KEVETT: Forza Horizon 4 is money well spent for racing game fans
Opinions Column: Gamer Next Door
For those of you who do not know, Forza Horizon 4 is now available for purchase on Xbox and PC. I have spent nearly 30 hours frolicking about Horizon 4’s new open world, and I have been able to gain a solid grasp of the game’s mechanics, features and story arc. Horizon 4 is the follow up to developer Playground Games’ Forza Horizon 3, which boasted the Australian outback for its open world setting.
The Forza Horizon series functions as an arcade-like spin-off of the Forza Motorsport series, a separate slew of titles which is more simulation-oriented. The game is completely online, with other players inhabiting the world alongside you (an online option is available). Horizon 4 is set in the United Kingdom.
Horizon 4 has a much more fleshed out and alive open world when compared to the game The Crew 2. While Crew 2 possesses the entire continental United States as its backdrop for an open world map, it unfortunately feels empty. The map may be much larger than Horizon 4’s in proportion, but the space in between the interesting parts of the map is incredibly dull and underpopulated. Every road is interesting to drive in Horizon 4, while Crew 2’s roads feel like monotonous highways. Horizon 4’s has small walls, hedges, bushes, trees, telephone poles and even guard rails that are all completely destructible, whereas the same dynamics cannot be found in Crew 2. Horizon 4 also has changing seasons, which makes the world feel vividly different. This is a mark that Crew 2 misses.
Horizon 4’s gameplay feels like a cross between Burnout, Dirt, Need for Speed and The Crew series. While driving around the world you rack up an arcade-like points multiplier through destroying objects, driving fast and recklessly and doing well in the game’s slew of racing events. With these points you can unlock cash prizes and wheelspins. Wheelspins may net a player lump sums of cash, rare cars or clothes for your avatar. With cash you can buy cars, car upgrades or houses. Property in the game allows you to fast travel, and some properties hold special perks which are unlocked with their purchase. The game’s reward system encourages a variety of play styles, and allows players to experience Horizon 4 in whichever way they choose.
The game has a loose storyline — the player earns a place and then competes in the Horizon Festival. To progress in the story players must earn influence points, which can be gained through finishing a variety of cross-country, off-road, track or street racing events. Horizon 4 also has set events, where players race dirt bikes, giant hovercrafts, harrier jets and even a train.
Horizon’s cars sounds are simply stunning. There is nothing like putting the pedal to the metal, hearing that turbocharger spool up and seeing a massive flash of fire shoot out of your exhaust pipe when you let go of the gas. The game is incredibly immersive, with some very well done graphics, motion blur and audio. Horizon 4 has 450 cars in the base game alone, and all of the rides have optional performance upgrades and fully customizable exteriors. More cars are already being added as optional DLC.
The game’s presentation is fantastic overall. The menu system is streamlined and easy to use, and joining a session with your friends could not be more simplified. The only issues I have thus far were some occasional frame rate stutters while playing on my PC, but aside from that the game runs perfectly. One major gripe that I do have relates to Horizon 4’s incompatibility with racing wheel peripherals. I have a Logitech G27 racing wheel, and I presently cannot dial in a setting which feels comfortable to use. Hopefully a patch will be released in the near future which will alleviate the game’s poor support for such peripherals.
Horizon 4 should be a real treat if you are a racing fan. The game has hundreds of hours of content and loads of intriguing areas to play around in and explore. Horizon 4 is packed full of features, exciting gameplay tweaks and variety. While the lack of proper wheel support is annoying, I doubt that most people are playing on anything other than a controller. Spending $60 on Horizon 4 is definitely money well spent if you are looking for some arcade-like entertainment to fill in your downtime this fall.
Mitchell Kevett is a School of Arts and Sciences senior majoring in history and minoring in political science. His column, "Gamer Next Door," runs on alternate Wednesdays.
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