right, but that's not the point. The point is that these features are some of the few things that set this game - and the Forza series as a whole - apart from other racers. And if they don't work the first ten times you try them, you will never come back to them and you will be missing a vital part of what makes this Forza.
Starting today, Europe and the UK will get to play what I think is an excellent open-world racer. That means more people joining in and clogging the servers, and most of these players' first experience will mirror that of mine and many others. It's definitely not the experience Playground Games and Turn 10 would want them to have, especially not when your console's biggest selling-point is the availability and prowess for your servers.