Forza Horizon 4 has been one of the most successful entries into Playground Games’ franchise, and it’s a game that I have enjoyed playing for many, many hours. The reveal of the new LEGO based DLC at E3 2019 by Microsoft certainly made me sit up and take notice, with the promise of Forza Horizons go anywhere playstyle mixed with the joyous plastic bricked up nature of LEGO. In fact, the trailer was enough for me to immediately put my interest gathering hand up when it came to checking out this DLC, and, at the risk of spoiling things, boy was I glad I did.
The way you find yourself moving into this DLC in-game is very much the same as it was for the Fortune Island expansion, namely driving to a location and being magically whisked away to LEGO Valley, home of the LEGO Speed Champions event. Instead of buying a house, as we do in the main game, here a LEGO twist is added, with bricks being required to build a home. And how does one obtain bricks? Why, by completing race events, PR stunts and partaking in general shenanigans, each of which will reward you with a set number of bricks.
Interestingly, how well you do in an event affects how many bricks you’ll obtain, with 20 being awarded for completing an event, while winning it will award you with 40. So completing an event for the first time in first place will net you 60 bricks. Of course, bricks are also awarded for doing various feats and stunts around LEGO Valley, ranging from getting three stars on a danger sign, to crashing into a stationary tractor!
The scenery in LEGO Valley is amazing, much like being in The LEGO Movie. The trees are LEGO, the animals are LEGO (complete with comedy running animation), the houses are LEGO, the… well, you get the picture. The LEGO cars are amazingly detailed as well and if you zoom in via the Forza Vista mode to get a close look, every stud is stamped with “LEGO”, the glossiness of the plastic is different from the shininess of applied stickers, and so on. When driving, there’s even a cockpit view, but as the driver’s arms in the models can’t reach the steering wheel, there are no arms driving the cars in this game. Looks a bit weird, if I’m honest, so I tended to stay with my preferred front bumper view.
Driving through the fields and smashing the LEGO flowers never gets old, the sound of plastic blossom hitting the side of your car coming across exactly like LEGO hitting the floor when it’s dropped. The LEGO cars make a plasticky clattering sound if you crash or collide with another car, and bits drop off as well, making the car at the end of a race not quite the same shape as the one that started it.
The one issue I have with the LEGO Speed Champions DLC for Forza Horizon 4 on Xbox One is that there is a massive shortage of LEGO cars to be unlocked. When you start the DLC, you are gifted the LEGO Mini Cooper, and this is awesome. I was driving around feeling like a refugee from The Italian Job, screaming through towns and fields with gay abandon. Sadly, while the car is fun, it’s a little short on legs (see what I did there?) and you will soon need to get access to faster cars, particularly for the speed trap challenges. Enter the Ferrari F40 Competizione.
Once you have this car, a new race appears, where you have to race the real F40 and if you win, then you get to keep both models. The Ferrari, whether LEGO or not is certainly fast enough to win the remaining speed traps, but there is another car to enjoy too, the poster child for Forza Horizon 4; the McLaren Senna. Again, beating its real life counterpart will add both to your garage, and this car is more than capable of beating the rest of the challenges, whatever they be. Further to that, there is a Barn Find to locate, but I must confess to being disappointed that there are only four LEGO cars to find.
Racing in your LEGO car is also a bit weird when the rest of the field is made up of real-world vehicles. In fact, this whole expansion makes no sense at all if you just think about it, so it’s best to tune to the new radio station, which plays “Everything is Awesome” non-stop until your brains are running out of your ears, and just sit back and enjoy the ride.
The challenges included are a varied bunch, and should keep you playing for a good long time. Smashing alien power capsules and plants, completing all the races and events, finishing your house, and completing the story all are very enjoyable. Even just driving around, trying to master the new Drift Zones and hunting down all the landmarks is very enjoyable, and with the ability to drive any of your garage cars in this landscape, finding the right tool for a challenge is always possible. Speed boosting ramps are now a thing as well, and hitting these at anything other than straight-on is a recipe for comedy; launching sideways off a ramp at high speed always ends well.
The only issue with the challenges is that the map can end up looking absolutely ridiculous, stuffed full of things to do. It looks like the designer of the map screen filled their mouth and nose with icons and then sneezed. It is such a mess it’s hard to know where to start, however the filter button is your friend here. Another quibble with the map is the lack of named places. Given that there is a subset of brick challenges that are all centred around driving from X to Y in under a specific time, these should be do-able, particularly as the LEGO Valley isn’t big. But I have literally no idea where The Pit Stop is, or how to drive there from my house. Oasis Island to the Lighthouse? I can see the Lighthouse, but where’s Oasis Island? It just makes things harder than it needs to be, which is irritating.
All in all though and the LEGO Speed Champions content is a worthy addition to the Forza Horizon 4 racing juggernaut. It’s bright, colourful, zinging with life – albeit plastic life with jigging Mini Figs – and most of all is a fun place to take in. The challenges are pitched just right and the LEGO cars are awesome, even if they are somewhat lacking in numbers. I dream of a day when every car in my garage has a LEGO counterpart. Daydreaming aside, this is a good, solid expansion that brings more of everything to what we love about Forza Horizon 4. Just now it comes with added LEGO. And who doesn’t want that?