Forza Horizon 4 Review: Almost too much fun

Forza is to Xbox as Gran Turismo is to PlayStation. So what’s the deal with Forza Horizon? We take a test drive to find out. The Horizon series kind of started as a spin-off, but slowly over time has become an entity of itself. This is confirmed with the newest installment, Forza Horizon 4. I have been excited about this game since it was shown at E3 2018. There’s a lot that goes into why this game stands on its own, so let’s get started.

Forza Horizon 4 Story

In terms of story, Turn 10 Studios has always made it a point to add some kind of narrative to engage the player in a campaign mode. In Forza Horizon 4, it is no different. Horizon is a festival that goes around the world and completely takes over cities. This allows racers to have a paradise, and this time they’ve taken over Edinburgh, Scotland. The game starts the player out as a new and upcoming racer… again. It’s just a refresh on the original stories, only this time they’ve taken over Edinburgh.

The big hype was about how the seasons will change in the game. While this does happen, it is not to the scale that many made it out to be. I’ll go into more detail later about that. The goal is to tackle Horizon events during all 4 seasons to become the best of the drivers. The better you do, the more people will recognize you. The more people recognize you, the more races and opportunities will you will receive.

Visual & Audio

This game provides absolutely gorgeous scenes. Forza Horizon 4 might be the most visually stunning racing game to date. This is likely due to the vast amounts of saturated colors which pop. It supports HDR and for those of you with an Xbox One X, it is optimized for that as well. In fact, on the Xbox One X version, you can choose to have a better graphical experience or to have it boost frames per second instead. My preference was the 60 frames per second, as it drastically improves vision during high speeds.

Forzathon Live

Those of you playing on a well-equipped PC will be very pleased with the visuals. There has been extreme detail put into ensuring this game looks beautiful. Textures from the roads, rocks, cars, and buildings are unique and realistic. Watching all the stones from walls and fences explode across the screen from smashing into them is incredibly satisfying. Most other games would have forced your car to stop on impact, but not in Horizon. Most fences, walls, sheds, trees, and bushes are not safe from complete obliteration. I spend most of my time off the road because it’s just fun.

The soundtrack is awesome. The radio stations don’t just have the generic EDM playing. Benni Benassi, Foo Fighters, Sugarhill Gang, Kendrick Lemar, and many others are played. The stations are broken up into a few categories: EDM, top 40, hip-hop, classical, and rock. I’ve actually discovered a few songs to add to my Spotify playlist as well. I usually listen to my own music when playing, but I didn’t need to with Horizon 4. Well done there Turn 10.

Gameplay

There is so much to talk about in terms of gameplay. The driving experience is the most important part to address. Keep in mind, what you are about to read was my own experience. I came from playing Gran Turismo, Assetto Corsa, and Forza Motorsport. For those of you new to the Horizon series, the driving is nothing like Forza Motorsports. It’s a mix of arcade-style racing and simulation. It definitely leans towards the arcade style, however.

To be honest, I’m not the biggest fan of Forza’s simulation, but in Horizon 4, it’s inconsistent. When I say inconsistent, I mean that braking and steering will constantly fluctuate. I understand that road, dirt, and snow are different terrains, but I even experienced this on circuits with one type of terrain. After playing for several hours, I still couldn’t find proper braking points or tell if I was about to oversteer or understeer. I found that the best way to play on default is to brake, then turn, then accelerate without overlapping. This goes against all my racing game instincts. After a while, I switched the driving mode to simulation, which can be found in the settings. I highly recommend this to those used to simulators.

In terms of play time, there is no lack of activities. I’ve spent at least 20 hours on the game, and I’m not even sure if there is an end game. Forza Horizon 4 is packed with events and races of all kinds. So many in fact, that I get a bit of anxiety seeing so many options on the map. There are 6 different Horizon series: Road Racing, Cross Country, Drag Strip, Dirt Racing, Street Scene, and Drift Run.

Forza Horizon 4 Map

Each one has 3 to 4 nodes on the map. That doesn’t include the nodes for speed traps, speed zones, danger signs, playground games, stunt driver, showcase events, #forzathon live, or seasonal championship events. Like I said before, there are SO MANY activities in this game. I would have liked to have the completed ones fade or become nearly transparent to indicate what I have already finished. It’s like looking at your social media app and seeing constant notifications that have already been checked.

Forza Racing Seasons

The seasons are such a great addition to this franchise. The game starts in the summer series, but many features will be locked until you reach the autumn series. This is likely to allow the player to become familiar with the game, like a tutorial period. The seasons do not change real-time/in-game as many have thought. There is no in-game time change as well. Instead, you will rely on events and series invitations to change the season or time of day. This isn’t a black mark on the game. Gamers clearly misunderstood the extent of the season changes. It made no difference to me that seasons and time change didn’t happen in real time.

The best part of Forza Horizon 4 is the seamless online gameplay. It is easy to join free-roaming friendsĀ or race with or against them. Playing with friends is just pure fun because of the ease of matchmaking. They make it easy to stay organized with a start menu tab for teams, rivals, and clubs. All of which help you earn additional in-game credits. Credits can also be earned from other players downloading car designs you’ve created, payouts from your in-game business (high-end rentals) and team rewards. Designing cars and upgrading them is intricate and user-friendly. This can only be done at the Horizon festival, unfortunately. There aren’t many company logos to choose from when creating a design too, but the community is doing their part to create them.

Forza Horizon 4 livery

Fast travel is part of the game as well, but not well integrated. The cost of fast travel is 10K cr at first. There are 50 fast travel signs scattered throughout the map. The more there are destroyed, the cheaper fast travel gets. I know that the intent of these signs was to encourage players to explore the map, but there are really only 2 fast travel points. Your homes and the Horizon festival.

The homes are not cheap either. The homes range from around 200K-15mil in credits. It’s also kind of silly that you have to pay to fast travel to the Horizon festival if you use your map to do so, but not if you use the “cars” tab in the start menu. I saved a lot of credits by purchasing a house on the other side of the map and only using credits to fast travel to that home if needed. I would just drive from one of those locations to the different activities.

Replay Value

As I mentioned before, there is so much to do in Forza Horizon 4. With so many activities, you’d think “surely there isn’t more,” but you would be wrong. On top of all the events, there are plenty of weekly and daily challenges to keep up on. Be prepared to spend hours and hours playing this game. The events aren’t just “go from point A to B.” There are some themed ones as well. I particularly liked the James Bond and Halo events. Similar to Destiny’s public events, throughout the day, events will pop up for the entire convoy (server) to complete. They consist of 3 parts. Each one is random and needs to be completed as a group.

There is no doubt that this game can be played online or offline and still be fun to play for hours. Many of the special events were so fun, I went back and played them a couple more times. Even made my wife play through a few of them too.

Forza Horizon 4 Menu

The game is very rewarding. The wheelspin is something the player gets when accomplishing activities or events. The wheelspin unlocks cars, emotes, and customizables. In addition to creating designs for vehicles, you can also create your own “Drivatar”. There are 14 characters to choose from, but a vast amount of clothes, accessories, and emotes to customize them with.

Final Reaction

Forza Horizon 4 has spectacular visuals with hours upon hours of gameplay. Although I have gripes with this game, they are all personal preference and I won’t let that affect the review score. I can confidently say that Forza Horizon 4 is a well polished and fun game for everyone to play. From the casual gamer to the racing simulator enthusiasts, this is an easy one to recommend. I can anticipate the game to consistently receive updates and more special events in the future too.

Forza Horizon 4 releases on October 2nd for Xbox One and Windows 10. This is an Xbox Play Anywhere title and rightfully so. Definitely one of the perks of it being part of the Microsoft Studios.

Rating: 5/5 Atoms

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