Our next GOTY award goes to Forza Horizon 4, the second in the racing series to come to PC. Find the rest of our awards and personal picks here.
Jarred: There are different types of racers, and I fall firmly into the group that likes less serious simulations. Driving around Forza Horizon's compressed presentation of the UK may not be realistic, but it's great fun. Earning bonus points for not crashing into anything—or points for destroying the landscape as well—means you're constantly progressing. The seasonal changes look nice, though they don't radically alter the handling of the vehicles. That's probably for the best, as I grew up in Utah and Colorado and can unequivocally state that driving in the snow and ice sucks in the real world. Give me a lighter sim that lets me take my hypercar off a 500-foot jump, however, and I'm happy.
Andy K: I can't enjoy driving games that aren't Forza anymore. The handling has a note-perfect balance of weight, power, and responsiveness, and in the Horizon series we get a satisfyingly streamlined, accessible take on that driving model. The UK is an inspired choice for a setting, particularly the winding mountain roads of the Scottish Highlands. Aside from everything else, it’s the feel of the driving that I really love in Horizon 4, whether you’re carving up a dirt track or screaming along a big stretch of motorway.
Phil: "Racing" may not be the most accurate award, but "Best Having a Fun Time in a Variety of Cars Game" was too long of a title. Forza Horizon 4 is a great racing game—offering just enough realism to give its arcade handling a proper sense of heft and presence—but its real success is ensuring each of its many activities is reliably entertaining. Maybe that's an offroad race against AI drivatars, or a cooperative Forzathon challenge to drive very fast down a specific road. Maybe it's hunting down rare cars in abandoned barns or smashing billboards for XP. And maybe it's skidding around a big field, building your skill chain to unlock perks for your car that let you earn even bigger, more ridiculous skill chains. That handling system is so expertly tuned that, whatever you decide to do, and whatever car you drive, you're going to have a good time.
Fraser: I haven’t driven since 2002 and generally think that cars kinda suck. With Forza Horizon 4, I get it now. I had a similar revelation with Burnout Paradise, but I drifted away and stopped caring again. Now I can’t get enough of cars. Dumb cars, mostly. I found a rubbish little thing that could barely hit 40, tuned it up and now can’t drive it anywhere without doing donuts up and down the road or smashing into walls. It’s uncontrollable and also my favourite car. And what a treat it is to careen through Edinburgh! I lived there for 11 years, and it’s eerie how good the digital facsimile looks. Sure, the real Edinburgh is less than an hour away on the train, but exploring it in a game is just wild.
Samuel: A friend of mine said this feels like Playground's audition to make the new Fable game, which has been rumoured since before E3. I pretty much agree: this makes me realise how nice Britain actually looks...in places. As ever, the setting is a vital part of Forza Horizon's enduring appeal.
Read Phil's Forza Horizon 4 review here.