The Xbox Series X|S are less than a week away and I’ve been hands-on with not only the more powerful console, but also the new Forza Horizon 4 optimized specifically for it. This version of the shared open-world racer by Playground Games has been developed in collaboration with Panic Button, who you’ll now spot in the skippable splash-screen intro when booting into the game.
Because Forza Horizon 4 utilizes Smart Delivery, you do not need to repurchase it to play the new upgraded edition on Xbox Series X|S. It’s a free download, whether you own the game on disc or digitally. Your save data also moves forward from Xbox One.
Forza Horizon 4 on Xbox Series X introduces PC ultra-level settings to console for the very first time. On Xbox One X, players were given a choice between a 4K/30FPS mode or a 1080p/60FPS mode. The 4K mode also included some neat graphical upgrades, such as night shadows from car headlights. All of this has been replaced with a simple, singular option for both new consoles.
On Xbox Series X, the game operates at native 4K resolution locked to 60FPS with all the visual bells and whistles you’d expect from the PC version. Meanwhile, the Xbox Series S drops the resolution to 1080p whilst maintaining that 60FPS lock. Considering the price of the all-digital console, it’s an impressive feat and although I haven’t tested the game on Xbox Series S, it should be ideal for those who are still playing on a Full HD display.
Where I have extensively tested the new version of Forza Horizon 4 is on the Xbox Series X, the faster, more powerful sibling of the family. Before I share my impressions, let me give you some backstory. I’ve been playing the game exclusively on PC for a year now. I’ve become fully accustomed to 60FPS and the super-fast loading times it provides thanks to being installed on a M2 SSD. Because my rig supports a RTX 2080 Super, I also run the game maxed out with all the visual flourishes. It's the ultimate Forza Horizon 4 experience at my fingertips.
Yet despite that, I was still impressed by what the Xbox Series X delivered. It’s mind-boggling to think a $499 console is capable of the same performance as a high-end PC. The loading times feel almost non-existent, whether you’re booting into the game, fast-travelling around the map, changing into a different car, starting up a new race event or switching between the mainland and one of the game’s expansion locales – Fortune Island or LEGO Speed Champions. It’s all done within a manner of seconds.
Forza Horizon 4 is more beautiful on console than ever before, especially with its 4K, 60FPS lock on Xbox Series X. If you’ve got a display capable of outputting this with HDR10, then you’re in for a treat. My TV supports its own form of Dolby Atmos too, so not only did the cars look great, but they also sounded the part. The rip-roaring engine noises as cars whistled past me in races felt thrilling yet also terrifying, but it even extends beyond that too. The entire ambience of the game is alive, and it soaks you in when playing at the visual fidelity offered by the Xbox Series X. I feel like I had stopped appreciating that until now.
Looking back, neither of the performance modes on Xbox One X were satisfactory. The 60FPS option was a big deal, but it was also a huge blow to 4K TV owners that it locked to 1080p. Combined with a bunch of the higher-end graphical settings also being disabled in 60FPS, it just wasn’t ideal. PC had it all and that’s exactly the experience I wanted from Forza Horizon 4, so I built a rig capable of just that, but two years since the game first launched and we have the Xbox Series X doing it all. The resolution, framerate and graphics settings are there and maxed out. It’s great that console players are finally getting it all for the first time.
Forza Horizon 4 on Xbox Series X is the way this game is meant to be played, at least on console. The optimized version comes alongside the Series 29 Update which introduces three new cars to unlock in the next Festival Playlist beginning later this month. These include the 1995 BMW 850CSI, the 1987 Mercedes-Benz AMG Coupé and the 1990 Porsche 911 Designed by Singer. That last one is undoubtedly special and shouldn’t be missed out on.
If you’ve yet to dive into Forza Horizon 4, there’s never been a better time to start. It’s available on Xbox Game Pass. Regardless of which platform you’re on, it’s a fantastic game and if you’ve just built a solid gaming rig or you plan on upgrading to the Xbox Series X|S, then this gem is certainly worthy of your time. If you’re a fan of the Forza franchise, then you’ll be happy to know that all Xbox One era Forza games such as Forza Motorsport 7, as well as Forza Horizon are backwards compatible on the Xbox Series X|S.
They also benefit from several key features of the console. In addition to Auto HDR bringing out the highlights in these games and the SSD enabling super-fast loading times, Quick Resume lets you suspend and return to them in a heartbeat – exactly in the state you left them in. So, as we wait for the next-generation of Forza Motorsport with ray-tracing support, there’s still much Forza to be enjoyed on Xbox Series X|S in the here and now.
Xbox Series X|S launches on November 10th around the world. For our impressions of the fastest, most powerful Xbox yet, be sure to read our full review. Microsoft provided us with an Xbox Series X console, 12 months of Xbox Game Pass and several game download codes for coverage purposes.
Alan is the co-founder and co-owner of FullThrottle Media. As someone who enjoys spending all his free time playing video games, he keeps the website updated with new and relevant content, including news stories, reviews and opinion pieces for the games he likes writing about the most. He also tweets too much, probably.