The Completionist Life: Forza Horizon 4 (Part II — The Menus)

Ah, Forza Horizon 4! A game with a pedigree so long that its dedicated player base doesn’t mind having a menu interface that is just a flashy, sprawling mess. I mean, you couldn’t pay me to redesign it, because I wouldn’t know where to start either. I’m sure it’s fine. But it can be a bit daunting for new players who just want to throw cars off of cliffs for funsies.

Yes, the goal is to Do Everything… eventually. But for now, we’re just going to start by taking note of what everything is and not necessarily what it all does.

You’ve probably already seen the Home menu above. It’s pretty busy. The World Map takes center stage, as it should, because one of our first directives in Part I was to explore, and most every event has a physical location on the map where you have to go in order to start it.

But the World Map can also be accessed while driving by pressing ‘M’ on the keyboard, or the View button on an Xbox One controller — that’s the tiny center-left button with two overlapping boxes on it. It’s a much quicker shortcut and the map shows up instantly, without having to wait for the swooshy menu animations.

Directly below the World Map panel is the Change Car panel, which will bring up the list of cars you’ve already got in your garage. (There’s another panel that performs the same functionality on the Cars tab, but this one’s quicker to get to.) We’ll talk about the garage later, because if you’re doing a good job of Doing Everything, this list is gonna get unwieldy.

You can switch vehicles any time you’re free-roaming, and you’ll probably do it a lot when you’re trying to see which car will crack your personal best on a PR stunt. (You can switch in the middle of a Forzathon Live, too, if you want a different car for the job.)

To our left is the Festival Playlist, which is a somewhat recent quality-of-life addition to Horizon. I haven’t talked about it here, but it’s a giant checklist of all the weekly special events you can try to beat, and there are reward cars for completing 50% and 80% of each season (and the entire series, which last four weeks/seasons). While these are definitely a part of the Completionist lifestyle, I’m not going further into them here, because I’m going to try to run down each week’s challenges in a separate series called What’s Good? that’ll probably come out on weekends.

You’ll also notice the smaller white buttons on the lower-left: Exit to Desktop, Settings, Drone Mode, and Quick Chat.

Drone Mode unlocks when you purchase the player house that I talked about in Part I, and essentially leaves your car parked wherever you left it so that you can explore the immediate surroundings from a mobile drone camera. Drone Mode is useful when you’re hunting for something that might be hard to see, like one of the Barn Finds, or a Bonus Board that you suspect might be nearby. Hovering close enough to one of those items will permanently mark it on your World Map. (If you don’t have Drone Mode unlocked but you still want to snoop around, you could use Photo Mode, but it won’t have the added benefit of marking the map, and you could forget where you are in relation to what you’ve spotted.)

Quick Chat is a collection of phrases you can blurt out to all nearby players. In theory, some of them could be useful during co-op or team events, but they’re mostly flavor. Still, you can bind them to the D-pad on a controller and say funny things if you’re that kind of person.

Using the PageDown key (or RB on a controller) gets us to the next tab, Horizon Life. Most of what you’ll come here for is to pop those Wheelspins you’re collecting. But, there’s also access to the main #Forzathon page, where you can look at the weekly/daily challenges and get to the Forzathon Shop, and that’s useful.

Star Card is one of the most recent additions to Horizon, but most of what it offers is challenges to do things we’re likely to eventually do anyway. It might still give you some ideas when you’re looking for something to do.

And I call myself a Completionist. Hmph.

The Horizon Life tab also has a link to the Welcome Back screen that pops up when you first start the game, if you ever need to get back there for some reason.

Team Adventure is online 6v6 races and Playground events. Drift Adventure is you and up to 11 other randomly-matched players using entire tracks as if they were a Drift Zone. We’ll talk more about these, but much later, as the Adventure stuff is ongoing / competitive ranked stuff that isn’t really relevant to this stage of Completionism.

Skipping past the Creative Hub tab (for now), we get to the Cars tab, which actually has a couple of more-immediately useful panels.

Front and center is the “Go To Festival” command, which is most useful when you need to hit up a garage but you don’t have Fast Travel unlocked (or it’s expensive).

Car Mastery brings up the Perks window that I showed in Part I, but here it is again, because it’s one of those screens you’ll end up spending some time on.

(I’ll try to remember to talk more about the perks later, but they’re generally a “you want all of these” situation. I just have one or two specific things that I don’t always bother with.)

The Cars tab also has this panel on the right that says “My Cars”, and basically has the same functionality as the Change Cars panel on the Main tab. (Fun fact about Crill: I didn’t notice the Change Cars panel on the Main tab for several months, and always mashed RB to get to the Cars tab when I wanted to hop into another vehicle. It took me at least another month to retrain my brain & hands to not mash RB when I got into the menu. This is why you’re stuck with me looking at everything this closely, friends.)

The other important things to note on this tab are “Tune Car” and “Car Collection”. I mentioned Car Collection in Part I: it’s a complete definitive list of every vehicle in the game. You can filter it by which cars you do or don’t own, sort it by Championship or Manufacturer, and select any car to see where you can get it.

“Tune Car” is where I have spent a lot of my time, and if you want to, you can, too. For now, just know it’s here. (It’s in the Garage menus, too.)

Rivals, like Online Adventure, is one of the few things that doesn’t have a specific place on the map where you can activate it. The basic gist of Rivals is that you run a lap of an course, but with no other AI opponents on the road. Instead you race a “ghost” of a previously-recorded lap by another player, usually randomly selected (unless you’re doing it from the “My Rivals” panel, pictured lower-right). Running a lap faster than your current Rival will reward you with a little CR and Influence before offering you a different, slightly faster, opponent.

When you enter the Festival Site or any Player House (which I also refer to as a Garage), you have a different set of menus and options.

You have to be “at home” to make the majority of changes to anything in your Garage — buying new cars, or modifying their parts or design. “View All” on the Autoshow tab will show you everything you can buy directly with credits (which, as we said, we won’t be doing a lot). Mostly we’ll be going straight to the Garage tab.

Welcome back, Darling.

We’ll start with the smaller panels at bottom-left, because you should notice them at least once — there’s not a lot of other ways to get to these options. If you decide you don’t like the custom license plate you set when you started the game, you can change it here. There’s also the list of Car Horns you’ve collected and unlocked. (Most of these are available in Wheelspins, or as tier rewards for ranking up certain Influence tracks.)

The places I actually spend time, though, are in Upgrades & Tuning, and Designs & Paints.

Designs & Paints.

If you’re not particular about how your car looks, you can skip a lot of this section for now — and it would be understandable, as you might still be busy chasing other achievements and challenges to Get More Stuff. But eventually you may want to at least put a different color paint job on it. Paint Car will take you to a specific interface for putting that base coat on.

Apply Vinyls & Decals is for more detailed work, and has a huge stock library of primitive shapes, gradients, stripes, a couple of fonts, etc. Vinyl design can take a long time if you’re trying to carve out some original artwork. (That’s how Level 20 Painters make their credits.) But also, if you have a particular design that you just want to stamp onto multiple vehicles, it can be saved as a Vinyl Group, either by using Create Vinyl Group or saving a selection of layers directly from the decal editor.

Upgrades & Tuning will let you attempt to buff (or nerf) your car directly. The Custom Upgrade panel is where you select mods. Once you’ve bought a part for an individual vehicle, you own it for as long as you own that car. (Even if you were to get a duplicate of the same car, you would have to buy those parts again; all parts you buy for a vehicle stay with that vehicle.)

There’s also another Car Mastery panel here, so it’s available whether you’re in the Garage or out-and-about. (Fun UI quirk: If you purchase one of your car’s Wheelspin perks from the pause menu, it spins immediately; but if you purchase it while in a Garage, it’s tucked away for later. Spins purchased from the Forzathon Shop with FP are always stored for later.)

We’ll be back for the Tuning interface when we dive a little more deeply into the art of car modification in a future installment. We’re almost there.

Here’s the last thing we’ll talk about right now, though, because it’s another thing you’ll use all the time. The more cars you have, the longer this list is. And if you have any duplicate cars — particularly the “Common” cars (with the green border) that come up on a lot of Wheelspins — this list is even more bloated. How you deal with that bloat is up to you. Most of the more-common vehicles won’t sell at auction, and if they do, it won’t be for much, and it can be a timesink to deal with them. You can also select cars and remove them from your garage permanently, but you do have to be careful not to throw away something you didn’t mean to. I typically try not to “get in” new cars until I can confirm that they’re not a dupe of something I already have. (Cars won on Wheelspins will always have the “NEW” label on the bottom-right corner of the panel, like the 695 Biposto pictured above.) Once I know a car is a dupe, then I can select it and remove it from the Garage.

If you’ve stocked up way more Skill Points than you currently need, you can even buy the Wheelspin perk(s) on a car before you trash it, but whether or not that’s an efficient use of Skill Points (or your time) is an exercise for the player.

But you’ll still eventually have to deal with a garage with hundreds of cars. If you look closely at the bottom of the screenshot, there are “Sort” and “Filter” options, as well as “Jump to Manufacturer”. These can help speed up the search for a particular car once you are familiar with them. When you select a car, you can also mark it as a Favorite, and Filter by your Favorites, to get a particular short list.

Next Time

I’m currently working on a short list of cars that I think are pretty good early-game cars, either cheap on the Autoshow (or commonly dropped by Wheelspins) or available as Barn Finds. A few of them are unusually versatile, and others are good for specific niche activities you’ll want to cross off your lists. Then… we upgrade. That’s a promise. See you then.




Crill is a middle-aged leftish who is just now starting to write about games, and writes tweets like a millennial.

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Crill is a middle-aged leftish who is just now starting to write about games, and writes tweets like a millennial.

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