Unsurprising, but welcome news for me from the Microsoft presser was the Forza Horizon 4 announcement. The Horizon games have all been some degree of excellent, so this is a surefire purchase for me. A few things stand out to me.
- Location - There had been rumors of the England setting from some eagle-eyed folks scouring Forza code, and honestly, my reaction there was a little "meh" overall at first. However, the UK setting is a different ballgame entirely. The idea of exploring virtual Scotland in particular is rad. I'm fully prepared to pour a nice Balvenie and blaze by some castles at unreasonable speeds.
- Changing seasons - This is pretty damn cool. Snowy/Fall England is a hell of a lot more promising than just standard/rainy England. I got some Rallisport Challenge 2 vibes from the trailer, which is a very good thing. I'm a little curious to see what kind of "cycle" this stuff is on, as the visuals have the potential (at least for me) to either have me maybe play less in environments less aesthetically appealing to me and play longer when I see something I like. I hope the seasons rotate fairly quickly, realism be damned. The rapid weather changes in Forza 7 were both silly and visually awesome, so I'm cool if they stick with that. Perhaps change the season each week? I don't know; but I hope they get it right.
- Actual players everywhere - Hmm.... The Drivatar thing in previous games felt a little stale, but I'm a bit concerned with the potential issues of a shared online world. Unless you allow them to join your game, there has to be some kind of "disallow collision" default so random jackwagons can't just go around plowing into everyone, right? I don't really want to be spammed by cars basically texting me constantly, either. Having played (and loved) the previous Horizon games as largely single player experiences, I'm not really looking for a car MMO at all. This will need some customization options in terms of your view. I don't particularly want to see everyone's dumb username above their car, and if you can disallow messaging and hide some of the custom liveries, all the better. It's going to spoil my experience a bit if I'm peacefully cruising through the beautiful Highlands and xxbluntsmoka420xx crashes into a wall at 230 mph in some hideously painted car and spams me some message. That said, there's some potential for some Far Cry-esque random dumb shit happening and spicing things up amusingly due to actual players driving around in ways drivatars never have.
- Destruction - Stone walls in that trailer were hilariously exploding everywhere. Visually, that's fun as hell and probably better from a gameplay standpoint to keep things moving at a fast/arcadey pace, which is arguably where the Horizon games are at their best, but it's pretty ridiculous. Still, I'm okay with it as long as it's consistent. One of the mini-gripes I've had with the series is that sometimes it's been hard to tell what trees you could plow right through, what trees would slow you up, and what would stop you dead in your tracks. Part of me hopes all the stone walls just confetti explode every time just to simplify this.
Overall, I'm really excited. I have a few reservations over the online, um, "experience", but most of the changes they're making here are promising developments, and just the idea of more Forza Horizon is enough to get me pumped. Take my money.