Forza Horizon in the UK

My experiment/investment in trying Forza Horion 4 has been something of a success… success being defined as having fun end basically enjoying myself.

Forza Horizon 4

My basic premise was that FH4 was similar FH5 with just a different setting, story, and a slightly different set of vehicles… which was just about right.

I can see why some people have been complaining that FH5 is a lot like FH4 because they are a lot alike.  But they are not exactly alike, and having played the two back to back in a pair of two week sprints, I am perhaps well positioned to spot the differences.

The core of the game is the same… because why would you mess with that?  And the differences, aside from the setting, can be a but subtle, but they are there.

To start with, it seems to take a while longer to get into FH4 and be unleashed on the open world core of the game.  I am sure it felt even longer because I immediately wanted to jump into the menus to do things only to find most of they grayed out until I progressed far enough.

You also start with just one car, rather that the trio you get at the start of FH5, and I picked the 69 Dodge Charger, thinking I would get something more appropriate for the next race, only to find myself driving that through the whole intro to the game phase.  That wasn’t horrible, but as a street racer the Charger is much better on the straight away than in any situation where lateral G forces come into play.

One of the reasons I wanted to get into the menus right away was that I hit Enter by mistake when customizing my license plate intially, so spent some time driving around with “WORIZON” on my back bumper.

Also visible, virtual Potshot… your XBox buddies show up

But it did get me into my initial game persona, which was that of the Kevin Kline character in A Fish Called Wanda, diving on the right side of the road in a big American car and shouting at the unwitting locals… because, being the UK, they’re all driving on the left, which was a bit more disorienting at first than I thought it would be. (I even found a black baseball cap to wear while I did this.)

Later on in another big American car… with corrected license plate

Eventually I got to the open world and was able to go freely about my business.  The basics are the same, with the big map and all the things you can do, find, and race.  There are some UK-centric items, like a race against a hovercraft (eel status: unspecified) or The Stig from Top Gear.

You even jump the hovercraft, because of course you do

And, of course, it isn’t Mexico, so there are a lot of forests and it snows.  In facts, it seems to be stuck on winter for me most of the time.  It occasionally switches to spring or autumn, but mostly it seems to be snowy, though at least that means I can drive across frozen lakes.

The levels and progression and what not, which I don’t fully understand and really can’t be bothered with most of the time, seems more complicated in FH4.  It feels like they went through a streamlining process in developing FH5, which was probably a good thing… though, with both games, as you level up you map ends up becoming so cluttered it is hard to tell what is going on unless you use the filter… and know what it is you want to exclude.

Finally, I think the RNG in FH4 is against me.  I suspect that somewhere in the code there is a statement like:

if (platform = Steam) {
wheelspin = Suxor;

or some such, because in FH5 the random Wheelspin give away was awesome.  I won a lot of cars in it, and when I didn’t win cars I mostly won money with which I could buy cars.  In FH4 the Wheelspin… and especially the Super Wheelspin… seem set on making me cry.  I’ll see a bunch of awesome cars, some of which you can only get via a Wheelspin (or at the auction house), roll on by, but in the end the wheel will settle on cosmetics, horn sounds, or emotes.

Even my avatar is wincing at that result

In the end though, the game plays the same, which means I am not very good at it.

Part of that is because I have never been very good at driving games, and part of that is because I am playing with keyboard controls.  When using the keyboard most controls, like the accelerator, are either completely off or, when pressed, opened up to the extreme.

Let me tell you about driving in snow when you can only stomp on the accelerator.  That is its own flavor of wheel spin.  Likewise, when every turn input is “crank the wheel hard” you start to appreciate long straightaways.

So, for me, a lot of the game is finding the right car and the right kind of events to run… or finding the wrong car and going very fast until I hit a sharp turn and Newtonian physics takes over and I slide through a hedge, a stone wall, some trees, and whatever else happens to be in my way, until I shed my velocity or run into something solid, like a building or mountain side.

And part of the point of my going to FH4 was to drive Italian and British (and a few French) vehicles.  I had some good luck at first with the Fiat 131 and the Triumph TR6.

A clear race until we get to a corner…

But the car I wanted, the car that drew me to FH4 in the first place, was the Lancia Delta HF integrale Evoluzione.  However, that wasn’t a car you could simply buy on the main market.  In looking it up, I found you could only get it as a wheelspin prize… and you’ve seen my rant above about how well that has worked out for me.

But I did find it finally in the auction house, though there it is listed as the Lancia Delta S4, which is actually the Group B rally car version, which was totally what I wanted.

The auction house is… odd… and behaves like eBay in the old days, where somebody snipes your low bid at the last second of the auction.  I can’t tell if sellers are working the system to bid up prices or if somebody just always wants when I have bid on exactly ten seconds before the end of an auction that has seen no bids at all, but the results are generally a loss for me.

So I just did a buyout on the cheapest one I could find on the auction house.  I had my car.

The Delta S4 in a rally skin

And I was immediately disappointed.

I had, perhaps, built the car up a little too much in my head based on our Need for Speed: World shenanigans from a decade back.

Three in a row in NFSW

I had imbued it with an almost magical aura in my brain.  But it isn’t Superman.  It cannot do everything better than anything else on the road.

It is, however, a Group B rally car, so if you put it in the right race and handle it correctly, it can do great things.  Not that I am claiming I know anything about handling the car correctly… my main plan coming into turns is generally to hit somebody else and bounce off in the right direction… but on cross country races I have been winning regularly against above average computer drivers.

I missed him, but still managed to make the turn

So the Lancia has been my go to vehicle as I run down the various off road and cross country races.

I still have a lot to explore in the game… it is jammed packed with things to do… and I keep telling myself I am going to settle down and concentrate and learn how to make car skins or do tuner upgrades… but then I log in and just drive around or race.  Just driving can be quite relaxing as I listen to a podcast or an audio book.

I think, overall, FH5 is a slight improvement over FH4… and it seems to be easier to just go cross country in Mexico than in the UK… but they are so close that little things like the cars available can tip the balance.

6 thoughts on “Forza Horizon in the UK

  1. Nimgimli

    Maybe things are different in the Steam version (or have changed quite recently) but on the Xbox the seasons lasted a week. So this week it would be winter, next week spring, and so on. And really stretching my memory but I want to say the seasons changed on Wednesday or Thursday.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. p0tsh0t

    I like you went looking for the mythical Lancia Delta in the shop only to be disappointed. I did pull the trigger on the Lancia 037 Stradale and find that almost as enjoyable as the Delta in NFSW.

    Very much agree that the wheel spins are much stingier. I need a new emote like another hole in my head.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Potshot – One loophole I have found since I wrote this involves event races. If a race gives you the option to buy a vehicle you can occasionally find cars that aren’t on the main market. I just did a spring event that had the Lancia Delta S4 on the buy list.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Mailvaltar – Yelling that is an essential part of the game.

    My daughter still reminds me that, when playing Need for Speed: World I used to shout, “See you in hell, soccer mom!” every time I slammed into a mini van at high speed.

    Liked by 1 person

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