First off, I’ll start by saying Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to everyone.
It’s been a busy year of Forza for me with lots of time in FH3 and FM7, and getting FH4 at launch with a smattering of other Forza games mixed in, and I wanted to share a few of my thoughts on the franchise as I look back over the year.
Last January most of my Forza time was in FM7. I had purchased it on the Black Friday sale two months earlier, but due to problems with the MS Store download system with slower internet connections and inability to transfer installed games between PCs I wasn’t able to find a place with good enough internet and no data caps to actually get the full game downloaded on the PC I wanted to play it on until late December, so it wasn’t until January that I really got into it.
FM7 brought back a lot of good memories of my time with Gran Turismo, but in terms of gameplay something was lost with the homologation system as implemented. I think the biggest problem was that every race with a vehicle from a given division felt almost exactly the same. I realize that this is the FH4 forum with different devs than the motorsport games so I won’t dwell too much on the motorsport side of things though.
In between playing through FM7, I would religiously complete the Forzathon weekly challenges in FH3. This was fun for awhile, but eventually it started to feel like a chore to keep up with the game to make sure I didn’t miss any exclusive cars.
Once I finished the main career of FM7, I went back to FH2 and FM6 to collect some ForzaHub points to try to get my tier up before the FH4 launch. The time pressure to get the points before launch (or forever miss out on some of the launch rewards) was annoying, but the fact that I hadn’t played FM6 or FH2 in 2 years and yet I hadn’t missed out on anything was a breath of fresh air after the weekly commitment to the Forzathons in FH3 and FM7.
At the FH4 launch I was quite disappointed to see how quickly I was able to blow through the “story” and get to the end-game car collect-a-thon compared to previous Forza games, along with all the other launch issues. Given how much FM7 has improved in the last year gives me hope that FH4 will be able to similarly improve, although it’s disappointing that FM7 and FH4 matched a lot of launch issues with broken multiplayer, locked cars and lootboxes/wheelspins and the continued the annoying time-limited availability of certain cars.
Shortly before Fortune Island came out, I started a new playthrough of FH1 and was reminded of how good the overall quality of that game was. Sure, newer Horizon games have made some major improvements with the addition of tuning and a much more open world, but the overall package of FH1 still just feels better, especially in terms of game progression and polish.
Fortune Island is a neat little expansion, although I feel more could have been done with the treasure hunt instead of just giving out a mountain of credits and adding some cars to the garage (not that I’m complaining about easy credits). Maybe have a little barn-find style cinematic showing what car you also won with that treasure (instead of just a little blurb at the bottom of the screen), I rather enjoyed the little informative dialogue on each of the barn find cars so I knew a bit more about the significance of it. It also feels a bit incomplete with no player houses to buy and only 25 signs to find (at least we got a new Horizon story though).
In retrospect, I did have a lot of fun times with Forza, but at the same time I’m also starting to feel burned out on the series. I think for me there’s two parts to this:
First is the Forzathons and other time-limited events. At first these were fun in FH3, but then after missing a couple and then having to deal with the nightmare of the auction house to get the cars I missed the feeling completely changed. Instead of being rewarded for playing, I felt punished for not being able to play that specific week. Now that we have weekly (and even daily in the case of FH4) events, it feels like a weekly chore keeping up with FH3, FM7, FH4 and the ForzaHub, and this takes a lot of the fun out of the games. I think we can all agree that games are meant to be a fun, and if they start to feel like a chore than something is wrong. My solution to this would simply be to remove time exclusivity from all Forzathon rewards. It’s fine to offer cars and cosmetic items, but then make them available via other methods as well (autoshow/cosmetic item shop preferably instead of just being added to wheelspins). I want to play Forza because I’m having fun playing it, not because I’m afraid of what exclusive weekly rewards I’ll miss out on if I don’t.
Second, I think that the Forza franchise at large is focused too much on car collecting instead of providing interesting races and events in which to use said cars. I have tons of cars in each of these Forza games, but by and large I don’t really have a use for over 90% of them. FH1 had a variety of races with different vehicle restrictions instead of just being able to use whatever you want. I actually liked this since it encouraged the player to try out different cars. I really didn’t like it when FH2 removed a lot of these interesting restrictions (and the ability to get free upgrades which ultimately discouraged experimenting with vehicles due to how expensive upgrades are and no way to test them until you’ve spent the cash) and FH3 and FH4 have continued this trend. FM7 almost went too far the other way with homologation where there’s very little room to tinker with vehicle builds without completely disqualifying them from nearly everything except free play. FM7 has done a lot to try to correct this with the greatly enhanced rivals and multiplayer modes encouraging more experimental builds, and I hope FH4 follows this example. The seasonal championships in FH4 are a step in the right direction, but they’re still far too limited to properly address this issue. Ultimately I would like to see each race location in FH4 have a unique race with its own unique set of restrictions (class, vehicle division, hp limit, weight, drive type, etc) to provide more interesting ways to use existing vehicles.
Overall, I would say that the last year was largely a continuation of the year before with its pros and cons. The Forza franchise is still best in class, but isn’t where it could be and like I said, I’m getting a bit burned out on it. Based on all the positive changes Turn10 is making in FM7 I’m hopeful that Playground Games will do the same with FH4 and make 2019 a great year of Forza.