Thursday, 8 November 2018

Forza Horizon 4 ★★★★☆


'Forza Horizon 3' was easily one of my favourite games of 2016, and the series is hands down my favourite when it comes to racing games. Now Playground Games have released 'Forza Horizon 4' (available on Game Pass if you own an Xbox One), now set in Britain and contains a new, much-anticipated feature - seasons.


The premise of the game is very similar to 'Forza Horizon 3', the general idea being that your character is taking part in the latest Horizon Festival, competing in races and challenges to gain a following and become the best there. As well as the multitude of championships there are also lots of challenges relating to stunt driving, high speed car rentals, drift club, and retro racing games, replacing the Bucket List challenges from the previous game, and a much more expansive online world which now allows you to join Horizon Life, a feature whereby real players join you in real time across the world, as opposed to the drivatars you came across in 'Forza Horizon 3'. This 'shared world' adds a new dynamic to online play and also gives the player a reason to keep logging in every day (as if you needed a reason) - seasonal championships change every week so it's in your interest to keep playing if you want to complete each season. It's not quite as linear as previous games either, with the ability to play in the order you want and complete an easily cluttered map that will either completely overwhelm you or motivate you to win everything (hopefully the latter). 

I can't fault the experience of driving at all, with 'Forza Horizon 4' still catering for both serious petrol heads and the more casual players, giving you the opportunity to fine-tune your car to its maximum capabilities or ignore that option altogether and just enjoy the ride. There's a greater range of cars available to drive now, and a brilliant map layout consisting of some really fun (and at points, quite challenging) routes to test your latest drive on. The graphics are also their most beautiful yet, with stunning views of Edinburgh Castle, the Cotswolds, and others, and the introduction of seasons emphasises this beauty even more whilst also keeping the game fresh.


The map is big and, although it really is a delight to drive through, I felt that Playground Games missed out on some real opportunities by focusing primarily on Scotland and Northern England and omitting the rest. Where, for example, are the rolling hills and hidden bays of Devon and Cornwall? The miles and miles of the stunning New Forest, or the vibrant streets and seaside stretches of towns like Brighton and Bournemouth? There's also no focus on Wales or Northern Ireland, which is a shame considering what they have to offer. I'm hoping there will be some DLC to cover these wonderful landscapes, but I felt slightly disappointed as a Brit that only that quaint, twee impression of British life was the covered in the game.

Back to the gameplay though. There's really something for everyone with 'Forza Horizon 4', from online or offline races and head-to-heads (and of course the fun but frustrating online minigames) to the ability to buy your own properties and earn money through business. Players can now customise their outfits and emotes, and can communicate with others using unlockable chat phrases. Super Wheelspins now exist as well as a way to unlock even more prizes, from cars and CR bonuses to novelty horns, and the design of the game has been changed to make it more fun - I particularly liked the finish graphics of each race which are colourful and fun. The showcases continue to be excellent, with one, in particular, standing out (no spoilers, but it involves another game published by Microsoft). I found the game to be quite glitchy at points, with some unusually long loading times, but hopefully, this will be rectified soon.


As racing games go, it's still obvious that Forza is miles ahead of other series in the genre, and is really a must-have game for anyone who enjoys them. Although it wasn't quite everything I had hoped for (though maybe I was expecting too much) one thing's for sure - many future hours of mine will be going into it.

★★★★☆
Hannah Read

Forza Horizon 4 at CeX




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