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Hog on the Horizon

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ISSUE 87

This week, we’ve got a very special edition of Canon Fodder for fans of not just one, but two franchises. Yesterday, the teams at Playground Games and Turn 10 Studios celebrated Forza Horizon 3 going gold by announcing one more legendary addition to their already-stalwart stable of vehicles. That’s right, Halo’s beloved Warthog is back in a Forza game, and this time, it’s drivable, baby.

Way back in 2011, the venerable Warthog made its debut in Forza Motorsport 4’s Autovista mode, allowing fans to get an incredibly detailed look in and around their favorite Spartan-trolley like never before. However, while the Warthog in FM4 certainly looked the part, it was only able to be seen – not driven. That all changes in Forza Horizon 3, as years of longing will finally come to fruition when Halo and Forza fans alike get the opportunity to hoon Halo’s iconic off-road beast alongside a host of modern rides across some of Earth’s most challenging terrain: Australia.

Today we want to give you a preview of what is awaiting Halo fans looking to take the Warthog for a spin when Forza Horizon 3 hits shelves and hard drives on September 27. And by the way, playing Halo on your Xbox One is the only way to get this puppy in your garage when the game launches – the Warthog will be sent as a free download to everyone who has played either Halo 5: Guardians or Halo: The Master Chief Collection on Xbox One, with eligible players to begin receiving codes to download the Warthog via an Xbox Live Message during the coming weeks. Haven’t played either of these games, but still want in on the action? Have no fear, as players will still have the chance to earn the vehicle via a special “Forzathon” event coming to Forza Horizon 3 in October.

So enough chit-chat – mount up, strap in, and let’s ride.

WHAT IN SAM HILL IS A PUMA?

The 2554 AMG Transport Dynamics M12S Warthog CST is positioned as a civilian transport alternative to its militaristic cousin, the M12 Force Application Vehicle. This isn’t the first time that colonists have had their opportunity to get their hands on a Hog. Halo fans are no doubt familiar with the more luxurious – often colored brilliant gold – strictly civilian model (think a bit more “H2 vs Humvee”). The M12S is a bit of a different beast, though. Forza fans might think of this as more of a homologation special or track-day car – just like a Viper ACR is basically a road-legal race car, the M12S Warthog CST is essentially a road-legal war-mount.

While you won’t find a turret installed on this version, its strength is now equally matched by its speed, thanks to a 720 bhp twin-turbo V8. The Warthog CST in Forza Horizon 3 is also ideally suited for the rough and tumble landscape of Australia. Roughly 25% smaller than the FAV and around 33% lighter, the M12S eschews the more ubiquitous 4-wheel steering of the FAV in effort to sacrifice low-speed manoeuvrability for better high-speed handling and performance. The M12S also boasts the most advanced suspension in FH3, featuring 70cm (!) of total suspension travel and showcasing damping values out of any other vehicle’s league in the game.

THE PERFORMANCE

Vehicle Layout: Front-engine, AWD, 2 Seater

Type: Twin Turbo 8L V8

Power: 720bhp at 6500rpm

Torque: 855ft/lbs at 3200rpm

Top Speed: 119mph (limited by gearing)

0-60mph: 3.7sec

0-100mph: 9.81sec

1/4 mile: 12.4sec @ 109.4mph

THE PROJECT

It’s an understatement to say that working with our awesome partners at Playground Games and Turn 10 Studios has been a blast! There are unsung heroes on both ends of the process who have worked tirelessly to ensure that the driving experience provided by the Warthog in Forza Horizon 3 is just as rewarding for Halo players as it is for Forza drivers.

We sat down with one such hero from the talented team at Playground Games, Chris Phillips, to talk to him about the process of realizing the Warthog in their new title.

GRIM: Hey Chris! To start out, from the perspective of a modern-day motorsports-focused franchise, what excites you about being able to include a vehicle like the Warthog in Forza Horizon 3?

CHRIS: When crafting a car list it’s important to ensure cars that speak to our inner child make the cut. These are cars that are included not because they have notable race victories or set a new record for sale price at auction but because they are just fun to drive and experience. The Warthog is exactly this, a car that makes that inner child get excited, not only because it is fun to drive but because it is one of the most iconic vehicles in video game history.

GRIM: So with the Warthog being “born” from video games, how does creating a vehicle from another “purely digital” source compare to let’s say taking a “real world” car like a Viper or Zonda and prepping it for inclusion within a Forza game?

CHRIS: The main difference is that “real world” cars have “real world” data; they can be benchmarked and measured to produce all the data we need to create them in game. The Warthog not only differs as it comes from a game world but also because this is a new “Earth” variant; the M12S Warthog CST. The CST is an Earth based version, requiring for us to approach it as if we were AMG Transport Dynamic engineers with the technologies of the mid 2550’s available to us in order to create the car’s data; this made working on the Warthog very unique and exciting process for us.

GRIM: I can imagine! Can you talk a little bit about the partnership process between the Forza and Halo teams? How was the experience working alongside another game franchise on a project like this instead of simply working with another auto manufacturer?

CHRIS: The process for the Warthog was very different. Normally we replicate cars that already exist; we research the car thoroughly, including getting detailed information from manufacturers directly, this is then used to implement the car as accurately as possible in game. For the Warthog this data didn’t exist, instead we first had to work together to determine how it would function in an everyday Earth environment, something that we have never really had to consider before.

GRIM: What would you say is your own personal favorite aspect about driving the Warthog in Forza Horizon 3?

CHRIS: For me it has to be its ability to traverse all terrains with ease. It is the perfect vehicle for just exploring Australia, from blasting through the rivers in the rain forest to carving up the dunes in the Outback; it does it all without complaint.

GRIM: Makes sense the all that experience traversing exotic alien worlds would prepare the Warthog well for dealing with Australia. If you had to compare the Warthog to other vehicles in the game, which ones feel most similar to the iconic UNSC all-terrain monster?

CHRIS: The most similar cars to the Warthog are our most extreme and purpose built offroad racers, cars like the 2015 Baldwin Motorsports #97 Monster Energy Trophy Truck.

GRIM: Hmm, I wonder if you could put a turret on that… Anyway, to close, what is it about Forza Horizon 3 that you feel most perfectly suits the Warthog driving experience?

CHRIS: The diverse and open world of Forza Horizon 3 gives an environment perfectly suited to the Warthog and its incredible off-road capabilities, whether it’s wading through the sea or blasting through the gorges it never feels out of control.

GRIM: Sounds awesome Chris. Thanks so much for joining us and for all the work you guys poured into this!

It seems no matter who we talk to, every member on every team is absolutely stoked to be able to deliver this awesome experience to fans. Here’s what Turn 10 Studios Creative Director, Dan Greenawalt, thinks about the project:

“In Forza Horizon 3, you can explore Australia in over 350 of the world’s greatest vehicles. But it’s not the number of cars that matters, it’s the diversity of cars and experiences you can find in Horizon. For some, it’s about weaving through traffic in an exotic hypercar. But nothing beats hard charging through the wide open outback in the Warthog. Its huge. Its loud. And it can jump sand dunes like a trophy truck. Halo and Forza fans alike are going love it.”

We couldn’t agree more, Dan. In fact, within our own hallowed Halo halls there are a number of unabashed gearheads who count themselves among the numbers of both franchises’ followers…

SCUDERIA 343

For your humble scribe, video games helped ignite a passion for motorsport, and it wasn’t long until it led directly into professional involvement. For almost 15 years, your friendly neighborhood Grim worked in professional sportscar/GT racing, for teams in several series and in a number of capacities – from technical work and race strategy to PR and driver management. One of our team’s cars – the #17 Carsport Zonda GR – was even in the first four installments of the Forza Motorsport series.

Whether it was seeing our Viper GTS-R come home for an improbable podium finish at the Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta, or watching my own loyal steed – a black 3-series BMW named “Heidi” – recently hit the 117k mile mark, I’ve had several memorable bonds with the machines that take us where we need to go. And I’m not alone around these parts; let’s hear from some other fine folks around 343 on why oil flows through many of our Halo-loving veins.

Q: What is your general “car-culture” experience, and could you briefly put into words your love for automobiles and/or motorsport:

FRANK O’CONNOR (Creative Director): I love all things car. I love motorsports, with a deeper fondness for Rally and Formula One – especially old-school bonkers make-up-your-own-rules Formula One (six wheeled 1977 Tyrrel, anyone?). I’m a decent driver, with some experience doing track days and technical 4WD off road stuff, but haven’t done as much as I’d like to. The most difficult car I ever drove was about twenty minutes in a Lamborghini Diablo VT, whose clutch and gated gearing absolutely terrified me – above and beyond the engine. On the other hand, I’ve also driven a Reliant Robin which was equally terrifying – because of gravity and physics. The best looking car of all time is the Lamborghini Miura, and I’d secretly like to get a fully modified whale-tailed De Tomaso Pantera.

KIKI WOLFKILL (Studio Head of Transmedia): I will try to be brief but will likely fail because cars and motorsports have always been a huge part of my life! I grew up jammed in the back of a Porsche 911, and with a father who had raced cars all his life. My earliest family memories were of being at the race track watching my father or family friends race; GT racing, rally racing, Indy Cars, you name it. I first learned to drive when I was 13 and nothing felt more natural then going fast when I got my learner’s permit at 15. I LOVE DRIVING. I also happen to love competition. I raced professionally for almost 10 years and even longer before that as an amateur.

I have been known to take to the streets competing both in the Gumball 3000 and the Cannonball: One Lap of America. While I grew up with and have an affinity for German rear-wheel drive cars, I am not picky when it comes to competition – I will literally race anything anywhere. Getting the most out of any vehicle whether a rental mini-van (the official ‘unofficial’ race weekend track car [I can vouch for this – Grim]), a scooter (I <3 my Vespa), or a go-kart… if it moves I’ll race it. I pretty much watch every motorsport out there when I can. I love Formula 1 and follow it pretty religiously, I appreciate all forms of motorsport so long as the competition is tight; guess it’s just in my blood! [she's not lying... - Grim]

JAMES BACHICI (Lead Playtest Coordinator):  I don’t remember a time where cars weren’t a major part of my life. Since I was raised by my grandparents and my grandfather was a mechanic, engine bits, bumpers, wheels, wrenches and sockets were a pretty common sight in our backyard/garage. I was taught to drive a manual at the age of 11 on a 1983 Ford F-250 truck. It was a bronzy brown; I’ll never forget it. Falling in love with the automobile and racing was therefore inevitable. Since racing cars was so expensive, I turned to videogames instead. I distinctly remember reading up on all the auto manufacturers in Gran Turismo and losing my mind when Forza Motorsport came out on the original Xbox. I once raced against what looked to be a bone-stock Civic, but turned out to be a proper drag-strip sleeper and was depressed for a month. I distinctly recall BMW scoring a 1-2 finish in the Canadian F1 Grand Prix in 98 and smiling for a week afterwards. I consider a car to be one of the best physical expressions of one’s style, values and even character – and I think this applies to both the creator (manufacturer) as well as the user.

KEVIN PAUL (Program Manager): Briefly: I wanna go fast -Ricky Bobby, 2006. Longly: My growing obsession with the Forza Motorsport series is what inspired me to go out and try my hand at motorcycle track riding. I didn't care much for motorsports (or racing games, really) prior to that, but there's something awfully satisfying about chaining corners together and shaving tenths of seconds from your lap time. Washington has a couple of great tracks and a welcoming community of riders and teachers that make it fun and safe to learn how to put a knee down. Now I can't get enough MotoGP and WorldSBK coverage and I'm branching out into F1 as well. Aside from track riding, I still get out on the weekends to carve canyons at a responsible speed.

LANDIN WILLIAMS (Video Editor/Lord of Epic Trailer-making): I guess you could consider me a part of the “Fast & Furious” generation of car nerds. The original movie came out just when my friends and I were getting our licenses, and I’ve been into cars ever since. I spent a few years driving my 2001 Honda Civic before I was introduced to Initial D – a Japanese anime that solidified my love for cars and more importantly drifting! I’m all about style and drifting is the epitome. Many will say it’s the coolest thing you can do with a car…and I tend to agree! By combining my love for drifting with my childhood hobby of shooting skateboarding videos I ended up landing a job at Turn 10 Studios back in 2006 after re-creating an episode of Initial D in the original Forza Motorsport. As you can imagine this was very early in the world of videogame machinima, and my now long-time mentor – and fellow 343-er – Che Chou (who worked at Turn 10 at the time) caught wind of the video and e-mailed me. The rest is history! I went on to create over ten stunt drifting videos in various Forza games with my team Project Blackjack while also working as the Cinematic Lead on Forza for many years. This would explain the amount of drifting that ended up making its way into the game trailers and eventually the game itself ;)

Q: What are some of your favorite cars you’ve owned or driven over the years?

FRANKIE: I’m what you’d call a mid-range enthusiast whose dreams are deeper than his pockets. I’ve driven loads of stuff over the years, from a brief stint with a company-leased Ford Escort RS Cosworth, to Formula Ford racecars, to beach buggies, exotic sports cars and beyond. Sadly, until recently, my full-time grown-up cars have been boring or value-minded. But I’ve loved ‘em all. A Nissan Micra, an Audi 90 (5-cylinder sedan), a Mazda Protégé, a Honda Fit (oh boy, when the VTEC kicks in…) and a Mazda CX7. The latter just got traded in for a 2017 Audi A4. My first proper big boy car. It’s comfy, quiet, quick off the mark (0-60 in 5.3 seconds according to a leading car magazine test. I of course would never drive like that.) and it literally has a better nVidia GPU than my current home desktop PC. I love it. And am terrified of dings and scratches.

KIKI: I have admittedly owned and driven a lot of cars in my life… it’s definitely a personal indulgence. I’ve owned everything from a Mazda rotary truck (rx-7 engine + my first car) to a ’79 VW Rabbit (PRE-catalytic converter) to BMW Dinan-tuned M-Coupe (still one of my favorite cars). I’ve raced mostly Porsche and BMW with a Panoz Esperante GT thrown in for good measure. I’m currently swapping between an Audi RS5 and a Porsche Cayman S because everyone needs both a V8 and a V6 in their lives

JAMES: My family traveled frequently, so I had the privilege of seeing a lot of European countries and in turn, drive a fair bit of their roads. Also as I mentioned earlier, my grandfather was a mechanic, so that didn’t hurt. Whenever I had to drive in a foreign country, I did my best to try and drive a car that was actually FROM that country. In France I drove Citroen’s and Peugeots. In Romania I drove Dacia. In Germany (my favorite) I got to drive Mercs, Audi’s and BMW’s and this one time, in Singapore, I got to drive a Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder. I know, a Lambo is Italian, but hey, I wasn’t going to turn down a chance at driving the raging bull just because it wasn’t “home turf!” But honestly, ask anyone that knows me and they’ll tell you I bleed blue and white. I’ve had more BMW’s than anything else. My current car is a 2010 BMW 335i M Sport Manual, and my favorite car I’ve ever driven has to be the original E30 M3. It’s the car that embodies BMW at its apex and is, in my opinion, the genesis of what the “Ultimate Driving Machine” motto stands for.

KP: Motorcycles called to me from an early age and they're pretty affordable, so I started riding when I moved to Seattle (and kept it a secret from my mom for years). After finishing MSF, I started with a Suzuki GS500, then moved on to a Yamaha FZ6 and a track-only R6 that was as fast as it was terrifying. I recently upgraded to an Aprilia Tuono which is just a beast and downright beautiful from every angle. I would park it in my bedroom if I could manage the stairs.

My car history is more functional than fun, my first car was a 92 Honda Civic that died when I reached Seattle. The BMW 328i that replaced the Civic drove great but had frequent problems, so I got a Honda Ridgeline to make track days easier. Just last year, I replaced the truck with a 2006 BMW M5 which I had lusted after since its introduction. That was simultaneously the best and most irresponsible decision I've ever made. While I have no regrets, I do have a mountain of service receipts in the glovebox. 10/10 – would buy again.

LANDIN: When I moved to Seattle for the T10 gig I had to get rid of my pride and joy…the 2001 Honda Civic, however by this time I was obsessed with another compact: the Toyota Corolla GT-S also known as the AE86 or Hachi-Roku. Initial D got me…I’m an absolute Toyota/Corolla nerd and will probably drive one until the day I die. The driving experience is something I haven’t been able to find anywhere else, and they’re a great platform for drifting. I currently own two Corollas that I’ve built in my garage over the years. One for the street (1985 GTS Hatch) and another purpose built for the track (1987 GTS Coupe). You can find me driving at Pat’s Acres Racing Complex in Canby Oregon with music blasting and tires smoking… [Check out Landin drifting his beloved Toyota here in this epic shot from Chris Haas at everythingdrift.com - Grim]

HALO CARS

While sometimes it’s tough to stop and smell the petrol in between skirmishes with angry alien species, plenty of fans have payed close enough attention to notice several different types of civilian vehicles scattered about the various Halo games. Whether it’s in the darkened streets of New Mombasa or on a colorful billboard adorning a multiplayer map, we thought it might be fun in fitting Fodder-fashion to take a slightly closer peek at some of Halo’s lesser known rides.

MLX

In its nearly forty-year production lifespan, the MLX has developed a fervent cult following, its chassis highly modifiable and extremely sought after by modern hot-rodders. MLX factory-supported motorsport teams routinely stood atop the podiums of several different 26th century sportscar racing series.

ÜBERCHASSIS

Billed as the “Quintessential Auto Experience,” the Überchassis is widely held as the standard-bearer for sport luxury vehicles, routinely employing exotic drivetrain configurations and propulsion systems to stay on the cutting edge of transportation science.

HUCIV GENET

The Genet is a popular high-volume coupe, with several model trims ranging from eco-accessible, to track-ready. A number of municipal law enforcement agencies have contracted with HuCiv to provide durable high-performance police interceptors based off of the Genet, including the New Mombasa Police Department.

KABORD DEWMAX

Originally based in Vallejo on the colony of Ballast, Kabord’s robust high-occupancy transit vehicles have earned favor from a wide variety of clientele, and can be found in a diverse collection of settings – from corporate fleet lots to down by the river.

HUCIV FOSSA

Produced locally on a half-dozen colony worlds, the HuCiv Fossa fills a niche for cheap, reliable ground transportation in urban areas.

And with that, we wrap up today’s adventures. We’re not done yet, though. If you want to learn even more about the new M12S Warthog CST, you’ll definitely want to keep an eye on ForzaMotorsport.net tomorrow for a very special edition of their awesome Heavy Metal Affliction series. In it, they’ll detail the nature of bringing your favorite Puma-tired off-road Chief-hauler to the Australian outback in Forza Horizon 3. Also, keep an eye out for the upcoming installment of This Week On Xbox, which will feature a special segment that sees Major Nelson joined by Dan Greenawalt, Kiki Wolfkill, and a larger than life special guest – don't miss it. And don’t forget to be on the lookout for Xbox Live messages containing your code to redeem for your very own Warthog in the upcoming driving game.

Forza Horizon 3 will be available on September 27, but if you preorder the Ultimate Edition, you can get the jump on the competition with early access beginning September 23. I mean, c’mon… think of the possibilities with the Forza livery editor.

Until next time… Live well, play Halo, and when in doubt, go flat out.

-Grim

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