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Heavy Metal Affliction - 2554 AMG Dynamics M12S Warthog CST

John Schommer
Thursday, September 1, 2016


At first thought, you may not draw much connection between the futuristic and militaristic world of Halo and the quite Earthly and hard-driving world of Forza Horizon 3. However, with our recent gone gold story and the announcement of the Warthog CST (Civilian Sport Transport) coming to the game, we now have a common thread for those seeking to battle the hordes of the Covenant and those who fight for victory behind the wheel.



Perhaps we telegraphed this eventual possibility when the Warthog was brought to Forza Motorsport 4 in AutoVista mode back in 2011. Certainly, it was cool to get up close and personal with this legendary vehicle, and on September 27th, players will be able to drive it, race it, and experience its true awesomeness. After all, who wouldn’t want to drive one of the most maneuverable and battle-tested vehicles from nearly 500 years in the future?


To get your Warthog CST, you have to have played either Halo 5: Guardians or Halo: The Master Chief Collection on Xbox One. Eligible players will begin receiving codes beginning next week via an Xbox Live Message. Haven’t played any of the Halo games? You will still have a chance to earn the Warthog via a special “Forzathon” event in Forza Horizon 3 event in October.


So there are the preliminaries, now let’s dig into the nitty-gritty of how the Warthog CST came to be in Forza Horizon 3. To do so, we worked with Chris Phillips, Car Handling Designer at Playground Games, to gain some insight into what it took to create a vehicle that doesn’t truly exist and make it feel real. Then we spoke with Franchise Writers at 343, Jeff Easterling and Kenneth Peters, to see what they thought of this amazing collaboration.



Coming to Earth

“The Warthog is possibly the most imposing vehicle in Forza Horizon 3,” Phillips said. “Seeing a fleet of them travelling at speed over the Outback would surely be a fearsome sight.” Quite obviously, it’s perfect for blasting through the rivers of the rainforest, or carving up the dunes of the Outback without complaint. When taking on Playground Games events like “Infected” or the brand new “Flag Rush,” the Warthog CST will certainly be a go-to vehicle.


Traversing fantastic and rugged terrain is what this machine was designed for, and part of translating that to Forza Horizon 3 has meant bringing the longest suspension travel (70cm) of any vehicle in the game, and that includes the bevy of amazing buggies you will find on the roster. Damping is also beyond what any current technology can do.



Considering the massive size of the Warthog FAV (Force Application Vehicle) it simply wasn’t feasible to directly co-opt it into being Earth-friendly, so a new model was conceived between Playground, Turn 10, and the folks at 343. “We had to think about how the world of Forza Horizon 3 differed from the Warthog’s natural habitat,” Phillips said. The M12 CST is 33 percent smaller and 50 percent faster than the FAV. Also, the FAV’s rear-wheel-steering feature would have made the CST unstable at high speeds, so it was excluded from development.


Similar to when the Chryslus Rocket 69 was brought to Forza Motorsport 6, there was no real-world data to draw from to build the vehicle or determine its driving characteristics. According to Phillips, “[We were required] 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.”



As you can see, powering the beast is a twin-turbo V8 rather than the hydrogen-burning internal-combustion engine (ICE) of the FAV. To create the Warthog’s awe-inspiring engine noise, the Turn 10 audio team led by Nick Wiswell worked with 343 to define how they wanted it to sound. “The Warthog is a big badass vehicle, so we looked through the library for some of our most aggressive V8’s and started from there,” Wiswell said. The amazing result is a combination of five different engine recordings. Can you guess what they were?


What Would Chief Think?

Speaking for both Master Chief and Spartan Locke, Easterling and Peters both agreed that these Halo Marines would feel a bit vulnerable without a three-barreled 12.7mm machine gun or a rocket-launcher in the back. Also justifiably, ” [Halo fans] might have to spend the most time adjusting to the fact that no one is trying to take you out!” Easterling said. (At least with a weapon, that is. Anyone who’s played “King” in the Horizon series knows all about driving for their lives.)



“I imagine the Master Chief would feel right at home bounding through the Australian Outback,“ Easterling said, “Locke on the other hand – I almost imagine him to potentially be better suited to the glorious Lamborghini Centenario.” Peters, on the other hand, says it’s not the car, but the driver, that counts. “Both the Chief and Locke strike me as mission-focused and pragmatic, so they’d drive a Reliant Supervan III if it was task appropriate,” Peters said.


Halo fans might imagine an off-duty UNSC officer escaping High Command headquarters in Sydney for a weekend of rest and relaxation while exploring the Outback and considering the similarities it shares with the Sanghelios badlands of the Halo universe…



From Halo to Forza

Not only is the CST slimmer and faster, but it’s street-legal. “Treat the M12S as a demilitarized trophy truck that crushes competitions and not the Covenant (for now),” Peters said. Because this version of the venerable Warthog is fully drivable, it had to deliver the driving experience that Halo fans have grown to love and meet the expectations of racers that are accustomed to the cutting-edge physics of Forza games. Taking both into account, the CST is both rugged and fast. Easterling sums it up like this: “[The CST] is far more suited to the Paris-Dakar, rather than Le Mans.”



The challenge to bring the CST to life versus just to show off its looks increased the stakes and required innumerable emails between the three studios. Producers worked tirelessly, sharing assets such as 3D models and animation samples back and forth to ensure authenticity. All the while, Halo universe fictional context wrapped every stage of development so the vehicle truly had a place in both games.



What does it mean to Easterling and Peters to see the Warthog come to life in Forza Horizon 3? Here’s what they had to say:


Jeff Easterling: “To finally be able to drive the most iconic vehicle from the Halo series I adore across the incredible expanses of the racing franchise I love the most is almost indescribable, and to help make it happen is super fulfilling on multiple levels.


Kenneth Peters: “To me it means, ‘Maybe there’s a chance we can get a drivable Ghost in Forza . . .’


JE: “THIS IS WHY WE CAN’T HAVE NICE THINGS, KENNETH. Although now that we’re wishing for things, I’d love to see a take on a 26th century LMP1 car…”



As you can see, the Warthog CST is a natural fit for Forza Horizon 3. Look further and you will find a lot in common between the two franchises and their communities. Each has a diverse variety of ways to play. In Forza you have racers, tuners, painters and Forzatographers and, in Halo you have forgers, competitive players, lore-lovers, and machinima makers. Halo even has had a strong racing community from its past.


So whether you’re a Forza fan who’s always wanted to test the Warthog against your favorite vehicle, or a Halo fan looking to experience something that is both familiar and completely new, the Warthog CST was created for you. Now get ready to put it to your best use!


343 has also shared some details of the Warthog CST’s coming to Forza Horizon 3 in a special edition of their Canon Fodder series. Check it out for yet another perspective on this amazing collaboration.