Forza Horizon 4 Impressions – The Greatest Race of Them All
During my time at Gamescom, I got to have both a hands-on with Forza Horizon 4 as well as view a presentation by Playground Games, highlighting all of the new features and changes within the game. You may remember that during Gamescom two years ago, Forza Horizon 3 took me by surprise. Just as important is how much I thoroughly loved Forza Horizon 3 when I reviewed it.
Why is this important? Because I'm seriously looking forward to Forza Horizon 4. The series is bringing the series to the UK - or at least a version of the UK. With a compressed map featuring Edinburgh, Derwent Water and Bamburgh Castle. Most important, it will also contain the pure beauty that is the British countryside and more than a few places I've personally been to.
During my hands-on with the game earlier in the day, I found myself thoroughly enjoying what looked and felt absolutely fantastic, and that was on the Xbox One X. Actually racing through the British countryside felt great, feeling as smooth as you could hope. Even more important is that every deep puddle, every slight bump, they all had the expected effect on the car.
All of this improved as the demo moved through the seasons, changing cars as appropriate. Of course, the game won't work exactly as the demo shows. You won't randomly skip from season to season, car to car. It was a great way for the game to showcase the changing of seasons and how these changes make the world of difference.
As winter hit, naturally snow came. There was less grip on the road and I found myself sliding a little bit more. Not only that, looking around the roads and scenery, you can see areas of water frozen over. Only in spring to see a swathe of colours to start and appear as spring comes. Though naturally, spring is still a fairly wet season so the surface is still not exactly ideal and the cars will get quite dirty, to say the least.
It's an engaging system that quite literally means repeating a race in each season guarantees a different race. This is a statement that was made in the presentation I was given later on in the day after playing the game. I can believe it as well, having felt the differences between the seasons. More than that, it will be interesting to see what areas of the map are opened up based on the seasons. For example, I can imagine a race that only takes place during Winter on the ice of Derwent Water.
It's the inclusion of these seasons that will really set Forza Horizon 4 apart from previous versions. This isn't the only core feature though. As explained during the presentation, there are a host of new features. First and foremost is the area and map itself. Previous Forza Horizon titles haven't had a huge amount of verticality, especially Forza Horizon 3. This has all changed and one view shown in the presentation showed an absolutely beautiful vista in the Scottish highlands.
Other features found within the game focus primarily around multiplayer. The new Team Adventure mode will feature teams of 6 facing against each other, rather than focusing primarily on 1v1. The reason for this is to prevent a focus on the ability of just one person spoiling a race for others. In Team Adventure all twelve racers will earn points for their respective team with the aim of making every place matter.
In addition to that, clubs have had an overhaul. There will now be up to 2000 places for members in a club. With the clubs, there is now a club chat system and you will also be able to jump in and watch any club members' stream as they are live. All of this includes crossplay with the Xbox One.
Moving away from actual gameplay improvements comes one of my favourite changes of Forza Horizon 4. The gameplay from the presentation was actually shown on a PC and Playground made it clear that the PC's minimum settings are aimed at a crisp 60FPS. The game will support ultrawide monitors. Also, even more powerful rigs will be able to go even further above ultra settings. Also, just to throw it in, there will be no loot boxes of any kind.
The presentation I saw ended with confirmation of rumours that Playground Games have teamed up with 343 Industries, if only for a single race. This was a Halo-themed race where you get in the seat of a Warthog, filling in the boots of Master Chief. The world is littered with Halo-themed props, with Cortana talking to you as you race to the end of the event, a time trial to ensure you get extracted from the war zone. It's a decent little addition to the game and sure to appeal to Halo fans - though not exactly a title seller.
Forza Horizon 4 looks, sounds and feels absolutely fantastic, though. Add into that the changing seasons, the beautiful environments and the considerably more complex verticality of the Scottish Highlands and you're on to a winner. For PC players like myself, the game's recommended specs are set to achieve 60 FPS and there's the inclusion of extreme settings for those with the best rigs.
To round it all off, Playground Games have promised a huge amount of post-launch support, promising new content every week. This includes two new cars, every single week, for the first 26 weeks after launch. Coming out on the 2nd of October on the PC and Xbox One, we, fortunately, don't have long to wait. If you happen to pre-order the Ultimate Edition, you'll get earlier access on the 28th of September.