Forza Horizon 4 Review: The Open World King
In the 13 plus years since the first Forza Motorsport debuted on the original Xbox, the series has rightfully taken its place as one of the world’s most beloved racing franchises, now with two alternating titles, the circuit-based Forza Motorsport developed by Turn 10 Studios and the open world Forza Horizon developed by Playground Games.
2018 marks the fourth addition to the Horizon series. It takes racers to an open world based on Great Britain, and since being released last week we’ve had a few days to sink our teeth into Forza Horizon 4 to see how it stacks up.
After playing through a decent amount of the single player career mode and spending a lot of time out messing around in free roam, we’ve found that while Horizon 4 doesn’t necessarily make many huge leaps for the franchise, it’s as vast and fun as it’s ever been.
Different Seasons, Different Game
After a handful of entries, each new Forza Horizon game comes with the expectation of a new exotic environment and hero car, with the UK and McLaren Senna taking those honors this time around. Along with the expected features, Horizon 4’s big change is the addition of seasons.
As you play your way through the game, the environment will change, moving from summer into fall and then into winter and spring, eventually repeating the cycle, and it does far more than just change how the environment looks.
Summers are green and lush and fall is filled with beautiful foliage and littered leaves, while winter brings snow and ice everywhere. In spring you’ll find blooming flowers and plenty of rain, and of course, all of these can affect how your car drives.
Winter in particular is both beautiful and challenging as your vehicle fights for traction on ice-covered roads and off-road excursions will find you barreling through deep snow banks. The changing of the seasons adds both eye candy and more replay value to an already deep game.
Speaking of off-road, Forza Horizon 4 takes the series's all terrain antics to a new level, with a vast map that’s ripe for exploring and racing in all manner of customized 4x4s, trophy trucks, rally cars and more.
While the car roster of the Motorsport series has also grown to include these off-roaders, they are much more at home in the open-wilds of Forza Horizon than on the closed course pavement of Motorsport.
The cool thing is that thanks to the game’s typically deep customization features you can transform just about any vehicle into an off-pavement performer with special rally suspension components and all terrain tires.
If that’s not your thing you can still take to the paved road in hundreds of sports cars and exotics as you travel across everything from tight country roads and scenic switchbacks to wide open highways to hunt top speed records.
For the first time, you can purchase properties in addition to vehicles, with these in-game homes giving your character a place to hang their hat while also providing various perks, including the ability to fast travel between them.
With the last Horizon game being set in Australia, it brought with it a selection of cars both unique and historically important to the region, and Horizon 4 does the same with its roster of British vehicles.
Among these are an entire selection of vehicles featured in the James Bond films, and the game’s signature barn finds return with their own unique selection of historic British machinery that you can discover.
Now if only we had our own personal mechanic that could quickly and thoroughly restore a bunch of old classics that we found for no charge at all...
As in the past, Horizon 4 also includes a number of big set pieces which you’ll experience as you make your way through the game. These include races against a giant hovercraft and a race against the famous Flying Scotsman train.
Once again it’s not these scripted sequences that define Forza Horizon but the vast amount of freedom the game gives you to do anything you want.
The Best in the Series
Whether you are just messing around, building cool cars, exploring the map, making your way through career mode or enjoying the game’s expanded online features with friends, you always feel like you are progressing.
Yes, many of the cars on Horizon 4’s roster will be familiar to regular players and there aren’t any massive changes to how he game feels, but this is a formula that’s already proven itself. If you’ve enjoyed past entires in the series, there’s no doubt you’ll have a great time ripping across Britain in Forza Horizon 4.
With its constantly updating online world and lots of extra content that will be added in the coming months, the Horizon 4 experience will only grow deeper as Playground Games and Turn 10 continue to add to and refine the experience.
It’s hard to judge a game like Forza Horizon 4 against the competition because it really has none. With its beautiful map, vast car roster, deep customization features, great physics and huge list of features, Horizon 4 is the definitive open world racer, and we don’t see that changing anytime soon. See you out there on the roads of Britain!