When considering ideal locations for open world racers, I’m not sure Britain would top many lists. Need for Speed typically opted for fictional, neon-soaked cities, while the likes of Test Drive Unlimited and Forza Horizon threw players towards epic, sun-drenched road trips in Oahu and Colorado. By the time the Forza Horizon series had powered through Southern France and Australia though, British studio Playground Games thought it might be best to do things a little differently. When fans were treated to a first glimpse at Horizon 4’s “Historic Britain”, I was inclined to agree. It’s not often anywhere north of the Watford Gap is represented in video games, yet here we are, on modern tech, barrelling around Bamburgh Castle with reckless abandon. A new Forza set in a far-flung location will likely be on the horizon very soon, but before we move on, let’s celebrate the stunning locations presented in Horizon 4.
In 2017, The English Lake District was granted status as a Unesco World Heritage site. Its beautiful mountainous landscape is deemed to be of “Outstanding Universal Value”, and the team at Playground did quite a job at showing that off. Derwent Water, a vast lake situated in the north west of the Lake District is depicted in-game and is a must visit, especially during Horizon’s winter season. The frozen expanse becomes a playground for drifting, drag racing and general off-roading, and those mountains to the north aren’t a bad view either. However, it’s certainly worth a visit in the spring season too, if only to catch a glimpse of The Lakes in a more natural light. When I spoke with Conar Cross, associate lead concept artist at Playground Games, he had a little more to say about The Lakes in spring.
“Seasonally it would have to be spring. In fact, any location in spring is pretty idyllic in my opinion, the dramatic stormy weather coupled with the uplifting palette from the blossoming foliage is so inviting. I particularly love the area around Derwent Water, with the brilliant mountain vista and the bluebells from the surrounding forest generously spreading out onto the sides of the roads.”