Forza Horizon 4 PC Review

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Forza Motorsport 3 was the Forza title that sunk its hooks into me. The rewind function, adjustable difficulty, driving lines, and sublime controls were instrumental to my enjoyment of playing the game. The sleek presentation made races exciting compared to the calm melodic stylings of a Gran Turismo. But as with all things, things began to grow stale. Forza Horizon took the Forza Motorsport formula and injected it with even more excitement. I thought Playground Games’ spin off looked neat but not enough to warrant a purchase at the time.
 
It took a new generation of consoles, a PC release and a new game subscription service model before I finally gave another Forza title a chance.  
 
The other reasons I took the plunge was the ability to run the game at 60 FPS on the Xbox One X and PC. I heard of the troubles with attaining higher framerates beyond the default 30 FPS in Forza Horizon 3, so the 60 FPS mode for Xbox One X owners made the decision to jump in even easier. Racing games are playable at 30 FPS but they come alive at 60 FPS and Forza Horizon 4 was no exception.  
 
I tried to run the game at 4K 60 FPS on my GeForce GTX 1070 but it would dip far too frequently. After some tinkering, I settled with 1440p and a variety of adjusted settings. The Xbox One X version ran at 1080p and an unwavering 60 FPS. I switched between both versions and I was really impressed by the console’s output. I also have to commend the cloud save support which was seamless. 
 
Forza Horizon 4 followed its predecessor’s footsteps of unleashing the Forza Motorsport driving into a large open world. For this installment, they chose a chunk of England to carve up for our racing pleasure. Dirt roads, long winding courses, and open fields were all used as courses for players to race through. The inclusion of seasons gave all those tracks different aesthetics and feel making variety a non-issue.  
 
Like other open world games, there were tiered content. In Forza Horizon 4, a variety of races peppered the map including dirt rallies and street races. These came in the usual point-to-point or lap variety. The Story missions came with window dressing like light cutcenes and voiceovers setting up the crazy scenario in which I ended up behind the wheel of a extravagant hypercar. The crème of the crop were the Showcases which is just the over-the-top Top Gear races involving trains, planes, and bikes were pitted against cars. 
 
I had my fill of Forza Horizon 4 before finishing all those Story or Showcase events. The inclusion of Seasons added a level of dynamism to the world that sounds awesome in theory but a bit disappointing in execution. It turns out that I just don’t like driving in the rain or snow very much. Playground Games changed the seasons on a weekly basis. As a result, if I only enjoyed racing in the Summer or Autumn seasons, I would be sitting out two weeks while I wait for the seasons to change again.  
 
I preferred how they handled the seasonal changes during the first 25 or so levels where I could trigger when to change over to Winter. If I wanted to bang out more long epic races in Autumn, I could do so at my leisure. With the live nature of the game, I have to schedule my choice of events around the seasons.  
 
The material changes between the seasons meant that I was slipping and sliding on wet roads without winter tires, but it also meant I could drive on frozen lakes to reach new areas in the winter. I found these details to be incredible additions. 
 
My only other gripe with the fast travel system. Charging precious in-game currency to warp around the map is annoying. I realize it’s a bit silly to want to exclude driving in a driving game but sometimes, I just want a change of scenery without having to drive across the map. The annoyance was exacerbated when I forget to change my “home” and end up back at the other side of the map at the beginning of the next session.  
 
Those quibbles aside, Forza Horizon 4 was a blast to drive through. I’ve set it down for the time being but there’s a whole lot of game waiting for me if I decide to revisit. It’s one of those games that’s just bursting at the seams with both quality and quantity. It’s easily one of the best racers I’ve played in years.  

Verdict:
I like it

Ratings Guide

Checkpoint: Xbox One X Edition

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The Xbox One X is a fine name. I like it more than Xbox Scorpio or any 4K variant people were pitching leading up to the reveal. 

It’s a nice looking console as well; sleek and small. The fact that it’s smaller than the Xbox One S is impressive. I would like it white though. 

$499.99 USD is a lot of money. I don’t know what the official CAD pricing will be but apparently it will be $599.99 CAD which is favorable to Canadians. I won’t be buying one though. I will be trading in my Xbox One S or PlayStation 4 Slim for an Xbox One X and that’s the only way I would get the “world’s most powerful console”. 

So why would I get one? Besides the fact that I’m a crazy person, it would be the easiest way for my brother and I to play Forza Motorsport 7. I would also like to continue maintaining the best way to play Xbox 360 games. 

I finished Nier: Automata. I wished I liked it more than I did. With that done, I started Firewatch on PC which is surprisingly touching. I keep wanting to stop and play it with the girlfriend but I keep wanting to dive deeper with it.

Microsoft Tears Down Multiplayer Walls

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Microsoft is tearing down the Xbox Live! wall and allowing other networks — including PC and other game consoles — to play with their player base.

I cannot imagine this being an initiative if the Xbox One was in a dominant position. Nevertheless, the end result is that games like Rocket League will have access to larger pools of players. This technically isn’t the first time that we’ve seen cross-network multiplayer but it is the first time we’re seeing it outside of an MMORPG.

Unfortunately without a game specific account, it’s not going to be possible for players of Rocket League on the PlayStation 4 to pair with players on Xbox One. In Rocket League’s case, this will enable an Xbox One party to go up against a PlayStation 4 party.

Baby steps.

With this initiative in place, I can see a game like Battlefield 5 with EA’s Origin ID allowing cross platform parties. I can see a future where Ubisoft leverages their uPlay ID to allow the agents on different networks to pair up as well. We’ll see how this will all shake up in the not so distant future.

Consoles meet PC, PC, meet Consoles?

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Today is a bit of a weird day for Sony’s PlayStation 4, Microsoft Xbox One and the traditional PC (and Mac). Out of nowhere the two console manufacturers announced some sort of PC related support. Sony’s was a small nugget but Microsoft’s announcements may make certain individuals think twice before picking up the Xbox One.

  • PS4 System Software 3.50 Will Support Remote Play for PC and Mac via PS.Blog
  • Forza Motorsport 6: Apex will debut on Windows Store for free this Spring via Xbox Wire
  • Future Forza Motorsport titles will be debuting on Xbox and Windows 10 via IGN
  • Gears of War: Ultimate Edition now available on Windows Store via Xbox Wire
  • Quantum Break will also be available on Windows Store via Xbox Wire

Sony’s little piece of news is a “nice to have”. I own a Vita and never bothered with Remote Play for a myriad of reasons that I won’t get into today. Making it available for PC makes the feature a little more attractive but I doubt I will be using it outside of curiosity.

Now Microsoft’s flurry of news, on the other hand, is setting a significant precedent. Gears of War, Forza Motorsport and Quantum Break — big first party Microsoft franchises — will be making their way to Windows 10 sooner or later. Fable and Killer Instinct were already previously announced for Windows 10 which only leaves Halo as the sole outlier. Will Halo 5 eventually make its debut on Windows 10? Will subsequent Halo games follow suit? It would make a whole lot of sense for Halo Wars 2 — a real time strategy game — to make its debut on Xbox and Windows 10 (with full keyboard and mouse support for the latter).

I have to stress the fact that I’m mentioning Windows 10 or Windows Store and not PC because there’s no guarantee or inkling that any of these Microsoft published titles are heading to other digital storefronts such as Steam. Microsoft is trying to entice people into their ecosystem through compelling software and they’re making a very good case for it with this latest effort.

The Windows Store has its limitations though courtesy of the Universal Windows Platform. They’ve sandboxed the executable to prevent things from hooking into it nullifying hacks and mods in the process. If you only care about the game Microsoft is selling then these limitations are moot. If mods are your thing then these games might as well have stayed on the Xbox One.

I’m in the former camp. I don’t care about mods or hacks (I’ll elaborate more on this at a later date). I just want to run my PC games at 1080p60 and I’m happy but I realize not everyone will be pleased with the closed nature of the Microsoft ecosystem.

Looking at this news and considering the fact that I’ve been configuring a new PC for the past couple of weeks, I don’t know how much playtime my Xbox One will receive in the future. I have Quantum Break on the way but that’s because I got it for cheap and my current PC isn’t up to snuff. I understand Microsoft’s position though. I’m not upset over their shift from hardware boundaries to software boundaries. It makes sense to expose their titles to the wider audience. There are over 110 million Windows 10 users out there compared to the 19 million on the Xbox One. If you’re a business man and you were faced with those numbers, you would be foolish not to make this shift. Not every single one of those 110 million users are running capable PCs but even a fifth of those will already exceed the Xbox One’s sales to date.

 

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