Welcome to the Horizon festival and welcome to the UK, heading around the bend for its fourth outing is Forza Horizon 4 from the team at Playground Games and Turn 10 studios. Last turn round they came down under in what was a huge leap in gameplay from Horizon 2. It seems each installment of the series is improving on the previous with no backwards steps taken yet, so does Horizon take yet another leap forward or is this a turn right to go left instance? Scroll on to read more and find out my thoughts.
The title begins the same as the demo most of you would have played, a quick race showcasing the seasons before setting you up on the map ready to begin. While it’s not obvious right away, you’re not starting with the full experience but a prelude of sorts that sets you influence targets to progress through the each season and a showcase each until you reach the Horizon Roster. Influence is the word for experience here and gaining experience opens up progression.
While the core of the game is based around point A to point B racing, the heart of Horizon 4 is in its online modes. Sure you can play this solo and enjoy the landscapes, the developers never took that away from you. It’s just they made an online community that thrives from being connected, from my first race I had other drivers pulling up beside me to say hello and see how I was going.
Then once I finished the prelude and unlocked the full experience the game started really showing me what it was offering, while cruising the countryside in my stock standard WRX a notification came across the top of the screen to let me know a ForzaLive event was about to begin and upon racing to the start point I discovered other gamers gathered there in a car meet setup waiting for the event to begin. As the announcer signaled the start of this even we all raced through the hills to the first part of the event where as a team we launched our vehicles off a ramp until we gathered the required total distance, then it was onto a speed trap where we raced up and down a mountain setting speeds until we gathered the right total.
Our third event which we didn’t manage to complete before the timer ran out was a drift zone, the three events total gave us 15 minutes to complete and upon completion we received Forza Points for this season. It was a quick way to lose 15minutes of my time but upon completion I was itching for the next one to begin.
Forzathon is split into not just the standard seasons like Summer, autumn, winter and spring but game seasons as well much like we are familiar with on other titles. Whilst doing this review the game was in the autumn season which will last for a week, in the week there are challenges designed to keep you interested and to try our cars you might otherwise ignore. There is no season pass to speed up your unlocks or noticeable micro-transactions outside of the treasure maps. (I say noticeable because maybe I missed them as this was the ultimate edition.)
In terms of racing there is a nice variety of challenges from street races, road racers and dirt track racing to drifts, drag and some cross country expeditions. If you want a break from the racing, there is plenty of reason to explore as well. Chasing down the advertising boards, taking leaps of faith at the danger boards or simply checking out the sites around the map locating some beauty spots. Oh and the barns are back as well, find those barns, restore those cars and build your collection. There is no reason to finish this in a few hours and move on, you simply can’t and won’t get the full experience in one week let alone one weekend like you do in some single player only experiences.
I love when a developer puts effort into the audio on a car game like this, while some just shrug off cars as all sounding the same others put in the work and give us an experience that feels unique and changes with the vehicle we are driving. The later is exactly what we have here, each car feels like a new adventure, the walls we smash through because we got our license in a weetbix box sound like walls and not foam blocks. It’s a title best played up loud and with one of the six stations available to you.
Visually it’s gorgeous and for those on the One X not only is it gorgeous at its core but if you choose beauty of speed you can experience it in full 4K resolution. Or for those who prefer their performance the option is there to run Horizon 4 at 60fps just giving way to some of the resolution to do so. It’s these kind of choices that PC gamers have enjoyed for years and it’s nice to see that option coming to console as well.
I’m always hesitant to give a racing title a perfect score, for starters there is no such thing as a perfect unless you ask Craig in which case he will claim he is. However Forza Horizon 4 offers me everything I want in a racing title and even things I didn’t expect to want. It’s got it’s open world and exploration, it’s got an online community with reasons to return week after week and it looks great. I’d rank it as the first title I suggest to new owners of the Xbox One and that’s why I’m confident to give this a full 5 Thumbs up.
Will Muscat is an avid gamer and has been gaming for many years, from playing on an Amstrad that his dad found at the tip to his Xbox one now. Will enjoys plenty of variety in the games he plays and while he can be found in the world of Gears of War and Halo, he can also be found writing letters to RARE asking for another Jet Force Gemini.