So I want to say upfront that I think this is fantastic game. The driving itself is really fun (better than FH3 actually IMO), the tracks are good, the car customization and upgrades are fun. With that said, I see a number of problems with the game. We’re relatively early in the lifespan of the game, of course, so criticism can actually be helpful since it can lead the developers to make changes for the better. So I want to list some issues I have:
I don’t entirely have the same issues other people do with the multiplayer regarding it being team-based. In the end, I’m still happy if I did well, even if my team lost. And it may be kind of lame to lose ranking points after doing well, but I can also gain ranking points after doing badly, so it’s a bit of a wash, and I just don’t think that’s a big deal.
With that said, I think there are other multiplayer options that should be considered beyond Team Adventure. Specifically, I think the use of a cross-lobby matchmaker for championships and individuals races should be considered. The issue is that if I’m playing on my own and want to play a certain race (or championship given that Horizon Racing Series is expanding those) against other people, I currently basically can’t really do it. Sure, it sends a subtle notification to the other people in my lobby, but the reality is that it’s quite rare for people to actually accept those invites before the timer for it ends. The fact is that there’s just rarely going to be a bunch of people in a 70-person lobby who all are willing to randomly do that same thing at the same time. But there probably would be if this were subject to cross-lobby matchmaking.
I’m a bit iffy on how exactly it would work (particularly given that people can blueprint races with random restrictions so it’s not a matter of just pressing PvP and having it matchmake). But perhaps if you press PvP at a certain race or championship, there should be an option to either (1) have it put you in a random race currently being filled for that event, across all lobbies; or (2) view the title page thing for the various races being filled up and choose which one you want. On top of that, there could be an option in the start menus to just have the game place you in a random multiplayer race (or championship) taking place at any event.
The same could be done with Co-Op too.
There is some risk in this, since you don’t necessarily want to splinter the multiplayer play into so many options that there’s a long wait to play any individual option out there. But I think that if the option is there to just easily matchmake into an event or championship, then many more people would play multiplayer.
Is this hugely different than Team Adventure? Maybe not. But sometimes I just want to run a particular race and would prefer to do it multiplayer but can’t because the lobby-only matchmaking is so limiting. And this would also mitigate issues people have with Team Adventure (don’t like the team aspect, don’t like free roam, don’t like that it’s not available below A class, etc.).
A lot of people are complaining about the lack of class rivals. And I agree. It’s really needed for people who want to test builds, for instance. I get the value of having a specific theme for rivals on a map, and I think it’d be nice to keep those themes as the sort of “featured” rivals event for that track, but I do think class rivals should also exist. And, in fact, I expand that further actually:
I think there should be class rivals, but that you should also be able to filter the rivals you look at along certain basic lines. So, for instance, I should be able to see a leaderboard (and my percentile) of all players who have run, for instance, an S1 class Modern Muscle car on a given rivals event. Or maybe I want to see a leaderboard for all McLaren Sennas on a particularly track. The functionality for filters is there, since the game does log what car someone used and what that car’s PI is.
The reason I think this would be really good is that ultimately class rivals just becomes a game of picking the optimal car for that class, which diminishes the replay value of rivals. The more you can filter the rivals down to a specific category, the more you can sort of create your own Rivals challenges. I can decide to use a really subpar car for a particular track but try to be better than everyone else at it. That sort of challenge can be really fun.
The only thing I’m not sure about here is whether the game currently saves all your rivals times somewhere or whether it basically deletes any lesser time the moment you get a better one. Obviously, it’d be difficult to have a meaningful version of what I’ve described if the game only knows your very best time, since the moment you use an optimal car, it’d wipe out your other times. So perhaps the game would need to save your best Rivals time for each individual vehicle at every class (i.e. it would save your best A-class Lancia Delta time, your best S1-class Lancia Delta time, etc.). This way it’d basically have something saved for the most narrow possible filters. The server bandwidth to do that might well be prohibitive, I suppose, though, since it’s not just saving the times, but also saving the rivals ghost showing your run, and I think this would require multiplying the amount of those that are saved by quite a large amount. Still, though, if it were feasible, I think this would add incredibly to the game’s replay value.
- Route Creator
Route Creator itself is great IMO. However, the search function to actually find peoples’ custom routes is really quite bad. You need to be able to search for routes along quite a lot of different metrics. For instance, if I want to search for all custom routes that start at Tarn Hows Scramble, take place in Autumn, specify S1 class Rally Monsters, are over 10 miles long, and have at least 20 likes, I should be able to do that. Simply put, you should just be able to search for exactly what you want.
Right now, instead of that, it just shows you some random races with very little useful search functionality to actually look for what you really want. And while there are the “Trending Today” and “Best of the Month” categories which can be helpful in trying to find good tracks, they’re often dominated by cheese tracks that are just designed to get quick money. I get that people play those and they can be useful, but Route Creator doesn’t really add much to the game if it’s hard to find anything but races up and down the highway or with obvious massive shortcuts that allow you to cheese rewards.
Relatedly, you should be able to see the track’s route before starting it. It’s just pretty true that one can usually tell if they’ll like a race by looking at the race on the map, and you shouldn’t have to start a race to do that. I’m not certain the best way to go about this, but it could be as simple as allowing you to press a certain button when you’re scrolling through custom races that shows you the route.
- The lack of championships
I think this may be at least partially mitigated by the upcoming Horizon Racing Series, but I’m not entirely sure exactly what that’ll be so I will still talk about this briefly. Basically, having races chained together into a championship with a certain theme adds direction to the gameplay and thereby adds some replay value. Some may have felt it was a grind in FH3 to finish them all, but that’s just a silly criticism IMO, since you didn’t need to finish them all unless you wanted to get every achievement (and you just can’t expect no “grind” to get every achievement in a game).
I think there’s a decent argument for having championships change by the season, but there should still be way more than there are now. You should also be able to blueprint your own championship if you want; that’s a functionality that adds replay value and there’s just little reason to have removed it.
And as I mentioned above, you should probably be able to have some sort of cross-lobby matchmaking component for championships.
There are sound glitches (the cars noise going away or locking in for a while). There’s visual glitches, such as having the ground in front of you briefly be essentially see-through. And there’s also a glitch where the game literally forces you to a stop. The latter one might just be related to lag when on an online lobby, but these are legitimate issues that definitely need to be fixed. I’m quite certain they’re already being worked on, and finding solutions to these issues that don’t break other things can take time, so I get them not being fixed yet. But obviously these issues should be high on the list of things to deal with.
- Other issues
People have issues with ramming and wall-riding in multiplayer. Personally, I find it’s a lot less of a problem in ranked play, but I get that it’s an issue. FH3 tried to deal with this by having your ranking at the end basically be largely a function of skill points. I don’t think that’s the necessarily the best way because that basically made where you finished in races only tangentially related to how the game ranked you. But one thing to think about is to perhaps have some clean racing specific bonus. “Clean Driving” is already a skill the game tracks, so there’s a ready-made foundation to work with. There’s plenty of ways it could work, but for instance perhaps in Team Adventure, you could still get 100 points for every player on the other team you finish ahead of and 50 points for 1st place, but could also get some amount of points for clean driving too. It wouldn’t eliminate the issue, but it’d at least change the incentives a little bit. In one-off PvP races, clean racing could maybe have a certain amount of time shaved off of your time at the end, though that seems like a less easy solution than the points one for Team Adventure.
The seasons are cool, but they’re not actually hugely differentiated in terms of racing. For instance, spring and autumn aren’t very distinguishable, and even summer is pretty similar. WInter is different but not as different as, say, Blizzard Mountain was to the rest of FH3. I get that the visual differentiation is really cool and was probably a TON of work to do, and I also get that realistically there just aren’t actually massive differences in driving in spring vs. autumn, for instance. But I’m hoping that Fortune Island has more extreme weather differences, since I personally really liked the huge difference in gameplay there was in Blizzard Mountain and I don’t really think FH4 has that despite the seasons. This one is a bit subjective, though, and I’m sure there are others who would disagree with me.
I think the incidence of clothing and emotes and horns in Super Wheelspins should be lowered significantly. Getting them in normal wheelspins can be frustrating, but you get normal wheelspins a lot, so it’s not a huge deal. And I get that there are people who actually are excited about receiving certain such items, and in addition getting those items slows down the pace of monetary and car rewards in a way that maybe devs feel is necessary. So I’m not saying to take away those rewards entirely (though I’d also personally be okay with taking them out of wheelspins and allowing you to buy them with credits). But the one thing I’ll say is that I just think it’s really frustrating to get a Super Wheelspin and have it give you three clothing/emote/horn items. Super Wheelspins are rare, and basically feeling empty-handed after one just is annoying. It’s quite possible this aspect of rewards is in the hard coding of the game and would therefore be difficult to change. If so, then it’s not actually a big deal to leave it, but if not then I would like to see some tweaking of this.
Finally, and this is really tiny, but I’d like to see a long drag strip along the lines of the one in FH3. The creation of drag strips of different distance in FH4 is a great addition, but there’s no straight, one-mile drag strip like there was in FH3. The existing drag strips all either are too short to really test top speed in the same way as the one in FH3, or in the case of the Juggernaut, take grip into account a decent bit due to not being entirely straight. I like all the drag strips we have, and I acknowledge a straight, one-mile drag strip is highly unlikely to be added to the base game, but it’s something to consider adding in an expansion.