Wednesday, 31 October 2018 05:48

Forza Horizon 4 Review

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Edited by: Tiffany Lillie

Forza Horizon 4 is the latest installment in the Forza Horizon series, keeping true to the open-world environment but in a different location — instead of exploring Australia, you’ll drive through the streets of the UK and across the four seasons, a new feature in the Horizon line. Fans of the Forza series and newcomers alike are likely to find replayability and enjoyment from what this release offers.

With plenty of different cars to collect, varying race types, fun and intense online gameplay, frequent events, and more, there’s plenty here for racing fans. I enjoyed Forza Horizon 3, but this one even more so. Often I found myself so immersed that only my realization of how late it was pulled me away from playing.


As with other Forza titles I’ve played, the sheer amount of vehicles here is staggering. If you have a DLC pack or the Car Pass, you can quickly find yourself with more cars than you know what to do with, but the added Car Mastery system reimagines what you could do with Skill Points from Horizon 3. In Horizon 3, your skill tree remained the same regardless of what car you used, and so there wasn’t as much reason to explore a new car besides to test drive and perhaps add a new vehicle to your list of favorites. This new system is more rewarding for trying out a new car since each one has its own board you may unlock. Certain cars have a full sixteen perks on their board to unlock, while others have fewer. Perks vary from a one-time use, such as an increase to Car Collection Influence or a Wheelspin, to permanent passives, such as increasing the particular car’s Skill Multiplier from five to six or an increase in Influence from Skills you perform in freeroam.


As with any racing title, you should have an arsenal of vehicles, supplying you with a good choice for any situation — this holds especially true of online adventures where you’re unaware of restrictions on what vehicle you may choose until you’ve joined. Of course, you may tune and upgrade a car as you see fit, even making an otherwise RWD vehicle into an AWD one, for instance. The tuning section is rather extensive — in prior Forza releases, one thing that I’ve heard from friends is that they love the realism of Forza titles and how much you’re able to adjust, and that holds here as well — from both front and rear tire pressure and gear ratios, to modifying acceleration and top speed, to adjusting downforce to emphasize speed or cornering. If you want a quick setup to try, you can download a tuning someone else has uploaded. This saves time and gets you more or less up to par with other racers for online play.


Handling is smooth and responsive, but there are a few cars that tend to slip or fishtail with the slightest adjustment of the steering wheel — these vehicles take time to get used to. At least not all of the cars handle the same. You may adjust specific details of the handling, such as whether or not to have traction or stability control. These options allow for a smoother, more relaxed experience, and can mitigate a negative effect such as attempting to take a corner too quickly. This makes for a less realistic experience and yields fewer Credits, your currency to purchase cars and houses. Another way to boost your Credit gain is increasing the difficulty of the AI.

One different progression system is that each type of activity has its own level: by participating in Cross Country or the Dirt Racing Series races, you level up that type of series, unlocking more races of that type, along with clothing or chat phrases to use. To play a ranked version of an adventure, you must first get to level three in that type of adventure. In the previous Horizon, one form of progression was unlocking and leveling up festivals. The goal of leveling up all festivals to their max took some time; Horizon 4 feels a little lacking in regards to a main progression system. You can unlock various Showcase events and Stories to complete, and there’s still plenty to do otherwise, however.


Online modes — especially playground games — are fun and intense, but they are sometimes frustrating. A few times I was unable to find a Games adventure, or it wouldn’t load, prompting me to exit the session and attempt to join another. There’s no option to leave in-between adventures after you complete one unless you want to leave during the first race or game of the next adventure, which I hear earns a ban if you’re playing in ranked. Perhaps the devs changed this — the first ranked adventure I played, the application didn’t automatically queue me into another adventure. Nevertheless, because some leave during this period in the casual quickplay variant, the first match isn’t always balanced. Sometimes you’re stuck on a team of three facing a team of six (AI doesn’t fill empty slots when someone leaves).


Two other features that keep gameplay fresh are the rotating seasons and Forzathon events. Unlike Horizon 3 where you would complete a task for a particular reward, in Horizon 4 whenever you complete a task related to the Forzathon event (which can be as simple and easy as getting two Clean Racing Skills for a daily challenge or participating in the Forzathon Live event) you instead get Forzathon Points (FP). With these points you may purchase cars and items from the Forzathon shop, but none are exclusive to this shop, meaning you may obtain these rewards after the event is finished. Forza Edition cars, which are rather rare and can be expensive, pop up in the Forzathon shop. If nothing catches your eye, you can buy Wheelspins and super Wheelspins with your FP. You can obtain these spins otherwise, such as by leveling; these spins grant a random reward, such as a car or a decent amount of Credits.


The only issue I ran into, apart from those associated with the playground games and not being able to leave after I completed an adventure, was an odd error message when launching the game that said my graphics driver wasn’t updated and that the game is unable to run; the driver is up to date, and Horizon 4 ran fine regardless. The game did stutter on a few occasions (where my frame rate tanked to around 20 fps) but ran flawlessly otherwise (around 70 fps on Ultra).


The Verdict: Great

Forza Horizon 4 is a wonderful, fulfilling racing experience. There are plenty of cars to collect, and farming for money feels like a grind at times, but free cars from DLC or Wheelspins come in handy. Horizon 4 features notable changes between this release and the previous installment, particularly the change of location and the implementation of seasons. If you enjoy racing titles or the previous Horizon, you’ll likely enjoy this. Too often I played this release well into the morning, and it was time well spent.

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Chris Hubbard

A fan of RPGs above other genres, Chris has been playing video games for as long as he can remember. Some of the games that had the most influence on his gaming preferences have been the Final Fantasy and the Diablo series. More recently, most of Chris' gaming time has been going toward Gems of War and Clicker Heroes (give it a try, it can be addicting), along with open-world RPGs such as Skyrim and ESO. He's also dabbled with RPG Maker software, and it is a goal of his to someday create an RPG.


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