Aquiris Game Studio’s arcade racer Horizon Chase won a lot of people over with what it had on offer, attracting a healthy audience on every platform it landed on, from mobile to consoles. The developer has now taken a major step forward with Horizon Chase 2, which recently launched for mobile devices and looks to be a significant step up over its predecessor in a number of ways, from fully 3D environments to the addition of online multiplayer. Recently, we reached out to its developers and shot across a number of questions about the racer, learning quite a bit in the process. Below, you can read our interview with Horizon Chase General Manager Nando Guimarães.
"The full 3D scenario now allows us to create especially immersive tracks that take the players directly into the many locations and landmarks, such as cruising through Sao Paulo’s main neighborhoods, or going deep into Florida’s Caverns."
What was behind the decision to release a full-fledged sequel to Horizon Chase rather than keep on supporting it with new content the way you have done in recent years?
Our objective with the sequel was to provide our playerbase with additions suggested by our playerbase during these even years of Horizon Chase alongside updated technology that would provide us grounds to try going even beyond –– be in content or gameplay. Of course, all that without ever losing the arcade racing spirit, the unique art-style and the signature gameplay that are the main pillars of the franchise.
Like its predecessor, Horizon Chase 2 very much seems like a tribute to old school arcade racers, but there are some clear and obvious gameplay evolutions here as well. Can you talk to us about the process of striking that balance?
The online Multiplayer allows players to get into a crew of up to four friends and race every other game mode together, or just compete with other people in the Playgrounds. The Car Upgrades are now done individually for each vehicle. The Garage Shop provides a good set of choices for players to customize their vehicles. The tracks themselves have evolved with different gameplay elements, such as the speed up pads, the break the box time-attack challenges, and much more that we intend to deliver to players through updates: new rewards to unlock, challenges to beat, places to visit and gameplay to explore.
Horizon Chase 2’s track design is probably the area where it’s seen the biggest changes from its predecessor. What would you say are the biggest improvements the game makes on this front?
The full 3D scenario now allows us to create especially immersive tracks that take the players directly into the many locations and landmarks, such as cruising through Sao Paulo’s main neighborhoods, or going deep into Florida’s Caverns. It adds up not only as an evolution to the game look and feel, but also enables us to create different experiences to the race, like the branching paths, the sprint races that are end-to-end with no laps, and even more additions we would like to provide with upcoming updates.
Car customization is one of the key new headlining features in the game. How extensive should players expect this aspect of the experience to be?
HC2’s customization allows players to change the car’s body, rim and paint. The intention is to provide an interesting level of options for the players to play with and identify with their vehicles –– which are, after all, the true heroes of Horizon Chase 2.
"The intention is to provide an interesting level of options for the players to play with and identify with their vehicles –– which are, after all, the true heroes of Horizon Chase 2."
What does the addition of online multiplayer bring to the game? Do you think it will breathe even more life into the experience where post-launch support is concerned?
Online multiplayer is, in fact, one of the most mentioned features our player base suggested over these seven years of the franchise. Horizon Chase 2 now allows players to race through every game mode in a Crew of up to four players. Be it in the World Tour from start to finish, or while racing online against other people in the Playground –– which can also be done solo.
Speaking of post-launch support, can you talk us through your plans for Horizon Chase 2 in the coming months and years in a broad sense?
The Playground offers a periodical challenge, where players race against other people and earn tickets to unlock time-sensitive rewards (such as new bodies, rims and paint for their vehicles). The major content drops, though –– which we would like to provide more than once or twice in a year –– will deliver a whole new location to tour, complete several different tracks to run, specific vehicles, challenges and customization sets. Some with new gameplay mechanics to experiment with.
Like its predecessor, will Horizon Chase 2 eventually make its way over to consoles as well?
Yes. We are working for a PC/Console launch in 2023.
Given that you have now worked on all the current gen consoles, I hope you don’t mind answering some questions about their hardware. Since the reveal of the PS5 and Xbox Series’ specs, a lot of comparisons have been made between the GPU speeds of the two consoles, with the PS5 at 10.28 TFLOPS and the Xbox Series X at 12 TFLOPS. How much of an impact on development do you think that difference will have?
The impact shouldn’t be that big with development itself, as it would give developers much more freedom to maintain high quality settings. The challenge is often how to tone down so a game runs smoothly on low-end devices, too.
The PS5 features an incredibly fast SSD with 5.5GB/s raw bandwidth. How can developers take advantage of this, and how does this compare to the Xbox Series X’s 2.4GB/s raw bandwidth?
I believe both devices should allow developers to load and run the many visual effects and treatments to lighting, environment, props and animations while controls and responsiveness are kept at top performance.
Both the PS5 and Xbox Series X boast Zen 2 CPUs, but there is a difference in the processors of both consoles. The Xbox Series X features 8x Zen 2 Cores at 3.8GHz, whereas the PS5 features 8x Zen 2 Cores at 3.5GHz. Your thoughts on this difference?
Both are real processing powerhouses that should make any well made game run smoothly. They show outstanding resources to explore and push the quality bar even further.
"The major content drops –– which we would like to provide more than once or twice in a year –– will deliver a whole new location to tour, complete several different tracks to run, specific vehicles, challenges and customization sets."
The Xbox Series S features lesser hardware compared to Xbox Series X and Microsoft is pushing it as a 1440p/60 FPS console. Do you think it will be able to hold up for the more graphically intensive games as this generation progresses?
I honestly think that gameplay and immersion are what actually count for in a good game. Advanced technology may promote those objectives as it often provides a richer experience to players. Yet, in all honesty, I treat graphic intensity (and complexity) as added value.
Super Resolution is coming to PS5 and Xbox Series X/S. How do you think this will help game developers?
Playing a racing game with super resolution sounds like a thrilling experience to be had. Improving the player’s immersion is definitely a big help for developers as it may raise even more interest in the game.
What are your thoughts on the Steam Deck? Do you have plans for any specific optimizations for the device?
Personally I think that the Steam Deck is a nice hybrid choice for some players. Our optimization plan is ongoing so we will be able to define specific details and strategies about this and other devices in the near future.