The Trav­eller

Dani veers off track in Forza Hori­zon 4

XBox: The Official Magazine (US) - - INSIDER - You can see more of Dani’s gam­ing trav­els on In­sta­gram: @daniel­lam­lu­cas.

Be­ing Bri­tish I could talk about the weather for­ever. There are just so many types to com­ment on, from gen­tle, fizzing rains that cling to your hair and some­how ig­nore um­brel­las en­tirely, to sud­den down­pours that ev­ery­one loves to hate. I’ve seen 50 dif­fer­ent types of grey cloud in the last week and have had con­ver­sa­tions about them in the of­fice lifts. The weather is the per­fect way to fill in all of those awk­ward si­lences with­out need­ing to delve into any per­sonal top­ics. We’ve got this level of non-en­gag­ing con­ver­sa­tion down to a fine art­form here and I love it. And now that Forza Hori­zon 4’ s im­pres­sive sea­sonal cy­cling is here, I can share it with you all.

While go­ing 200kmph in su­per cars on stretches of wind­ing tar­mac is lovely, I found my­self more in­ter­ested in stick­ing my head out of the win­dow and slow­ing down to ad­mire the scenery. In­stead of go­ing as fast as I pos­si­bly can in a Pa­gani Zonda, I much pre­fer pootling around in a 1980s Ford Fi­esta scop­ing out po­ten­tial pic­nic spots from which to ad­mire Forza’s beau­ti­ful skies. Luck­ily

Hori­zon gives you that choice – un­like the more static and po-faced Mo­tor­sport side of the se­ries, here you’re free to wan­der away from the tracks to find your own routes and even cut across fields to bother the lo­cal sheep if you wish.

Light of my life

After you get through the open­ing few hours the game tran­si­tions to a weekly sched­ule of sea­sonal changes, so you’ll be play­ing through a damp spring one week, fol­lowed by a bright sum­mer the next. This gives plenty of op­por­tu­nity for weather chat as it’s al­ways chang­ing, so your con­ver­sa­tion will never get stale. Au­tumn is par­tic­u­larly good for this – the sun­light has a unique clar­ity to it that sug­gests a slight chill in the air, and shows off the ra­di­ance of the trees’ tran­si­tional reds and yel­lows. In spring the sky has a slightly heav­ier feel to it, like there’s a con­stant damp­ness be­ing car­ried in it that sub­tly dulls the blue of a clear day.

“I can even play god and shape the weather in pri­vate races”

It’s tough to ap­pre­ci­ate just how good FH4’ s light­ing is be­cause it looks so nat­u­ral. You over­look the fact that sev­eral peo­ple have had to en­gi­neer it to look like that. Per­haps it’s be­cause it was made by Bri­tish de­vel­op­ers and fel­low weather en­thu­si­asts that they’ve cap­tured that re­al­is­tic light so per­fectly. I can clearly pic­ture the chats that must have hap­pened over the last year – the com­ments on how weird that day’s rain is to fill in the si­lence in a shared kitchen while brew­ing tea, only to re­turn to their desks and recre­ate it lov­ingly. Some­times we re­ally do all live up to stereo­types, and it can pay off in a huge way. I get the same feel­ings about the UK’s weather in FH4 as I do when I idly look out of my win­dow. While that light might be ex­otic to other gamers around the world, to me it’s com­fort­ing – I’m at home in this world of stupidly posh cars and stunts I could never dream of pulling off my­self.

I can even play god and shape the weather in pri­vate races. While the world may change around you be­yond your con­trol nor­mally, you have the abil­ity to bend it to your will by set­ting up your own races. In the mood to talk about the sludgy snows and sleet of win­ter while it’s blaz­ing hot out­side? You can do that – your weather-based chat doesn’t need to be lim­ited to what’s ac­tu­ally hap­pen­ing around you. Pick your favourite sea­son and harp on end­lessly about the driz­zle if your heart de­sires.

It amazes me how some­thing we of­ten take for granted, such as light­ing and clouds, re­ally helps make a game what it is. With­out the at­ten­tion to de­tail in these small things the game’s ver­sion of Bri­tain would be less con­vinc­ing and per­haps not as com­pelling as a re­sult. So even if the skies are sad and grey out­side, be thank­ful that they helped in­spire the best Xbox One con­sole ex­clu­sive to date.

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