Since being demonstrated at this year’s E3 show, Forza Horizon 4 has had gear heads the world over salivating over the vast array of amazing cars, the beautiful scenery that the United Kingdom has to offer and those nice open roads just begging to be ruined. Forza Horizon 4 has finally been released and has revealed itself as one of this year’s, if not, one of the top rated racing games ever lovingly crafted.
Published by Microsoft and developed by Playground Games (as are previous Forza titles), made up of racing game veterans, many of whom have worked on spiritual predecessors of Forza from studios such as Bizarre Creations (Project Gotham Racing), Codemasters (DiRT) and Criterion (Burnout) , Forza Horizon 4 is the fourth installment of the series and is set to be the best in the series yet.
Upon release on 01/02 October 2018 (28 September for Early Access customers), Forza Horizon 4 will allow Microsoft Xbox One and Windows PC players to race across the United Kingdom’s towns, cities and anywhere in between in an adrenaline-fueled online experience worthy of any great open world multiplayer title, featuring cross play between the two platforms , 450+ vehicles and a visual fidelity of the highest caliber in the series so far.
Established game review websites such as Gamespot, IGN and Games Radar have scored the title extremely high and have had overwhelmingly positive statements to say about the game, with any negative statements being largely superficial such as Fortnite style emotes and Microsoft Store menus.
Here is my impression of Forza Horizon 4 based upon my expectations from the game, my experiences and my honest and unbiased opinion. Please note that this is not a review. Please read on and enjoy the article.
Forza Horizon 4 takes place in a stitched together and compressed version of England, Scotland and Wales, highlighting some of the nation’s greatest scenery, roads, tourist spots and national parks.
Starting up the game, a pre-rendered introduction video plays out, showcasing some of the various race types, vehicles and of course the Festival, all accompanied by the gorgeously British accented voice of Rebecca, a previous Horizon Champion and the faux-AI assistant character of the title moving forward.
Similar to some other current AAA titles such as Marvel’s Spider-Man, the controllable action begins in a smooth transition from introduction video to game, where you immediately take control of an ultra-modern hypercar, the McLaren Senna, as it angrily accelerates from a white-out studio into an ember and sepia tone enriched Autumnal vista, straight in to some high-octane driving action along a Scottish A-Road, which serves as a great tutorial for getting to grips with the game’s driving and game mechanics as you clear the racer’s first objective of getting to a waterfall.
I can’t help but think that the game beginning in the season of Autumn is no accident, and the designers have made a very conscious decision here, as it serves to highlight the beautiful visual handling of the game engine, which is to say the least, astounding, especially in the HDR, 4K 60fps offered by the Xbox One X and high end PC systems.
The tutorial proceeds through the remaining seasons, Winter, Spring and Summer to showcase to you, the player, just what you are in for. The visuals you expect are all there, and more.
Winter throws some extreme weather at you as the tone, hue and feel of the game changes dynamically to reflect the world. Ice forms on roads, snow gathers and the accompanying endangerment of slippery surfaces and other hazards ensues as one would expect.
Spring comes next and completely changes the world, the race dynamic and whether you realise it or not, YOU! You will have to change the way you usually think of driving games because the weather that comes with Springtime forces you to adapt your play style to better suit the rainy surfaces on the road which is now wrought with puddles and mud with the sometimes grey and dull drizzle days to the gloriously bright and shiny, we’re fooled in to thinking it’s warm outside days.
The halfway point of the year when we get the best weather is Summer, and in Forza Horizon 4 this seems like the best time to take to the roads for racing, and more traditional vehicles can be enjoyed in the good weather (which is why it is festival season after all) therefore the Horizon event is underway (and in and of itself looks amazing,being reminiscent of the ecstatic festival feeling of Monument Valley from MotorStorm back on PlayStation 3) when you get there after your short introductory drive through the seasons from Scotland to the Lake District.
As an introduction to the way the seasons work, the game will cycle through the four seasons in a few short hours while you experience them and get used to the differences, but after your first full seasonal cycle has concluded, then seasons are controlled via the game servers; everyone on the server gets the same season and weather at the same time allowing for a shared experience through a seven day per season cycle system.
The way that the dynamic weather has been implemented hides a very clever and cunning game design tactic. The changes to the game brought on by the procession of the seasons aren’t only cosmetic. By forcing weather upon you and therefore changing the game environment and ultimately your play-style, the designers have formulated an ingenious way of having you experience everything that the game has to offer, rather than staying inside your racing simulation comfort zone and settling for, let’s say, one type of vehicle such as super-cars, one form of racing such as road races or a single event such as time trials.
Because of the seasonal aspect of the game, with Forza Horizon 4 you will get to experience all that racing has to offer, from rallying through dense and muddy forest, to hyper-car split-time racing on professional racing tracks. In short the game style allows you to take advantage of the unique aspects each season has to offer. That being said, any type of race can be experienced at any time of the year but there will be differences.
Taking in the winding roads of the Scottish Countryside for example in an Italian super-car might seem all well and good while the Sun is out and the road is warm. But try this in the middle of Winter while there are pockets of dense ice which has formed on the sides of roads and you are asking for more problems than any Italian Stallion can handle.
The game can be enjoyed offline, featuring XP based activities in order to progress and advance seasons, or the game can be enjoyed (and is best with) online and/or multiplayer, and is equally as fun and very well balanced in all modes.
However, if you want the best out of racing, we all know that even the best racing games’ AI cannot compete with the thrill and indeed the challenge of racing with/against human opponents.
There are a ton of racing activities to keep you entertained in this title including:
- Story Missions; taxi missions, stunt driver challenges etc.
- Skill challenges; Speed, drift etc.
- Head to Head; AI or opponent based races.
- Forzathon Live Events; multiplayer group based activities.
- Disciplined Races; road, track and dirt races.
- Point to Point; AI or multiplayer races from one location to another.
- Circuit Variations; alternate versions of racing circuits.
All activities undertaken, whether you win or lose, reward credits and experience across all three racing disciplines (road, track, dirt) and a universal progression metre. Hitting certain milestones in either of the four will unlock yet more challenges and activities in which you can participate; so, if you keep at it on the dirt tracks, you will get more XP for your dirt track progression metre plus some universal XP. If you participate in a lot of track races then you will be awarded more XP for your circuit progression metre plus universal XP and so on.
These attained credits and progression points can be used to purchase new vehicles and parts, which make is where the game opens up more game play and more fun.
There is a confirmed 450+ vehicles in the game, coming from various real life manufacturers across multiple racing disciplines, however Toyota and Mitsubishi are currently not included in the title.
All of these vehicles can be upgraded using progression points with items such as appearance, tyres/rims and engine tuning and a lot more across five classes:
- Stock; original appearance and tuning as when first purchased.
- Street; small performance increases.
- Sport; performance increases required for road racing.
- Race; large increases in performance as good enough for professional circuit racing.
- Special; performance enhancements for differing racing disciplines such as drag racing, dirt racing and snow racing etc.
The upgrading and tuning of vehicles in the game is very detailed, catering for genuine car enthusiasts and any changes made to the vehicles is reflected in it’s performance on and off the track.
Thankfully however, there is an auto-upgrade system which applies relevant upgrades to the vehicles and is the recommended system for players with little or no technical knowledge of engines.
Also, if, for some reason 450 cars isn’t’ enough, even though it’s 100 more than Forza Horizon 3, Microsoft has confirmed that more vehicles will be added via the inevitable downloadable content.
The game is to be launched with two DLC packs available:
- Day One “Best of Bond” Car Pack
- Formula Drift Car Pack
The James Bond car pack includes ten iconic vehicles across a wide range of 007 movies over the past 50 years such as the Aston Martin DB5 (Goldfinger), Lotus Espirit S1 (The Spy Who Loved Me) and the Jaguar CX-75 (Spectre).
Forza Horizon 4 Formula Drift DLC is more of a tuner style DLC with seven customisable high-spec racing cars to choose from including the 2015 Ford Mustang, 2006 Dodge Viper and 1989 BMW E30.
There is also the availability of a Fomula Horizon 4 car pass:
- 42 additional cars
- 2 cars per week (21 weeks)
- Starts on Day One
Microsoft have also confirmed that there are to be two official expansion packs for Forza Horizon 4, both of which will feature new race location, vehicles and game play activities. The first expansion is confirmed to be available in December 2018 with the second following in the first half of 2019, with no confirmed date as of yet.
This is More Than Just a Racing Game
Forza Horizon 4 represents some of the best game design elements around in AAA titles today such as multiplayer challenges, dynamic features, rewards based game-play, points systems, multiple disciplines, current generation visuals and a well balanced story mode; it’s a truly current generation game donning a racing simulator disguise; since underneath the racer styling, there are multiple elements found in any great game, be it a third-person action/adventure title, a fast and furious FPS or an exploration-based narrative game.
Whether you are a car or racing enthusiast or not, Forza Horizon 4 doesn’t care. This is a game made for everybody, not just racing fans.
Right from the get go, this game will draw you in. It’s designed that way. The Autumnal setting for the first moments will captivate you visually while appealing to the nostalgic area of your brain. The tutorial mission, brilliantly designed, will throw you in at the deep end across quick changing weather and varying racing disciplines to show you some of the best moments you can expect from the game, leaving you with a feeling of wanting a whole lot more.
I could ramble on here about how stunning the UK looks, the effects of weather or the volume of different cars available but I feel that they are just an overlay of a richly detailed gaming experience, something which is beyond physical description; you have to play this game to understand what I mean.
Vehicles, upgrades and graphics aside, the sheer amount of things to do in this racing title would almost be funny, were it not for how incredibly balanced the game is, never leaving you with nothing to do, too much to do or having you repeat boring missions or challenges.
In my 30 years of video game enjoyment, this is probably one of the most perfectly paced and flawlessly designed simulations I have ever played.
This is just my opinion but I would love to hear what you guys think down below in the comments section as I’m sure this will be a controversial game.
Thanks for reading and enjoy the game.
Michael Gore – Editor/Owner, ChartX Games.
PC System Requirements
|OS||Windows 10 version 15063.0 or higher|
|DirectX||DirectX 12 API, Hardware Feature Level 11|
|Video Memory||2 GB|
|Processor||Intel i3-4170 @ 3.7Ghz OR Intel i5 750 @ 2.67Ghz|
|Graphics||NVidia 650TI OR AMD R7 250x|
|OS||Windows 10 version 15063.0 or higher|
|DirectX||DirectX 12 API, Hardware Feature Level 11|
|Video Memory||4 GB|
|Processor||Intel i7-3820 @ 3.6Ghz|
|Graphics||NVidia GTX 970 OR NVidia GTX 1060 3GB OR AMD R9 290x OR AMD RX 470|
Source: Forza Horizon 4 Official Website
- Forza Horizon 4 Includes 450-Plus Cars and Cross-Play Between Xbox One and PC. Gamespot. Retrieved 28/09/2018.
- Forza Horizon 4. Wikipedia. Retrieved 28/09/2018.