I only recently got into the Forza Horizon movement with the third entry in the franchise, so I was pleased to get some hands-on time with Forza Horizon 4 at E3 2018. While at the Microsoft media showcase I got to take Forza Horizon 4 and its England locations for a spin, literally, as well as the game’s focus on how the four seasons can fundamentally change the racing landscape. I can say without question that this is the best looking Forza entry to-date, and that includes the proper Forza titles, and the seasons mechanic is way more effective than it may look on paper at creating a whole new look and feel for the game’s environments.
The demo was setup in a way that I got to experience one, one lap race during each season, so I got a good feel for how the game plays weather it be spring, autumn, winter, or summer. This setup also allowed me to experience four different cars, as well as a mix of street and off-road races, so it was really well done to give a player the full Forza Horizon 4 experience in a shortened timeframe.
My first race was set in the fall, and it was a street race, so I was treated to an autumn color pallet as I raced against other high-end sports cars throughout the English countryside. The racing controls feel even tighter than before, so they’re very precise and allow for extreme precision while trying to lay down the best lap time possible. The car handled well, and thanks to how damn near perfect the visuals are, it really felt as if I were racing in real life.
Once that lap ended I was taken to the next race, which was set during winter. This race put me in control of a Baja truck and featured off-road sections that were covered in snow and ice. I could immediately feel how these conditions impacted the handling and drivability of my truck. I definitely couldn’t use the same tactics that I did in the first race, because whenever I tried I end up off the track, or spun out due to ice, so you have to account for the weather big time while racing, especially in wintery conditions.
The next race was my favorite, because it featured a rally car being driven during a wet spring day on an off-road course. Like the winter weather, the spring weather and the rain it brings definitely affected how my car handled, but in a different way than driving through snow and ice. I could feel the slippage of the tires when I hit mud, which in turn would require drift turns to stay on path. Plus the wet muddy environments looked amazing as the graphics engine masterfully rendered lifelike looking water complete with dynamic lighting and shadows.
The final race took place during the summer and featured another traditional road race in a supped up race car. I really felt the speed in this race because I could just focus on driving and making as fast as turns as I possibly could because there was no weather to screw with my traction. The level of speed I felt was insane, and even though I knew I was driving a digital car, I still felt the speed in my brain as if I were truly riding in it.
Forza Horizon 4 is already shaping up to be a gem in the visuals and gameplay departments. It’s easily one of the best looking console games I’ve played, and the racing action is very highly tuned for precision. It’s shaping up to be the best entry in the Horizon franchise, and I can’t wait to explore more of what it has to offer this fall.
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