After its reveal at E3 and a top secret press preview, we were finally sent a full version of Forza Horizon 4 about a week ago to review and now we can tell you all about it.
Though, If I’m being honest, Forza Horizon games are pretty difficult to review. Mostly because these games are dense with features and it seems impossible to really cover everything. I honestly feel like I could talk about this game for a week and still not really touch on all the nuances and details that it up.
If you’d rather hear me talk about my thoughts on Forza Horizon 4 rather than read them, then you can check out our 10 minute video review below. If you’d rather read then feel free to scroll past the video and continue.
After four games in, the threat of getting stale can be quite real for any franchise, even something as bullet proof as Forza Horizon. When you think about what makes a “Horizon” game, the formula has essentially remained the same. Yet with each iteration, the dev team at Playground Games finds a way to keep things fresh.
In Forza Horizon 2 it was about the location, Forza Horizon 3’s marquee feature was blueprint mode; in Forza Horizon 4 the defining characteristic are seasons.
Within the open world set in Great Britain, players from around the world will all experience spring, summer, autumn, and winter all at once and each season brings its own unique flavor and gameplay experiences to the map.
While I’ve never been to Great Britain myself, Playground Games is literally located there so you know they went the extra mile to include all the best parts of Britain while keeping things as authentic as possible while still leaving room for creative liberties. From driving on rally-worthy dirt roads in the Cotswolds to navigating narrow twisting streets in downtown Edinburgh, it really started to feel like I had a good idea of what Britain had to offer.
By the way, remember how Playground Games used a special 12k HDR camera to capture authentic Australian skies for Forza Horizon 3? Well, they essentially quadrupled that effort, using the same technique to capture the British skies for each season of the year and bringing that into Forza Horizon 4.
That technology combined with what seems to be a completely new lighting system, makes the environments and the cars look absolutely stunning. All of the surfaces and textures soak up the light like a sponge making the terrain and the cars feel tangible.
Furthermore the cars are all very detailed on the outside and on the inside as well. Driving in cockpit view with any of the cars is a visual treat as interiors are faithfully recreated in game, even down to the gauge cluster needles.
Speaking of the cars, there is an impressive roster of over 450 curated vehicles available out of the box with more coming by way of DLC and other special events. Before you ask, there are a ton of Porsches ready to go right off the bat.
Though it is hard to talk about the car roster and not mention that Toyota and Mitsubishi are glaringly absent. While I can’t say they aren’t missed, I can say that with so many other cars to choose from, the lack of an Evo or Supra doesn’t hit as hard.
When it comes to driving the cars, the physics feel just as capable as before. It was hard to really notice a solid difference in handling characteristics between Forza Horizon 4 and Horizon 3, though I think that’s a good thing.
A few of the new elements include the ability to buy houses, which essentially replaces the need for having multiple Horizon Festival hubs found in previous games. Homes are purchased with money earned by racing or completing jobs and each house unlocks goodies like wheelspins, exclusive avatar gear, and barn finds.
There is also a completely new type of wheelspin called a “super wheel spin” which is basically three wheel spins at once, tripling the prize pay out. Though one thing I noticed is that unlike Forza Horizon 3, cash prizes in wheel spins are not doubled for VIPs anymore. However, money from race wins still is.
There are new layers to the progressions system as well and now players can level up in different aspects besides just racing. Painters and tuners have specific progression paths as well.
Beyond all the new features, all of the hallmarks of a Horizon game are still found here: crazy showcase events, danger sign jumps, speed zones, drift zones, and the party atmosphere all remain.
All of the radio stations from Horzion 3 return but each one has a new line up of tunes that so far I’ve found to be very fitting.
There are three types of racing events: dirt racing, road racing, and cross country. With each event you complete more are unlocked which makes it really hard to run out of things to do.
With all the events, hidden treasures, massive car roster, and incredible visuals there is a lot to like about Forza Horizon 4. Although no game is perfect and there are a few blemishes as well.
Firstly, I really wish there was a full on avatar editor rather than just a roster of pre-made avatars. Though I will give Playground Games credit for having a very diverse line up of avatars when it comes to skin tone, race, and a 50/50 gender split.
Second, while there are some new features in customization, the wheel list and body kit list are still the same. I’ve let this pass in previous games because it is not totally in the developer’s hands but after so much time I have to start looking to them to try and expand customization parts somehow.
There are a few more downsides but those two were my main criticisms.
Overall, Forza Horizon 4 is easily the best game in the series so far and is handedly the best looking as well. Even though I’ve had the game for a week now, there is still so much to dig into and I have a feeling I won’t even get close to 100% completion on this game before Forza Horizon 5 is ready to launch two years from now.
If you’re looking for a magical playground of automotive wonder then Forza Horizon 4 is the closest you’re going to get.
I definitely recommend picking this game up. Though I would say you don’t necessarily have to get the “Ultimate Edition”. Sure, VIP status, and DLC cars are great but all the elements that really make Horizon 4 fun can all be found in the standard edition.
If spending $99 on a game isn’t an issue for you then yes, I would say go for the Ultimate Edition. Otherwise I would recommend buying the standard version and then pick up the “Car Pass” a bit later on.
Though you should also know that if you have Xbox’s “Game Pass” service, Forza Horizon 4 is actually included with no extra charge.
For the quick wrap up, check out my list of pros and cons below.
|Seasons add more layers to gameplay.||Still no avatar editor.|
|Visuals are top notch.||Wheels & body kits need updating.|
|Car roster is excellent!||At least one event is repeated.|
|Lots of events to do.||Adding DLC cars to garage is cumbersome|
|Exploration is rewarded.|
|Britain is well suited to the game.|
Forza Horizon 4 is the best game in the series so far and will likely end up becoming a serious addiction for those of us who love automotive escapism. This game is well worth it!