Forza Horizon, 4 specifically. I was never much of a racing game fan, there probably isn’t a single racing game that I’ve put much time into in the past, but I have a group of friends who play FH regularly so I grabbed 3 to be able to join them.
I did a bit of the SP in 3, but the focus was always those MP matches, usually coming in the lower half of the field, but enjoying the chat. SP I could take or leave.
I bought 4 at launch again, thinking it was mainly for MP, but something just clicked for me as I was sliding around a corner on one of the dirt tracks, listening to the gravel pinging off the underside of the bodywork. I didn’t realise it at the time, but I think it might be down to the trigger rumble adding that extra level of feedback, making me feel more connected to the road, more in sync with the vehicle.
Before I knew it, I’d cleared every single event in the SP (aside from drift club, I don’t mind drifting in the Formula Drift cheat car, but balls to drifting in anything else),I ground my way up to level 16 in street scene to unlock the Hoonigan Porsche, the Fortune Island DLC dropped and I cleared every non-drift challenge in that, the Lego Island DLC arrived and I cleared every single brick challenge it offered.
But even more fundamentally than that, I finally found joy in nailing perfect corners, and started making liberal use of the rewind button in order to experiment with different approaches, seeing how tweaking an angle here, a brake point there, a more gentle throttle out of the turn could get me around the corner a bit more quickly.
I’ve now sunk hundreds of hours into FH4. I regularly check in to see if any new cars are available in the weekly challenges, despite the fact that I’ve got over 700 cars in my garage. I recently discovered that there’s a limit to how many tunes you can have at once (which is deeply annoying as there’s no easy way to find and delete ones you aren’t using), I’ve got a huge number of cars in favourites ready to break out in those MP matches, and, better than all of that, those friends I used to lose against, I now regularly crush in MP.
If you’d told me 5 years ago that one of my most-played games this gen would be a racing game, I’d have laughed at you. However, it does appear that Playground games really are wizards.
Looking forward to FH5!