There’s a lot of things that make Playground Games' most recent entry into the Forza Horizon series stand out as the strongest. The beautiful and huge rendition of the UK countryside is one of the most well-executed locations we’ve seen in a driving game. It’s endlessly fun to plow through the picturesque hills of England and Scotland, it looks incredible, and there’s a staggering amount of content. Simply put: Forza Horizon 4 is one of the finest open world racing games ever made.
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However, the thing that makes it truly stand out is its unique use of seasons. Every week the game world’s season rotates between Summer, Autumn, Winter, and Spring. The land is transformed and the content gets a slight reshuffling. I feel like I’m reading from the game’s marketing script when I speak of how the game’s rotating seasons redefines the game week after week, bringing new life to the sprawling English countryside every seven days, but that doesn’t make it any less true.
I had my doubts that it would be anything more than a cool gimmick that would change the aesthetics of the game every week. The end result is far more interesting. It provides a periodic shift in the gorgeous dynamic weather effects that create a wholly new terrain to play with. It demands that you engage with the huge range of cars and trucks available instead of just playing the game with that one car. Forza Horizon 4 is the first racing game since Burnout Paradise to make me actually want to drive everything I can get my hands on because the differences actually feel meaningful. Playing with nothing but that superfast sports car you bought won’t get you very far in Winter, where the slopes are hazardous and the roads become treacherously slippery.
The weekly reshuffling of races and events, including some that are only available during certain seasons, provides a reason to come back week after week. Maybe you put down the game and come back to it next week. The whole world will be different, presenting a radically different experience and a nice variety of fresh activities to engage with. Combine this with the always-online nature of the world, which has multiplayer events appearing for all players, Forza Horizon 4 is the most successful distillation of a living world in a racing game.
Check out our review of Forza Horizon 4, which calls it a game that “sets a soaring new standard for driving games that competitors should be afraid of”.