Why somebody calls Horizon arcade racer?

Hey! It bothers me for a long time and I want to know what you think. Some people here are world-class drivers so it’s the best place to ask.

Why I have to hear again and again how Horizon is an arcade racer? It’s doesn’t feel right to me. The physics and steering is from Motorsport and Motorsport is not called arcade racer either. Or they just see flying cars for 500 meters and have an opinion? Because when I switch from Motorsport, Assetto Corsa, Project cars 2, I can use the same technique and it just works… because it simulates what it should. On the other hand Gran Turismo is highly assisted and nobody says it’s an arcade racer. I am a bit confused here :smiley:

What do you think and why?

It’s not a proper Simulation ;D

With Damage disabled and the stuff forbidden by car manufacturers, the stunts and so on it’s more “arcade” or some “OpenWorldOnlineActionRacing Game”


Yeah, but with damage enabled it has everything like Motorsport. So open-world simcade (or similar) is probably OK to me.

Video game descriptions are weird. We have words like “roguelike” or “metroidvania” that refer to the mechanics or atmosphere more than the plot or story. Calling Horizon an “arcade racer” is an unhelpful description at worst. When I think of an “Arcade racer”, I think old school arcade cabinets like “OutRun” or “Cruis’n USA”. Might have dated myself a bit with those references…

But I think it refers to how the in-game physics are a bit looser than the main series, or other racing games. The physics inherit a lot from Motorsport, but they’re not perfect, and tuned to be more “fun” than “accurate”, which is I think where the arcadey-ness comes from. Cars are more prone to leave the ground than they really should be in real life, and even in Motorsport.

I get the sense that some people might be being a bit derisive calling it an “arcade racer”. “Open world racer” might be a more accurate description, but still not perfect. It doesn’t quite separate it from games like GTA with open world and racing elements. The two are clearly very different games trying to do different things, including, but not limited to racing in an open world.

But on the whole, I really don’t let it bother me that much.


I got my start with Pole Position, so sit yourself down, sonny! lol

I think that part that makes it “arcade” is the fact they have to detune the real world environmental impact. (No I’m not talking about carbon emissions) If you wanted real world physics, we’d all have a 1000 bay garage filled with 900 destroyed cars. None of us would have millions of credits because we’d be forced to rebuild our cars every other day.

Cars would all be doomed at the beach. The Ariel Nomad? Sure. The Lotus Elise? Not a chance. That sucker is lost to the tide now. We (most of us) drive with damage turned off, so we can go through fences, stone walls, decently-sized trees, and bank off of houses/other barriers. That is the arcade part. The ground dynamics are heavily muted so you can skip across open ground and over rocky terrain. Because the real-world version would be utterly unplayable. The upgrades that you can just dump into a car are also arcade-y. Instant AWD, incredible engine-swaps, etc. And they do turn up the amount of grip, downforce, etc in order to keep the level of fun engaged.

Where the simulation part comes in is in how different components and settings have an actual measurable difference in the car. I can take the same car as you, with the same components, and tune it in a way to behave differently (better or otherwise) than how you have it. A car tuned for one type of racing be it dirt/gravel, drifting, hard tarmac, or otherwise…would not run as well on other types of courses. So it is indeed part arcade…but also part sim.

I’m not sure why people want to bash it as an arcade racer…because a true simulation would be miserable. And they would then complain about that. For me, it is a good blend of arcade and simulation. Which is exactly what I wanted when I got a game that allows me to drive a Bugatti Type 35C through a gravel pit. lol


How looser?

I must agree with low gravitation but I am still not sure how it’s solved. The gravitation in Horizon feel lower but racing feels OK. So maybe there are two steps. Are you sure normal tarmac gravitation is lower too?

When I say the physics are "loose’, I’m referring to how the cars, generally, tend to feel and behave versus how you would expect them to behave in real life. This is purely subjective, and there’s no real measure for it. I’m mostly going by the ‘sense’ I get playing the game. Forza Motorsport tends to have a “tighter” feel, physically, in that the cars tend to behave consistently within themselves, but also compared to real world expectations. Horizon 2 and 3 have a “looser” feel compared to Motorsport, but “tighter” compared to Horizon 4. Horizon 4 seems to have a looser ‘feel’, physically. Still having a passing basis in reality, but a notch or two closer to cartoon physics than its predecessors.

I don’t know how else to describe it. It’s just the words I’ve chosen to describe the sense I get from it.

synthwave intensifies

I think of it as a ‘sim-feeling arcade’ racer because the presentation and events/tasks that we’re asked to do are so outside of reality. All open-world racing games could then be called arcade due to the environment and how it situates the players (vs. a realistic racing career that is confined to real/realistic race tracks and events with practise/qualifying/car management within the event). I agree “open world racer” is probably the more suited title.

To this point, I wish it did have more of a ‘career’ that solved the awkward ranked systems. The influence scale needs to go. It is a grind and loot indicator. An RPG style racing game that is still more on the fantastical side would be cool. Something you could graduate through proper leagues by performing well in events (some sequential/linear, some special/scheduled, some offline, some online). As mentioned in other threads - though we do get new events to do, they are of little consequence once you have all the cars, rewards, etc. Better stats, a story? Teams that matter? More variety in the players identity?

Also thinking about the cars themselves. We’re given hundreds of (cool) day to day drivers or historic/unique cars that we can then go nuts building and shredding across the land. This is really is the heart of why I love the game, doing the unthinkable with my favourite cars, some I could own, most I could only dream about owning, while maintaining that good racing feel you describe.

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I don’t know why people say that the physics are the same in Motorsport as Horizon. I can’t get round the bends in Motorsport. I just tried it out, and was skidding off the road at 12mph. Touch the grass, and you skid off a straight. Not the same at all. Motorsport cars feel heavy too.


Physics is probably the same but controls could be different. What do you use for controlling?

XBox One controller, but in real life there’s no way you skid off a road at 12mph… it’s just not realistic. The physics aren’t the same at all. FH4 has way better physics.

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Physics are pretty good because it’s the same :smiley:

What helpers do you use? Horizon has set of helpers integrated.

I use ABS. Why do you think it’s the same? PG Games work on FH4, and Turn 10 work on Motorsport. PG Games got something right, and Turn 10 got something wrong.

Because it’s the same? I don’t feel any difference. You can tell me the difference. It’s the same tech, same physics, same controls and Horizon has some flying helpers and many other stuff like offroad something.

Sim racing does not include make believe cars. If they put an alien car in FH4 with a V24 and 5000 HP then it is not a realistic sim car (it would never be driven in real life).

F1 2020 and the like would be more sim because they are based on real cars with real physics.

That’s kind of how i view it.


There are two distinct elements of a game being a sim:

  1. The physics and associated aspects such as control assists. Basically, what you have to do with an input device to make the car do what you want.

  2. Other aspects such as damage, race duration, tyre wear, different tyre compounds, fuel use, pit stops, enforcement of clean driving in some way, weather, matchmaking, qualifying.

For 1, FH4 is IMO not an arcade game, but it does depend on the input device. I have said before, and I still believe it to be true, that in broad terms, the physics is quite sim when you play with a wheel, it is more simcade when you play with a controller, and more arcade when you play with a keyboard, as the assists simplify the experience at each change of input device. The physics is not the same as FM7, FM7 is a lot “harder” with a controller than FH4, rewarding more nuanced inputs, you can get away with binary inputs such as just slamming the steering stick all the way in FH4 much more than you can in FM7. For driving physics and controller assists, I’d say FH4 is broadly similar to GT Sport.

For 2, this is where a game like GT Sport is on another level to FH4. It has the following sim elements that are not present in FH4:

  • Much longer races that reward more patient driving.

  • Mild damage simulation in most races, but it’s admittedly not very realistic, wearing off after a short period of time. All the same, you want to avoid it, as it can have a pretty big adverse effect on your race if you pick up damage early in the race when many people will pass you if you’re slowed down a bit.

  • Has tyre wear, pit stops and different tyre compounds which make races strategically interesting.

  • Has fuel use, again with pit stops there is scope for different strategies, where you can save fuel by adjusting the fuel mix and/or short shifting, and save pit stop time, and this may or may not be quicker than using more fuel and spending more time refuelling at pit stops.

  • Has some enforcement of clean driving through penalties, and the impact on sportsmanship rating, which feeds into matchmaking. It doesn’t do a great job of it, but the fact it tries is a sim element, as real world racing has this.

  • Has matchmaking with scheduled races that bring lots of drivers together for FIA races in the same timeslot, and means that races have very tight spreads of driver rating, completely different to the broad spread of ratings you get in FH4 ranked play.

  • Has qualifying before FIA races, where like in real life, you have to contend with other cars on the track, and they can help your time with slipstream, or hurt it if they get in your way.

  • Weather is a bit of a weakness of GT Sport, in that it does have different weather, but it’s constant during a race.

  • Some other elements: I already mentioned it has slipstream, whereas FH4 doesn’t, as far as I’ve ever been able to tell. The cars have realistic real world levels of performance, where lap times are similar to what the same type of car does around the same track in real life. The real world tracks are FIA certified as having been accurately modelled. You can adjust fuel mix, brake balance and traction control (in stages, not just on/off) during the race, so there’s more multi-tasking involved to manage that and monitor tyre wear and fuel remaining. It has multiplayer seasonal points based championships like real world racing.

All the above things are the reasons why people describe GT Sport as much more of a sim, rather than its driving physics, which isn’t that different to FH4.

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Wow, nice response! I would split first into two, because physics is one thing and control another one. For instance, same game could have great physics and easy controls. What is it then? Hard to say so it’s always important to say something about input like you said. Forza Motorsport is very good in it because it’s almost unassisted if you need.

And I agree with the physics. I like physics in H4 because it’s good. But I found out H4 has stabilization always enabled and that could be the reason some ppl think it’s different. It’s just stabilization of the car. Funny thing is if you switch from AC or PC2 to Motorsport, you can feel similar difference in Motorsport. Physics is the same but some helper helps with stability of the car. That’s the reason you can do weird stuff by default in Horizon. And the same in GTS, because controls there are easier than in Horizon even if we don’t compare the physics.

You are right with the second part too. That could be the thing. For instance, PC3 is not arcade from physics perspective but mostly because of pits and other “sim” stuff.

Overall, we need new terms :smiley: It’s not that simple as arcade/simcade/sim…

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I used to program car physics, and I used to test other people’s programs, and I was allowed to see their code. I have some idea how FH4, and Motorsport are programmed. Where FH4 can get you round a bend at 60mph on snow it is giving you more grip. I find snow to be grippy even compared to rain when doing drift skills, I get my highest drift scores during rain. People often say that FH4 has assisted steering, and I don’t think it shows that much, because you can drive straight round a bend, and go off the road by choice. If I was testing a program with assisted steering I would expect to go round a bend even if I tried to drive straight off the bend. I would at least expect the car to turn slightly around the bend when driving in a straight line, but it doesn’t. What I think you are calling assisted steering is actually grip. I think that FH4 has more realistic grip than Motorsport, but in the snow it has too much. Some cars going round bends at 200mph also have too much grip.

I don’t think FH4 is as assisted as some people make it out to be if you drive the majority of cars in the rain.


It’s not assisted in the sense of changing where you go, but if you drive with a wheel for 6 months then go back to controller, you’ll very quickly understand how different it is, and how it’s assisting controller users. It limits the steering to eliminate the problem of steering too much. It stabilises the car when you slide so that you can pretty much always bring it back by simply flicking the stick the opposite way, whereas slamming a wheel to full opposite lock doesn’t bring it back in many situations. And it does something to make terrain much more smoothed out so the car is less affected by small bumps than it is with a wheel. It doesn’t drive round corners for you, but it does keep the car going in a straight line with the stick centred to some extent whereas with a wheel you have to constantly work hard to keep the car going in a straight line off road. These effects are all even more pronounced when using the keyboard, such that I was able to do a danger sign PB with just a few attempts when I tried it with the keyboard, due to how much easier it made it to drive in a straight line towards the jump over bumpy terrain. You just press the throttle key and only the biggest bumps will cause you to deviate from a straight line.

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