Gaming

Forza Horizon 4: Fortune Island (Review)

The first major DLC to Forza Horizon 4 seems a lot like an amalgamation of ideas taken from past games’ expansions with both the realistic (Storm Island, Blizzard Mountain) and fantastical (Hot Wheels) fused into something that gives players another interesting playground (sic) for vehicular carnage. That it continues to deliver on the thrills and excitement of its predecessors is simply indicative of the developers knowing EXACTLY what players need and I’m rapt with the results.

Welcome to Fortune Island; the home of winding roads, hidden treasure and some pretty extreme jumps.

This time around we’ve been relocated to Fortune Island which contains some of the most winding and treacherous roads yet seen in a Forza game. On a couple of routes your rewind button is not going to help you as much as you might be used to… you shoot off a cliff edge and you’re done. For anyone fond of Top Gear specials this will feel like the perfect time to get out your favourite supercar and take on a drift challenge or two.

The map doesn’t feel especially large at first as it won’t take long to drive along all the roads on the island. But once you complete a couple of events and hitting the dirt more any concerns about that will fade away. A new event type has been added to Fortune Island called Trailblazer and I am so glad to finally see something like this appear for cross country events.

Simply put start and finish points are marked on the map and your job is to make trip as fast as you can by any means necessary. On a map like this where elevation reigns, it can lead to some thrilling jumps and manoeuvres to shave off precious seconds. Seeing these also pop in in Forzathons adds another spark to an already great online mode.

Odds are likely you’ll find at least one castle at every Forza Horizon 4 location.

The return of one of the original Horizon Stories in Drift Club adds some new challenges to the map and might even help bring more players into an event type that requires some unique skills to succeed at. It’s not something I’m terribly skilled at but there are some great road sections that can give even novice players a chance to earn a high score and feel like they’ve accomplished something.

The developers at Playground Games really seem to be enjoying themselves and have taken a bit of inspiration from Sea of Thieves with the island’s colourful skies, shipwrecks and treasure hunting. I’ve yet to hear a “shiver me timbers!” but you do smash through a lot of wood on some of the courses you’ll face. There was one “Ahoy” in there though…

Following the clues in the treasure hunt and completing the objectives (not too hard if you’ve spent a few hours playing) will net you a big pile of credits that is much appreciated from a game that can feel a little conservative on the rewards side. With the Island Conqueror competition following a similar path of leveling up to progress through rounds and unlock new events, it makes for a fun distraction.

Plenty of sights to see even without the usual festival fireworks.

Visually the expansion continues to stay at the same high level as the core game but with a couple more tricks thrown in with the skybox (see picture above). Neither the aurora or the lightning strikes have any real gameplay influence except for the visual impact but they are impressive nonetheless.

If I am to nitpick (and I must) it’s that I do wish the island wasn’t siloed off from the rest of the core game again, like past expansions. Even with there being a lot to do on Fortune Island it’d be nice to be able to find a bridge or tunnel and race along that to get back to the mainland. Instead we have to endure lengthy load screens. There’s likely a very good reason why this will never happen but I’ll continue to dream…

Overall, anyone who’s been enjoying their time in Forza Horizon 4 is bound to get the same buzz from driving around on Fortune Island. It’s been out for less than a week and I’ve already smashed through it faster than any previous expansion. It’s a little ludicrous but hugely fun.

Forza Horizon 4 is out now for PC and Xbox One.

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