Forza Horizon 4 is so good that if you haven’t bought an Xbox One yet, this may be the reason you’ve been waiting for.
For those who played the previous Forza Horizon games, the core formula stays relatively unchanged from the previous games, as everything centers around the Horizon Festival. This time, Forza Horizon 4 is set up in the UK (the countryside, you’re not going to racing around London unfortunately) but the series continues with its theme with choosing picturesque locations as it’s extremely rural and really rather beautiful.
The setting is unmistakably beautiful and the attention to detail is incredible, down to the tiny British details such as road signs, roadworks, traffic lights are road markings. This all adds to the overall feel of the game, and it really does feel like running down old country roads, as the country roads take you home, to the place where you belong, West Virginia! Wait, hang on.
The main selling point from Forza Horizon series is giving people the access to drive around and create their own adventure, from the start the map is unlocked and it appears to be smaller than the map in Horizon 3, however, the map is actually incredibly detailed and dense and spanning over 500 roads.
The main difference between Horizon 3 and 4 is that the upgrade mechanics that are centered around upgrading the festival are completely gone, instead Horizon 4 has houses around the map that can be bought, this in turn unlocks perks and fast travel points.
The newest feature is the season system, this is billed as more than just a weather system including the day to night cycle, the environment looks and feels different as you progress through the different seasons. During Autumn, there’ll be oranges and browns littered across the Horizon world, leaves thinning and more frequent rain, the winter will bring snow, ice and a general freezing feeling. Spring has a feeling of fresh and outbursts of sun, and finally the summer season is bright and clear, but also stereotypically British rain.
Seasons has a direct impact on gameplay as it affects how the world lives around the player, when starting the story mode, you’re first faced with the task of qualifying for the Autumn championships, then the world is free to live and change as it pleases, the seasons change weekly for every player at the same time.
When saying that seasons has a direct impact on gameplay this means that every vehicle handles extremely different in every condition meaning that braking distances change, handling models change and differ on how corners are taken, it almost handles like a completely new game.
Seasons also bring their own races and championships, allowing the game to be kept fresh and allowing players to keep engaged, as in the past, Horizon games can get rather samey as they leave players to create their own fun.
When looking even closer, the detail in the graphics really is breath-taking, the mud, snow and sand all deform the look of the car, and the light through the trees will bounce off the cars. This is because much like the update in Horizon 3, the sky acts as an HDR light source, meaning that the world is lit in a realistic way, this is pushed forward with the Xbox One S and X processing powers.
As well as the seasons system, another huge change of Horizon 4 is Horizon Life, this will have the player completing different PR stunts, discovering hidden parts of the map and progressing on some sort of story, rather than leaving the player to create their own story.
Horizon 4 keeps with its friendly tone of being pick up and play, as it isn’t the winning that matters, it’s the taking part as it’s not necessary to win every race, just to earn influence as this is the main reward system. This game can be catered to all different levels of players, as the AI can be changed on the fly to give everyone the most rewarding gameplay experience.
The racing of the game is split into five main categories – Road, Dirt, Cross Country, Drag and Street racing, as expected for Horizon 4, there are the usual showcase events that are more flair than practicality but still fun either way.
Forzathon continues to bring fresh challenges and unique awards to players to allow players to keep plugging away at the title for months and years after release, much like I did with Horizon 3, the want to complete everything, drive down every road and complete every event.
A huge feature is that up to 74 players can share the same server at the same time, even though Drivatars are back and you can run around and see other players exploring the Horizon 4 landscape, (however, these players are in ghost mode, so they won’t be taking you off the road, but the ghost mode ends when starting a multiplayer activity.)
As before, Forza rewards players for teaming up and taking on adventures, either with a matchmade lineup or driving around with actual friends, meaning that you’re judged as a group and not as an individual, so you may want to reassess your friendships before taking the crew online.
Horizon 4 can be played solo, meaning offline, but the very best experience comes when being connected to Horizon Life, this acts like a living and breathing hub, allowing players to get to grips with the game through the help of other players as this uses the integration of Xbox Clubs.
As good as Horizon 3 was, there was always that something missing and Horizon 4 fills that void, even though there are small gripes here and there, such as character renders look slightly out of place, and the inclusion of character emotes with the god-awful Floss from Fortnite, but it can be pretty much forgotten about within this massively engaging title.
Forza 4 Horizons
Forza Horizons 4 opens up the great British countryside in the latest game in the series, proving that Forza Horizon is still the best racing series around.
- Beautiful British countryside
- Massively multiplayer
- Massive open world
- Difficult season changes
- Best played online
- The Floss dance emote