As an Xbox One owner I often hear about the lack of quality exclusive titles on the system in comparison to the PS4. This criticism is certainly valid, as the PS4 has several game of the year worthy titles in its library, including God of War, Persona 5, Final Fantasy VII Remake, The Last of Us, and several others. Halo and Gears of War, Xbox’s heaviest hitters, are great franchises but fail to stack up to what the PS4 has to offer. I thought I had already seen the best of what Xbox had to offer, but that was before I started playing Forza Horizon 4. I had never played a Forza game, or any racing game other than Mario Kart before I tried Horizon 4, feeling that realistic racing games were boring and inaccessible. Forza Horizon 4 made me reconsider my position on the racing genre and is, surprisingly, my favorite Xbox One exclusive.
When I downloaded Horizon 4 off of Game Pass I fully expected to try a couple of races, get frustrated and bored, and put the game down and never play it again. I had no idea how beginner friendly this game was and I was surprised to see myself putting in well over a day’s worth of playtime into it. I loved the open world of Britain. This game features some of the best graphics I’ve ever seen making it a joy to drive from location to location. The open world also has the added function of giving crappy drivers like myself plenty of opportunity to practice my driving and become more competent at the game. The game is very forgiving to incompetent drivers, as crashing into obstacles and driving off road will net you bonus points, so you don’t feel like a complete scrub for being a terrible driver. Horizon 4 also has a rewind function, so if you mess up and flip your car or something you can simply hold down the Y button and try again, instead of being forced to finish out the race with no hope of moving out of last place. Experienced racers will probably turn off this function immediately, but for a newbie like myself, I likely wouldn’t have stuck with the game if it weren’t for this feature.
I definitely wouldn’t call myself a car guy, but I can’t help but appreciate the beauty found in Horizon 4’s cars. I loved browsing the shop for the next car I would buy, customizing them with my own colors, and of course, trying all of them out on the road. I will say that some of the cars will require either a lot of grinding or an in game purchase in order for you to obtain, which may rub some people the wrong way. Although I’m certainly not a fan of microtransactions in my games, I feel that Horizon 4’s are pretty reasonable. To get the best gear in an RPG like The Witcher or Dragon Quest, you’re expected to put in tons of hours of game time, and it’s no different in Horizon 4, only it gives you the option of skipping the gameplay and simply buying it for a few bucks. With over 450 cars to collect, the game provinces plenty of reason for you to keep coming back for more.
Forza Horizon 4’s map is absolutely riddled with different races and events for you to participate in. The four different racing types, road, street, dirt, and cross country provides plenty of variety and encourages the use of different cars. You’d likely choose a Lambo or a Porsche for a road race whereas a cross country race will call for a Jeep or Range Rover for the off-road sections of the track. Horizon 4 also features seasons, which change every five days. Different seasons means different scenery and weather conditions. Driving in the summer was like taking an idyllic cruise whereas driving in the winter had me fighting with the steering and struggling with the breaks. I’m not sure how many unique tracks the game actually has, but with all the different cars and seasons, races never felt repetitive, despite the fact that I know for sure I’ve replayed a couple of them more than once.
If I had one gripe with the game, it would be the radio. The songs just aren’t that great and there doesn’t seem to be that many of them. Luckily you can just get Spotify and cruise to whatever songs you like to drive to. Forza Horizon 4 is an incredible game that has opened me up to more racing sims in the future. I used to think the Forza was only for car fanatics, but Horizon 4 is a great game for anyone to get into. Forza Horizon 4 turns us all into gearheads and speed devils. It is a must have for any Xbox owner.
FINAL SCORE: 8.5/10