Forza Horizon 4 in the test - perfection does not age

Author: Robin Rüther
Date: 2018-09-26 12:35:00
The bar is high: As an arcade racer, Forza Horizon 3 did almost everything right. Can Forza Horizon 4 refresh the gameplay formula of its predecessor with the seasons?

This is one of the fresh ideas with which Playground Games is trying to inherit its all-round successful predecessor. Because he presented properly and almost perfected the Horizon formula . Forza Horizon 4 comes prepared so that signs of wear do not spoil the fun: In the new part you can expect a beautiful Great Britain, the largest fleet with 460 cars to release so far and a shared world that brings multiplayer to life.

I live here now

Apparently the last festival in Australia was so well received that the organizers were delirious. In the UK they have now got one thing that never ends and becomes a new home for the drivers. Sounds like the right place for us!

Before we can be accepted into the official racing team of the Horizon Festival, we have to prove ourselves for a year. In this introductory section, which lasts around five hours, we drive our first races and get to know the impressive variety of events: off-road, sprint, circuit, road racing, cross-country or even events in which we as stunt drivers drive a Bugatti through a windmill and into the depths jump - spectacular!

At the beginning we are given suitable vehicles for the different race types, such as a Subaru Impreza for off-road slopes, but later we can also use any other car and hop with a Koenigsegg over gravel roads. We find that very pleasant because the game never forces us to a certain car, annoying vehicle changes are eliminated . Also practical: We can have every car delivered to us free of charge from our garage while driving freely.

The driving behavior of Forza Horizon 4 feels demanding arcaded again. The vehicles have weight and if we turn off all driving aids, we often lose grip when accelerating too hard. Otherwise, even PS monsters control themselves relatively tame compared to a pure racing simulation. But that does not mean that all cars drive the same way, on the contrary: they control themselves in a pleasantly varied manner , even modern sports cars from Lamborghini, Porsche and Ferrari feel different when they are handled.

Crash course seasons

If we have collected enough influence points in the introductory section, we will switch to the next season. Winter in particular has a clear impact on handling due to its snow-covered roads, but in autumn we often slip through the leaves and puddles over the course. Spring also surprises us from time to time with rain, in summer the best conditions prevail.

The seasons also provide a visual change : exploring the snow-covered Edinburgh with classical music is almost like Christmas. Winter is our clear favorite, it stands out the most from all seasons - spring to autumn feel quite similar - and even changes the map in small parts: Derwent Water, the big lake in the west of the game world, freezes in the cold Temperatures increase completely - and are therefore passable.

Speaking of the change of seasons: only in the introduction you switch manually to spring, summer, autumn and winter, after that the servers control it . One season lasts for a week, every Thursday the next. Here the developers follow the service game concept: Every season brings temporary events that we can only complete during this time.

Incidentally, we can adjust many events using the so-called blueprints and also set the season. For example, we also run races in winter in summer, but the open world doesn't change that. However, at least in offline mode, we would have liked to be able to choose the seasons freely .

Hello friends!

There are some advantages to playing online. For one, there are hourly forzathon events . Here we team up with the other players in the session and perform tasks together, such as accumulating a certain number of points in a drift zone or breaking the speed limit for speed cameras. As a reward, we get Forzathon points, which we invest in cars, items and wheelspins in a separate shop.

We can also start many of the normal races with or against other players. Or we compete against so-called rivals in time races. Or we race for flags in Capture the Flag. Or we ram cars of the opposing team as infected. The packed multiplayer is a lot of fun, moreover we always decide for ourselves whether we want to take part in proposed events or prefer to have our rest.

Take that, stone wall!

Forza Horizon 4 also offers a varied and beautiful game world . In particular, the light effects and reflections on cars and puddles cause astonishment, day and night changes and weather effects contribute immensely to the atmosphere.

Some areas are even based on real places in Great Britain. We drive along country roads past meadows where sheep graze, slide across a beach towards the lighthouse, drift up a mountain via serpentines and explore the Scottish capital Edinburgh with all its quaint houses. Small but important improvement: We can now simply throw stone walls and thin trees over the pile , in the predecessor they were insurmountable obstacles.

Whether you like the game world in Forza Horizon 4 better than in Forza Horizon 3 depends on your taste. Australia feels more exotic and more varied overall, but Great Britain with its small villages and rural parts looks more idyllic. On top of that, the visual alternation in Forza Horizon 4 arises primarily over the seasons.

The game world is roughly the same size as in the predecessor. It takes a few minutes to get from one end of the map to the other. If we are in a hurry, we take a quick trip , but this time it is much more expensive. Not because of the trip itself - it still costs 10,000 credits at the beginning and becomes cheaper in the game world with every destroyed fast travel board - but because of the fast travel destinations.

In Forza Horizon 3, the festival has gradually expanded and created new festival locations that we were able to travel to quickly. In the new part there is only one. We also buy other bases in which we buy, tune and upgrade cars, in the form of houses and castles . Favorable costs cost around 100,000 credits, for the most expensive properties we put 15 million on the table. We also get a few items for the purchase, but the real estate market did not convince us very much.

Are you in a good mood?

By default, the races take place against drivatars, which we divide into eight different levels of difficulty. However, the AI fluctuates depending on the type of race, some races we won with the same level with ease, in others the opponents drove out of reach. We particularly like that the performance points of the opposing vehicles automatically adapt to our car , whether chugging cucumber or rocket.

But Forza Horizon 4 is all about one thing: good mood! That's why it hardly matters at the Horizon Festival whether we win a race or just cross the finish line in fourth. If we just get a few influence points and fewer credits, what's the point? We just unlocked a show race against a huge hovercraft! But that doesn't float around in the water, but slides down a mountain next to our jeep, flies over a hill, slips under a bridge and then drifts across the meadow while we jump over it in slow motion.

Yes, the show races are also highlights in Forza Horizon 4. All the more stupid that there are only five and one of them was even taken over one to one from the introductory race. If you hear one of the various radio stations before such races, the moderators chat about the news from the Horizon Festival , which fits perfectly with the festival mood.

If the hip sayings get on your nerves at some point, we recommend the classic station Timeless FM. Its moderator Dan Thompson detests everything that is loud, fast and dangerous and, like in Forza Horizon 3, makes a wonderful contrast to the crazy festival mood.

What's next?

Boredom? We don't know that word at the Horizon Festival. After just a few hours, our map is peppered with racing events, drift sections, danger signs for long jumps, influence boards and barn finds. The barn finds work like in the predecessor: A rough circle tells us where to look, then we optionally send our drone off, mark the barn and then drive to it to unlock a chic classic car.

In addition to the collectibles, normal races also offer enough food. In each of the racing series we collect points and move up in rank, with each level we unlock new races. At the same time, leveling up spits out rewards, such as a car, a few credits, or a wheelspin that drops a random item, including many cosmetic items such as horns or clothing.

We now dress our driver with a shirt, cap, glasses and accessories, among other things, and in the end give him gestures for victories and general poses. These are nice gimmicks, but we were often annoyed when we only had to be satisfied with old glasses instead of a legendary car or big cash prizes.

This is a PC version!

We come to perhaps the biggest PC problem child of the Horizon series: technology. Forza Horizon 3 received a dream rating of 92 from us, but at the same time also five points devaluation due to technical problems . The main criticisms were frame rate drops and a lack of PC optimization.

Forza Horizon 4, like its predecessor, has become a real fun grenade. The seasons, the new game world and the revised multiplayer bring a breath of fresh air to a well-known formula. If you played Forza Horizon 3 intensively, you won't experience any big surprises, since the developers have largely adopted the gameplay. But that's just a small damper for an all-round successful arcade racer .