IT’S HERE! Forza Horizon 4 finally dropped through my letterbox and I’ve been obsessed ever since. After its announcement at E3 2017, I have been patiently awaiting the release date so I can speed through country lanes during Autumn and drift in the snow in Winter.
The best thing about Forza Horizon is that no matter what game you’re playing in the series, you’re always thrown straight into the unbound exploration straight off the bat. You’re absolutely free to drive what you want, where you want and how you want. You’re not forced into doing races or pressured into completing a story – which is why it’s so special. It’s a true, open-world experience from the moment you lift the controller and choose your first car.
If you are the type of person who likes to participate in every aspect of Horizon, you’ll be pleased to hear you have so many options. Whether you want to focus on dirt, street or even stunt driving, you can level up each one separately and climb the ranks. You even have the option of completing a storyline if you choose to. Progressing through the ranks isn’t quite as easy as it sounds, as you have to raise your influence to get through to new stages of the festival. By competing in races you gain influence at different levels depending on where you place at the end, but if that’s not your style, you can track down some influence boards to destroy and rack up some skill points to get yourself by.
One thing I’ve always loved about Forza Horizon is that Playground Games enhance and improve on previous parts of the older games in such a great way that they feel almost brand new. Barn finds are back, and they are insanely hard to come across now. They don’t stand out whatsoever, so every find makes you feel accomplished and almost like a treasure hunter, which is honestly one of the best feelings in life. If you’re not feeling adventurous, or want to experience that treasure hunt feeling, you have such a huge variety of cars to choose from back at the marketplace that you’re spoilt for choice. Over 450 cars are featured in Forza Horizon 4, so you’d struggle to not find your perfect match. Personally, I always purchase the Lancia Delta and fully upgrade it to make it the punchiest, high-speed, fun car you wish you could drive in real life (and trust me, I’d love to have my own Delta). If that doesn’t rub you the right way, you can always go for a hovercraft – because you know, that’s a thing.
Forza Horizon 4 is home to changing seasons too, which drastically affects the road conditions and driving as a whole. Each race you do feels so different from one season to the next that it feels brand new. You will find that you choose a different car for each season too and you’ll find ones that feel better than others in different conditions. Driving in Forza has always been ultra-realistic, but Forza Horizon adds a casual side to the experience. Don’t get me wrong, if you’re more of a pro sim racing type, you will still enjoy Forza Horizon 4 to its fullest, but it’s more accepting for people who want to try their hand at the racing genre. The way the scenery changes makes you feel as if you’re right there in the game, overlooking mountains or sliding your way through frozen fields. Alongside this, the map is huge and you will always find somewhere new to explore and drive through.
A new addition (and quite frankly, a great addition) to Forza Horizon 4 is that you can now buy and own houses. These houses provide a place for you to change your character, clothing and emotes. These don’t come cheap though, so participating in races to gain CR is crucial if you want an awesome base for yourself. Customising and upgrading your car has its home in the marketplace where you can design new paint jobs or pick one that other players have designed themselves. Forza has always been known for its full customisable options to make the car you’re driving more comfortable for you, and Horizon 4 is no exception to this. If you aren’t wanting to customise much, but you want your car to be faster or feel different, you can apply user-designed upgrades to speed up the process. One bad thing about doing that is sometimes players will lock their creations, meaning if you want to tweak something a small amount you’re not able to. But, it’s pretty neat feeling how others drive their cars and how they’ve made them different to yours. These also cost you CR, but they’re worth it.
One feature I really took advantage of in Forza Horizon 4 is the photo mode. I was never a huge fan of the feature before, but I have suddenly taken a shine to it and actively look out for the best places to take pictures of my favourite cars. You’re able to manoeuvre around the area you have chosen and apply filters and watermarks then share them amongst the other players and your friends. You don’t have to take pictures of your car specifically either, you can just take a picture of the scenery if you come across a place you want to revisit or maybe you just like the look of the landscape, whatever you choose you’re free to do without limitations.
My experience with Forza Horizon 4 has changed the way I view driving games and I feel it’d be hard to top. It’s absolute perfection in an Xbox One case. Even after all races and experiences are complete, there’s a lot of replayability. You can spend so many hours driving around the countryside, looking over the horizon and trying new cars. Not to mention the option of teaming up with your friends, or racing their drivatars if you see them out and about. For fans of Forza, sim racing or the casual gamer who likes trying new adventures, getting your hands on Forza Horizon 4 is something you won’t regret.