Clubs aren't an alien feature in Forza Horizon, but they've never really fulfilled their true potential. Multiplayer, too, can be hit or miss in any racing game, even one as popular as the Forza Horizon series.
Forza Horizon 4 is going to tackle both of these challenges head-on with some big ideas that should make for a better, more inclusive experience for all.
Here's a breakdown of what you can expect from each.
Forza Horizon 4 uses Xbox Clubs
The big change to how clubs are handled in Forza Horizon 4 is that they now piggyback on the Xbox Clubs platform. This provides a number of benefits and makes them, well, useful.
For starters, you no longer need to be inside the game to interact with your club members. Since you'll be using Xbox Clubs, you'll be able to join from the PC and mobile Xbox apps, as well as on your Xbox One, without the need to actually load the game.
The other benefit, for those with grander plans, is that the upper limit is now double, at 2,000 members. (Expect to see a Windows Central club sometime after launch!)
The Xbox Clubs platform also comes into play as part of the multiplayer aspect of the game.
Team-based competitive multiplayer
Multiplayer is my least favorite aspect of any racing game. There are a multitude of things to deal with, not the least of which is people rage-quitting because they're last. Or feeling like you want to rage-quit because you're last.
My first thought of the approach in Forza Horizon 4 is that it's racing, but with a team deathmatch approach. Because it's the team that wins or loses, not because you have to kill everything that moves. Whether you're first or last, your race contributes to the overall result, and Playground Games, the developer, hopes this approach will help keep lobbies full and players engaged.
It's also to help level the playing field a little, ensuring that lower-skill players can still have a good time and win races. If you're not part of a team, there's no need to worry; like many online games, matchmaking will put you into a random team so you can enjoy it solo or with your friends.
Teams also hooks into the Xbox Clubs platform, but a team is limited to only 25 members. The same applies as with clubs, in that by using the platform you can interact with your teammates without being inside the game.
Forza Horizon 4 gets ranked play
Forza Horizon 4 is also getting a proper ranked multiplayer mode. Ranked Adventure is the first of its kind in a Forza Horizon game, and after each race your skill level will either go up or down based on your performance.
Essentially, it works the same as most games with ranked play. You'll earn an initial rank, be placed into one of the 21 total leagues, and your goal is to climb the ladder.
At the end of each series, you can also expect to receive in-game rewards based on where you finished. Toss this mode in with everything else Forza Horizon 4 has to offer and you emerge with an incredible package that should be worth playing for a long time.
Forza Horizon 4 is set to launch on October 2, 2018, for $60, with a four-day early access period beginning September 28 for Ultimate Edition buyers.
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Richard Devine is a Managing Editor at Windows Central with over a decade of experience. A former Project Manager and long-term tech addict, he joined Mobile Nations in 2011 and has been found on Android Central and iMore as well as Windows Central. Currently, you'll find him steering the site's coverage of all manner of PC hardware and reviews. Find him on Mastodon at mstdn.social/@richdevine