Wheels of fortune.
Forza Horizon 4’s first expansion may lack the unbridled madness of the previous game’s Hot Wheels expansion, and it’s not as immediately divergent as Blizzard Mountain was (which brought winter conditions and snow for the first time), but Forza Horizon 4: Fortune Island is a great add-on that features some of the most brilliant and fun stretches of road in the series to date.
Set on a fictional, high-latitude island far off the coast of Britain, Fortune Island is more of a driving purist’s playground than Forza Horizon 3’s more experimental DLC. The star attraction is the Needle Climb, a several-mile stretch of sealed switchbacks that winds up Fortune Island’s highest peak. The Forza Horizon series has been begging for a ribbon of road like this since the beginning, and the Needle Climb doesn’t disappoint.
The entire length is one long Drift Zone, too, so shredding up and down it in whatever car you see fit is actively encouraged and rewarded. It’s not the Stelvio Pass or Trasfagarasan Highway, but it’ll do quite nicely for now. It’s a very well-crafted bit of asphalt and Forza Horizon 4’s drift-happy handling dynamics absolutely sing on it.
There’s also an amazing unsealed trail that wraps around behind the base of the peak, featuring several sections poised on the very edge of a high, rocky cliff which reaches down into the distant ocean. During events, the most dangerous sections have safety walls added but in free-roam it’s an incredible challenge trying to maintain speed and still cling to the loose dirt surface while hanging it out sideways through the perilous corners. I’ve definitely thrown enough Hoonitrucks into the sea at this point to send Ken Block bankrupt two times over.
There’s a sleepy maritime feel to Fortune Island that I really like and, while it’s still unmistakably British, overall it’s quite distinct from the main map. You may not agree during the day, but wait until the wild light show at night as the aurora borealis ignites the starry sky with an eerie green glow. It’s stunning stuff, particularly watching it dance across the bodywork of cars and reflect off standing water. There are also severe storms, complete with branching lightning strikes. These newly-added weather phenomena don’t necessarily have an impact on the moment-to-moment gameplay but they’re spectacular to look at. If this expansion is capable of anything it’s giving a potent reminder of just how spectacularly good looking Forza Horizon 4 can be.
If this expansion is capable of anything it’s giving a potent reminder of just how spectacularly good looking Forza Horizon 4 can be.
Progression in Fortune Island is largely similar to the main game, though it’s been augmented with a rewarding treasure hunt that stretches out over the whole mini-campaign. It’s broken up into 10 rounds and, once you hit the required influence targets by completing the available races and stunts, you’ll receive a clue to decipher. These clues point to a task that needs to be fulfilled in order to receive the rough location of a treasure box hidden somewhere on the map.
I don’t expect the clues will stump too many dedicated gearheads – they’re really just a matter of finding the area of the map referenced in the clue and carrying out the task hinted at in the right car. The right car is generally referenced with a fairly obvious riff on its model name but, if you don’t actually know what an “Italian four-five-eight” is, a brief shuffle through the Autoshow should turn over the answer without too much hand-wringing. Assuming you don’t already own the required cars you’ll need to buy them to complete the tasks but, considering each treasure box contains one million credits, that shouldn’t be a problem.
The treasure boxes themselves function in much the same way as traditional Forza Horizon Barn Finds – a rough area will be marked out highlighting where to search. I’ve enjoyed finding them, though I gave up searching for any at night. With very little man-made light on the island it can get extremely dark, and I found myself blindly stumbling through the countryside to little avail whenever trying to uncover chests at night. A cropped photograph of the landscape near the treasure box should help you narrow down locations, though; I know using the landmarks in the background of the pics to narrow down the final resting spot of chests was very helpful to me.
A handful of the modest selection of 10 new cars arriving with Fortune Island are available through these treasure boxes, and the remainder are available in the Autoshow. It’s another scattergun blast of interesting international metal, from the idiosyncratic (the 1953 Morris Minor Series II Traveler, an estate version of the quintessentially British Morris Minor), to the iconic (the 2002 Koenigsegg CC8S, Koenigsegg’s first-ever production car, of which it built only six) and to the insane (the 2018 Funco Motorsports F9, a 7.4-litre, twin-turbo V8 sandcar with a neck-snapping 1750hp on tap).
Two other standout features are the new Trailblazer point-to-point stunts (which have no checkpoints but the first and last and dare us to straightline through the challenging, undulating environment) and Drift Club 2.0 (an excellent new Horizon Story with seven chapters that uses the seven cars from the Formula Drift pack and sets us loose on and around the Needle Climb). Getting three stars in Trailblazer events isn’t always as easy as it looks because sometimes your fastest car won’t necessarily be the one best suited to taking on the huge jumps and bumpy terrain without becoming unsettled. There’s some trial and error involved in Trailblazer that I find pretty satisfying. I didn’t find the point totals required to three-star each Drift Club 2.0 chapter particularly challenging but I did have a huge amount of fun doing them (and then doing them again, and again).
It’s also worth noting we don’t miss out on things like seasonal changes or Forzathon Live events while hooning around Fortune Island, either; what happens on the mainland happens on the island as well.