Next up in the series is nothing less than the winner of the Best Sports Game 2018 award. The Forza franchise has been a reference in racing games since the first excellent Forza Motorsport which was unanimously acclaimed as the top racing game at the time, and Horizon 4 definitely lives up to the expectations.
Racing and VR, a promise yet to be fulfilled
Racing games are made for VR. Nothing can outmatch the high speed driving in luxurious cars in environments most of us won’t be able to visit in our lifetime, almost all racing games even have a cockpit view since forever, which is one of the best ways to play them in VR. We even have well engineered hardware wheels and pedals that enthusiast already bought to play more realistically. Still, we haven’t seen any racing game make it to the top of the VR industry over the last years.
The reason for this is hard to point out, my best bet would be technical. VR gaming demands a LOT of performance, that’s why textures are still so low quality and render distances are limited to “boxes” in all VR games. Racing games go fast, really fast. They can’t be limited to low render distances or frame rates, they would look silly with details popping up randomly out of nowhere, and speed would feel clunky with low frame rates.
Also, we are used to extremely high quality graphics in racing games. Titles like Forza Horizon 4 spoiled us with extremely realistic car models, scenery reflection on the metal, lighting that changes throughout the day time and seasons, and much more. We will need 3 times today’s processing power if we want to come close to that in VR.
How XR Gaming changes the game
The whole philosophy behind the tech is to remove the performance burden from the computer: if your graphics card can render it, XR Gaming makes it VR. This applies to racing games, meaning: scratch all of the above and hop into the cockpit of your favorite car in the best sports/racing game of 2018! Everyone who has played Forza Horizon 4 in VR could not believe how good it feels! The realism of it is such as even non-gamers who haven’t played a day in their life would stay on track all the time and drive like pros. Their explanation? “it feels so close to real driving, to the point where it’s easy to have the right reflexes that we already have in the real world”.
The graphics look stunning, as Forza Horizon 4 has pushed the limits of what modern day game engines can deliver, and VR really makes everything “pop”. I found myself constantly in awe with the level of detail that the whole experience offers: Changing time of the day, seasons and weather, the wide variety of environments ranging from cities, mountains, forests, deserts. Everything also affects the car and the driving, from rain drops on the windshield to the tires reaction to the terrain. The shadows are realistic, the reflections of the environment on the metallic parts of cars are spot on, even the physics of the smallest objects like wood sticks in the forests have been taken into account. It’s just amazing to be able to experience all this, especially in VR!
There are two ways to play the game, and one doesn’t prevent the other:
- Pure racing mode where you really stick to your chair from the high speeds which, combined with the excellent music and engine sounds, really gets your adrenaline pumping. Personal tip: the cockpit view is perfect, but the front view is even more “extreme” if you want to feel the speed even more.
- Free roaming mode, as the world is extremely open and just stunning, you can spend hours just driving around and relaxing. Personal tip: use the outside camera view, seeing the whole car makes everything look even better because of the attention to detail. Also, it’s a little less immersive and therefore more relaxing to drive that way.
A must-have for any XR Gamers
Forza Horizon 4 instantly makes it into our top picks for VR gaming experiences! Racing games are just perfect for VR, and Playground Games studio has managed to deliver an experience that pays minute attention to every single detail of their universe. The only way they could have made it better for VR is by adding a free camera mode in the cockpit view, even though I’m not a big fan of allowing players to look around when driving. I tried “faking” it with some technical hack, and everyone was –surprise surprise- crashing non-stop to trees and walls. It’s almost like one should focus on the road when driving! Who could’ve known?
You can get Forza Horizon 4 on the Microsoft Store for 59.99$, and it’s worth every single penny, especially when it’s experienced in VR.
Playing it on XR Gaming won’t cost anything if you already have the app, or you can try it for free at www.xrgaming.io