Turn 10 really has pulled off something special with this map. The loops, banks and jumps are gloriously bonkers, with the sections spiralling around the mountain in the middle being highlights in particular.
Since it’s all fairly open, most bits of track give you an almost entirely uninterrupted view of your surroundings, giving you a sense of the sheer scale of the map. You’ll be diving into Photo Mode a lot with this expansion.
If you spot a cool loop or jump you want to hit, good luck finding it. It’s hard to tell what’s what on the map view, and even if you’re right next to a bit of track you fancy tackling, chances are it’ll require a good few miles of twists and turns before you actually reach it. And if you take the wrong fork at some point, you’ll probably find yourself on some crazy, rollercoaster-like section of track that’s not exactly suited for a three-point-turn…
Jumping straight from Byron Bay to Hot Wheels’ loopy tropical island paradise requires a little period of adjustment. There’s something vaguely akin to physics involved, so if you attempt to drive a loop-to-loop or a heavily banked corner too slow, gravity will take over and you will fall off.
Judging cornering speeds in this alien environment isn’t the easiest, and when it comes to the races, a fairly innocuous cock-up could see you tumbling into the sea. The races are arguably more enjoyable than those in Horizon proper though - how can you not love overtaking a car while driving upside-down at 180mph?
There are some classic Hot Wheels-style hot rods that come with the game, most having comedy value V8 engines protruding out of their bonnets and in some cases almost entirely blocking your field of vision when using the cockpit view.
I’ve barely bothered with them, because the ones I’ve tried thus far have been a nightmare to drive. The complete lack of rear-end traction and grip would be fine, if they weren’t so damn snatchy and hard to hold in a slide. Unless you have some serious assists turned on, you’ll be all over the place in these.
Thankfully, your entire garage is carried over from FH3 proper. The only caveat is you’ll need something with a reasonable amount of power to counter the aforementioned effects of gravity.
From the way the annoyingly chirpy radio presenter talks about the whole affair to the giant T-Rex snapping away at one section of track, this is not something which takes itself seriously. I’m particularly fond of the way the speed boost bits are - if you stop to examine them closely - fast-moving conveyor belts strapped to V8s the size of houses. Wonderfully silly, and exactly the sort of escapism you’ll appreciate after a tough day.
Let it be known that I hate the concept of DLCs. I’m (just about) old enough to remember the days when you’d fork out for a complete game with all the cars and all the tracks, and that would be that. But while I find the idea of spending £6 on a handful of cars I’d have rather liked to have received in the original game, £16.74 (or $19.99 in the USA) for Hot Wheels - given the sizeable map and many hours of potential play time it adds to the core game - doesn’t seem too bad in terms of value.
Hot Wheels can be bundled in with the Blizzard Mountain expansion for £27. Blizzard is visually stunning to look at but the tongue-in-cheek, shamelessly silly escapism offered by Hot Wheels makes it the one I’d go for if choosing between the pair.
Any car game that manages to feature a dinosaur is a winner for me…