It was almost a given, that Forza Horizon 4 would make an appearance at E3 this year, but the biggest unknown was where the game would take place, we have had Colorado, the Italian coastline and all of Australia. If I had my say, Japan would have been the next country, but the team at Playground games went with Britain, which includes England, Scotland, Wales and North Ireland, but its not just a new location, it’s a completely new weather system that comes into play.
Watching the press conference and hearing about how ‘Seasons Change Everything’ I was excited to test it out for myself, the E3 build of the game offered up a chance to play through four races, each taking place in a different season, the problem though, seasons did nothing. Sure, you could tell there was a difference when driving on the ice in Winter, compared to a sealed road in Summer, but the series has already been able to offer that difference before.
Cycling through the seasons, in such a fast way was cool, but removed any sense of change, in that each time a new season was put on the screen, you got a cool little cutscene, showing it. Of course, I am not expecting the game to randomly throw in snow, whilst barrelling around in Summer or anything like that, but I would hope that the seasons blend together properly. Perhaps Winter might start early, with Ice on the roads, long before the now begins to fall, something that would vastly change how the game plays out, if it was random like that.
The other big feature they announced was the shared open world, which means drivatars are not a thing anymore, the E3 build however did not allow for that to be experienced. All of the cars on the road, were clearly AI driven, as playing the hands on multiple times, resulted in seeing the exact actions each time. While I am not sold on the concept of shared world experiences, for any game, Forza Horizon could be the series that convinces me of their benefit, purely due to the crazy nature of the game, plus it has to be better than the drivatars who screw up your top speed attempt at random.
Controlling the game was simple, as someone who spent, probably way more time than was needed in Horizon 3, the controls are the same and feel just as great. The game still offers the rewind function, but at this stage, I don’t know if that is for the E3 build, or for the entire game, because how will rewind work, in a shared world game? Each of the cars driven, the McLaren Senna and two heavily customised cars, one for rally driving in the Spring and a 4x4 for Winter, all had the weight and responsiveness that you would expect from the Horizon series.
Being honest, I was always going to play Horizon 4, I love the series and while the E3 demo did not prove their concept that seasons change everything, it still gives more open world racing goodness that the series is known for, and for now, that is ok.