Forza Horizon 5 Review: Everything You Love in Mexico

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Forza Horizon 5 goes with this old adage: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. England-based game developer Playground Games, who has made every entry in the ever-improving Forza Horizon racing series since it was founded more than nine years ago, doesn’t stick to the formula it delivered and refined to its predecessor over time . Forza Horizon 5 is very similar to Forza Horizon 4, which isn’t a bad thing. The fifth chapter in the series – available November 5th for Premium customers and November 9th for everyone else – is an iterative update. It’s not about reinventing the wheel. Cynics will complain about a lack of game innovation: asset re-use, copy-paste and old wine in a new land. But that says more about the racing game industry, which we’ll get to in a moment.

It doesn’t harm Forza Horizon 5 – which is a great game in itself. The in-game Horizon Festival takes players to Mexico this time around. This means that in Forza Horizon we are switching to right-hand traffic for the first time since 2014, after Australia in Forza Horizon 3 and Great Britain in Forza Horizon 4, both on the left (as in India) due to their common Commonwealth roots. Forza Horizon 5 also marks the series’ return to America since its origins in 2012.

More importantly, Mexico allows Forza Horizon 5 to be very diverse. In contrast to Great Britain, which leading game designer Ryan Greene described in a multiplayer session with journalists as “too tree-heavy”. Mexico has 11 different biomes, be it lush jungles, pristine beaches, historic cities, or dune-rich deserts. They also bring dynamic weather events with them, from dust storms à la Mad Max: Fury Road to lightning and torrential rains that make the action more dramatic. As always, Forza Horizon 5 lets you experience the diverse biomes that Mexico has to offer at the beginning.

And as it has to be, it all looks great. The Mexico of Forza Horizon 5 is a pleasure to drive through, be it when I speed on the super highways in the ultra-quiet, fully electric Porsche Taycan Turbo S at over 350 km / h and on the winding inner streets on the hungry and powerful Lamborghini Centenario Roaming bonus boards or driving through forests and jumping off rolling hills in a heavy-duty pick-up truck with large tires in the mood for some skill points and collateral damage. The above emerging weather patterns further add to that delight – they feel realistic (or as close as possible) even on the Xbox One X that I played Forza Horizon 5 on.

Horizon Festival goes to Mexico in Forza Horizon 5
Image credit: Playground Games

For its more powerful cousin, the Xbox Series X, Forza Horizon 5 lets you choose between two video modes: quality (4K 30fps) and performance (4K 60fps). Just like the choice Forza Horizon 4 offered on the One X. Now the One X has no graphical options. What does the Series X Quality Mode offer? You can expect more detail, spacing, and ray tracing (if only in ForzaVista). These features are also available on the S Series, although of course it is set to a resolution of 1440p. All of these details come at a price. Forza Horizon 5 has a massive download size – 103 GB on PC and Series S / X and 116 GB on Xbox One. Ouch. That’s half the console space for owners of the S series.

Forza Horizon 5 is great to play too. Playground Games and Forza Motorsport’s Turn 10 Studios have refined the drive controls with each entry. And they really got into the groove the last couple of times. When you come from Forza Horizon 4, you’ll feel the slightest difference – which makes it more or less a seamless transition. Another case of my opening argument. It’s arcade-esque for sure, but there are references to simulations that leave room for player improvement. That, in turn, means that Forza Horizon 5 is easy to learn – although I’m biased here given the total time I’ve spent with the franchise – but it still has a lot of depth for you to explore as you dig deeper into the AI advance level of difficulty and then into PvP mode (player versus player).

Playground Games also makes it easier to pick a real car. When you arrive at an event and go to the vehicle selection screen, Forza Horizon 5 displays a list of “Recommended Cars” from the list available to you. That’s a nice touch – it gives you an idea of ​​what the race is asking for and which car is doing well. If you don’t see this section, Forza Horizon 5 is giving you the option to purchase recommended cars instead.

Speaking of PvP: Playground Games selected “Ranked Adventure” on Forza Horizon 5. Why? The game’s creative director Mike Brown said, “Ranged Adventure made winning extremely important. It made people really want to win a lot and get really angry when they couldn’t. ”In other words, it made Forza Horizon 4 toxic. No game developer wants this, and it’s clear why Ranked Adventure is gone.

Forza Horizon 5 still has a PvP mode – it’s called Horizon Open – but it’s nowhere near as cutthroat. Horizon Open should be “deeper, more inclusive, more accessible”. In addition, the co-op Horizon tour has a looser format that is casual and relaxed, Greene said. The developers have also addressed the annoyance when teammates exit PvP mode in the middle of it. The remaining players will continue to be under pressure, but they will be better rewarded for doing so.

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Multiplayer Meetings in Forza Horizon 5
Image credit: Playground Games

If you want something even lighter there is the renamed Forzathon Live. Forza Horizon 5 is now called Horizon Arcade and features 12 co-op mini-games for anyone inside the pink circle at launch. This includes things like smashing piñatas, doing super jumps, breaking speed records, and so on. You can also use a new Forza Link system – it’s in the lower left of your HUD – to speed up matchmaking. It is contextual so it tries to find players for the events that are close to you.

That brings us to the campaign (as previously playable solo or co-op), where most Forza Horizon 5 players will naturally spend their time. The biggest introduction is the new story-driven expedition mode – it’s a bit of a guided adventure with someone either driving next to you, flying above you, or sitting next to you in your vehicle. Expeditions usually involve driving to a location, such as an active volcano or Aztec ruins. Once there, there are a number of optional awards you can unlock by finding landmarks when you’re ready to spend the time in the area. Then you will meet up with the non-player character partner who will take you on a wild journey, be it sprinting through a tropical storm or running down an active volcano. It should be the highlight of a region – and in turn unlocks a new festival site.

In addition, you will be participating in similar events from previous Forza Horizon games. Road racing, dirt racing, road racing, and cross-country racing, it’s all here. Given the limited time I had with the game – Microsoft only gave us access earlier this week – I can’t say if the events are more varied. While the fact that Forza Horizon 5’s Mexico is the largest map Playground Games has ever built, one would hope this is true.

Of course, if you run out of events, you can always create your own. Forza Horizon 5 includes a new EventLab feature for user-generated content. With it you can create all kinds of races, stunts and challenges. EventLab in Forza Horizon 5 lets you insert objects, create a route, set vehicle class, and more. You can even define all sorts of rules, be it distributing points for hit targets, changing the car’s torque or gravity to confuse racers, or changing the racing parameters for an extra dose of fun. Once you’re done with your draft, you can use it to name your event, test it, and then publish it to the community.

As part of user-generated content, the painter returns to Forza Horizon 5 in expanded menus) to quickly share what you’ve done with other Forza Horizon 5 players.

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A bespoke Porsche in Forza Horizon 5
Image credit: Playground Games

Speaking of customization, Forza Horizon 5’s character creator is more diverse than ever. Aside from the usual racial diversity options, Forza Horizon 5 also lets you choose your pronouns and voice. Yes, your character speaks in Forza Horizon 5 – albeit in a limited way. You can also swap out artificial limbs for the four of your characters, an important step in depicting people with disabilities.

This aspect is also covered under the hood. Forza Horizon 5’s accessibility features enable high-contrast and color-blind UI modes, screen reader narration for the user interface, text-to-speech and speech-to-text support for voice chat, and subtitles in all cutscenes and gameplay. You can also tweak moving backgrounds and game speed. Microsoft places great emphasis on accessibility, including at its flagship events, and its Xbox games will continue with that in mind.

Forza Horizon 5 is a game for everyone – but annoyingly, there aren’t many games like it. Need for Speed ​​is the only other franchise I can think of that deals with open worlds, but NFS ran itself into the ground a long time ago. His new cousin Dirt has never ventured into this domain. Could EA’s ownership of Codemasters change? It is sticking to the whole route-based thing with its next game, Grid Legends, though it will be more narrative. Essentially, there is a lack of competition – which inevitably leads to a lack of innovation. Playground games can be an iterative experience and cash in, because Forza Horizon 5 is in a world of its own. It’s wonderful, but also sad.

Advantages:

  • Mexico looks beautiful
  • Diverse regions, better with weather
  • Looks great and works on Xbox One X
  • Hundreds of cars
  • Driving mechanics are refined
  • Easy to pick up, but with depth
  • Less demanding PvP multiplayer
  • Deep co-op support
  • EventLab is very promising
  • Various character creators

Disadvantage:

  • Lack of innovation
  • Iterative update
  • Horizon Arcade is a hit-and-miss
  • Expedition collectibles are meh

Rating (out of 10): 9

Forza Horizon 5 is coming to Xbox One, Xbox Series S / X, and Windows 10/11 on November 9th. It will be available on November 5th for those who purchased Forza Horizon 5 Premium Edition.

Price starts at Rs. 3,499 on Steam, Rs. 3,999 on the Microsoft Store and Rs. 4,299 in retail stores. Forza Horizon 5 Premium Edition costs Rs. 5,499 on Steam and Rs. 6,599 on the Microsoft Store.

You can also get Forza Horizon 5 with an Xbox Game Pass subscription, which is Rs. 699 per month.

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