We love racing games of all stripes (Project Cars 2 with the HTC Vive VR headset is a staff favorite), but there is a special place in our hearts for arcade racers. There's just something about a title that lets us live out our wildest automotive fantasies: launching dream cars off cliffside jumps, racing fighter jets in a 1,200-horsepower road rocket, and making a monster sleeper out of a London taxi cab. Forza Horizon 4 on Xbox One and PC elevates the form by creating a diverse and extremely competitive set of structured races, all backed up by an open world where players have the freedom to do almost anything.
Everything is bigger, more larger than life this time around—and 95 percent of the time, it's proof that you can't have too much of a good thing. Overall, it's a hell of a time, no matter the season.
Forza Horizon 4: The Pros
- Forza Horizon 4 is fun. It's really, really fun. At the end of the day, that's what you want out of a game: hours of exhilarating, continuously evolving gameplay. Whether you are into racing or exploring, it's a complete blast.
- The eclectic racing scenarios are interesting and ever-changing. We're partial to the festival's "unsanctioned" street races, as they allow you to race your modded vehicles and fill the rest of the grid with appropriate competitors. The showcase events are also great fun, particularly "The Flying Scotsman," where you race a locomotive through the wintry landscape.
- You might be able to artistically hide subpar graphics in other genres, but today's racing games demand nothing but the best. It would be a shame to lose the details of the impeccable designs of the Lamborghini Centenario, Bugatti Chiron, or McLaren Senna. We did our testing on an Xbox One X which has superb 4k playback and Horizon 4's graphics looked nothing short of stunning. The cars are definitely the focus, but the environment provided an impressive amount of lifelike detail as well.
- Driving cars you'll never pilot in real life is the entire point of a game like this, and Forza Horizon 4's car list is massive. From Acura to Zenvo, there are almost 1000 cars to pique your fancy. The garage where you can tune and upgrade your car is pretty on par with most Forza games in the past. Our current favorite is a V-10-swapped 1997 Land Rover Defender 90 geared up for the winter season with over 1,200 horsepower. Credits also come fast if you go through the races and allow for these insane builds to spring to life in very little time.
- Many pixels have been spent talking about the seasons thing. We'll be honest, we didn't like the thought of having to stow our traction-less supercars and slog through winter in the game any more than we do in real life. Boy, were we wrong. The different seasons allow for varied gameplay and add a dynamic we didn't realize was missing from the previous Horizon games. Turns out, winter is one of the best times to drive, especially if you've got an off-road buggy or a 4WD rally car.
Forza Horizon 4: The Cons
- One of our favorite elements from Horizon 3 was the expansive world, and we were happy to find (thanks to YouTuber The Racing Monkey) Horizon 4 had a larger map area, but unfortunately seems to have less tarmac. Fewer roads aren't the biggest pitfall as a lot of time we detour through the rolling hills Horizon 4's U.K. Location has to offer. The cross-country aspect is actually a big part of the game, so if you prefer to race on pavement, you might be limiting yourself here.
- If you're pressed for game time (who isn't?), all the cutscenes, flashy reward screens, and other theatrics can be a bit much. We found ourselves wanting to skip over the silly dialogue or the action camera cutscenes, but most of the time we weren't able to. Although this is true for most video games that try to show off the grandiosity of gameplay, we felt like Horizon 4 sometimes came in over the top. We're just here for the cars.
- This map is pretty expansive, and fast travel is restricted to the festival site (where you modify your cars) and the various houses and garages you own at first. It also costs credits, although you can destroy 50 special billboards to progressively lower the price to zero. To unlock the option to fast travel anywhere on the map, you'll have to buy a certain house that comes with that perk. We don't mind that structure or the extra driving, but some might. And on that note, since we have all these garages, why can't we modify our cars there?
- No Toyota vehicles—a licensing issue, hopefully to be worked out with DLC sometime in the future—means no Supra for you.
The Bottom Line
You're on a site called The Drive. Forza Horizon 4 is a no-brainer for anyone reading this with an Xbox or PC and a pulse. It offers such a wide array of modes and experiences that you'll find something to enjoy, be it drag racing down a runway or off-roading in a classic muscle car. The new map is expansive and stunning when realized in 4K. Drive your dream car, or build the car of your dreams.
The Forza Motorsport series has a lot of fresh competition in the simulation game—but when it comes to arcade racing, Forza Horizon 4 is a clear winner.