The Forza Horizon franchise has always been about an open world, but Forza Horizon 4 is stretching that in new ways for the series. We talked with the developers at Playground Games in more depth about the what players can expect as they explore, engage in co-op with friends, and enjoy the seamless environment.
Driving around the world, you will always have access to 12 real-life drivers. Moreover, this online state can easily be switched off at any time, at which time the game reverts back to the drivatar-filled world you’re used to. As you race along, your friends can follow you across the map, but the game will load in instances of other real-life drivers.
Players experience four distinct seasons, which introduce their own handling challenges and even open up new areas of the map, and the seasons change for everyone at the same time once per week.
If you see someone, their collision will be turned off unless they’re already a friend or you start a race (you can also block people if you just don’t want them in your world). Forza Horizon 4’s co-op blends the previously separate co-op silos so there’s no difference between free-roam and event racing, for instance. While you won’t be able to create your own events in the world (like putting down a marker where you hit some huge air, for example), you’re free to flow between all the game has to offer with or without other people.
Despite the fact that the online scope of the game is widening, features like race rewinding and photography are still available, as is the ability to chat in the world via preset messages.
The Horizon Festival is once again at the center of the title (complete with a drag strip and circuit in the hub), but campaign players are free to rise up the ranks as they see fit, whether that’s through racing, painting, photography, tuning, or streaming.
The game also broadens out the Forza Horizon lifestyle with ancillary options like houses, jobs, owning businesses, and customization through clothing. There are approximately 12 houses to own in the game, from a simple cottage to Edinburgh Castle, although developer Playground Games hasn’t specified how you purchase them (the studio hasn’t announced any new microtransactions). Houses can also be used for fast travel.
Those looking for a PvP competitive scene can find it in new team PvP, leagues, and the ability to recruit and create/share PvP circuits.
Post-launch the team is looking at the in-game season format (one year in the game should roughly equal one month) to push new content, and the ultimate goal is to make each season in the game have different stuff to do from in-game year to in-game year. One of the things on the wishlist currently is the ability to make your own events for co-op play.
From game to game the Forza Horizon series has fulfilled the promise of its open world more and more, and Forza Horizon 4 is taking down one of the last main barriers.