Forza Horizon 5 takes the franchise to Mexico, where we’ll be wowed by the game’s largest map to date. At the launch, expect to see migratory butterflies, an active volcano, donkeys, and 526 vehicles.
It wasn’t easy to make a game that was more engaging than Forza Horizon 4. Despite its problems, Forza Horizon 4 was a game that you could spend years immersed in, especially as developer Playground Games continued to bombard us with additional DLC packs, cars, and challenges.
Nonetheless, Forza Horizon 5 outperforms its predecessor. When you consider that the game also had to account for next-gen console compatibility and a global epidemic, it’s rather astounding. Continue reading for our complete Forza Horizon 5 review.
Forza Horizon 5 Gameplay Review
Forza Horizon 5 is an open-world racing game in which you travel through Mexico, competing in races and completing various challenges along the way.
Before the game’s release, the devs discussed how you can customize Forza Horizon 5 to your liking. You earn points in the main Horizon Adventure game, which you may use to unlock the following areas: Mainstage, road racing, dirt racing, cross-country, public relations stunts, and the street scene are all featured.
One mode, for example, puts you as a stunt driver in a film, while another focuses on Baja rally-style racing.
While most races follow the same formulae of “get here in this amount of time” or “score this many points,” others include exploring. Take the Mayan temple of Ek Balam, for example, where you must photograph figures and climb to the top of the central ruin.
Without giving anything away, these major events are a lot of fun. You might desire for more of them. However, for every heroic challenge, there is a follow-up that ends far too soon. Many of them can be completed in under two minutes thanks to shortcuts.
That amazing Mexico map makes you want to learn more about the country’s culture and history, but there aren’t many genuinely intriguing tasks. Yes, it’s fun to drive a stunt car across a movie set or compete against other street racers dressed as Mexican wrestlers. These challenges, on the other hand, can feel like a few more props thrown on top of a regular race. The instances in Forza Horizon 5 when the landscape and setting are truly utilized in new ways are fewer than I would have wanted.
In Forza Horizon 5, a new feature called Accolades has been added. These are essentially mini-tasks that award you with experience points, customization items, and cars in exchange for completing them. Basically, any task you can think of has a monetary incentive attached to it.
Do you want to photograph automobiles? You’ll be praised. Are you going to be inducted into the Hall of Fame? You’re praised for it as well. Do you have any famous tuning or liveries on your vehicle? You’re covered in Forza Horizon 5. With 1,876 honors to choose from, it’s practically impossible not to receive recognition.
There are also the Forzathon challenges, which include jumping particular lengths, competing against “unbeatable” AI drivers (at the most extreme difficulty level), and more. You’ll get Forzathon points for each one, which you can use in the Forzathon store. It can take a long time to complete these chores in exchange for uncommon autos. You’ll be kept occupied by earning the top ratings on all drift zones, speed cameras, danger zone jumps, road races, cross-country races, rallies, drag strips, and more.
Forza Horizon 5 Multiplayer Review
Other gamers are a big element of the Forza Horizon 5 experience. You can, for example, join a convoy to gain more experience points or a club to compare your talents with those of other players. Meanwhile, Forza Horizon Open allows you to engage in numerous races against players from all over the world, while Rivals challenges you to beat certain individuals.
Another new element in Forza Horizon 5 is gifting. Cars can be hidden inside barns for other players to find. You can let anybody discover your barn find present or select specific categories, such as new players, returning players, or community contributors, according to your preferences.
You gain a kudos point if someone discovers your automobile, which appears to do nothing besides notify other players that you are generous. You can also give the receiver a pre-determined message and get one in return, which is convenient. Unfortunately, you will not be able to leave a voice or written message.
Forza Horizon 5’s creative features include the ability to capture and share images, car liveries (paint jobs and decals), and car songs. Like in Forza Horizon 4, the My Creative Hub feature displays you how well you’re doing.
Super7 is also returned, allowing you to take on seven unique tasks. One entailed a desert race in which any damage to the buggy meant the operation would fail. In a level surrounded by massive sand dunes, this was tough. My favorite Super7 task, though, required me to complete a barrel roll in 30 seconds.
If you complete all seven challenges, the game will lavishly reward you. (I recently purchased a Dodge Viper ACR.) You may also make your own Super7 challenges using everything from speed cameras to skill point totals, danger sign leap distances, skill mastery, and damage control.
The Events Lab is also new in Forza Horizon 5. These are events created by the players, and they range from classic races to piñata smashing. Developer favorites, trending today, top of the month, and all-time greats are among the categories available.
Event Lab is unique in that it allows you to use three different command types: trigger, condition, and action. You select a trigger event, the circumstances in which it occurs, and the action that follows as a result.
Players should be able to think outside the box. Unfortunately, due to a small number of online players before the game’s release, I was unable to observe the feature in action. I will admit that deciphering each trigger, condition, and action requires some mental effort.
Some players have commented that the 526 automobiles available in Forza Horizon 5 are insufficient. In terms of new machinery, the list is relatively short. Alfa Romeo, Lancia, and Fiat, for example, have all been discontinued.
Despite gaining enhancements during the game’s development period, many current car models are glaringly lacking. Many of us are familiar with the collection after three years of playing Forza Horizon 4.
Still, it’s wonderful that certain cars have a retractable roof and, in the case of the Mercedes-AMG One, race mode, which allows for additional downforce at the sacrifice of straight-line speed. What a case of realism.
Before you protest, keep in mind that Forza Horizon 4 gained a large number of automobiles after its first release. Updates continued well into the game’s third year. In the main menu of Forza Horizon 5, there are already two undiscovered DLCs, and there might be a lot more.
The X5 M Forza Edition, for example, adds variation to the Forza Horizon automobiles. It was also entertaining to drive around in a modified DeLorean, which was a popular request.
Tuning, upgrades and handling
Forza Horizon 5 includes new features to the tuning and upgrade system, such as rally differentials and semi-slick tires. Engine noise is affected by all necessary upgrades. You can test the noise mid-shop by pressing the accelerator button. However, certain body kits have been deleted from the game.
Meanwhile, the tuning menu is mostly the same as Forza Horizon 4, with the same tires, gearing, alignment, antiroll bars, springs, dampening, aero, braking, and differential.
We’ll see how much of a difference these new upgrades make in the long run, and whether queries like “roll cage or no roll cage” have the same answers as in Forza Horizon 4.
Meanwhile, AI racer opponents on the “unbeatable” difficulty appear to have more grip in curves and are able to avoid slowing down when jumping into the water. Rubber-banding, on the other hand, appears to be less of an issue — albeit this could be related to course design.
The game’s most important aspect is handling. The aforementioned changes to the suspension, tires and other areas result in a more enjoyable ride.
Cars have a heavier, more realistic feel to them than in Forza Horizon 4, giving each car more obvious handling characteristics. This isn’t to claim Forza Horizon 5 is a radical departure from its predecessor. The gameplay is set up as an arcade racer first, followed by a simulator racer, which is exactly as it should be. However, taking a step in the direction of the latter has improved the overall immersion.
Visuals and sound
Forza Horizon 5 looks fantastic on an Xbox Series X or a high-end PC. Thanks to photogrammetry, the graphics appear to be photorealistic in some areas. Cruising down a beautiful beach as the sun sets is as romantic as gaming gets.
While I prefer the UK map in Forza Horizon 4, Mexico is arguably more gorgeous. You’ll want to use the Photo Mode a lot when you see the dense jungle, postcard-perfect beaches, enticingly blue oceans, Mayan buildings, and blooming meadows.
You can choose between two graphical settings: Performance and Quality, both of which are 4K. The former is limited to 30 frames per second and appears to be a little more appealing. However, most racing games, including this one, benefit from the 60 fps Performance mode.
The game is smooth and steady, with the exception of a few minor pop-ins. It also loads swiftly thanks to the Xbox Series X’s SSD.
The game’s performance on the Xbox One isn’t as good. My Xbox One’s launch model had trouble loading some sections, causing my hyper-Vocho (VW Beetle) to float in mid-air as the map around me unloaded. Blitzing down the edge of a volcano, it turns out, has its drawbacks.
On the Xbox One, Mexico appears to be much less appealing due to lesser images and fewer landscapes. The generational gap between 2013 hardware and the Xbox Series X console or the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 GPU is enormous. It’s also difficult to go back to 30 frames per second after trying something faster.
Car engines also sound better than in Forza Horizon 4. Ray-tracing audio (which is certainly a funny name) adds detail and makes it easier to hear if someone is sneaking up behind you. The creators also re-recorded several engine noises and even varied sounds in tunnels, which is excellent.
Admittedly, some automobiles still sound a bit electronic, and some engines are linked to the wrong car. But ultimately, Forza Horizon 5 gets its sound design perfectly.
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Forza Horizon 5Forza Horizon 5
- Thrilling races and exciting mini-games
- EventLab facilitates inventive, custom tracks
- Dynamic weather that impacts races and exploration
- The largest, most varied Forza Horizon map to date
- Numerous customization options
- Occasionally locked up during testing
- Lacks a custom music station