Seasons were the headlining feature showcased in Forza
Horizon 4 at Microsoft’s
E3 2018 Briefing. They change everything in the game. From the landscapes
and weather conditions to the overall look and feel of the game, seasons will
bring new life to Forza Horizon 4 like no other entry before it in the
acclaimed open-world racing series. From the asphalt and dirt roads to grassy
fields, hills and historic cities. This is Britain, brought to life in
spectacular native 4K and HDR with realistic seasons that change every week in
a beautiful, shared open-world.
Developed by Playground Games, the UK-based studio recently acquired
by Microsoft, Forza Horizon 4 features the biggest automotive playset of
any recent open-world racer, with more than 450 cars available to collect as
you explore, race and rise the ranks to become a Horizon Superstar. It all
starts with the cover stars of Forza Horizon 4. The Forza franchise has always
featured industry-leading supercars and Forza Horizon 4’s British cover stars
are no exception to this rule, with the McLaren Senna and the 1997 Land Rover
Defender 90 adorning the cover art of Forza Horizon 4.
Designed to reimagine open-world driving with new features
and gameplay experiences, Forza Horizon 4 will deliver historic locations in
Britain with more choice and customization than ever. Dynamic seasons change
gameplay as players unlock new events and routes, impacting driving conditions
and transforming open-world exploration with dry, wet, muddy, snowy and icy
conditions. From clear skies to thunderstorms and blizzards. All brought to
life in a shared landscape where everyone experiences changes in time-of-day,
weather conditions and seasons together.
As part of IGN's exclusive Forza Horizon 4 coverage this month, several new features and details were revealed. IGN had the opportunity to check out Forza Horizon 4 at Playground Games in the UK ahead of E3 this past weekend, and one of the headlining features discussed were seasons. These seasons change the overall look, feel and vibe of
Forza Horizon 4’s Britain. In Summer, the sun casts its light over the
villages, towns and countryside with fields that extend for miles full of the
lushest, greenest grass with their characteristic golden colour and flourished
deciduous trees, blooming flowers, crops and livestock. Then Autumn sees the
world become swept in browns and yellows with leaves covering the asphalt as
trees begin to fade whilst famers have harvested up their crops – all baled up
and ready to go.
Winter introduces Blizzard Mountain-style conditions with
heavy snowfall, icy conditions and dim lighting as fields become fallow and ice
lakes form in the rivers and lakes. Spring adds a damp and fresh look to the
overall world as blossoms begin to budge in hedgerows and trees with bluebells
and snowdrops popping up in the woods as a mist hangs over the valleys before later
burning off – all sporadically accompanied by April showers that come and go.
It’s truly four different worlds brought to life as one. Even the sheep are
shorn, and there’s also other wildlife too, including deer, rabbits, crows, grasshoppers
and chickens – but you obviously can’t hit into them.
Foliage naturally played a significant role for the team,
and each tree in Autumn changes colour uniquely – it’s all dependent on its health,
the soil and moisture on the ground. Some trees will hold onto their greens for
longer as others become brown and golden as the rest drop all their leaves
entirely. Obviously, the dynamic sky and lighting conditions also play a huge
role in bringing seasons to life in Forza Horizon 4 and there’s even seasonal
overrides for precipitation chances, as well as other conditions such as wind,
thunderstorms and snow.
These seasons are also synchronized for all players in the
Forza Horizon 4 world. Time conditions, weather conditions and seasons are all matched
for everyone with seasons lasting a total of one week before they transition
and move onto the next one. If it rains, everyone sees it together, if there’s
a rainbow, sunset or thunderstorm, then everyone sees it together. That shared experience
in a world dominated by social media makes the new live experience in Forza Horizon
4 an idea that’s very current and relevant.
Forza Horizon 4 also isn’t an always-online game. As much as
this is a shared open-world experience, with the click of a button, you can
experience the entire game with Drivatars in single-player the same way you did
in Forza Horizon 3. The seasons will still change weekly too, based on the
system clock of your Xbox One console or PC. Fan-favourite features such as
Photo Mode, Rewind and of course, the ability to pause the game are all present
– and you can’t be griefed by strangers as they’ll be ghosted if you aren’t friends
with them or partaking in a race activity together.
There’s also a quick chat emote-style system that allows
players to communicate via the d-pad to others, which is great for both
accessibility, inclusiveness and of course, overcoming the language barrier –
and you can also form conveys with each other to take part in every race and
activity thanks to six-player campaign co-op, an increase over the four-player co-op in Forza Horizon 3.
Racers will forge their page to becoming a Horizon Superstar
in the all-new open-ended campaign as two of the most fan-requested features
make their debut in the Forza Horizon series. The first of these is a brand-new
‘Route Creator’ that allows players to design and share their own custom race
routes anywhere within the open-world. The second is a dedicated 60FPS mode,
exclusively for those on Xbox One X,
and of course, Windows 10 PCs. This mode will compliment the native
4K HDR experience that’s already available in Forza Horizon 3.
Players will also collect more than 450 Forzavista cars in
Forza Horizon 4 from over 100 licensed manufacturers, with both the temperature
and weather conditions playing a significant effect on the handling and grip of
each vehicle. Playground Games is promising this to be “the largest and most
diverse Horizon car roster yet,” complimented by all the same customization
options already adored by players, as well as some brand-new ones.
These include Drift Suspension upgrades, and outside of cars, there's even driver personalization with all-new character clothing options, with accessories and emotes to bring your driver to life and make them unique to represent you.
You’ll choose from the same line-up of characters present in Forza Horizon 3, but this time, you’ll
personalize them with around 500 apparel choices designed to work across both
genders, with 50 emotes that can be used at key moments in the game, with one example being after you win a race.
Plus, for the first time in the Forza franchise, players can
purchase their own property that unlocks “new items and gameplay perks.” You’ll
be able to park your car outside houses and examine it in the Forzavista mode. These properties range from a little cottage in the Cotswolds to the extravagant Edinburgh Castle. There’s also Horizon-style
jobs you can complete in Horizon Stories, including one for being a stunt driver
on an automotive magazine show.
These jobs are offered to you by colourful characters and
come with a host of bespoke driving opportunities. Businesses can also be acquired
in Forza Horizon 4, including a taxi firm that rewards players for using a classic Austin FX4 London Taxi to get people to where they need to be. Because Forza
Horizon 4 encompasses all four seasons, the Horizon Festival is no longer just
a Summer gig, but rather a 365-day ‘Horizon Life’ experience.
Players can also experience Forza Horizon 4 alone,
cooperatively with friends, or in online multiplayer, which includes both casual fun racing and ranked
team events. With a shared open-world experience that can feature up to 72
players at once, replacing the AI-powered Drivatar system of previous games, Forza
Horizon 4 will be the most social racing game yet. Combined with the return of
Campaign Co-op and special new 'Forzathon Live' events that offer random challenges
to players to complete together, there’s a bunch of unique ways to enjoy Forza
Horizon 4 with the wider online community.
Forza Horizon 4 also includes “integrated Mixer broadcasting
and spectating features” to add to its social experience, and players can
unlock additional rewards in-game by simply livestreaming the game and engaging an
audience. Seasons also unlock new themed content, gameplay, challenges and
rewards to make an expansive experience that changes every week as you discover
lakes, valleys, castles, and breath-taking scenery all in native 4K and HDR on
Xbox One X and Windows 10 PCs.
This is historic Britain like you’ve never seen it before –
from the Welsh Valleys and the Scottish capital of Edinburgh to England’s best
driving roads, villages, lakes, and scenes. There’s an even an off-road adventure park and
those tiny little cottages to buy in Cotswolds. In addition, Britain in Forza Horizon
4 will approximately be the same size as Forza Horizon 3’s depiction of
Australia, but with the all-new dynamic seasons, it will feel like a completely
different world and landscape to explore every week.
Available now for pre-order, Forza Horizon 4 launches
worldwide on October 2nd for Xbox One and Windows 10 PCs as an Xbox Play
Anywhere title – available day in date on Xbox
Game Pass. Deluxe and Ultimate Editions have also been confirmed, with the former
offering the base game, the Formula Drift Car Pack and Forza Horizon 4 Car
Pass, whilst the latter also includes early access to the game on September
28th, an unspecified ‘Day One Car Pack,’ two full-fledged expansions, and the
usual VIP Membership.
For more insight into Forza Horizon 4's dynamic seasons and how they create a sense of a living world with progression, check out IGN's exclusive coverage. There's a bunch of quotes from the team at Playground Games with fascinating details on the development of the game.
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.