The Forza Motorsport series has always been about car fans – an ever-growing community of passionate car lovers who love every aspect of car culture found in the Forza series. Now, Forza has a new way for fans to explore and enjoy the Forza experience on Xbox: Forza Rewards.

Race through a massive wide-open world featuring dramatic weather and day to night cycles. Instantly connect with friends in the ultimate celebration of speed, style, and action-packed driving. Explore beautiful and exotic locations in more than 200 of the world’s greatest cars, all created with precise detail in 1080p.

The setting this time around is southern Europe – specifically, Italy and France, with their combinations of cobblestone roads, vast crop-covered fields and, if you’re feeling a little more cliche, asphalt-covered highways. The original Horizon event was set in Colorado, but this time the team at Playground Games have set their sights on more exotic locations across Europe. Forza Horizon 2 is not just a location change this time around, there is so much more to this title than that.

Once you arrive at the festival and choose your first car, you’ll join a road trip, the game’s primary means of advancement. Each road trip will take you to three of the six locations in the game. Once you reach your destination (an event of its own), there will be four races to choose from. These constitute a championship, which you’ll need to win 15 of in order to participate in the Horizon finale. But before I could invest in any of these events, I had to explore the world the developers had created.

This is one of the most stunningly gorgeous games I’ve ever played. From the rolling hills to the cobblestone streets and the architecture of the French Riviera, there might not be a more scenic open world game on the market. Even the weather effects, the lighting and the dirt that cakes on your car after an off-road expedition look nearly photorealistic. Horizon 2 is definitely a showpiece for the Xbox One.

Once you’re done exploring, it’s back to the track. Each championship — of which there are 168 — focuses on a specific class of automobile. In the city streets, you’re more likely to drive a Mercedes-Benz or a Lamborghini. Out on the countryside, you’ll decide on either a Land Rover or a Jeep. All in all, there are well over 200 cars to choose from in Horizon 2, so you’ll never have to be behind the wheel of any one car for too long.

In addition to stock standard normal, rally and mixed races, Horizon 2 throws in unique events like a race between your car and a stunt plane squad, or your car versus a bullet train. The variety of the game, alongside the culture of the part-car show, part-party Horizon Festival, makes for a joyous experience. Also thrown in the mix are Most Wanted-like breakable billboards – A-frames in Horizon 2‘s case, providing XP and fast travel boosts — and barn finds. Finding a barn means you’ll get access to the antique car that’s been stored inside of it. My favourite find thus far is a sick VW campervan. Of course, before you can purchase any of those expensive rides, you’ll have to save up your credits. Each completed race rewards the driver with credits and experience. If I had one major complaint with Horizon 2, it’s the speed with which I acquired credits. By the end of a championship, I typically had just enough to purchase a car for the next one, but never enough to go on a spending spree.

The game wants you to get out there and interact with fellow gamers, through trading paint jobs and tuning engines, checking out one another’s cars at meets or taking players head-on in Online Road Trip or Free Roam forms. Online Road Trips are the way to go, as you’re pitted against others with a bit of structure involved. Online Free Roam is great with friends and extends the gameplay that much further.

Before release Forza Horizon 2 boasted its weather mechanics on Xbox One, and boy does it deliver. The game is as its finest in the rain, at night and under the glow of the Horizon Festival’s lightshows. It’s breathtaking.

The Bucket List challenges, meanwhile, are a cool new feature that task players with finishing bite-sized objectives, such as hitting a high-speed in a supercar or getting to a destination before sunset in a classic Ferrari.

Plenty of stuff that worked in the first game returns here, too. Whether you’re searching for rare vehicles hidden in dilapidated barns, knocking over XP boards strewn throughout the map or outfitting your favourite ride with an expensive new tuning setup, there’s no shortage of things to keep you busy in Horizon 2.

If you are looking for a racing game that delivers and will have you picking up the controller day after day then you best thank Turn 10 Studios for delivering one of the finest racing game to date.