Forza Horizon 4 Xbox One X Review
Forza Horizon 4 Ultimate Edition Early Access Available September 28th
Tested on Xbox One X for the purpose of this review.
Thank you Microsoft for the very early review code, the code was sent free of charge and in no way has influenced our overall decision and rating of the game.
Finally we have another Forza Horizon game to get excited about but will it live up to the hype and manage to get above that ever rising bar that the Forza series constantly keep setting?
As most players will know the Horizon series is like the fun version of the more serious sim that is Forza Motorsport 7. Forza Horizon lets players explore a giant open map with very few boundaries, this combined with endless amounts of races and tasks to do that keep players busy for hours upon hours! Last years instalment Forza Horizon 3 was set in the Australia featuring landmarks such as Surfers Paradise, Byron Bay, Yarra Valley, Woods Point, Coober Pedy and the Outback. Forza Horizon 4 however takes place in Britain and me being British it’s something that I am really happy about! The scaled down version of Britain is about the same size as the Australia map on Horizon 3 so there is plenty to explore, locations such as Lakehurst Forest, Arthur’s Seat, Glen Rannoch and Astmoor are a few of the places players will be able to explore, each one holding plenty of events, challenges, hidden boards and huge jumps to name just a few things to do to keep you busy!
Graphically we have come to expect beautiful visuals with the Forza series and Forza Horizon 4 is no different, this game looks amazing! The weather effects are class leading and the overall detail is eye-popping at times with the sun gleaming off the road surface! The game does feature a setting on Xbox One X to adjust the visuals and performance, the options are either quality mode which sets the game to 4K resolution but at a lower 30FPS, while the other option is performance mode which sets the graphics lower but at a faster 60 frames per second. Out of the two I personally left it on the quality mode, 4K resolution and HDR make this game look stunning and I really didn’t notice any major slowdown in performance. The performance mode isn’t bad but there is a clear difference in the quality of the visuals compared to 4K resolution!
The environments have plenty of things to plough through and destroy, walls and trees are the main things, only the really large trees can’t be destroyed and it’s pretty obvious which ones can’t. This is good compared to Forza Horizon 3 which had that one tree that was always hard to know if it was a breakable one or not! The road surfaces carry detail and will leave clear tire tracks through surfaces like snow and mud adding to the immersion. The photo above featuring the silver VW Golf is actually a NPC car and just shows the amount of car and attention that’s gone into the game, the picture was also taken and edited through the games in-game photo editor.
The games photo mode is a great way to capture pictures of your favourite super and hyper cars with plenty of different filters and settings to get everything just right. The menu also give the option to reset any cosmetic damage on the car which is a great feature if you catch that perfect angle but the car is all smashed up ruining the photo. The options in the photo mode are pretty extensive and give plenty of options such as focusing on stuff other than the car if you want to. The effect mode is a selection of different filters to choose from to get the picture just how you want it. The photo can then be taken and added to your gallery for you or others to view or just remove the UI from the picture and screenshot it to have it available to do whatever you want with it.
Animals are also spread out in the game on the fields, chickens and sheep will sometimes be in your path as you race round and explore Britain but don’t waste your time trying to hit them because it’s not possible! Trust me as sad as it is I have tried, but then again I would be surprised to see it actually let you! Something that can be hit and needs to be found is fast travel boards and influence boards, hitting the fast travel boards will lower the price of fast travelling until all are hit and then it will be completely free. The influence boards award influence points which help unlock things as you progress through the game. Changing cars can also be done through the main menu free of charge which saves paying like on Forza Horizon 3 or having to drive all the way back to the festival.
The visual detail isn’t the only strength Forza has either the sound is also really impressive, cars sound authentic and all have a unique sound, the high-pitched roar from a V12 is easily distinctive as well as the backfiring from the exhaust of a tuned Escort Cosworth. I found everything sounds brilliant and a joy to listen to at times so make sure you get the sound turned up! Music is also really good with a good selection of soundtracks from the in-game radio stations. The voice acting can at times be a little cheesy but for the most part it’s pretty strong it’s only the facial animations in the cut-scenes that need some work as they are a little to out of sync.
Dynamic Seasons Add Variety To The Map & The Driving.
Something of a standout feature for Horizon 4 is the dynamic seasons addition. This means players will constantly be experiencing different conditions as each season changes, wet, dry, muddy, snowy and icy conditions are all something that the driver will have to adapt to as the year goes on! The world is also fully synchronised so that everyone playing will experience the same changes throughout the day at the same time. New season changes also bring new gameplay, challenges, rewards and new themed content for players to use. The dynamic seasons is a massive addition to Horizon and adds so much to the gameplay as different seasons allow for different ways to play and explore, in the summer you will find yourself driving through water whereas in the winter that river will be frozen over, so to get the power down get the snow tyres on to get traction on top of that ice! The season planner from the menu indicates how long you have left before entering the new season.
There is a different selection of tyres to choose from to suit what your actually doing while exploring Horizon, snow tyres, drift tyres and normal racing tyres all contribute to the way your car handles on different road surfaces and as in real life tyres are one of the most important choices when modifying the car! The weather can also have a dramatic effect on the way your car handles, sudden rain can cause the car to completely loose traction, it will mean you will need to take extra care when you decide to power through a corner.
Getting everything setup correctly obviously makes a difference between winning and losing but it’s not the only factor, setting the difficulty correctly to your own skill level will make a huge difference too, Horizon 4 gives players plenty to tweak and adjust to get it just right. Changing these settings will also increase or decrease earnings, so struggling for the win instead of cruising it is made worthwhile because of the extra credits and bonuses that it brings. The options range from changing the AI Drivatar skill to setting things like the traction control or ABS off. If the game thinks you are winning too easily it will tell you and offer to increase the AI difficulty in exchange for a higher percentage of credits for winning.
Drivatars are a great feature that make it a personal battle even though it’s actually just AI.
The AI Drivatars are a great feature that Forza has used for a while now and really adds a sense of rivalry instead of just passing a car with no connection to you, it makes you really feel your beating a person that you actually know. Drivatars are based on the person they are showing, if that person actually drives aggressively when they play you may find their Drivatar does too so watch out when trying to pass them!
Exploring Horizon to start with there isn’t massive amounts to do, with just a single car to use and just a few different races to get things going but once you have the basics things really open up and your map will be absolutely full of things to do and challenges to complete! Something that can now be brought all over the map is houses, these act as a spawn point to start from. Each house can sometimes include a bonus reward for buying them, the rewards can be things like a wheel-spin or even a car. Houses are not the only home that can be brought, there is the option to buy Edinburgh Castle which even includes its own achievement for buying it so as you can imagine it’s pretty expensive, 15,000,000cr to be exact!
Business earnings is a feature that can slowly earn money each day, I brought the Worlds Fastest Rentals business for 100,000cr and it slowly gives money between each play session so eventually it will pay for itself and then start to make profit.
Wheel-spins have changed slightly this year with the new Super wheel spin which instead of giving just one prize actually has three! Prizes range from cash amounts, cars, clothing and emotes! Emotes are something that constantly seems to be getting added in games with the popularity of games like Fortnite and Destiny 2 already showing this, Horizon 4 now even features the Floss for all you flossing fans out there! Character customisation is clearly something they were trying to add to Horizon 4 and there really is plenty of options to choose from with all the clothing, emotes and even different horns for the cars.
Wheel-spins especially the super ones are a great way to earn money fast and are not just acquired through buying a house, the single wheel spins are also rewarded everytime you level up or even by reaching certain criteria in certain events. A three stage series gave the option of getting a super wheel spin by beating expert AI difficulty Drivatars in all three races, by doing this you will also receive 5,000cr and a normal wheel-spin for completing the easier challenges as well so Forza does reward the players that want to ramp the difficulty up and push their skills to the limit!
Scattered throughout the world there isn’t just events and races to fill your time with there are plenty of jumps, drift zones and speed zones to try to beat. These zones are some of the most addictive parts, trying to get a three star score and moving up the online leader board never gets old and if you do manage it the influence gained will unlock more events and races to keep you busy! Aside from all the races and different things to do around the map there is also showcase events, these events usually put you against something that you wouldn’t normally race against like a hover boat or a jet, there was also a strange showcase letting you live out a race as the master chief from Halo and racing to the end with all sorts of Halo vehicles and voice acting.
Aside from the usual races there are also story missions to complete and these include performing massive jumps for the stunts in film production or being in a drift club to name a couple. Each story has 10 chapters that will need to be completed and with this each one has up to three stars to be earned to fully complete the event. Earning these stars will require hitting certain achievements such as things like beating a set time or jumping a certain distance.
Barn finds are also making an appearance this year again and can be frustrating to find if you haven’t brought the treasure map that is sold separately!
Given a purple circled area on the map you will have to go in search of the barn which holds the banged up classic inside that you mechanic will need to fix up before giving it to you. The games drone mode does come in pretty handy for this as it lets you search the area from slightly higher up and will mark out anything you find along the way such as fast travel boards or influence boards. When you do find it and watch through the small cut-scene it’s only a small wait till it’s added to your garage, you do have the option to fast track the repair and get it quicker but the costs are way to much for it to be worthwhile and it really isn’t that long to wait anyway.
With all these different things on the map it can get a little confusing on what to do next but this is where Horizon life really helps, this menu will show what level you are on certain things in the game such as the race series, car collector level or even how much you have explored on the map to name a few things it tracks. Selecting the type of races you want to focus on will take everything else off the map so you can clearly see what you have left to do in that certain race type. Horizon life also shows the rewards that will be given for levelling up in each category, the rewards can be things such as cash rewards to wheel-spins, levelling up requires influence points gained as you progress.
Onto the most important thing on Forza and it has to be the cars, 450 of them in fact! Each one with its own upgrades and mods allowing you to even make a Ford transit complete with roof rack and ladders capable of over 200mph with a V12 fitted. The selection of cars has just about something for everyone, there’s old classics, trucks, hyper-cars, super-cars, hot hatches and honestly just about anything you could want from a racing game. The detail put into these cars really is impressive and each one even features a detailed interior that can be seen when driving in the in-car view. Cars can be brought through the car shop in game, won by winning certain events and also brought through the games on-line auction house. This is a great way to acquire some of the games cars that can’t be brought through the normal shop as well as sometimes getting some of the games Hyper-cars like the Bugatti Chiron at a cheaper price. Cars can also have a paint change to suit your personal preference as well as add livery designs.
Each car also has its own car mastery, this is different perks for each car that you can unlock with points from doing skills while driving and chaining skills together for more points eventually filling the skill wheel and gaining a point. Cars carry up to 16 different perks to unlock and these can be anything from a free wheel-spin to 300,000 cr straight into your Forza bank account so it’s something well worth doing!
Last but not least is Forzathon and and team adventure. Forzathon sets daily challenges for you to try and complete to earn FP points, these points can then be spent in the Forzathon shop to buy things like wheel-spins, cars, clothing and special horns. There is a set time limit before the items that are available will be reset and changed. The team adventure mode allows you to team up either by making your own team or joining someone else’s to then cooperatively work through winning races together against the other team, there are a few different modes to choose from including the free roam race which removes the checkpoints and you can take any route you like to try and win, it’s all a great way to test yourself against other real players in the world.
Depending in the version that you buy different packs are included, the ultimate edition included The Best Of Bond pack which gave some iconic cars from the James Bond series. The ultimate edition also includes the Forza car pass so you will constantly be getting the new vehicles as they are added, VIP membership which allows benefits like double money in race rewards, weekly bonus super wheelspins, three exclusive VIP Forza edition cars, VIP crown flair, VIP vanity Items, emotes, car horn and a free house. The other big thing the Ultimate edition includes is the expansion bundle, this bundle will give access to both new expansions when they are released, first one in December 2018 and then the next in the first half of 2019.
Forza Horizon 4 is a must have! The amount of content on offer make the game a steal and with 450 cars to acquire and customise there is plenty to keep players busy! The visuals and weather effects are class leading in a racing game and look fantastic even more so in 4K HDR, combined with great sound effects and a really good line up of music on the games in-game radio. Britain in Horizon 4 is an absolute joy to explore with or without friends, the amount of cars and customisation on offer for each one is huge. Once you do manage to somehow by miracle manage to clear everything there’s always Forzathon to keep things going until the new DLC comes in the future. Weather you are a serious racer or not Forza Horizon 4 is a must have to any racers collection!
9.3 / 10
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Forza Horizon 4 standard edition can be found HERE
Please note If you buy the digital version of Forza that you also get the option to play on the PC as well for free if you have a PC powerful enough to handle the games visual demands!
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Forza Horizon 4
- Huge amount of content
- Beautiful visuals
- Great car sounds and strong music line up on the in-game radio stations
- Photo mode with plenty of picture editing options
- Britan has never looked so good or been this fun to explore in a game before
- Facial animations need some work
- Going off-road can lead to getting stuck, car reset sometimes puts the car back where it was stuck