Forza Horizon is back with a bang, this time set in an albeit scaled down version of Britain that features the Lake District National Park in the West, Endinburgh in the East and in the South to Faringdon, home of the Uffington White Horse. With the exception of Edinburgh there’s no other major cities on offer, with the focus being more on countryside and beauty spots. The big thing about Forza Horizon 4 is of course the changing Seasons, you start out with the opener to the game that gives you small taste of what’s to come, with a few minutes of each Season sampled racing different disciplines.
Once the game gets going properly you have to qualify for each progressive Season by levelling up, once you’ve made it through all four, you then go on to the usual wristband levelling with the seasons changing every real-time week (currently Summer). It’s glorious to see how each change in Season alters the game world, most obviously the visuals as the game is simply stunning. Also the types of vehicles you’ll want to use will change too, as taking a hypercar out in the snow is just insane, you’re better off with a 4×4. In a way forcing you to sample more vehicles, which is a good thing if you’re like me, a person who prefers to stick to their favourite cars, hello Cossies.
The usual affair is on offer, with a variety of disciplines to take part in, be it Off-road Cross Country, Dirt Racing, Street Scene, Road Racing or drifting, it’s your choice as to what you play and what car you use. There’s also the standard Speed Traps, Drift Zones and Danger Signs to complete. Helping you to rack-up that much needed influence to level up, something that you need to do in order to see everything the game has to offer. with certain events becoming available as you do so.
So what’s new in FH4? Gone have the multiple Festival sites, now players are able to purchase homes at various locations around the map, serving up as fast travel points that also give access to the garage etc. Barn finds are also present though this time there are some that can only be found during certain times of the yearly cycle, and purchasing homes. There’s also Stories and Businesses to ge involved in.
With Horizon Stories, you start out with the Stunt Driver story, in which you are tasked with performing various stunts for movies being filmed in the area. There’s also a drifting story, though my favourite was LaRacer, a blogger who is attending the Horizon Festival, and her top 10 cars in racing games story, which pays homage to some of the great racing titles of the past, and you are tasked with driving while she blogs about them. Businesses make an appearance in FH4 too, currently sat at level 50 and I’ve only come across World’s Fastest Rentals, here you deliver Hyper cars to clients, doing so will earn you Cr that appear in your inbox every so often. Showcases are also back for another outing, even more outlandish than ever with races against Giant hovercraft, and even an all out scene from Halo, these appear as you progress through each season.
These do add just a little extra away from simply racing, though they feel a little distant, almost throw away, the interaction with these A.I. is poor, nothing like the opening cutscene, more of a static shot with the A.I. characters back to the camera stood next to the car you’re driving as they introduce the piece. This definitely needs work if Playground intend on carrying it on into the next game.
Being rewarded with Cr isn’t the only way to get new vehicles, with Horizon Wheelspin, a feature from previous games making it’s return, only this time there’s not just Cr and cars up for grabs, there’s clothes too. that’s right this time round you can make your player avatar as outlandish as the cars you’re driving. With hats, T-shirts, trousers, glasses and other accessories to deck your virtual self out with. Horizon wheelspin has also had another feature added to it, that being the Super Wheelspin. Earn yourself one of these and you get 3 rewards from one spin.
Multiplayer has had a bit of an overhaul this year, with Real players replacing Drivatars in the open world, making the game a little more sociable, though the only real interactions I had with ‘Randoms’ was a friendly toot of the horn as we passed each other going about our own business. You can of course team up with people though there’s no real incentive to do so, as there’s not much difference to races other than there being another real person in with you. Best bet is to get a few friends together and have a blast, maybe mix it up a bit, like taking a Zonda R out on an Off-Road race, in Winter.. Thanks to Tony teaming up with me for that one.
Visually Forza Horizon 4 is outstanding, highly detailed down to reflections of your hands and steering wheel on the inside of the windcreen to the smallest specks of dust collecting on your cars bodywork. Coupled with the day and night cycle and the season cycle Forza Horizon 4 is without a doubt one of the best looking games ever. Simply Beautiful. As for Audio, while some of the voice acting comes across as a little cheesy and forgettable, the sound of the cars and various music genre dedicated radio stations more than make up for it.