Forza Horizon 4: LEGO Speed Champions hits the bricks today
Forza Horizon 4, Playground Games's sandbox race-a-thon has always had a shaky grasp on reality, but it's entirely lost it with today's LEGO Speed Champions expansion. The last major part of its expansion pass, it adds a blocky LEGO map to explore, with its own set of challenges and some up-scaled plastic versions of real cars. The driving is a little bit less realistic here, of course, with roads often terminating in motorised boost pads for some huge jumps. I've not played enough to confirm if everything is awesome yet, but it seems pretty neat so far. See the launch trailer below.
While I've not measured it, I feel that the LEGO map may be the smallest in Forza Horizon 4, but the most densely packed. There's a race-track, a stunt course, the miniature city of Brickchester (which you can speed across in about five seconds) and even a LEGO airport to find. I'm a little disappointed they didn't entirely commit to the aesthetic, as some of the trees are of the regular, non-blocky sort, but there's enough breakable plastic block decorations to make it feel different to the base game. Everything on the map in unlocked from the get-go (after a bombastic intro run), so you're free to play it however you see fit.
Impressively, even if the trees are plastic, they'll be changing with the seasons, too. Everything from the base game is in effect here, and I'm curious to see what difference winter makes to some of the more fanciful areas of LEGO Valley. There's a pirate cove, a haunted forest full of glow-in-the-dark plastic ghosts (you can almost see the strings) and even a desert full of dinosaur bones. I've not had a chance to dig into the new events yet, but there is an advantage to the map being smaller and more compact; your surroundings change cartoonishly fast as you drive through the valley.
The most interesting twist in this expansion is the new currency, bricks. You earn them by completing objectives on a huge grid of achievement-type challenges. Once you're claimed 200, you'll be rewarded with your own little LEGO house, and the more bricks you earn total, the more cluttered your little base-plate gets with silly new decorations. A dinosaur here, a UFO here. Sadly you don't get to manually place items, but it's a nice visual representation of how much you're plumbed the LEGO depths here. Some higher-end LEGO cars are unlocked with bricks, too.
The LEGO Speed Champions expansion for Forza Horizon 4 costs £16/$20 separately, here on the Microsoft store, or as part of the Ultimate Edition or Expansion Pass for the game. The base game (minus expansions) is also part of the Xbox Games Pass subscription.
If you think the game looks too much for your PC, Katharine Castle just updated her Forza Horizon 4 hardware and settings guide. It's a less demanding game than you might think.