Forza Horizon 4 is not only one of the best Xbox exclusive, it is one of the best racing games ever made. A few years ago, we praised the great Xbox One, One X and PC versions – and the way Microsoft’s enhanced console gave it the option of 1080p60 racing, gave it the first for the series with the advent of the loved Xbox Series X and Jr. S. 60fps is now the standard. The benefits of the new version are easy to see across the board, but surprisingly – and with frustration – there are also some visual cutbacks.
With this new patch, Forza Horizons no longer has multiple performance modes to choose from. Theoretically, they would no longer need it. The Xbox Series X has twice the GPU power of the Xbox One X, so it stands to reason that the OneK’s 4K30 quality mode should be converted to the new X4K60. Meanwhile, the Series S features parity and operates at 1080p instead. Keep them side by side, and a quarter of the resolution is obvious and greatly aids the presentation of the game. Forza Horizon 4 basically takes place externally with lots of remote details, plants and thin geometric elements – so this increased resolution means much more fidelity than a distance and less shaking and isolation throughout the whole image. Take a closer look at the textures, the Xbox Series X delivers better texture quality than the Series S equivalent parts. In part, this is due to the resolution but the quality of the environmental texture is also improved.
Another upgrade, including a generation shift, is generated from faster storage and CPUs, which reduces the amount of lag behind the interface. There are also significant loading time improvements: the Xbox One X takes 611 seconds to load from the menu in the open world, the Series X drops to just 18.5 seconds The Xbox One X takes 25.5 seconds to load the user-created racing event, the Series X This reduction in down downtime is great and makes the nature of the game much more enjoyable, usually based on the open world and events. Since both series consoles have the same architecture, they also have the same loading time. I checked the main menu to open World Loading on both machines and saw invisible results.
Performance looks impressive on both machines. I’ve played a lot of user-created racing events and spent a lot of time running the game in different weather conditions and it’s hard to find fault with any of the new series machines. The open world runs effectively uninterrupted (the series could not reproduce one of the curiosity stunts of the XI) and the greatest number of slow-moving events occur, usually before the start of racing – which is largely inevitable due to lack of user control.
Again, the performance between the two machines seems to be basically like-like, but the series S reveals a few more omitted frames that are largely irrelevant to the gameplay experience, but these are surprising at all: Native 4K content on the Xbox Series S1440p Designed to run. Here, 33 percent of the rendering power is deployed to deliver only 25 percent of the pixels – there should be overhead here, but that doesn’t seem to be the case with real-time in-game performance.
Of course, there is more to the game than resolution and frame-rate – the value of the pixels is paramount. Back in 2018, I noticed that the two graphical modes of the Xbox One X ran in different settings for different aspects of the game. To hit 1080p60, the playground features paid back motion blur, reflection quality and world car details, and disabled night shadows cast by your headlights. Car reflections in 60fps mode were a mix of ultra and high for their resolution and the amount of drawn objects, but they ran at 30fps like the PC’s low setting. So for the Xbox Series X, I expected all these compromises to be over; I’ve been expecting the OneK’s 4K30 quality mode to run at 60fps but unfortunately it doesn’t.
You’ll get some upgrades – the quality of the car model has improved, while the real-time probe images applied to the vehicle now run at 60fps as opposed to the Xbox One X. Unfortunately, the Xbox One X hasn’t improved much more than 1080p60 mode, so by extension, we Lost features found in X’s standard mode. For series consoles, this means that the headlight shadows at night do not only appear in races in the open world – they are both present at 4K30 on an X. The most confusing thing is the complete absence of screen-space enclosure (SSAO) – so the Xbox Series X Its shaded areas may have higher resolution, but they lack reliable shade and it looks very simple. While this isn’t important, speed opacity is still precise, using the low sample count found in Xbox One X 1080P60 mode, and it’s also using the short speed option found on PCs, so it’s almost invisible in most scenes. My biggest problem here is that overall, the visuals don’t look like the 4K30 quality mode on the Xbox One X overall.
There are other issues as well – such as third-party driver models updating their animations at 30fps on series consoles, everything else runs at 60fps. This is not a problem with the original playground code, as the PC version runs these animations at the correct frame-rate. It is also worth noting that all of these issues are present in both the Xbox Series X and Series S – they are effectively managed with the same game, only with different resolution targets. However, especially with regard to the Series X, I wonder why there is a discount compared to the visual quality – showing the difference between the GPU and the CPU genre here – you see the increase in the Gears 5 of the Series X, not the resolution difference between the X and S consoles. And it’s clear that Forza Horizon 4 isn’t doing the same kind of improvement.
Overall, my response to the Forza Horizon 4 upgrade for the series consoles is mixed. It’s still one of the best driving games ever made, it still looks fantastic and the quality of life provided by the fast CPU and storage is much appreciated, while the benefits of 60 frames per second in this genre can’t be underestimated. However, it may not be right that when we know that hardware is more capable then the next gen upgrade should compromise with visual features. We soon found out that something was wrong with our searches with Microsoft – and we were told that SSA could return to the first title update. With a talented studio like Panic Button on development duty, I’m hopeful that the Series X and S will provide no compromise for a while – providing the perfect Forza Horizon 4 console experience with full time.
Prone to fits of apathy. Music specialist. Extreme food enthusiast. Amateur problem solver.