Somewhere, over the Horizon…?
‘Forza Horizon 4‘ races onto the scene after some increasingly confident DLC for Horizon 3, although the main series has struggled to make forward steps for a couple of iterations now.
Does a change of scenery to good old Britain make all the difference?
The Horizon games have always tried to add on a bit of a ‘story-lite’ feel to the racing whilst also giving you freedom to explore the world and complete the races and challenges in almost any order you wish. Horizon 4 continues this theme, but adds some clever little deeper narrative pieces into the mix.
Firstly, there’s a variety of seasonal events to take place in; secondly, there’s a wider cast of characters and little bits of VO between ‘rounds’ of the various events which provide a bit of back-story, whilst thirdly, there’s some whole special events to take part in which even have their own cut-scenes. The missions where you suddenly become a stunt driver in a film are some of my favourite in the whole game.
Finally, the showcases are a little bit better integrated into the gameplay as well, although they still have the same fakery to ensure a good spectacle.
Forza has always been strongest when it comes to the driving model, and the balance in Horizon 4 is the best which it has ever been, and by quite some margin. Turn on all the assists, and you can be quite the hero, although the game does drive a bit too much for you in my opinion. Don’t get me wrong, you’ll still need to apply a bit of brake here and there, but it perhaps ventures a bit too far into the world of autonomous vehicles for my liking. Instead, I prefer to play with most of the assists off. I leave ABS on, because it allows for a bit of late braking and argy-bargy into the corners, but other than that, it’s ’ll down to me and my wheel.
The game’s not always perfect at letting you control a drift mid-corner, but the feedback is excellent, and I reckon 7-8 times out of 10 I’ll be able to correct myself and power away feeling like I’m the late, great Colin McRae.
If the cars are good, then the amount of things to do and see is even better. The number of events is staggering, and thankfully the game is much less restrictive than Forza 7 in letting you choose your car and customising it how you want. There’s also some pretty silly cars in there, particularly if you download the excellent 007 pack. Speaking of silly, you also get to choose and customise a character, including their clothes and celebrations. My shiny-suited chap who likes to floss everywhere is a particularly good touch.
Finally, you have the seasons, which you just can’t leave out. As well as the look of the world, they change the feel too. Racing in winter on summer tyres will have you sliding all over the place. It doesn’t sound like fun, but it encourages you to try out new cars and race types. Even exploring the world is different – some of the collectables can only be acquired during winter when lakes freeze over, for example. It’s a fantastic idea which has meaningful input across the board. MS went heavy on marketing this, and I was worried it was a real gimmick, but Playground have really pulled things off here!
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