Skip to main content

Ex-Forza Horizon devs and Skins co-creator want you to ‘fall in love with’ the characters in their story-led open-world driving game

Studio Maverick Games was opened in 2022 by ex-Forza Horizon 5 creative director Mike Brown

Racing through woodland in a Forza Horizon 5 screenshot.
Image credit: Playground Games

It’s been a little while since we last heard about the untitled open-world driving game from Maverick Games, the studio opened a couple of years back by ex-Playground Games veterans including former Forza Horizon 5 creative director Mike Brown. We still don’t know what the team’s new game is called or when it might hit the road, but we have been given a few more snippets of what to expect and news on who’ll be helping pump up its tires and fill it with fuel as publisher.

As well as the obvious racing game experience of the Playground devs (along with other devs who’ve worked on open-world games like Sea of Thieves and Cyberpunk 2077), the untitled driving game is mixing in an element that Brown and team feel reckon will set it apart: a closer focus on its story and characters, with what Brown describes as a “human connection”.

“Lots of great driving games have amazing gameplay, amazing content,” said Brown. “But to really cross that bridge, to become a game that people genuinely love, then there needs to be that human connection where you’re actually rooting for these characters, falling in love with these characters.

“That, I think, is a place where our game will be able to really differentiate itself from the other titles in the genre. There’s nothing about this genre that prevents it from having amazing characters and amazing stories - it’s just not really been explored yet.”

The leadership team for Maverick Games, comprised of several Playground Games and Forza Horizon series veterans.
Image credit: Maverick Games

Helping with the “narrative-led” portion of the game is lead writer Jamie Brittain, who co-created Channel 4’s era-defining noughties teen drama Skins. Brown said that Brittain’s knack for creating characters who are “flawed and actually a little bit weird - just like the rest of us” (though presumably quite good at driving regardless) will come through in the game’s story. While Brown mentions that "human connection", I quite like the idea of a gritty Cars-like world full of sentient vehicles going to driving school by day and partying in grotty clubs by night.

Maverick is now up to more than 60 devs from the ten or so that founded it back in 2022, and has inked a fresh deal with Amazon Games to publish their debut “AAA” racing game across PC and consoles - making it Amazon’s latest game after the likes of MMOs New World and Lost Ark, with Crystal Dynamics’ next Tomb Raider game and a Lord of the Rings MMO also in the works. Brown, for his part, claims that Amazon have backed the team’s efforts to “foster an environment of creativity and risk-taking”.

Read this next