The Horizon Festival comes to Britain with a full 4 season cycle! Find out if that’s enough to keep this series on top in our Forza Horizon 4 Review!
|Release Date||October 2, 2018|
|Developer||Playground Games/Turn 10 Studios|
*A copy of this game was provided to FYIG by Xbox for review purposes*
The Forza Horizon series is quickly becoming one of the most reliable series for the Xbox brand and as predominantly PlayStation gamer for most of my life, it’s one of the reasons I bought and Xbox 360 and decided to get an Xbox One. The series has evolved a lot over time and Forza Horizon 4 manages to pull everything that made this series the powerhouse that it is together with a completely new dynamic. The huge range of cars, the great graphics and sound quality, and the robust career mode are all back. The game didn’t rest on its laurels though and the developers ended up adding in changing seasons and a plethora of dynamic challenges and rewards. There’s never a dull moment in Forza Horizon 4.
Seasons work in a really smart way in Forza Horizon 4. Each real-time week, the in-game season will change and the whole in-game world will change to that season. Along with this, you’ll also have season-specific challenges and barn finds to keep you busy as well. If that’s not enough for you, you’ll still have new Forzathon challenges every day. There are even Forzathon Live challenges every hour for you and up to 11 other people online. I played one of these challenges last night. The challenge consists of 3 rounds, mine had a 15-minute time-limit, but I’m not sure if there are longer ones than that. We had to reach a set total goal in a speed zone, drift zone, and then another speed zone. It was fun seeing all the players fly past each other trying to get to fill the meter before the time ran out and it was extremely gratifying when the 5 of us in the challenge ended up completing it with 2 minutes left. I can see these challenges being extremely fun.
The traditional Horizon experience is still present in all of this, but it has been tweaked a little bit. There are still hundreds of activities spread across this massive open-world, but this time they’re separated into different disciplines for which you can level up. There are regular events like street racing, drag racing, rally racing, etc, and all of those feature their own levels. If you like drag racing, for example, you can finish off all those events and get some great rewards for getting to the highest level. The great thing is that you also level up as “Explorer” for finding bonus boards and such as well as things like playing Playground Games, Danger Signs, Drift Zones, Team Adventure, and Speed Zones just to name a few. There are so many cars, so many things to do, and so many ways to customize that you constantly have something to do.
Now, if you’ve played The Crew 2, you’re automatically going to think all this talk about disciplines and the fact that both allow you to play in the same world as others sound incredibly similar. It’s not really even close, these are two vastly different games. Forza Horizon 4 is an online shared-world racer, but it’s not a requirement. You still race against the AI unless you choose to race against other human players, but you can see everyone doing their own thing in your world. You can play entirely offline if that’s the way you like to play (but I can’t see why you’d want to). If you do manage to lose connection, the transition is seamless and it’s something you won’t even notice. Team Adventure Mode is the newest game mode and will allow you to play Playground Games, races, and a mix with a variety of different players on two separate teams both vying to win the most events. I didn’t have a lot of experience with this in the review period, but the couple sessions I got into were pretty wild. I can see this being the next big thing in the Horizon series.
I rarely play online in many games these days, but I love the connected world in Forza Horizon 4. It’s a different type of experience that I wish more games had. I want to see other players’ cars and characters and feel like this world is living and breathing. It creates more of a connection to the game, in my opinion. The great thing about it is that the cars are ghosted on contact which means, they can never affect what you’re doing in any way, this even extends to Forzathon Live events. I couldn’t imagine completing those challenges without the ghosting feature. The only time collisions come into effect is when you’re in a convoy of other players.
Since I’m on the topic of Forzathon, there’s an important note to make here. Points awarded from winning Forzathon challenges become a secondary in-game currency. These points can then be redeemed at a separate shop for rare cars and other vanity items. I will say that most of this stuff can be won by leveling up as well so that dampens the novelty a little bit. The Wheelspin returns and there is now a Super Wheelspin that grants you 3 rewards at once. The spins have been pretty generous to me so far and I’m hoping that continues. I’ve won countless cars and about 1 million credits already in just a week or so of playing the game. I’m also proud to say that there are no microtransactions and all performance upgrades are available for in-game credits, not gated behind wheelspins or microtransactions. There are tons of clothing options and various emotes for your character to use that give you a little bit more of a personal touch than we’ve seen in past games and you’ll be winning lots of those as you level up as well. It’s not something I care about too much, but it’s nice to have those options.
Forza Horizon 4 starts with a 4-5 hour introduction prologue that gets you acclimatized to the 4 seasons in the game. It runs a little long, but once that first year in Horizon is over, then seasons start to rotate on a weekly basis whether you’re online or offline. My favourite season so far has been Spring which has a lot of rain and wet roads. The water effects are great and it’s fun to drift around corners in wet conditions. Summer is bright and sunny for the most part and is probably the most generic of all the seasons. Autumn is beautiful with small pools of water on the side of the road, leaves blowing around, and colourful trees. Finally, winter is a whole different ball game with icy roads, frozen rivers and lakes, snowmen, and bare trees. If you’ve played Blizzard Mountain, you have an idea of what to expect although it’s a bit toned down from that.
Britain is a beautiful setting and that’s something that concerned me before I played the game. I wasn’t sure if I’d enjoy the game as much going from something as diverse as Australia to Britain, but Playground Games nailed it. There are small towns, bustling urban areas, winding country roads, beaches, forests, mountains, castles, and so much more. I loved the little details with the British-style phone booths, little pubs scattered throughout with their own different signs and slogans, breakable stone walls, babbling brooks, and everything in-between. There’s even wildlife like deer, rabbits, chickens, and sheep that make the world feel even more lively. I did find it a little weird to drive on the other side of the road to avoid oncoming traffic as well.
The game is gorgeous on my Xbox One S, I’d imagine it’d be even more incredible on an Xbox One X, but it’s definitely no slouch here. The weather effects themselves look amazing with cars kicking up snow and rain and the water drops on your windshield. There is not as big of a contrast in areas as there was in Forza Horizon 3, but there’s nothing like looking off the mountain tops below to all that scenery at sunrise or sunset. The lighting system makes the game look so lifelike. There isn’t really much else to say, the game’s visuals always speak for themselves. The audio is equally as good with things a subtle as water trickling down a babbling brook to the leaves blowing in the wind. The soundtrack is diverse with all of the radio stations available in the last game returning along with a host of new songs from artists like Gretta Van Fleet and Pennywise.
The cast of cars is the biggest in the series which is a great thing. There are 450 cars from over 100 manufacturers in Forza Horizon 4, but don’t expect any cars from Mitsubishi, Lexus, or Toyota as they seem to have backed out of the series for now. It was cool to see something like the Unimog in the game because it’s so massive that the camera sometimes has trouble with it. Drift suspension options have been carried over from Forza Motorsport 7 along with drag racing tires which made a big difference on my Dodge Challenger Hellcat that I tuned specifically for drag races. There’s even a new track width spacing option for certain cars which is nice to have. You can really tune your car the way that makes the most sense for you and I loved creating perfect cars for each type of discipline.
Showcases make a return and they’re pretty awesome as set pieces. I found it cool that you can actually hit your opponent now. There’s something off-putting about scraping against a train as you’re racing through a tunnel. There’s a Halo showcase as well as a memorable one against a bomber as well. Horizon Blueprint also returns allowing you to create whatever race you want in any season at any time of day. It’s available from the pause menu which is far more convenient. Horizon stories take the place of Bucket List Challenges, but they’re pretty much the same thing. I honestly prefer the story version better as it gives more of an incentive to complete the challenge. One story sees us being a stunt driver for a movie and that’s as far as I’ve gotten in that discipline. I’m excited to see what else is in store.
|Tons of events and dynamic challenges||None|
|Seasons change the game|
Check out our other Forza Horizon reviews: