Driving games have always been difficult to get into if you are not a gearhead, and the many intricacies and nuances in such niche games can often be lost on the uninitiated. Forza Horizon 4, however, gives you those options and then some, in a joyous, exhilarating celebration of driving.
Set in Great Britain, the open-world nature of Forza Horizon 4 is one of its biggest draws. Inspired by regions of the many nations like Wales and England, you could just take a leisurely drive for hours on end exploring the beautifully realised world that Playground Games has constructed.
Be it cobbled streets, winding hills, or gorgeous highways, no drive in-game is complete without a jaw drop or awe-inspired oohs and ahs.
And the game’s newest addition of Seasons completes the whole package. Racers will be competing throughout summer, autumn, winter, and spring, and you can expect the world to change accordingly. Not only does the physical landscape change (frozen lakes, falling leaves etc), the change in seasons can affect your performance on the roads as well.
It all feeds into teaching you to become a better driver. Vehicle changes, driving techniques, and how you adapt to changes to familiar courses are just some obstacles you will have to overcome to be the best. If you are struggling to find the perfect balance, you can always turn to the finely tuned presets for your customisation needs.
Forza Horizon 4 has a total of 450 vehicles for you to go crazy with, 100 more than its predecessor, and there will definitely be something for everyone. Except for fans of Japanese manufacturers Toyota and Mitsubishi, the stable of vehicles has never been better. You can tinker to your heart’s desire and craft yourself the perfect ride you might never get in reality.
To say they handle wonderfully is an understatement, Forza Horizon 4’s vehicles are amongst the best when it comes to handling. Every vehicle feels suitably weighted and solid, and no matter how you decide to play on the roads, you will be making progress on each vehicle’s individual skill tree.
Whether you are attempting to drive clean or to wipe the competition from existence, skill points will be awarded that can be used to activate benefits like buffs to progress, as well as rewards like more of the game’s currency, Influence. Skill points are even interchangeable, so if you are particularly great with a certain vehicle, it could give you a headstart when you decide to switch.
This is a step up from Forza Horizon 3’s all-encompassing skill tree, and learning the ins and outs of a favourite vehicle will reward you more tangibly now.
Drivers can also purchase costly Properties that will function as garages to switch and mess with your collection of cars. They are pretty expensive, but often come with useful perks and become fast travel points that will save you valuable time. It will be a long and winding road to buying them all, but Forza Horizon 4 is so good at every turn, it does not really matter.
This extends to the online suite of features as well. Drivatars make a return, and you can be annoyed with how your friends handle their vehicles, just like in real life. Playing the game solo will have you join with up to 72 other players, populating the world with opportunities of impromptu races, convoy team adventures, and the #Forzathon Live public events!
Think of it like a cooperative raid, where all players in a session will be tasked to achieve a score that will unlock currency to spend in an exclusive store only for the Forzathon. It is a fun way to bring players together and add life to an already bustling world, but it does get repetitive if everyone is just repeating an activity just to hit a score.
You can always stick to racing with the AI, and there are plenty of activities to get up to. Speed racing, drifting, and the more interesting stunt driving and Halo-themed showcase spice things up nicely. You can even create custom courses, perfect for testing out a vehicle before bringing to a race.
Every activity you complete feeds into a corresponding progression meter for each discipline, allowing you to hone your skills and get rewarded for your effort. Opening up the world and adding more activities will push you to explore, while getting free stuff is always a great experience. Forza Horizon 4 will continually entice and push you along to the next milestone, and it is an addictive and free-flowing cycle that keeps giving.
It is not a long slog either, as the game’s tracking of both your driving and progress in the disciplines drops rewards at a generous pace. Level-up and grab yourself some new threads, emotes, and even the occasional free ride, it is a wonderful incentive for players to keep on chugging.
Playground Games has it locked down when it comes to creating a world teeming with fun activities, approachable driving, entertaining seasonal changes, and a game that just keeps giving players more reasons to come back. Virtual driving has always been fun, but with Forza Horizon 4, a podium finish is a guarantee.
GEEK REVIEW SCORE
If you are searching for a fun time in a visually stunning world, driving awesome vehicles, and constantly being recognized for your efforts, your search stops here.
Gameplay - 10/10
Story - 7/10
Presentation - 10/10
Value - 10/10