I’m no stranger to the Forza Horizon series. I’ve spent many hours razzing around Australia in Forza Horizon 3 and Britain in Forza Horizon 4. But I’ve discovered a new joy in playing Forza Horizon 5: road discovery.
The “roads discovered” metric is nothing new. Forza Horizon games have long since counted how many roads you’ve driven on, awarding you with an achievement when you’ve uncovered them all. But I’ve largely ignored it. When you’re in an open world racing game, who even needs roads at all? Indeed, I’ve always favoured the joy of going off-road, bouncing a Lamborghini through fields and trees, causing chaos and destruction along the way.
But in my most recent play session of Forza Horizon 5, I figured I’d try something new. I’d try – god forbid – actually sticking to the roads as I drive around, like a sensible citizen of the highway. Mexico makes for such a vibrant, varied location to drive around. Find a long road and you’ll likely pass through multiple different regions as you take in everything that Playground Games’ microcosmic representation of the country has to offer. One minute you’re driving past a Caribbean beach, the next you’ve got mountains looming over you. And, as it turns out, sticking to the roads really is the best way to see it all. Go off road and, quite literally, you can’t see the woods for the trees.
It’s not just in getting to see more of Forza Horizon 5‘s scenery that sticking to the roads is so satisfying, though. That little box that pops up at the bottom of your screen, giving you various indications of your progress? It’ll regularly tell you how many roads you’ve drove along. Reach the end of a new road, and it’ll tick upwards by one, giving you a cheery notification to let you know. That, my friends, is one hell of a satisfying statistic.
You’ll also be told how many roads one of your friends has driven and, if you’re behind them, you’ll be overcome with an urge to best them. Because we’re all a little bit competitive inside, right? Another neat feature is that as you drive down a road, you’ll notice it fill in with colour on your minimap; main roads become white rather than grey, and dirt tracks and minor roads become red. So you can see at a glance where you have and haven’t been.
It’s like a colouring book, but rather than having paper and a crayon, you have a car and a minimap. Colouring in a line is deeply satisfying, even more so when you see your ‘roads discovered’ counter tick ever upwards. Those long roads are a pain, but hit the short trails your tally will fly upwards. It has no right to be as satisfying as it is.
Sure, races, challenges and PR stunts are all fun in Forza Horizon 5. Do them if you like. But there’s something to be said to the joy of simply sitting back and cruising down roads you’ve not driven before.