Of all the entries in the Forza Horizon series, Forza Horizon 5 feels the least like a true sequel.
Having been a glowing success, the Forza Horizon festival has left Britain and relocated to Mexico. And as the star of the show, you’ve also made the journey. This time around, as well as taking part in events, you’re also effectively a scout for the festival’s expansion. With the main stage set up, you’ll find yourself earning accolade points for pretty much everything you do. So, whether you’re into racing on roads or dirt tracks, performing crazy stunts or drifting like a maniac, you’ll be able to progress. It’s your journey, and your prerogative is to have fun.
Earn enough accolade points and it’s up to you how the festival expands. You might want to set up a site for cross-country racing, PR stunts, or street races, which are now officially sanctioned. Alternatively, you might want to further your involvement with one of the already established sites, unlocking new stories, showcase events, or epic races that cover large chunks of the game’s map. Ultimately it’s up to you, but you’ll want to unlock all expansions to enter the Horizon Festival Hall of Fame, gaining access to a final slew of events.
For those that have played Forza Horizon 4 and its expansions, there’s little that feels new here in terms of events. Stories have been tweaked, with many of them having more chapters. Sometimes you’re asked to choose between chapters to progress, though ultimately you’ll perhaps want to go back and complete them all. The multiplayer Forthazon events have been tweaked, too. You’ll now find multiple events running concurrently across the map, each one focused on a specific type of challenge.
Expeditions are the only event type that is truly new, having you drive into uncharted territory to scope out new sites. They’re ultimately a lot like showcase events though, having you engage in a healthy spot of competition and having fun in hair-raising situations. The only thing that really sets them apart is their mid-point, where tasks such as finding objects or taking photographs can be completed to earn extra accolade points.
With all other features of Forza Horizon 4 returning, such as Wheelspins and Super Wheel Spins, customisable avatars, and a weekly challenge series, it’s easy to get a feeling of déjà vu with Forza Horizon 5. You’re essentially playing the same game but within a new setting. But is that really a problem? For some it might be, but on the whole it’s not something to get to hung up on. Especially when Playground Games’ depiction of Mexico results in one of the most varied and densely-packed open worlds ever created.
Mexico truly is the star here, providing beautiful scenery every second you’re playing. This is the largest map found in a Forza Horizon game yet, and it’s split into multiple different biomes that each has something to offer. There’s everything from dense jungles to an active volcano to explore. What’s more, if you have an Xbox Series X, it all looks absolutely stunning. The visuals are at their best when in Quality mode, but the slight hit when moving down to Performance mode is worth taking. This is a game that really benefits from 60fps gameplay.
Due to the limited time we’ve had with Forza Horizon 5, unfortunately we haven’t yet seen the full impact that seasons have on the world that Playground Games has created. With Mexico being a much bigger land mass than Britain, it has been stated that there will be no sweeping changes across the board. Rather, each season will affect the numerous biomes of Mexico in different ways. In the dry season there will be sandstorms in the more arid areas of the map, for example. Ultimately it should lead to a more varied and nuanced experience, but we’ll find out for sure over the next few weeks.
One new feature that we’ve particularly appreciated is a new car collection menu. Here, you can keep track of which cars you own from Forza Horizon 5‘s absolutely massive roster, and you’re even given rewards for filling up your garage with cars from each manufacturer. Thanks to Wheelspins, accolade rewards and more, new vehicles are doled out at a decent rate, and money also feels easier to accumulate than ever, allowing you to build a hefty collection very quickly; one that even Jay Leno would be envious of. The car collection menu, then, is a welcome touch to keep track of what you own in a quick and easy way.
There may not be much new in Forza Horizon 5 beyond its location, but that doesn’t stop it from being yet another action-packed, adrenaline-fuelled open world racing extravaganza. This is the biggest and best entry in the Forza Horizon series yet; it’s just lacking that spark of originality that has made each entry prior a clear step up from the one before it. But for the huge majority of players, that really won’t be an issue. Forza Horizon 4 raised the bar to an impressive height, and Forza Horizon 5 nudges it that bit higher. It’s hard to imagine how Playground Games will raise it substantially in a future Forza Horizon entry, but let’s hope it does find some magic, or the formula might become a little bit stale.
Forza Horizon 5 Review – GameSpew’s Score