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Forza Horizon 4: Seasons Change Everything

By Nick Pulliam
On October 19, 2018

“Forza Horizon 4” is the latest installment in the Forza Horizon Series. Since 2012, the Forza Horizon franchise has served as an open world alternative series to the original Forza Motorsport franchise.

In the past three entries, Playground Games and Turn 10 Studios took players around the world, offering fictional versions of countries like Italy and Australia. Now they’ve taken us to Britain, and to make this game feel fresh, they’ve introduced changing seasons.

In past entries, players participated in the fictional Horizon Festival, competing to be the best driver in a series of events including races, stunts, and driving challenges. The festival always took place over the course of one season, so the world around you never really differed. But with the newest game, the world around you changes dramatically every real-world week. 

Britain is the perfect location for this game. With its highlands, city, lakes and forest, players are given a nice variety of locales to compete in. And as the seasons change, so does the player experience.

It doesn’t necessarily become a new game as you transition from season to season, but it’s enough for you to change the way you want to play. In summer, for example, you may be more comfortable driving high speed super cars, while in the winter you may be more inclined to participate in dangerous off-road races. 

That being said, the season you’re playing in doesn’t restrict you from doing what you want. If you want to have a street race in winter, you’re still allowed to. By giving players the ability to do what they want, whatever season it is, the developers managed to avoid what could have been a potential problem. 

The variety in races isn’t the only benefit that seasons bring to the series. This series has always been visually impressive, and the addition of seasons highlights that. Each season is incredible to look at in its own way. In the winter, you’re surrounded by snow covered mountains and in autumn the world becomes a beautiful mix of reds and oranges. 

Seasons are without a doubt the selling factor of this game, but there’s plenty more to praise as well.

The world is around the same size as the one in “Forza Horizon 3.” Both games had distinct areas to drive through, but with the series third installment, the world felt flat for the most part. With this game, the world feels far more layered and gives everything a grander scale. 

The variety in races is also great. You have your typical street races as well as exciting off-road ones where you tear through the British country side, leaving a path of destruction behind you. 

Despite the introduction of seasons and a more interesting landscape, it is still the fourth entry in the series, so there is plenty that veteran players will be familiar with. 

The main city in the game, Edinburgh, serves the same purpose as Surfer’s Paradise from the last game. There are the same drift, speed, and distance challenges that players are familiar with, and Showcase Events have made a return.

It’s not necessarily a bad thing, for people who enjoy those, but I’ve personally never been too interested in them. And while seasons do make a change, the races feel very similar to the ones in the last game. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but I had hoped for a little more variety. 

Unfortunately, wheel spins have returned. As your character levels up, you occasionally have the chance to spin a wheel to win a prize, there’s even a super-wheel spin now that gives you three items. While it is nice to win ridiculous amounts of money and free cars, there are also some prizes that feel absolutely useless, like emojis and clothing. It’s also very frustrating when you level up or advance to the next tier in a specific type of race and get rewarded with a hat or a t-shirt that you only really notice on your player during loading screens before races. It is never as annoying or anti-consumer as some games have been with loot boxes (because that’s basically what these wheelspins are), but it does come close to crossing a few lines.

Players who don’t choose to buy the one-hundred dollar “Ultimate Edition” may also feel cheated when those who did get VIP bonuses that give them extra money and cars. It’s a trend that many games have been following, and I am not a fan. 

That being said, “Forza Horizon 4” is a solid game and while it doesn’t fundamentally change the series, it definitely does enough to feel like a necessary and fun entry for fans of the series and racing fans in general.

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