K E Y P O I N T S
Forza Horizon 4 is the latest in the hugely-successful racing game and for the first time ever, it’s set in the UK.
Set during the fictional ‘Horizon Festival’ the game sees you climb through the ranks of drivers by winning races, accomplishing over-the-top ‘showcase’ events and discovering new cars.
The vast map is effectively a ‘greatest hits’ of the United Kingdom, encompassing the stunning villages of the Cotswolds, the rolling hills of the South Downs and of course Scotland with the inclusion of Edinburgh and the surrounding mountains and lakes.
The game’s map has four different versions: Winter, Spring, Summer and Autumn and it cycles through each on a weekly basis.
Seasons actually alter the geography of the map too e.g. winter freezes lakes that you can then drive on.
The depth to the game is quite remarkable so whether you’re an amateur or a pro the game will adapt to how you want to play.
Online play is a now turned on by default, but if you don’t want to fill your world with real people you can just as easily turn it off.
V E R D I C T
Forza Horizon has finally come home. After three games, the Warwickshire-based Playground studios have at last chosen to set their four-wheeled festival in the rolling hills of the United Kingdom.
For those that haven’t played a Forza Horizon before the premise is simple and ludicrous: you are a driver who has arrived at the ‘Horizon Festival’. Think Glastonbury for cars and you wouldn’t be far off.
The gameplay is really accessible, and this is coming from someone who can’t play most racing games. But for purists who love their racing technical and difficult, Horizon 4 is still a Forza game at heart – which means you can tweak and adjust almost every aspect of the dizzying number of cars available.
More than anything, however, Horizon is all about the journey. Coming first is great, but it’s not a requirement as the reward system always makes you feel like you’re progressing through the festival.
And what a journey it is. Playground set a high bar with their previous locations, and by coming home to the UK they have created something that’s really breathtaking. From the vast black lakes of Scotland to the daisy fields of the South Downs, this is a ‘Greatest Hits’ of the UK in which every stone wall, Cotswold cottage and daisy petal has been recreated in meticulous detail.
In fact it features real houses which were scouted and then scanned directly into the game.
New to the series is the addition of seasons. Each week the entire map is now transformed as it changes from Autumn to Winter, Spring to Summer. Lakes freeze over, opening up new races and shortcuts, while in Autumn the landscape is transformed into a ocean of browns and rich oranges.
As you progress, the game dishes out its big cinematic acts known as ‘Showcases’. These absurd races see you being pitted against the Red Arrows, a giant Isle of White hovercraft or a team of display bikes. These are some of my favourite moments in the Horizon series. Yes they require a base level of skill, but not so much that you can’t sit back and enjoy the spectacle of what’s going on around you.
Driving a £1m hypercar might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but throw in a team of fighter jets, a great soundtrack and scenery that’ll leave you gawping, and it’s hard not to finish these races with a massive grin on your face.
For those who know the series this will all sound very familiar, and to some that might smack of laziness. My view is: if it ain’t broke …
Of course Horizon 4 adds new elements to the formula, with a now permanently online world and the addition of new activities to keep you occupied but ultimately this isn’t a revolution of the gaming series. Instead it is a continuation of a winning formula: accessible and exciting driving, a new world, and a collection of carefully curated radio stations to provide the soundtrack.
T A K E H O M E M E S S A G E
Forza Horizon 4 is the racing game for people who don’t like racing games. It understands what makes people smile when they’re driving and has bottled it into something that provides pure escapism.
It’s ludicrously silly, stunningly beautiful and if you’re getting a bit tired of everything that’s going on in the real world it’s a chance to switch off and just enjoy yourself.
Forza Horizon 4 is available now on Xbox One.