The Forza Horizon series has always found a way to entertain me, despite not being the biggest racing fan in the world. I thought Forza Horizon 3 was going the be the pinnacle of the series due to the exotic location, a multitude of cars, and crisp gameplay. But boy, was I mistaken. Forza Horizon 4 took everything that I loved about the last game and somehow found a way to fine-tune and improve it. Forza Horizon 4 is easily one of the best racing games of this generation.
Forza’s story hasn’t changed too much and is not necessarily the focal point of the game. It’s a means to an end in order to get players going on their journey. Much like Forza Horizon 3, you are a rookie driver on the Horizon Festival circuit. You will race a variety of different races, earning influence and credits as you go. Do we need a high octane story full of drama, twists, and turns? Not really. But it’s enough to get us racing, and that’s where Forza Horizon truly shines.
Forza offers some of the best driving that I have ever experienced. A lot of this praise is due to the exquisite detail in each car and truck. And I don’t mean the outer appearance. Cars and trucks handle, accelerate, and brake differently. As you unlock cars, it became quite clear that the development team has done their homework. And with hundreds to choose from, you will be able to experience pure racing joy no matter which vehicle you drive.
Part of the charm of Forza Horizon 4 is the accessibility of each vehicle. I don’t have a lot of car knowledge, yet I was able to upgrade and tune my car to fit my needs. Naturally, someone with more knowledge will know exactly what to tune and when. But for beginners like me, there is enough information on the screen to help me make my decision.
Besides tuning the engine, you can customize the vehicles in other ways. Some of these customizations may help you race, like suspension and tires. If you feel like it, you can change the color and appearance of your vehicle. There are plenty of options to choose from, including downloadable “skins” for the cars. You can customize your character’s appearance and add victory emotes. It’s a customization dream come true. I wish the menus were a little easier to navigate. They didn’t deter from my enjoyment of the game, but just a little thing that bugged me.
These types of customizations come in handy with the addition of seasons. Yes, it actually matters how you race in autumn, winter, spring, and summer. It’s incredible how each car and truck handles in the different seasons. Obviously, winter is the most challenging with the slick roads and snow. But other seasons create different challenges during a race. For example, large water puddles slow down your car during a race. Sharp turns become more challenging when the road is wet. Despite the environmental challenges, races are still tense and extremely fun. And don’t worry – the rewind button is back in case you need to fix a mistake during a race.
The seasons also highlight the beautiful graphics and environments. Forza Horizon 4 is absolutely stunning, especially in the autumn season. Trees and roads are covered in red and yellow leaves. The yellow flowers and green grass of spring are vibrant, along with the bright blue sky. The attention to detail is really impressive. One time, I chose the wrong car for a street race. As I was crashing into almost everything in Edinburgh, I looked into several of the buildings. One had a bakery, with a variety of different loaves of bread. The team could have left this alone, but they took the time and care to make this a living and breathing representation of Great Britain.
A racing game would not be complete without sound design. The noises of the engines, the crowds cheering, and the great soundtrack is all exquisitely done. The sound design fuels the adrenaline that you experience while racing. If I had one complaint (and I’m nitpicking here), its the lack of customization with the music. Can you imagine if you could link a Spotify playlist in the game? The soundtrack is fantastic, but the variety of songs is a little lacking.
I mentioned the content a little earlier and wanted to say again that there are so many activities to do in Forza Horizon 4. There are plenty of races to choose from, and each race feels different. Cross country races require different strategies compared to street or dirt racing. The showcases are especially fun. I mean, you race against a train in one of the showcases! If you need more of a challenge, then change the difficulty. Races are harder, but the rewards are greater.
I played on the Xbox One X, which gives you the change to emphasize visuals or performance. I decided to forego the visual upgrades (which are 4K visuals, but 30 FPS). I went with 60 FPS and 1080p visuals. Racing with the high frame rate is a ton of fun, but I experienced a few crashes during my playthrough. Unfortunately, I’m talking about game crashes, not car crashes. Despite those crashes, things ran very smooth. Keep in mind that it is a Play Anywhere title, so buying a digital copy will work on Xbox or Windows 10.
Forza Horizon 4 is the masterful blend of racing and entertainment. It’s a well-developed game with plenty of content for both casual and hardcore racers. I never had a dull moment racing through the cities and countryside of Great Britain. You will find plenty of variety in the races, cars, and customization options. And the visuals are breathtaking. My advice? Race to your nearest store (brick and mortar or digital) and buy a copy of Forza Horizon 4. You won’t regret it.
Note: GameOctane editor Ryan Welch received a digital code from the publisher for the purpose of reviewing this game. Any code or product intended for reviews is distributed to the team to review and stream for our audience.
Check us out at Opencritic!
Gorgeous location and seasons
Tons of races and activities
Cars, cars, and more cars
A few crashes
Menus a bit hard to navigate