need to know
What is that? A ridiculous car stadium masquerading as an open world racing game.
Expect to pay: $60 / £50, included with Game Pass
date of publication: November 9
Developer: playground games
publisher: Xbox Game Studios
reviewed in: Ryzen 7 3700X, 32GB RAM, RTX 3080Ti Multiplayer? Other contestants appear in the open world, and there are a variety of co-op and competitive playlists.
connection official site
After being dropped off a cargo plane in the AMG One, I arrived at the festival site to celebrate the noise and fireworks. The organizers are happy – their “star” is finally here – and to celebrate they offer me an option to start the car. I left the spot and headed to my first race in a Corvette Stingray Coupe. This is not how racing games are supposed to start. I have to fight to win in some old hatchback, and dream of the day I can get behind the wheel of something neat and fast. Instead, a 500-horsepower supercar was delivered to tear up the streets of Mexico.
This makes sense, though. Forza Horizon 5 doesn’t have to do what other racing games will. It just needs to be a Forza Horizon game, because the Horizon brand of exotic car games has no serious competitor.
Sim racing is a competitive field, but on the other hand, it doesn’t look very healthy. Burnout Paradise showed the promise of open-world racing in 2008, but, for whatever reason, EA never followed through. The Need for Speed series has juggled varying degrees of arcade and simulation for years, and has never carved out a singular identity for itself. Dirt is similarly muddled. The power of episodic Dirt Rally elements that leave the original series unsure of what it should be. Forza Horizon didn’t get much ahead of the pack because she’s already finished racing and is now free to entertain herself.
Forza Horizon 5 knows this. It’s an undisputed feeling. She wasn’t forced to reinvent the wheel, and so she’s content with polishing and polishing it – to be the best Forza Horizon ever.
If you’ve played any previous Forza Horizon game, you already know what this means. A map filled with more icons from the Ubisoft open world, each referring to a racing event, a PR stunt, a rumor about some vintage cars, and a series of challenges organized into a handful of stories. As you win races, you unlock more events, new cars and more money. As you drive, you earn skill points for everything from drifting to crashing through a destructible scene.
Your garage is filling up at an absurd rate. I played for about 20 hours – enough to unlock all the festival outposts and their various upgrades – and collected 93 cars from the 526 cars available at launch. When you win races and complete events, you are bombarded with rewards. You earn trophies – small achievements that serve as the career progression system for Forza Horizon 5 – some of which reward new cars and new phrases for chat spam. You earn wheel pins that can drop cars, cash, and clothes. Then, when you fill out the new collections page that shows the full list of vehicles as collectible cards, you earn even more rewards for completing each specific factory.
Performance and Settings
Perhaps unsurprisingly, performance was smooth on the RTX 3080Ti—it hit 94fps in benchmarks on the highest extreme settings at 1440p. I wasn’t able to test with less powerful cards, but Forza Horizon 5 offers a highly customizable set of graphics settings, from regular options like shadow quality, reflections and anisotropic filtering, to more subtle settings like environment geometry quality, deformable terrain quality, and SSR quality.
In addition to the graphics, it’s an impressive array of options on offer. Serious attention has been given to accessibility options with scalable color filtering, subtitle size, keyword highlighting, screen reader, text-to-speech and speech-to-text options. The difficulty is also fully customizable, with help and “driver” difficulty options that carry over from previous games – as well as the cash bonus to make things more difficult for yourself.
So collecting new cars is more about expanding your options than upgrading to newer and better cars. You’ll likely have an S2 – one of the best and fastest – in your early hours. But, thanks to the limitations in our seasonal playlist, we encourage you to hunt down the many different makes and models.
The seasonal playlist is the heart of Forza Horizon 5’s live service. Each week takes place in a new season and offers a variety of events and challenges, usually with restrictions on class, genre, and difficulty. It’s summer in-game now, which means it’s Horizon Mexico rainy season. In a seasonal tournament, I battled downpours in a classic B-class muscle car to win the Ford ‘Hoonicorn’ V2 which became a mainstay of my attempts at drift zone. And in another match, I fought in the mud in a modern A-Class sports car to win a “steam boat” car horn.
Elsewhere, you are free to choose your class and the game will pit you against relevant opponents. The seasonal playlist then succeeds by forcing you out of your comfort zone, and making you think about how to overcome limitations. We’ve had plenty of robber shooters, but Forza Horizon is slowly turning into the first robber racer, and it fits the series well — giving you reasons to think about your garage and what fits your next target. Without the seasonal restrictions, for example, I wouldn’t have bothered to tune any of my cars. With so many available, there is no need to fiddle with any specific one. But then the playlist directed me to complete a certain jump with an old S1 sports car – something you can’t really buy. And so I picked one of my lower class cars, and sure enough, there was custom tuning to upgrade it to the requirements.
And, of course, the playlist offers even more rewards. As you complete events, you earn progress towards exclusive, hard-to-find cars available in every season and every series – a broader umbrella that spans all four seasons of the year.
If you played Forza Horizon 4 a few months after its launch, you’ll recognize this system—it’s the same system in that game, just apply here since launch. The same is true for many of the Forza Horizon 5 online events, which include Forza Horizon 4’s Eliminator Battle Royale’s Eliminator mode and Super 7 community challenges – both of which were added after launch in Forza Horizon 4, but available from the start in Forza Horizon 5.
You’ll notice at this point that I haven’t really talked about anything the new To Forza Horizon 5, and for good reason.
A new event type – ‘Expedition’ – is used to unlock outposts containing different racing disciplines in Horizon. You go to a new area, complete some optional objectives, and your map is filled with new races on road, street, dirt or cross country. However, describing this new feature might be an exaggeration. With so many different types of events already out there, any slight difference struggles to stand out.
The most exciting new addition, Event Labs, will take some time to make itself known. This is the new custom race creator, which lets players go out of their own way to share it with the community. But more than just a course maker, it comes with a rule editor that lets you create a series of if/then statements that can be used to make new challenges and, in theory, entirely new situations. The few examples currently available, created and shared by the Playground Games team, certainly demonstrate the system’s flexibility – for example turning a late-game endurance race into a mini-game featuring a pinata. Beyond that, it remains to be seen, but I am looking forward to the community as a whole being able to internalize what is possible.
Really, then, the main new feature of Forza Horizon 5 is, simply put, the setting. Mexico is more diverse and vibrant than the UK in Forza Horizon 4 – with rainforests, towns, deserts, and many, many cacti plants. The weather is more interesting too, with dust storms adding a touch of atmosphere to the events.
Throughout, the game’s characters refer to Mexican culture and history, although it’s filtered through the series’ relentless positivity. It’s hard to think of his world as a real place, not because it’s a jumbled truncation and blending of real locations, but because it exists in a world where bad things don’t happen. Everyone loves life all the time – the festival is a perpetual party, where destruction means skill chains and harsh atmospheres don’t exist. What about the other contestants who can’t compete in the big show events? Are they upset with you, star? No, because they are the other players in the game, who exist as ghosts in your open world for you to collaborate with in co-op events. They have come out in their own version of the game world where they are also the star. Here, everyone wins.
That’s the whole deal for Horizon, and while I might close my eyes at the dialogue, I can’t pretend I’m not drifting in midair. It would be reasonable to criticize the series for its tireless commitment to ignoring the real issues of the sites it visits – certainly the only side story that can be clearly summed up that “the rich have feelings too” were particularly deaf in a game where they were handed free houses and Pagani Zondas. But it’s very hard for me to think of his imagination as anything that comes close to reality and doing so seems cliched. clearly It’s nonsense, but it’s also a lot of fun. I find it impossible not to be drawn along the road.
Inevitably as I play, I have a big, stupid smile on my face. It is just such a game. Likewise, I can’t really criticize Forza Horizon 5 for not making big and sweeping changes in order to feel more different. It’s easy to forget given how easy it all feels, but the sheer detail of the environments and skill level evident in each of the 500+ cars is amazing. Forza Horizon 5 isn’t a full slice, sure, but it’s not a streamlined one. Each car has its own personality, and is capable of presenting a serious challenge if you turn off several optional aids. It’s realistic enough to personalize each car, and the details in its design are absurd – its interiors have been lovingly redesigned to fit the setting of the Forzavista show.
This is what happens when a series emerges without serious competition. You should focus on the things you care about most and master them. It must take the improvements made over the life of its predecessor and plan to build a new game around its inclusion. It’s fine-tuning its driving model and improving its graphics – not drastically, but enough to be noticeable. While I’d love to know what Forza Horizon would look like if it had any serious contender forcing it to be more innovative, I’d be happy to play the most polished and confident Forza Horizon ever made.