Why Forza Horizon 4 is being called 'the most authentic' open-world car game ever

With each new Forza Horizon game, there's generally more of everything.

There's more room to explore, more cars, more mods, more tracks, more game modes and so on.

That's the case with Forza Horizon 4 - along with more frames per second (60) and more players per server (72) - but there's one particular 'more' that developer Playground Games is most excited about.

That would be "more seasons".

The game's art director, Benjamin Penrose, said dynamic seasons haven't been done before as they're too challenging - adding the feature is the "holy grail" of open-world gaming.

"Seasons change everything. As well as the setting of Britain looking and sounding very different in each season, you'll also see changes in the second-to-second driving," he told Newshub at E3.

"You'll have to master driving in the icy, wet, muddy and dry conditions that vary with the weather. And those seasons change every time - each winter is never the same as the winter you saw before."

Why Forza Horizon 4 is being called 'the most authentic' open-world car game ever
Photo credit: Xbox

Forza Horizon 4 takes place in an online shared world, in which the season changes every week.

When it does, different parts of the game's world will be opened up.

"Seasons affect the gameplay of the open world around you - a riverbed may be dry in summer, but filled with water flowing fast and high in spring," said Penrose.

"An obvious example is the lake that freezes in winter. All the small islands in its centre that were previously inaccessible, all the secrets they hold will now be unlocked as you can drive over the ice."

Speaking with Penrose at E3, it is clear just how passionate he and his team are about representing their home country in a game.

"Building an open world based on the country that we all live in is entirely different to anything we've attempted in the past. It's the most authentic open world we've ever created," says Penrose.

"For many of us, it's the country we grew up in and that has a more profound effect than you may think. I believe our quality bar has shifted because of the intimate understanding this whole team has for the location. It's been a labour of love."

Why Forza Horizon 4 is being called 'the most authentic' open-world car game ever
Photo credit: Xbox

Different members of Playground Games argued for their respective hometowns to feature in Forza Horizon 4, but some British elements everybody agreed on, says Penrose.

One of those was something that helped stop the game from looking too good - as it has graphics that are so great, they can look even better than photo-realistic.

"When you get a car from the showroom, it's very clean, but as you drive around in the different environments it'll get dirty. In the UK, when you drive on the gritted roads, you get a very specific type of grime that builds up on the body of the car," said Penrose.

"We all talked about how we absolutely had to make sure we included that. It's a quintessentially British thing to get that build-up on your car. Then if you drive through a big puddle in the game, that'll wash it off, but it'll quickly start building back up again."

Indeed, that attention to detail is a part of what makes the Forza Horizon games special. And it's more extreme than you imagine.

"Tyre temperature plays a huge part in how the cars handle, more than ever before. We've done a slight overhaul of the physics system, so every single surface in the game - and there are hundreds of them - all have their own unique conductivity level," said Penrose.

"So the temperature of the terrain and the road will affect the temperature of the tyres, in turn affecting the car's handling."

This is a franchise that is hugely beloved by the world's petrolhead gamers. Over 9 million people have played Forza Horizon 3 to date, said a beaming Penrose.

All going according to Playground Games' plan, even more will play Forza Horizon 4 after its release on PC and Xbox in October.

Newshub is covering E3 courtesy of Xbox and PlayStation.


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