Games The O.D. on Games

The O.D. on Games: Forza Horizon 4

ROW and Sporty Owl have both been enjoying the latest Forza game, Forza Horizon 4, and discussed the game’s new features, why this one has them hooked and is one of their favorite entries in the Forza franchise, what it could do better, as well as the Horizon spin off series’ future.

I’m so in love with this design, I’m not even gonna attempt to make a joke!
  • SO: Hey ROW, wanna jump into Forza and track down the new barn find?
  • ROW: Heck yeah…I mean we can’t! We have to discuss the Forza game for Friday’s article; so log out and let’s get started.
  • SO: But the Forzathon hourly event’s about to start! Can I complete that and then do the article?!
  • ROW: Nope! Let’s do it now, so we can finish before the next one and we’ll do that one together!
  • SO: Fine!
  • ROW: I can’t believe I’m as mad as you are for not endorsing our desire to play a Forza game! What a pleasant surprise this game is, so far!
  • SO: I know, right?! Before it came out, the marketing for the game was—as usual—promising a “unique” experience that improved on Horizon 3 and made significant and meaningful improvements to deliver “the best Forza experience yet”…
  • ROW: …But they actually did this time! Their gimmick works as advertised, the game looks even better than previous entries, there are new events and new cars that have their own unique place in the game, it feels better than previous entries, the multiplayer is significantly enhanced, but not at the expense of the single-player; it really is better and not just a different map with new vehicles and better looking graphics!
  • SO: Although, it is a different map with better looking graphics; it really is a beautiful looking game, with awe-inspiring vistas and a really good sense of style. What actually amazes me though is that every season is completely unique looking and brings its own color palette and different look to the world.
  • ROW: Yep, we can’t overstate how significant the visual aesthetic change is with each new season: Spring is more vibrant and bloomy, summer is hotter, autumn is orange and wet, and winter is white and freezing. Furthermore, there are gameplay changes that can actually be felt: The wet, muddy roads of Autumn are different than the freezing roads of Winter; Lakes and rivers freeze in Winter; the hot and dry roads of Summer are perfect for hypercars and setting lap records, while Winter supports a more care-free playstyle and allows the player to slide and destroy the beautiful British countryside. The fact that I absolutely hate autumn or that I have a favorite season at all (which is obviously winter), speaks to how much of a difference seasons make!

One of the season transition cut-scenes that plays when the season changes in the first half of the game; I thoroughly enjoyed them and wish they showed up as skippable cut-scenes online as well.

  • SO: Well, you’re obviously wrong because the best season is the summer; besides that, I have to mention the substantial upgrade the open world of the UK has been given, with regards to Australia in Horizon 3. In Horizon 3, I just wanted to fast travel everywhere and check the boxes of “stuff to do” off my list; however in Horizon 4, I’ve spent hours just driving and setting small goals for myself, trying to get my skillchain up, while reaching my destination. It’s not just that I rarely used the fast travel system; it’s that I rarely wanted to use it!
  • ROW: It’s more that the world has more stuff in it, the cars feel better to drive and different from each other; it’s that you’re actually encouraged to drive everywhere and see everything! The new skill system rewards you with skill points that are not car specific, which means that no matter which car you drive, if you level up you earn a skill point that can be used on any car’s tree skill; which allows you to focus on your favorite car, but not drive only that car.
  • SO: There is that, but also I just found a car that can work for most events and kept driving that!
  • ROW: I did the complete opposite; I upgraded and tuned one car for each event. Both work and that’s why this game is such an improvement; I even have an Abarth convertible with a SquareBob SquarePants design, specifically for getting to beauty spots!
  • SO: Oh those beauty spots moments are so weird and goofy! I’ve never been more invested in getting the dumbest clothes and dances for my character model; just seeing my character with a gold shirt, a pink cowboy hat and gold pants dancing the YMCA dance in Edinburgh made me laugh for 10 minutes straight!
  • ROW: I’ve never been more excited to get bright yellow boots and trust me I love bright yellow boots!
  • SO: Another cool small thing is that you can change character models any time you want, so I have a character model and an outfit for each season!

“Ah, I’m so freaking cold!! Why are you making me look at this with my shorts on in -2 degrees?!?!”

  • ROW: Character models and customization is a really cool feature, but, my favorite new feature is the “Horizon Stories” events; especially the Lacrosse streamer one, where you help a streamer to record Top 10 cars from Video Games list, which is basically a love letter to other racing video games like Sega Rally and Crazy Taxi. The stuntdriver, World’s Fastest Rentals, and Drift Club events are also fun and worthwhile, as well as add a missing racing element Horizon never really had: The arcade, time-trials events, where you are doing the same race over and over shaving off seconds each time until you beat the time.
  • SO: Those events were pretty cool; I was worried they would be smaller-scale Showcase events, but they actually ended up being more memorable and enjoyable than the Showcase races—which were pretty fun and dumb spectacles they always have been. The Horizon stories were a bit sour though, because the race line was not always helpful, and I have to keep them on because my sense of direction sucks butt!

This is actually from the demo and one of the showcase races available there; but this “scene” was too dumb and goofy not to include here!!

  • ROW: Yep, had the same issue in Stories, as well as setting a waypoint to a danger sign would always tell me to slow down or brake when it was not necessary, because it thought that—like other waypoints—I wanted to stop when I reached it.
  • SO: Beyond that though, I’m really satisfied and impressed with every other feature in the game; besides a few minor bugs and frame-rate drops.

One of the minor bugs that kept occurring during the game.

  • ROW: I’m not so excited by their “live-service” plan for the game. I like that each season lasts a real-life week, and new, season-specific events are introduced alongside hourly, daily, and weekly challenges, which reward points that can be used to purchase specific cars, wheelspins (no microtransactions to speak off as of the time writing this), and customization options. However, the events quickly recycle and, in reality, are just a bunch of races with restrictions to car class; once I’m done with the events and barn finds, those seasonal events will not keep me going for very long.
  • SO: Well, yeah there’s that and the fact that you are thrown into a session each time you play the game, but my sessions are as stable as my relationships; each time I think this one will last, it ends before I realize what happened. Even if they did last for more than 10 minutes though (and they will once they sort out their server issues), I wouldn’t really know what to do with the other players, besides go to the hourly event and hope they show up! But, I didn’t get into Forza Horizon 4 for the multiplayer; I’m more than satisfied with the content and the variety the game has as it is, the “live-service” stuff is more of an extra.
  • ROW: I guess, but I would like those features to be better, because I’m already online and in the same world with these players! Also, I’m confused as to why the first half of the game is not in the online world, and has to be played solo.
  • SO: It may be that the developers wanted the player to get a feel for the seasons and do a bunch of stuff on their own before they enter the online rotation of seasons and players, but it didn’t really affect the way that I played! I’m also actually glad that there’s not much to do with other players (or at least it’s not necessary), because they would ruin my fantasy with voice-chat and being annoying. I’m at the point right now where I just change the radio to Pulse and just drive around; they would just ruin it for me!

Sometimes the AI is just magic. Fortunately no rubber-banding as far as I can tell, but a lot more flipping on their own and crashing into each other!!

  • ROW: Speaking of which, their song selection is outstanding this year; not just Pulse station! Timeless is awesome, Hospital Records is pretty good; Xcess is a bit of disappointment this year, but overall I’m really into the music! Umm, hello?!
  • SO: What?! We’ve said everything we had to say, we love this game and the few issues it has are not really that important for us, so let’s log in to Forza, put Pulse on, and go destroy some stone walls and red telephone booths!

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