• Jesper Ingemansson

Review: Forza Horizon 4.

The amazing people over at Microsoft Studios were kind enough (once again) to send me a copy of their upcoming new entry in the highly established franchise Forza Horizon (Forza Horizon 4), to review. I've been roaming around beautiful England for a while now, and I DEFINITELY have some things to talk about. Let's go! Platform: Xbox One S. MINOR SPOILER ALERT (I guess)!

Introduction Like with every Forza game (pretty much), a demo always releases shortly before the game's release with the purpose of letting everyone try a very small portion of the game, for free (so that you know what you're getting into at release, obviously). There is no exception with Forza Horizon 4, and the introduction for the game is the same as the demo. So, the introduction part of the game is where you'll get a quick tour of the newly added concept that is debuting with Forza Horizon 4, seasons. Don't underestimate them, they're a big game changer (literally) but we'll get to that later. Being introduced to the seasons in a way like this is, in my opinion, perfect. It didn't feel like it lasted for too long, and it wasn't too quick either, while also showing me what Forza Horizon 4 will have in store for me later on. Arriving at the official festival is the next thing that happens and it is also the part where you'll get to choose your character, as well as car (after meeting some of the people in charge of the festival). Everyone gets three options, catering to all sorts of people, pretty much, and if you know me in real life, you'll know exactly what car I picked (hint: it is featured in the Fast and Furious movies a lot). In order to get access to pretty much everything that is vital to the game, I firstly needed to complete some activities (like in every other Horizon game), to get me sorted into the game. Once some activities were completed, I unlocked everything (buying cars, looking at messages, and similar things). It's a great start for a (spoiler) great game, with not that much hand holding. At this point, I was pretty much free to do whatever I wanted in the big open English world of Forza Horizon 4. Visuals/performance The amazing thing with Playground Games is that they seem to be nothing short of real life wizards. I mean, just look at this game?! They're wizards both in terms of the game's looks AND performance. To start of, I've NEVER noticed any sort of frame drop, or any visual glitches at all. Roaming around England has never felt or looked better! Also, each different season doesn't have any impact on the game's performance. With that, I mean that some people might think that with winter, there might be a frame missing here and there due to the snow's deformable nature (which might be performance heavy in other games, maybe?), for example, but the performance doesn't get halted in any way ever. Splendid job, Playground! Everything looks amazing everywhere you drive, and every single texture seem to be of a very high resolution quality, pretty much. Foliage and similar things looks downright gorgeous, especially in autumn. Tip: take a photo of your car in the game, while in autumn. Just do it, believe me. When it comes to the graphics/visuals, I honestly can not find any other game that comes even close to looking as good as Forza Horizon 4 (at least in terms of racing games).

I keep telling myself while roaming around how stunningly good every second of the game looks. The motion blur with the great frame pacing, topped of with the amazing looking scenery, while going faster than 200 km/h, is jaw dropping. I love the way you can destroy formations of rocks, too, it looks awesome, and feels very natural. This is definitely the best looking racing game I've EVER played. No doubt about it! I still can't believe that they managed to design it in this way, they even topped Forza Horizon 3! How is that possible? I'll tell you, by being wizards. In all seriousness, though, Playground Games have done an insanely good job and they deserve every positive word thrown at them. They always seem to up the ante with every installment. Moving over to audio design, the magic don't stop there. Each car sounds and feels true to itself, and it really sounds like I'm actually driving a Dodge Charger (for example). It sounds so realistic, and every sound change in speed, sounds incredibly dynamic and deep. England The open world of Forza Horizon 4 is very big, and is pretty much as big as Forza Horizon 3's. It has a lot more things to offer now, though. Even just the first hour of the game offers a ton of activities for you to complete, and some of them let's you alter them to your likings by using the race editor, that was first introduced in the last game. You can now decide what season you want the event to be taking place in, too. So if one want to alter an event that allows it, to every extent possible, you're free to do that, all with a nice fitting name attached to it for everyone else to see and play. There's a diverse variety of different events, too. For example, in one activity I was jumping in a Bugatti Veyron for a movie shoot, while completing a danger sign (a danger sign are places where you jump at a specific location, as long as possible). Jumping as far as possible gave me three stars, and some influence. Doing these jumps will unlock access to even more of the jumps, and if you complete them all, I'm fairly certain that there's a shiny new achievement waiting for you.

Every tiny bit of the game's world is incredibly detailed and beautiful, and each time I turn to a different road, I sense that this specific road has taken hours to create. The texture work is great! One thing that I found awesome and fulfilling in a way, was climbing a big mountain to discover a barn find. There was a bit of trickery to get up there (I used a Ford Escort, while in winter) but it was so worth it. The views up there were stunning! Of course, discovering roads in the world is back (you'll get a notification each time you discover a new road) and there's a whopping amount of 531 of them. I'm definitely discovering them all! There's all sorts of enviroments: mountains, huge lakes, forests, vast open fields, cities and villages, for example. All there to be explored! I've never been to the UK but with Forza Horizon 4, I never even need to get out of my chair from home, Playground have captured it perfectly and it literally feels like I'm there sometimes. It's very immersive! Cars The Forza Horizon series (as well as the Motorsport) has always had ridiculous amounts of cars, and in Forza Horizon 4 the car list only expands. There's a insane amount of cars, all the way over 450 of them, to be more precise. It's like they want us to play this game forever (which I'll gladly do), with that amount! I've only driven a fraction of the amount, even with the DLC cars accounted for, too. Speaking of DLC cars, there are two sets available as of right now: The James Bond pack & The Formula Drift pack. There's two additional separate DLC (they're at least in the DLC Cars section), too: the 1967 Sunbeam Tiger and the 1979 Sunbeam Lotus Talbot. The great thing about this huge amount of cars is that there's no compromise in details or visuals for them, even though there's a lot of them.

They're all 100% gloriously detailed all the way down to the interior and exhaust pipe. In my opinion, that's one of the reasons why the Forza franchise is very unique and filled with quality development throughout. It's something that you'll be reminded about a lot, no matter wherever you decide to go in this game. I love the way each individual car really sounds unique and true to itself, I feel like every time I change to a different car, I'll get a completely different experience than before. Seasons Forza Horizon 3 was an amazing installment to the franchise, and I always felt that there would never be any way Playground Games would ever be able to top this level of commitment. Then the winter DLC dropped (I sadly never played it), as well as the Hot Wheels DLC (which I also didn't play. I know, I'm a disgrace), and I thought: "Alright, this is it. They've hit their peak, they just can not make it any bigger than this". Then they announce the fourth game. With this said, I obviously want to point out that Forza Horizon 4 is, believe it or not, WAY better than the third game. Everything they've done before, they made EVEN better in every possible way, as well as bigger, with the fourth game. One of the things that contribute to this is of course, the newly added concept, seasons.

Seasons change everything, believe me. Whenever a season changes, you'll have to optimize your driving, and adapt to the changed enviroment and difficulties. Every season is obviously in the game, and I can honestly say that each time it changes, it's like I'm nearly playing a different game, or at least a new DLC. That's how much things change! Each season also has its own unique and beautiful design, and they all are truly candy for my eyes. If I have to choose which season I prefer the most, I'd probably choose autumn, due to its photogenic nature. Every season is beautiful but there's something special about autumn. The leaves touch that is featured everywhere, too, looks incredibly detailed and good. There are races that are made speficially for a certain season, too. Gameplay As you'd probably know, the Forza Horizon games are strictly racing games and should only be seen as such, so cars is a huge part of the game. In case you're not really into games that feature racing or cars in general, it's probably not for you. The majority of the time spent in the game will be of you driving a car. Anyway, with that out of the way, let me tell you about the game's gameplay. First of all, the car's handling feels very realistic and genuine. Sure, the Horizon games aren't fully focused on maintaining a super realistic feel overall but it's not arcade all the way. In my opinion, actually, I don't notice that much of a difference between Forza Motorsport and Forza Horizon in terms of realism and simulation.

However, Forza Motorsport will always be the part of the franchise that is to be seen as the non-arcade part. Forza Horizon is still very realistic! One of the things I didn't expect there to be is the ability to own a property (going as far as owning a castle), but it's definitely welcome. A property works like the festival, you can see what cars you own, buy cars, customize and upgrade your cars, enter Forzavista to look at the car you're currently using in a more detailed way, and to enter it to check what the the interior looks like, all while getting a nice background to look at. Something that the third game introduced, is back, too: Drone Mode. It's pretty much exactly like before, and it works great (as well as looks great). You'd be able to create some awesome shots with this tool! I might be wrong but there seems to be another new tool, too, called "Quick Chat", that works as a way for you to quickly communicate with fellow drivers without using a microphone (with text, instead). Great and neat little tool! The menu for the game is simple and good, with different sections you can navigate to, using RB and LB. If I press LB while driving, the map will immedietly open. Useful! Multiplayer Without any doubt at all, the multiplayer portion will always be a big part of the Forza Horizon games. It's where I always go if I ever want my race to be a bit more hectic. I'm not sure if it's a new type of race but I really liked playing Freeroam Rush: you need to enter the finish line before everyone else, but there's a catch, you can take any road you want since it's in freeroam. Your only objective is to get to the finish line before everyone else, in any way you'd prefer. There's all sorts of these fun little modes, like infected (one team starts as zombies, and they need to infect the other team).

There's also Capture the Flag (you probably already realize what this is). A lot more, too, of course! When it comes to the performance of multiplayer, I'll say one thing: it's flawless (people will still probably crash into you, though). I've never experienced any troubles at all. It's incredibly fun and awesome. Freeroaming in multiplayer is awesome, too and you can meet up to 12 people at once. Roaming around the UK has never been any more fun! There's of course also the option to complete singleplayer races in coop or PVP, too. All in all Are you seeking for the ultimate racing experience, the one you can not achieve in real life? Look No further than Forza Horizon 4. Playground Games have once again managed to deliver an amazing, unique and gorgeous racing installment with Forza Horizon 4. I've spent hours playing the game, exploring, meeting fellow drivers in multiplayer, roaming around trying to crash boards, and customizing cars (a lot more, of course). Every second I spend playing the game fills my excitement need to 100%. It's every car person's dream come true in a big and well developed package. My conclusion if I have to cut it all short is that Forza Horizon 4 is the best racing game I have EVER played. It is also the best looking one, with the most amount of fun you'll ever have. With the multiplayer involved, too, you can share your fun with fellow drivers all over the world without ever actually entering a car. AMAZING work, Playground.

Forza Horizon 4 releases officially on the 28th of September (if you've bought the Ultimate Edition), with the cheapest version starting at $60. In case you're subscribing to Xbox Game Pass, you'll get access to the full game on the 2nd of October. A review copy of Forza Horizon 4: Ultimate Edition was provided for review purposes. This review is written by Jesper Ingemansson and is based on his honest opinion of the game.

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Website created by Jesper Ingemansson, founder of I Fuzion xPro I.

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