It’s no secret that Microsoft has consistently struggled when it comes to matching the impact, acclaim, and sales of first-party titles from its two biggest competitors. In the last few years, many of the Xbox One’s exclusives either failed to impress (Sea of Thieves, State of Decay 2, ReCore), were cancelled (Scalebound), or suffered agonizing delays (Crackdown 3).
While series like Gears of War, Halo, and Crackdown were some of the best in their heydays, Microsoft’s lack of innovation in these fatigued franchises shows in the rather lackluster response to the latest entries. Unlike Nintendo’s constant evolution of existing IPs or Sony’s huge variety in quality first-person experiences, the Xbox One lagged far behind.
As such, initial reactions were mixed when it came to the reveal of Forza Horizon 4, the latest installment of Microsoft’s premiere racing title as well as one of its IP pillars. Fans were already tired of the same old formula and franchises…that is until it came out. Contrary to expectations, the newest Forza quickly became the highest rated Xbox exclusive of this generation, surpassing that of best sellers Halo and Gears of War. Even the much beloved launch title Sunset Overdrive failed to reach the same level of acclaim. It seems that Microsoft has finally released a first-party title capable of competing with the titans of the industry, and a racing game no less.
The acclaimed racing series has always been Microsoft’s go-to in showcasing the latest tech (the Xbox One X ran the game at an impressive 4K, 60FPS). Having once been relegated to the realm of glorified tech demo by the gaming community, Forza 4 has now proven its worth as the “best-selling racing franchise of this console generation”, with more updates and the highly requested “Route Creator” coming soon.
As reported through Xbox News, more than 2 million racers are now zooming their way through the gorgeously rendered version of Forza’s Britain in the first week alone, accounting for 4.6 million hours streamed online and more than 800 million miles logged in-game. It’s important to note, however, that these numbers might be inflated due to the game being included in Xbox’s highly praised Game Pass program. Though the library lacks decent first-party titles, it is rather appealing that for a monthly price gamers can gain access to exclusive titles on release.
Despite this, the reviews and positive feedback don’t lie. Forza Horizon 4 is undoubtedly a hit amongst Microsoft’s continuous string of slumps, and is a much-needed boost to the company’s software lineup. Though the company is experimenting with promising new infrastructure technology, it should keep in mind that the community values games above all else.
Forza Horizon 4 is now available on the Xbox One and Windows PC.