Forza Horizon 4 Xbox Series X Impressions

November 7, 2020

Over the course of the last generation, Playground Games have cemented themselves as the current champions of racing games. After starting off by showcasing America, they have taken us through their own versions of Italy, Australia and finally, England with the Forza Horizon series. Forza Horizon 4 felt like the culmination of everything they had learnt from developing the past entries in the series, and we loved what we saw when we reviewed the game back in 2018. Now, Playground Games are bringing Forza Horizon 4 to the Xbox Series X, with a raft of upgrades that easily make it the definitive console version.

Behind Gears 5, Forza Horizon 4 has received the largest number of upgrades from the swathe of games Xbox have brought forwards to the Xbox Series X. What it’s missing, in comparison to Gears 5, is the introduction of any new content to the game itself. Instead, Forza Horizon 4 is purely an update in visuals and performance. With that said, it’s still one hell of an upgrade on the Xbox One version of the game. If you’ve played the PC version of the game before, however, Forza Horizon 4 on Xbox Series X might be slightly less impressive. That’s because this version of the game mostly seems to move the sliders up on settings that were already available on the PC version of the game. That isn’t to say that this isn’t a great update to the game and more so to temper the expectations on this update.

The biggest change, and the one that is the most noticeable from the beginning, is the change to the game’s framerate. While Forza Horizon 4 ran at 4k30 or 1080p60 on the Xbox One X, it now runs at a native 4K at 60fps. What this results in is a significantly smoother gameplay experience, that feels incredible to play. Flying down country roads and cornering with ease in a supercar never felt quite this good in Forza Horizon 4 on Xbox One X.

Beyond framerate, much of the change to Forza Horizon 4 on Xbox Series X comes from graphical changes that, much like Gears 5, are relatively subtle. There’s increases in shadow and reflection detail, which helps make shadows and reflections on your car and water seem more realistic compared to the original Xbox One X release. Texture quality has been bumped up to match the PC version of the game, leading to better-looking cars and environments. Viewing distance seems to have been improved as well, while particle effects have also gotten a definite improvement. Overall, they’re changes that definitely make for a cleaner and more beautiful game, which almost make it feel like a generational leap.

What does, however, feel like a generational leap is how darn fast the game now loads. Forza Horizon 4 was never horrifically slow to load, but the good thirty seconds it took to load was still a barrier between opening the game and starting to drive. Now, the game takes roughly 15 seconds to load. Fast travelling is even better, with it taking only a couple of seconds between selecting your destination and appearing there. If this is the future of next-gen open world games, you can count us as excited participants.

Overall, Forza Horizon 4 is a decent update to an already fantastic game, that doesn’t fundamentally change much. It feels and looks better than ever to play, but there’s not much there to truly entice returning players beyond that. If you’re looking for an open world racer for launch, Forza Horizon 4 is definitely a great option, but returning players shouldn’t feel the need to immediately jump back in.

Forza Horizon 4 was played on an Xbox Series X with a copy of the game provided by Xbox. The game is also available on PC and Xbox One. For more information, check the official website.