Some games just have the juice

Posted by Matt Birchler
— 1 min read
Some games just have the juice

I put about 70 hours of game time in Forza Horizon 4 back in 2020. I was naturally excited to play the follow-up, predictably titled Forza Horizon 5, but I bounced off it after just a few hours.

Was I just burnt out on this gameplay loop? On paper it seemed better in every way, so that must be it, right?

Well, over my holiday break, I reinstalled Horizon 4 and 5, and have played a bit of each. Given some time separation from when they were new for me, surely I’d enjoy 5 more due to its higher end visuals, gameplay improvements, and learnings from the previous game, right?

Nope, Forza Horizon 4 blows the doors off Horizon 5 for me.

The games are very similar, so you’d think they’d feel very similar, but I greatly prefer the older one. Maybe it’s the seasons system that changes the map and events in interesting ways. Maybe the British map is simply better made than the Mexican one. Maybe it’s the minor details in how events play out. Or maybe it’s a subconscious nostalgia for the first Horizon game I’ve played.

Whatever the case, I think some things have “the juice” in that they’re special for no obvious reason, and other things like them can be similar or even technically better, and simply not hit in the same way. For me, Forza Horizon 4 has the juice, and Horizon 5 simply doesn’t, and I can’t explain why.