The Forza Horizon series has been around for 10 years as of today, and over that time, it’s managed to establish itself as the premier open world racing series. Games like Need For Speed or Burnout Paradise might have held the crown in the past, but there’s simply no beating Forza Horizon when it comes to open world racing thrills. Whether it’s on the road, off the road, or flying off a ramp at 200 mph, Forza Horizon does it all brilliantly.
The most recent iteration, Forza Horizon 5, is the perfect example of this, as it takes elements from other Horizon games and compiles them together to create the best the series has to offer. Super7 emphasizes the event creation that was introduced in Forza Horizon 4, while the game’s progression harkens back to Forza Horizon 3, which championed the ability to progress by playing the game your own way, whether that’s racing, stunts or creation.
Unfortunately, the Forza series has this awful tradition where the older games in the series get delisted, usually within four years of the game’s release. It’s referred to as the End of Life status for each game, and while they’re still available to play if you’ve purchased the game digitally, it makes an anniversary celebration of Forza Horizon ring a bit hollow. How can we celebrate 10 years of a series, when 60% of it isn’t even available to buy?
At the time of writing, Playground Games have been running a 10 year anniversary event in Forza Horizon 5, designed around celebrating some of the best moments in the franchise’s history. There’s definitely some nostalgia to be had when it comes to getting behind the wheel of that beautiful yellow Dodge Viper that adorned the cover of the first Horizon game, but without the source material to go back to, it feels less like a celebration and more like Playground Games dredging up the past they’ve locked access to just for a cheap pop.
It says a lot that just a month before Forza Horizon’s 10th anniversary, a forum post appeared on the game’s official website that asked the question of whether or not FH4 would be delisted just four years after release, just like all the other games in the series. A spokesperson for Playground Games then had to break the silence and say it won’t go down the same path, but that then begs the question of why Forza Horizon 4 received special exemptions when the other games didn’t.
Truth be told, if you ever feel like playing the older Forza Horizon games, the physical copies work just fine and aren’t too difficult to hunt down, but considering that the games are no longer on digital platforms, it gives the impression that Playground Games no longer care about these games. To then see the developers mine their legacies for a special anniversary update is almost insulting. If these games meant so much, more should be done to preserve them, no?
Licensing issues are what they are, of course, but Forza Horizon is more than just the cars you can play as. It’s the gameplay, it’s the maps themselves and the events which mean a lot more than just whichever cars there are. It feels like an anniversary celebration should do more to honour that work which has just been discarded so easily.
Regardless of the status of the older Forza Horizon games, it’s hard to deny its place at the pinnacle of the racing genre. Over the past 10 years, Forza Horizon has managed to attain and maintain pole position across all racing games, but in the pursuit of being first, the series has discarded its own legacy a little too easily.
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