The Forza Horizon series is the gold standard to open world racers. From the beautiful scenery to the online shared world, the series keeps evolving. Coming off the success of Forza Horizon 3, FH4 takes you to a fictionalised Great Britain where it covers Edinburgh, Ambleside, the Lake District amongst other regions.
Developed by Playground Games, Forza Horizon 4 treats us to an interactive world where every real time week shifts the in-game season to something completely different. Playground games has taken a new approach by adding daily and season specific challenges. With all the changes and replay value added, does Forza Horizon 4 surpass its predecessor?
I’m happy to confirm that it overtakes it.
Forza Horizon 4 starts off with a beautiful intro where it welcomes you to the Horizon festival. It gives you a peek on how the seasons change as you race to the finish line. Once the game starts to open up, you’ll have many activities and events to complete. For example, you’ll go pass many speed traps, speed zones, drift zones, and danger signs. Achieving 3 stars in each activity will increase your influence level. Forza Horizon 4 has a variety of events from cross country, dirt rally, to drag and street racing. Once you progress and complete these events, you unlock the showcase events where you can race an aircraft, a hover boat, and even a train. I really enjoyed the story events and one of my favourite moments was from the LaRacer missions as it pays homage to classic SEGA titles, such as OutRun, SEGA Rally, and Bandai Namco’s Ridge Racer franchise. There’s so much fan service for racing fans.
As you cruise across the streets and countryside, you’ll also stumble across barns where you can find a vintage ride. There’s 15 barns across the map and it’s down to you to find these classic vehicles. The game has many different story missions and BBC’s Top Gear also make a return with 7 chapters. Aisha’s Taxi story line puts you in a role of a cab driver where you drive a traditional British (TX4) Black cab. There’s so much to explore and uncover to a point where you’ll be playing this game for hours on end.
You can play the majority of these events in solo, co-op or even PvP. The online shared world makes it easier for players to connect and start a multiplayer session. You can invite friends to your convoy where you can free roam and take part in many activities and adventures. Team Flag Rush and Survival were some of my favourite online games. As you level up and win races, you earn in-game credits and get a chance to win prizes on the Horizon wheel spin. You can win cars, gear, and emotes for your created character. Speaking of character, the character creation is disappointing as it lacks options. You’re only given a few presets to work with and there is no option to edit their hairstyles, facial features or body type.
There are many seasonal activities and playlists that you can access from the pause menu. #Forzathon is a new addition where you participate in a public co-op event. As a team, you’ll be required to complete certain objectives whether it’s gaining points through speed traps, drifting or other daily activities. Completing this will earn you rewards.
Forza Horizon 4 is not limited when it comes to cars. The game offers over 700 cars which includes Hyper, and Modern Supercars. If you’re in to Muscle, Off-road, and Cult Classics then FH4 has you covered. Playground has put care in to this game and I also appreciate how the British car culture is celebrated in this game.
Another new addition to Forza Horizon 4 is the Eliminator. Think of it as a Battle Royale mode with cars. You’ll be in a match with 72 other players where you go head to head in race with the players you find. You can find car drops and use them to enhance your experience. As the area of the map starts to shrink, the final showdown will trigger where you’ll have to race to a random location of the map in order to win. I’ve had hours of fun playing this mode but my only issue is that there’s no option to have a friend from your convoy in the same match.
Super7 is another new addition that was introduced during an update where it adds a Blueprint Builder. You can build challenges using ramps, barriers and props like a Ferris wheel and a T-Rex dinosaur. Super7 keeps the game fresh with all the community challenges.
Graphically, Forza Horizon 4 is a benchmark on PC. Options are too numerous to list and are laid down in the most minute detail. Those of you looking to squeeze out every last bit of performance can feel good knowing the developers have done everything to let you control the game’s fidelity. Whether it’s an FPS switch, odd resolution, or modification of shadow maps – Playground has you covered.
The in game visuals are breath-taking as well. Environments are detailed exquisitely, car models are class leading, and the different weather effects are realistic and awesome. The game has amazing reflections, beautiful textures, and realistically modelled materials. The best part is the game goes out of its way to highlight these visual delicacies at each and every turn. I had the game running on my GeForce RTX 3080 and a Ryzen 3900x with the graphical settings cranked up to ultra/extreme and I didn’t have any issues with performance. I was getting between 110-128FPS. For a massive open world game I was expecting bugs and glitches but surprisingly, I didn’t come across any. The Steam version of Forza Horizon 4 is well polished and I highly recommend playing it with the PS5 DualSense controller.
Let’s get this out the way. Horizon has always blurred the line between arcade and realism. You aren’t getting either, but a hybrid the best of both worlds. Physics are made with fun as a back drop, but realism as a foundation. In other words, jump in.
Musically the game runs the gamut of Euro pop, Drum and Bass, and tons of dance. Track after track is designed to keep the hurt pumping and the triggers blazing. It THUMPS alongside the awesome sounds of the vehicles themselves. While I’m not an expert on what a car should sound like – the audio package here is excellent!
Forza Horizon 4 on Steam is a welcome addition. It’s the enthusiast racer tuned for the masses. It’s fun, arcadey, addictive, and filled to the brim with content. This is one you don’t want to miss.
Developer: Playground Games / Publisher: Xbox Games Studios
Release date: 09/03/2021
Platforms: PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, and xCloud
Version Reviewed: PC via Steam
“Forza Horizon 4 on Steam is a welcome addition. It's the enthusiast racer tuned for the masses. It's fun, arcadey, addictive, and filled to the brim with content. This is one you don't want to miss”