forza hori­zon 4

XBox: The Official Magazine - - START - Justin Tow­ell

Pub­lisheR Mi­crosoft De­vel­oper Play­ground Games For­mat Xbox One ETA 2 oc­to­ber 2018 Let’s not beat about the bush; in­stead let’s drive through it at full speed.

Forza Hori­zon 4 is set to be­come the best mod­ern, open-world racer. There aren’t a great many sur­prises in its game­play, though. In­stead, as with

Forza Mo­tor­sport 7 be­side it, Hori­zon 4 is tak­ing an al­ready ex­cel­lent game and iron­ing out the few short­com­ings it had while pol­ish­ing ev­ery­thing else to a fine sheen.

And boy, does it shine. Thanks to Xbox One X and scream­ing 4K vi­su­als, the move from Aus­tralia to the Bri­tish coun­try­side was well worth the trip. The land­scape here looks ab­so­lutely mag­nif­i­cent and, bet­ter still, the en­vi­ron­ments you race across change with the sea­sons, which are sped up so that all play­ers in the on­line world ex­pe­ri­ence each one for a week of real-world time be­fore it changes to the next. It’s not just win­dow dress­ing, ei­ther. Frozen lakes make for great skid­pan race­tracks, and the han­dling on dry, sum­mer as­phalt ver­sus the wet, leaf-strewn au­tumn re­quires a very dif­fer­ent ap­proach.

The world feels more alive than ever, and you’ll send herds of sheep scat­ter­ing as you race through their farm­land. Wa­ter splashes feel real, scrub­bing speed off your car as you hit them and send­ing spray gush­ing all over the cam­era lens.

Nat­u­rally, af­ter many years of open-world rac­ers, it is strange to play one where peo­ple drive on the left, but hey, you can al­ways swerve through a dry stone wall and grum­ble about Bri­tish traf­fic laws while you re-plow the ad­ja­cent corn­field. Noth­ing does driv­ing free­dom like Forza Hori­zon.

Blue­prints re­turn, al­low­ing you to cre­ate cus­tom events at set lo­ca­tions, and skill points can be spent across any of your cars, each of which has its own unique skill tree of perks for you to un­lock. All the rest of the usual

Forza cus­tomi­sa­tion is ev­i­dent, and there are plenty of ra­dio sta­tions to lis­ten to as you go.

Un­stop­pable force-a

Be­hind the wheel, there’s that fa­mil­iar mix of ar­cade sim­plic­ity and real-world physics sim­u­la­tion. Only solid ob­jects like houses or trees will stop you dead, while shrubs, fences, walls and small rocks may as well be made of card­board. The only smaller ob­ject you need to ac­tively avoid are hay bales - they re­ally make a thump when you hit them. Dam­age mod­el­ling is de­cent, but not cat­a­strophic (we man­aged to de­tach our Im­preza’s fender in a par­tic­u­larly big crash), and the cos­metic-only set­ting is wel­come.

The hel­met cam feels in­ti­mate, re­ally get­ting you down into the ac­tion, and us­ing the hand­brake to drift into turns while jostling for po­si­tion in the pack is great fun. The off-road dirt rac­ing is an early favourite, though the movie stunt­man sto­ry­line cer­tainly has the po­ten­tial for great­ness.

But the most im­por­tant dif­fer­ence in game­play be­tween this game and

FH3 is the track de­sign. If the first hour or so is in­dica­tive of the rest of the game, we’re in for a much more con­sid­ered ex­pe­ri­ence, with denser gate place­ment and more hair­pin bends, which re­quire a greater grasp of car con­trol. You can still smash fences to make the track sim­pler, and there’s al­ways the rewind but­ton if you re­ally get tan­gled in the bushes, but driv­ing the tracks feels much more in­volved, based on the near-com­plete build of the game we played. It would take a dis­as­ter to pre­vent

Forza Hori­zon 4 be­com­ing a must-own game on Xbox One. It looks, sounds and feels amaz­ing. Get ex­cited.

“The move from Aus­tralia to the Bri­tish coun­try­side was well worth the trip”

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