Forza Horizon 4 – Final verdict – The Racing Masterpiece Beast?
It’s that time of the cycle again where Microsoft’s most beloved racing franchise Forza is getting yet another new release for their arcade racer series – Forza Horizon. The series is very well known for its addicting gameplay, car collecting, beautiful locations, fun multiplayer, and most importantly a ton of fun. With Forza Horizon 4 nearing its release, how does it stack compared to its previous title and if you’re a newcomer is this the legendary racing game we all been waiting for? Let’s find out.
Cars, Gameplay Systems and Seasons
Through-out my life, I’ve played many different racing games including titles like old-school Need for Speed games, Burnout, Motorstorm, Blur, GRID, Ridge Racer, and many others and I’ve loved each and every one of them for different reasons whether it be their unique progression systems, mechanics, settings or cars. It’s been a very long time since I’ve enjoyed a racing game in the last few years of gaming but I think the time has finally come. No other racing game like Forza Horizon 4 has grabbed to its fullest attention and immersion from the moment I started driving in the seamless open-world of historic Britain to the “just 1 more race for the night” moments in the last few days.
This is where Forza Horizon 4 shines the most, the core gameplay, driving mechanics, progression systems and seamless open world interactivity is just absolutely phenomenal. The Forza Horizon franchise was always known for its smooth responsible controls, good car handling mechanics, and addicting gameplay and that continues in Forza Horizon 4, but even better than ever before.
The cars feel absolutely great. It doesn’t matter if you’re driving more of the heavier Halo’s warthog or a lighter fancy British sports car like the Aston Martin that accelerates super fast. Both cars feel great, no matter their weight, turning radius or acceleration rate. It’s an absolute joy to drive all kinds of different vehicles in Forza Horizon 4 and one of the most important core designs in racing games is how the cars feel when you’re in control and this game absolutely nails it.
Now let’s talk about the progression system in Forza Horizon 4 and how the exactly the player gets rewarded for each race, event, collectible or even a discovery they find throughout the exploration of the open world. There are many types of events to complete such as Cross Country races that have you race off-road through different kinds of environments such as grassy hills, mountains, forests or even a mix of things in a single race.
Then you have your typical races where you complete laps on regular roads and then a different set of events in the Dirt Race club where you drive on dirt roads, mud, and water. Some races go from point A to B till the finish lines and others on a regular race track for multiple laps. Then you have something called Showcases that are very unique and have you drive through particular set pieces or when special vehicles come into play like Dirt Motorcycles or even trains. Those who played previous Forza Horizon titles will be familiar with such events.
Once you complete a race you will be awarded credits and influence points. Credits can be used as in-game currency to purchase clothing items for your driver such as hats, glasses, pants, shirts and so on. You can also purchase different emotes and most importantly a shit ton of cars from pretty much every brand you can think of. Forza Horizon 4 features over 450 different vehicles both new and old, some can be found in secret barn locations that are later restored in your garage for use.
Forza Horizon 4 also adds great depth to how you wanna challenge yourself – for example before the race starts you have the ability to modify different difficulty sliders and toggles such as car damage and whether it actually makes your vehicle drive worse or not if you decide to turn on Simulation or keep it at a cosmetic setting where it has no effect on your car whatsoever. You may also change the AI of the drivatars from inexperienced, average, above average and so on. The awesome thing about these different difficulty modifiers is that it gives you an extra bonus % gain for your credits when you win the races. For example, during my time with the game, I decided to turn turning corner guidelines for breaking completely off. I turned on car damage to be simulated and challenged myself to drive as clean as I possibly could and in return, I was able to gain a lot more credits throughout my game time than I normally would playing at the default setting.
Influences are a vital part of the Forza Horizon 4’s progression, its the main way you progress throughout different seasons and achieve new status. You also rank up different club levels that always reward you with new items every time you level up. To sum it up, the progression system in Forza Horizon 4 is fantastic because no matter what you do you always get rewarded and you always unlock something for your racer whether it be a clothing item, an emote or a brand new car. The items are also divided into different rarities such as green for common, blue for rare, purple for even rarer and orange for legendary that are considered super rare. You can also win all of these items via wheel spinning when you level up your racer level or purchase a wheelspin skill-point on your car.
Yes, the skill-point system from previous Forza Horizon titles returns in the latest entry and just like previous games in the series they work exactly the same way. You can chain multiple skills such as drifting, air-time, near-misses, clean racing and breaking small environmental objects such as fences and poles. You can accumulate a massive amount of skill points if you wish to later use them on your favorite, you can get different skills such as getting higher skill multipliers or buff your influence points gain using your favorite vehicle. It’s a neat system that adds a nice little RPG depth to your car collection. Wanna get all of your 450+ cars with all the skills? Get ready for a ton of hours of addicting grinding and fancy driving if you wish to be a masochist and achieve such a goal.
Last but not least, we cannot talk about Forza Horizon 4 if we’re not talking about it’s biggest feature in the series yet – Seasons. For the first time Playgrounds have decided to introduce something completely new to the racing genre that perhaps not really been done before on such a high level. Seasons completely change how you race in the game due to dynamic weather effects, climate change, mud and water interaction and so on. As you progress through the Horizon Festival campaign and gain influences the game will change seasons up until into you get into the Horizon roster which is about a good 3-5 hours into the game depending on how fast and how good you are at racing throughout all the events that pop up on your world map.
Once you get into the Horizon roster the seasons will actually change on weekly basis via real life time. Each season also has its own unique racing series whether it be regular racing or cross-country events. Not only is your driving experience different every time the season changes you also get to participate in new events that still reward you levels, cosmetics and of course credits to be able to eventually buy up all the cars if you wish to do so. In a nutshell, there is a shit ton of content here and it does not feel gimmicky and its an absolutely perfect model for a racing game.
The Visuals and Sound
The Forza games always looked excellent, but they looked even better with every new entry in the series whether it be Forza Motorsport or Forza Horizon games. Forza Horizon 4 proudly continues this trend and the game looks better than ever before. We played the game at a drop-dead gorgeous 4K native resolution and 60FPS on a high-end PC rig equipped with a 1080 GTX and an i7 6700K processor and had an amazing time in the world of historic Britain in Forza Horizon 4. Everything from water splashing, mud sliding, beautiful hills, awesome lighting effects, and gorgeous sun rays makes this driving feel completely immersive. It’s been a very long time since I’ve been immersed in a racing game thanks to its visuals and audio. Overall, the engine feels very polished and everything is smooth so I got no complaints here whatsoever. You might get an occasional pop up here and there but that’s due to the game being so large and that even happens sometimes on PC but honestly speaking you never really notice it unless you purposely look for it because you’re racing blazing fast and everything is just super smooth.
Your favorite radio stations such as Hospital and Bass Arena return in Forza Horizon 4 with a slew of new tracks and some of your favorites as well. The soundtrack is great and fits the game very well. However, I am a bit confused on why Forza Horizon 4 does not let you use custom tracks like it did in Forza Horizon 3. I am not exactly sure what was the reasoning behind removing that or whether it was just a time constraint, but it does kind of suck not being able to play your own songs. Then again I guess you could just argue you can listen to your favorite music via YouTube or Spotify as you play the game without having the need to do it in the game and set it all up.
This is really just me being nitpicky rather than critical since this really does not hurt the game’s gameplay or actual mechanics whatsoever. As for the rest of the game’s audio, everything sounds good including car engines, surface contact and so on. The funny chatter on the radio also adds a good laugh here and there and the voice acting for some of the characters you meet in the game is surprisingly not bad. Obviously, they’re not super duper Hollywood quality but they get the job more than done for a racing game.
Honestly, Forza Horizon 4 actually really surprised me when I played the full version of the game. I’ve previously played it at E3 2018 and thought it was good, but I wasn’t sure how the seasons were gonna turn out and what other features the game had or how it would play out. After spending a good amount of time playing and reviewing the game I realized that Forza Horizon 4 is truly an amazing game with a ton of replayability and content to explore and do whether it be single-player or multiplayer. You have a shit ton of events to complete, boards to crash through for game completion and influences, save up credits to buy the most expensive cars and all the real estate and of course collect all the cosmetics.
If you are a completionist or a person who loves good addicting grinding that’s actually fun and not monotonous then Forza Horizon 4 is a game to be played. If you are a dude or a girl who enjoys a good fun competitive online racing game then Forza Horizon 4 is also a game you must play. If you’re just looking for cars to collect and nothing else then Forza Horizon 4 is a game you must play. Okay, I am gonna stop being a moron now because you obviously see the trend here. Forza Horizon 4 is a legendary masterpiece of a racing game that must be played regardless of your needs out of a racing game period. This is why the game gets an official beast rating of 10/10 from Gaming Instincts. You MUST play this game one way or another. Kudos to Playground Games and Microsoft Studios – I am looking forward to Forza Horizon 5 and see how you guys can top Forza Horizon 4 make it happen. I have completel faith in you and this time I hope the next Horizon game takes place in Japan.