Hitbox Review: Forza Horizon 4 — The fast and the exhilarating

Sometimes you just want to drive a suped-up taxicab around the English countryside.

Developer: Playground Games

Release date: Oct. 2, 2018

Platforms: PC [played] and Xbox One

Price: $59.99

Forza Horizon 4 is the perfect game to play while chilling out and listening to music or a podcast. While you’re racing across United Kingdom-inspired rural country roads, you can tune into in-game radio stations. There are stations for just about every genre, from classical to rock. There’s also plenty of variety on each station, so it’ll take a while before you start hearing repeat songs. When that happens though, you can just switch the radio volume setting to zero and have Spotify running in the background.

It’s easy to get into the zone racing at 200 miles per hour in a hypercar. Screenshot courtesy of forzamotorsport.net.

Besides listening to sick beats, getting lost in the high-octane races are the best way to take your mind off whatever is worrying you. There are many different types of races to keep you occupied. There’s the classic street race, which could be to a destination or three laps. Off-road dirt races take you through winding forest roads and require very technical driving. Cross-country races forgo roads almost entirely as you race through flagged checkpoints across country land or the beach. The most ridiculous races are showcase events where you race against a train, hovercraft or jet.

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For each type of race, there’s a type of car best suited to it, such as rally cars fit for off-road events. However, you can switch to any type of car for each race. If you wanted to, you could drive a sports car on a sandy beach. Naturally, the sport’s car will barely have any traction, but it’s still amazing that it’s possible.

There’s also an immense amount of customizability in the difficulty and controls. Besides setting the difficulty of the computer-controlled racers, there are settings for manual and automatic shifting, damage and tire wear and automatic braking. There are even multiple options for how detailed the racing line showing the optimal route is. You can set the line to only appear when you’re going too fast around a corner, for example. For every user-friendly option and increase in computer racer difficulty, you get a percentage bonus to credit rewards after races which can then be used to buy new cars.

Forza Horizon 4’s most beginner-friendly feature is the ability to reverse time a few seconds into the past. If you accidentally crash through a stone wall along the road and end up completely off course, you can just rewind to before that mistake and try it again.

Along with in-game options, there are plenty of other ways you can control the game. A keyboard and mouse is easily the worst way to play Forza Horizon 4 since it’s difficult to make subtle movements. Besides an Xbox controller, there are racing wheels and foot pedals you can plug into your console or PC to increase your immersion in the game. Since a wheel and pedals can cost up to $500, they’re usually reserved for those who play more simulation-based racing games, such as iRacing. An Xbox controller is more than adequate for Forza Horizon 4.

Even if you have no affinity for car culture and just want to drive a fast car, Forza Horizon 4 has you covered. If you are like me and have no idea how to tune a car or even what that means, you can just download someone else’s tune and install it in your car. All I know is that it makes my car go faster and that is enough for me. There’s also a paint shop to create car skins. Again, instead of customizing one yourself, you can just browse for a skin you want and download it.

Players can switch from first-person and third-person perspectives with the press of a button. Screenshot courtesy of forzamotorsport.net.

I bought Forza Horizon 4 over a year ago and have been coming back to it fairly consistently every few months. Since its debut, Playground Games have released two expansion packs with new areas to explore and races to win. The latest expansion, LEGO Speed Champions, features a completely LEGO environment, including the cars.

Seasons in Forza Horizon 4 change every few weeks. Different seasons can drastically change how it feels to race. The roads are covered in snow and ice during the winter, so choosing a car that can fit snow tires is the best option. During the spring, the roads are almost constantly covered in rainwater, which keeps you on your toes going around sharp corners. With every season change, there are new racing championships and rewards.

Forza Horizon 4 caters to every playstyle, whether you just want to drive around the rural open road or compete in a ranked online championship. Constantly refreshed races in combination with how flexible the game’s driving controls make it a great option for anyone interested in coasting on virtual roads. Even in terms of a pure value proposition, you would be hard-pressed to find a better deal for a racing game than Forza Horizon 4.

Want to suggest a video game for review? Contact John Novotny at [email protected]