The yearly regular for Xbox, the Forza franchise has another iteration releasing this year from the Horizon series. Year after year the franchise switches between track based and open world.
Every time a Horizon game has released, it has been easy to see the differences in the game and the improvements made upon the previous entry. Forza Horizon 4 is no different, from the get go you can see that you are in for an absolute visual masterpiece, I can only imagine what the Xbox One X enhancements look like as they must have been astonishing.
The game starts off the same as the demo, so if you’ve played that you’re going to be familiar with the start of the game. For those who haven’t played the demo, the game starts by taking you through a series of races showing you the different seasons that are available within the game. It gives you a small taste as to how the different seasons can affect the driving conditions.
The seasons are the first thing that I am going to talk about. This is a new feature within the game where there are dynamic seasons. It doesn’t seem to work on a date system where time passes and as time passes the weather gradually changes and the seasons become apparent. It based on your influence and once you get to a certain influence level, you can go onto the Autumn, Winter, Spring, Summer festivals. The seasons are dynamic I think because of the changing weather, you could have beautiful skies one second, followed by a brutal downpour of rain. Welcome to Britain.
Another thing that the seasons do is change how the tracks race. A course you’ve driven in the summer isn’t going to be the same in the autumn or winter. In the summer you may have a wonderfully dry track, perfect for driving, but in the autumn or winter, the track is going to be wet, covered in puddles and could have snow on them. This means that cars will act and react differently to the conditions, meaning that it’s not going to be a smooth ride this time. I have to admit that I loved this, it does means that no race was going to be the same when ran multiple times over different periods, the changes in the tracks condition provides a nice little challenge. Another thing I found was that there were places inaccessible during the spring, summer and autumn, however in winter with frozen lakes you could access other places. Which did mean that there was only certain events that could be obtained and completed during the winter months. Don’t worry though if you don’t get to do it first time round, you can always try again when Winter rolls around.
I love how the cars handle in Forza Horizon 4, this is always the same from other games in the series and across the franchise as a whole. The driving mechanics are always tight and love how each car has its own personality in how it sounds, drives and feel. Even playing with a controller you always feel you have a good hold on the car.
The usual suspects in skills and wheelspins are still in the game. Skills are pretty standard and the same as last time out where you can get bonus influence, cash, XP etc. Wheel spins again give you free items such as in game credits and cars, but there is a difference this time round, you can have super wheel spins that give you 3 spins at once and also give you the opportunity to get something rare.
One piece of customisation that I really liked within the game was the ability to customise your driver in different outfits, gloves, hats and more. You can also unlock different items and full outfits from wheel spins. The one I’m loving at the moment that comes from the James Bond car pack and that is the new and old Bond suits… Schaken, not Schtirred….
There is plenty to do within the game with your standard road race, off road races as well as the ‘unofficial’ street races, you can participate in the showcase events as well, one of which has you racing against a hovercraft… There also the standard danger signs to jump as well as the speed cameras and speed zones. Mix that with the sheer size of the map and there is plenty of hours of fun to be had. Smashing boards around the world has also been included in it, one being for influence and another for fast travel, with the more fast travel boards that you smash, the cheaper fast travel becomes with the festival paying the full amount for fast travel when you have all the boards.
If you’re struggling to find all the boards, you can purchase ‘treasure maps’ which will show you certain boards or all boards around the world map, making it much easier for you. Another feature I liked from the last game was the finding barns feature. This makes a return in Horizon 4 and again gifts you with old cars once they’ve been reinstated to their former glory.
The one thing that did disappoint me was that there wasn’t much change in the things that you can do different from Forza Horizon 3. A change that I did like was a sort of story element to it with the movie stunt driver story. That was very good and I enjoyed doing those, however in terms of other things it’s pretty much more of the same. However, you can look at that and say, if it ain’t broken, don’t fix it. The core of the game has been kept there while introducing new elements to it and I personally think that they have got the balance spot on again.
There was one thing in Forza Horizon 4 that gave me a nostalgic nudge from my youth and that was parts of the landscape within the game. Growing up in North Yorkshire and crossing the moors regularly to get to Whitby and Scarborough, the grassy high hills with purple lavender peering out the ground reminded me of this and it was nice as it reminded of good times going to the harbour in Whitby and playing on the beaches.
Drivatars are once again in the game and I have to admit that I haven’t had any problems with them in races or generally in the world. The online element to the game worked pretty flawlessly for me, I had other reviewers in my game session just drive up along side me and challenge me, the notification was there and away we go. When the notification pops up it also tells you whether it’s going to be an easy or hard challenge, which I’m guessing is down to the specific cars that you’re driving at the time.
I have to admit that I was excited for this game when I saw it at E3, and I’ve had every right to be excited for it. The sheer size of the world, the landscapes available, there is such diversity to the game in terms of where you’re driving and what you’re going to see, from your typical British road works to a tractor holding up traffic. The game captures the wonderful essence that is British life, from your vast fields, large valleys and bustling towns right down to the seaside resort your nan took you too for an ice cream on a Sunday as a treat. (Just me?)
If you’re a fan of the series and love racing games, I implore you to try this game, there is a demo available that beautifully captures what the game is trying to do. To be honest I don’t think I can credit this game enough and would say to anyone to at least try the game as I know you won’t be disappointed.
- 4K Graphics