Games of the Generation: Forza Horizon 4

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Forza Horizon 4
Forza Horizon 4

We’ve been rattling off the best games from the past generation in preparation for the PS5 and Xbox Series X/S. Next up on the list: Great Britain has never looked so good.

Much like my Tekken 7 entry to Games of the Generation, I feel like Forza Horizon 4 should be added just to correct my review from back when the game first launched. Don’t get me wrong, I always though Forza Horizon 4 was fantastic. However, when the game came out, I remarked that while Forza Horizon 4 gave players the freedom to make progress in whatever disciplines they’re most interested in, it lacked an overarching structure once the introductory few hours had concluded.

In that review, I was concerned about the overall staying power of Forza Horizon 4, and whether or not I’d still be playing it in the months and years after launch. It’s been two years since then, and not only can I safely confirm that the game is still incredibly enjoyable and being played semi-regularly, but that I’m really looking forward to playing the game some more once the Xbox Series X launches. Those reduced loading screens sound like heaven to me, as I’m tired of waiting a minute for the game to load from the press start screen.

Forza Horizon 4

One of the main reasons why Forza Horizon 4 has endured so long is because hot damn is it a blast to play. The core racing experience is utterly sublime, carefully weaving its way between dedicated simulation and fast-paced, high-octane racing. There’s still the usual racing lines, apexes and the “slow-in, fast-out” approach to cornering that’s prevalent in real racing, but also you can hit 200 mph going down the motorway, listening to Jack White with a car that has the words “dank memes” emblazoned across the side.

The joy of Forza Horizon 4 is that you can take it as seriously as you want to, meaning if you want to get down into the nitty gritty of engine and suspension tuning, making sure your gear shifts are optimal and that the tyre width is just right for cornering, you can do it. On the other hand, if you just want to hit auto upgrade on a Peel P50 so it can do 150mph+, add some vinyls to make it look like those red and yellow Cozy Coupes you give to kids and launch it off a ramp on the top of a mountain, you can do that too. Different strokes for different folks. That’s an unintended engine joke for you there.

Forza Horizon 4

It’s apt to me that Forza Horizon 4 was developed by Playground Games, because that’s exactly what FH4 feels like. The game gives you all the tools you need to create your own fun, with hundreds of races and events, the ability to create your own races, extensive car customisation and generous online offerings to boot. All the game needs to complete that Playground aesthetic is a sandpit, a slide and some bully off in the corner punching kids for their lunch money.

What also helps is that Playground Games have done an incredible job of supporting the game post-launch, ensuring there’s new challenges and content every single week thanks to the changing seasons. As the game world moves from Summer to Autumn, Winter and Spring, the Forzathon online challenges bring new opportunities to compete and earn more rewards. The free updates in the form of additional Horizon Stories and races also help to bolster the amount of racing you can do.

Forza Horizon

Still, the biggest additions are by far the DLC expansions, Fortune Island and LEGO Speed Champions. Fortune Island is a self-contained experience that offers a bit more structure and emphasis on exploration, along with the excellent Trailblazing stunts that require you to go offroad in an A-to-B sprint to the finish.

However, LEGO Speed Champions blows everything else out of the water, offering another self contained area filled with LEGO, new cars and races and a series of challenges that forces you to engage with all aspects of the DLC to succeed. Besides, there’s something to be said about seeing your lovely looking Lamborghini sat next to a bunch of LEGO dudes cheering their little hearts out.

While there might be some debate regarding whether or not Forza Motorsport or Horizon is the superior series (the answer is clearly Horizon), the fact remains that Forza Horizon 4 is one of, if not the most versatile and enjoyable racing game of the past generation, and for that, it’s worth including on this list.

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