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Forza Horizon 4 Demo – First Impressions

A good but familiar taste

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Another even year, another Forza Horizon game. It’s the same pattern since this subseries’ inception, a more arcadey take compared to Forza Motorsport plus an open world ripe for exploration on four wheels.

With Forza Horizon 4, the series goes to Playground Games’ home country, the countryside of the UK. It is your tried-and-true sequel yet again based on playing the demo, but it still is one of the better open world racing games out there.

The biggest selling point for Horizon 4 is the introduction of seasons. The four seasons of Autumn, Winter, Spring and Summer brings not just an aesthetic change to the scenery but also some gameplay changes. Muds aplenty if you trek across the deep woods in Spring. Winter freezes up a whole lake and brings slippery roads. Leaves scatter in the winds as you breeze through Autumn. You’ll get a taste of them all in the quick prelude mission before the game starts proper in Summer.

Still The Best Handling Physics In An Open World Racer

As ever, you are racing as part of the Horizon event, an up-and-coming talent proving your racing skills. And as ever, this is where the game shines the best. The default controls hovers in the middle of the arcade-to-simulation spectrum, sim-cade as people used to call it. But a bit on the sim side.

It’s harder to pull off sick drifts compared to games like Need For Speed Payback or The Crew 2, but it’s still managable. But if you turn off the many assists then it’s closer to the Forza Motorsport style of handling, which is good. The Dodge Charger R/T is an old muscle car that is squirrelly when you go full throttle from the start line. The Audi TTS corners well and nimble by comparison.

The great driving physics don’t end there. Puddles can appear on the streets or dirt trails and you can get aquaplaned- a loss of control as the tyres struggle to grip the surface. Many features from past Forza games- both Horizon and Motorsport- have been carried over to Horizon 4 to great effect.

By being more grounded to reality while still fun to control, the physics in Forza Horizon 4 is one of the best in an open world racer out there.

Same-Old Same-Old Races (In The Demo At Least)

While driving is great, the races and events may seem to have run its course. It’s your typical point A to point B sprint races. The one special event you get to try in the demo is a stunt run where there are some fun stuff sprinkled in like racing a jet (sort of), but those are only as side dressing. If you’ve played a Forza Horizon game before, it will feel rather familiar.. and formulaic.

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There is a certain novelty of seeing other fast vehicles zooming in around you as you drive really fast in the McLaren Senna while some chill drum and bass tunes playing. The Horizon Festival has some good vibes, looking at those prologue sequence may feel hokey but after playing it again and again, the good vibes alone is worth it.

At least the graphics are as brilliant as always. And the PC version runs pretty steady 30fps or 60fps. My 4-year-old laptop could run very low consistently due to hard drive bottlenecks that cause the world not properly loading and stuttering. Outside of that, everything was running silky smooth. There’s a benchmarking tool available as well. Photo mode is also accessible with a button press, but uploading and sharing pictures are still finicky.

Closing Thoughts

All in all, Forza Horizon 4’s demo gives you just a glimpse of the new content it promises. It is a demo, after all. Most of the stuff available here should be familiar to veteran players. Most of the new selling point- houses, a whopping 450 cars to drive around, a shared world with seasons changing – are not represented enough here. It’s a good way to test out your PC’s capabilities however. And the PC version should be running much better on launch this time around.

Forza Horizon 4 will be out on October 2nd for Windows 10 PCs and the Xbox One. The demo is available on both platforms.