Forza Horizon 4 Review – Keep Calm and Race On
Playground Games has done it again. It’s that simple. Forza Horizon 4 is such a spectacular racing experience that it’s hard to even fathom where the developer could go next.
Obviously, as an Australian, I have some bias towards Forza Horizon 3, but even without being set in my home country, Forza Horizon 4 is sublime. Each and every element that makes up Forza Horizon 4 is working in perfect sync with everything else.
Like a well oiled, well-tuned racing engine, Forza Horizon 4 is immaculate and ready to blow your doors off.
Forza Horizon 4 Review
Like others in the Horizon series, Forza Horizon 4 bases all the action around the fictional Horizon Festival. This Festival brings all motorsports together for an almighty racing event like no other. Over time the series has changed and improved in various ways but has always maintained a fun, arcade-style that differentiates it from Forza Motorsport.
Forza Horizon’s big new addition is its seasons. Autumn, Winter, Spring and Summer are all included in Forza Horizon 4 and rather than be a simple skin, the seasons have a huge impact on racing and gameplay.
Winter, for example, is wet, snowy and dark. This makes road racing slick, slippery and incredibly difficult in some instances. The icy surfaces of the roads meant that if I hit a corner with too much speed or drifted too hard, I would be careening out of control almost instantly.
Conversely, in Summer and Spring, dirt roads become the slippery ones. With the roads dry and covered with loose gravel, dirt racing becomes all about drifting, rallying and trying to avoid smacking into nearby trees.
Keep on Slippin’
It’s not just these simple things that change though. With the change in seasons comes a change of landscape. Previously inaccessible areas are suddenly places you can drive and vice versa. I spent a ridiculous amount of time exploring Fora Horizon 4’s UK map in each season trying to spot differences and work out just how the season changed the racing.
And when you start to include different cars in your equations, you realise just how mind-bogglingly huge the racing combinations are in Forza Horizon 4. Because I have little respect for cars, I obviously drove my Lamborghini Huracán on dirt roads, through rivers and off some insane hill jumps. I did the same with a Ford Transit Van and a huge number of vehicles in between.
With so many options, the racing experience is almost endless in Forza Horizon 4. And we’re only just beginning to scratch the surface.
So enormous is Forza Horizon 4, that the opening five or six hours see you rotate through the seasons as you earn enough ‘Influence’ to join the Horizon Roster. During this time you’ll be able to take part in dozens of events across multiple disciplines. You’ll also be able to try drift challenges, speed traps, jumps and break the hundreds of hidden boards.
Earn Your Place
I didn’t even realise that I hadn’t made my way into the proper Forza Horizon 4 experience until there was suddenly more content on offer. And that’s an absolute strength of Forza Horizon 4. As you play, no matter what you’re doing, you’ll be progressing, earning experience, influence, credits, new cars, more races and so on.
The sense of accomplishment you feel while playing Forza Horizon 4 is what makes it so great to play. Never did I feel that my efforts were a waste of my time. I never felt like I needed to grind because achieving the requirements to unlock the game’s next step just meant continuing to play.
When you finally do make it onto the Horizon Roster, Forza Horizon 4 really opens up and comes into its own. It’s only once you reach this level that you’re able to take part in PvP adventures in teams of six or create convoys to participate in any event you like. Dubbed Horizon Life, Forza Horizon 4 wants to make sure its players always have something to do, someone to do it with and a reason to play.
In addition, the Forzathon is back from Horizon 3, meaning there are daily and weekly challenges to take part in. Which is in addition to the season-specific events and rewards. That’s right. Once you enter Horizon Life and experience the changing of the seasons each week, you’ll be eligible to tackle the season-specific events.
These special events are a one-off and once the season is over, they’re gone for good. Not to worry though, there’ll be new events every single season and new, major content drops every month.
The racing in Forza Horizon 4, while arcade by default, can be changed to make the experience as easy or as difficult as each individual player likes. Want to turn all assists of? Go for it. Not only will the racing be much more realistic and difficult, but you’ll earn way more influence and credits.
If you, like me, really enjoy arcade racing, then you’re able to select which assists you leave on. I never touched them as the default, vanilla racing is exactly what I liked. If you really want to get into the nitty-gritty, you can, of course, tune your car to your liking.
After looking at these settings for a while and not really understanding them I thought it best to leave them alone. However, I’m sure that car fans who know their stuff will absolutely love to get in and tweak the settings. Especially considering that Forza Horizon 4 includes all manner of vehicle, both mundane and exotic.
While Forza Horizon 4 feels great to play, it looks and sounds even better. Each and every car has distinct and different engine sounds and they all sound spot-on. Not that I know what a hypercar sounds like, but I imagine Forza Horizon 4 gets it right.
Visually, Forza Horizon 4 is superb. The British countryside is absolutely gorgeously rendered and thanks to Playground Games capturing the sky across all four seasons, is always lit exactly as it would be at any given time. The cars themselves are absolute works of art. Thankfully, the Forzavista mode is available from the get-go so you can check out your cars from all angles.
There’s very little to complain about with Forza Horizon 4, though the radio stations do leave something to be desired. With only a handful of stations and a handful of songs on each, I found myself getting sick of them all rather quickly.
This may just be because I am Australian, but I did find that even though it looks amazing, the scenery in Forza Horizon 4’s Britain is much more samey than that found in Horizon 3’s Australia. It’s not to say it’s bad, just that there’s less diversity. Thankfully, the seasons do go a long way to change this. As do the races, which are varied and interesting in both length, difficulty and type.
I could honestly do without the Lootbox rewards for cars, costumes and emotes, but thankfully Horizon 4 doesn’t shove microtransactions down your throat, making the whole thing something you can effectively ignore if you like.
Overall, Forza Horizon 4 is a deep, engaging, complex and nearly perfect racing game. There is a near limitless stream of content for players to get into and just when you think you’ve seen everything it has to offer, Horizon 4 gives you something new.
It remains to be seen how well the weekly seasons work once the public gets their hands on the game, but for now, everything is looking peachy.
Forza Horizon 4 was reviewed on Xbox One using a digital code provided by Microsoft.
Game title: Forza Horizon 4
Seasons are a game changer - 9.3/10
An Unbelievable Amount of Content - 9.1/10
Visually Superb - 9.7/10
Incredible Racing Experience - 9.8/10