Forza Horizon 5 review: Everything you love, Mexico

Forza Horizon 5 review: Everything you love, Mexico

Forza Horizon 5 opts for that old adage: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Playground Games, the England-based game developer that has made every entry in the ever-improving Forza Horizon racing franchise since its inception more than nine years ago, doesn’t mess with the formula it delivered and honed over time on its predecessor. Forza Horizon 5 plays a lot like 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 trying to reinvent the wheel. Cynics will complain about the game’s lack of innovation: resource reuse, copy and paste, and old wine into a new one. country. But that says more about the racing game industry which we’ll get to in a moment.

Doesn’t detract from Forza Horizon 5 – which is a great game in its own right. This time, the in-game Horizon Festival takes players to Mexico. This means we are shifting towards the right-hand direction in Forza Horizon for the first time since 2014, following Australia in Forza Horizon 3 and the UK in Forza Horizon 4, both left-hand (as in India) due to shared Commonwealth roots. Forza Horizon 5 also marks the series’ return to the Americas since its origins in 2012.

More importantly though, Mexico allows Forza Horizon 5 to be extremely diverse. Unlike, say, the UK, which lead game designer Ryan Greene called “too cumbersome” in a multiplayer session with journalists. Mexico has 11 different biomes, whether lush jungles, pristine beaches, historic cities or dune-filled deserts. They also feature dynamic weather events, from dust storms à la Mad Max: Fury Road, to lightning and torrential downpours that add drama to proceedings. As always, Forza Horizon 5 makes you experience the varied biomes that Mexico has to offer at the start.

And as it should be, it all looks great. The Mexico of Forza Horizon 5 is a joy to drive, whether I’m speeding down the superhighways at speeds in excess of 350 km/h in the ultra-quiet Porsche Taycan Turbo S, swaying through the winding country lanes on the prowl for bonus signs in the hungry and powerful Lamborghini Centenario, or tearing through forests and jumping over rolling hills in the mood for some skill points and collateral damage in a hulking pickup truck with big tires. The aforementioned emerging weather patterns add further to that joy – they look realistic (or as close as possible) even on the Xbox One X I played Forza Horizon 5 on.

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

On its more powerful cousin, the Xbox Series X, you’ll be able to choose between two video modes in Forza Horizon 5: quality (4K 30fps) and performance (4K 60fps). Just like the Forza Horizon 4 choice offered on the One X. Now the One X has no graphics options. What does Quality Mode offer on Series X? You can expect more detail, greater draw distances, and ray tracing (though only in ForzaVista). These features are also available on the Series S, though it’s locked to 1440p resolution naturally. All this detail also comes at a cost. Forza Horizon 5 has a huge download size – 103GB on PC and Series S/X and 116GB on Xbox One. There. That’s half the console space for Series S owners.

Forza Horizon 5 is also great to play. Playground Games and Turn 10 Studios at Forza Motorsport have refined the driving controls with each entry. And they really got into the groove on the last few occasions. If you’re coming from Forza Horizon 4, you’ll feel the tiniest of differences – making it more or less a seamless transition. Another case of my opening argument. It’s arcade-ish for sure, but there are simulation hints that leave room for player improvement. In turn, this means that Forza Horizon 5 is easy to pick up – although I’m biased here due to the sheer amount of time I’ve spent with the franchise – but still has a lot of depth you can explore, as you get deeper into AI difficulty and then PvP (player versus player) modes.

Playground Games is also making it easy for you to choose a suitable car. When you arrive at an event and open the car selection screen, Forza Horizon 5 displays a list of “recommended cars” from the list you have at your disposal. This is a nice touch – it gives you an idea of ​​what the race calls for and which car will perform well. If you don’t see this section, Forza Horizon 5 will give you the option to buy recommended cars.

Speaking of PvP, Playground Games chose “Ranked Adventure” in Forza Horizon 5. Why? The game’s creative director Mike Brown said that “Ranked Adventure made winning super important. It made people really want to win and get really mad when they couldn’t.” In other words, it made Forza Horizon 4 toxic. No game developer wants that, and it’s clear why Ranked Adventure is over.

Forza Horizon 5 even has a PvP mode – it’s called Horizon Open – but it’s nowhere near as vicious. Horizon Open aims to be “more low pressure, more inclusive, more accessible”. In addition, there’s even a more flexible format on the Horizon Tour co-op that’s casual and relaxed, Greene said. The developers also addressed the annoyance with teammates leaving PvP modes midway through. The remaining players will still be under pressure, but they will also be better rewarded for it.

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Multiplayer Encounter in Forza Horizon 5
Photo credit: Playground Games

If you want something even lighter, there’s the renamed Forzathon Live. Now called Horizon Arcade in Forza Horizon 5, it offers 12 co-op minigames — for whoever is in the pink circle when it starts. This can include 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 corner of your HUD – to speed up matchmaking. It behaves contextually, so it will try to find players for the events you are close to.

This brings us to the campaign (playable solo or co-op, as before), where most Forza Horizon 5 players will naturally spend their time. The biggest introduction is the new story-driven Expeditions mode – it’s a guided adventure of sorts, as someone will be driving alongside you, flying above you or sitting next to you in your vehicle. Expeditions usually involve driving to a place, such as an active volcano or Aztec ruins. Once you’re there, you can unlock several optional rewards by finding objects of interest, if you’re willing to spend time in the area. You then team up with your non-player character partner who takes you on a wild journey, whether it’s running through a tropical storm or running down the side of an active volcano. It is meant to be the highlight of a region – and unlocks a new festival location in turn.

Plus, you’ll participate in similar events from previous Forza Horizon games. Road racing, dirt racing, street racing and cross-country racing, it’s all here. Given the limited time I’ve had with the game – Microsoft only gave us access earlier this week – I can’t say if there’s more variety in the events. While Forza Horizon 5’s Mexico is the biggest map Playground Games has ever built, you’d expect that to be 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 allows you to insert objects, create a route, set the car class and much more. You can even set all sorts of rules, whether it’s awarding points for achieved goals, changing the car’s torque or gravity to mess with the drivers, or changing the race parameters for an added dose of fun. Once you’ve finished your project, you can use it to name your event, take it for a test run, and then publish it for the community to enjoy.

As part of the user-generated content, the creator of liveries returns in an expanded form in Forza Horizon 5. You can customize your car in more ways than ever before – plus, you can use the game’s new Gift Drops feature (found in the game’s menus) to quickly share what you’ve made with other Forza Horizon 5 players.

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A custom Porsche in Forza Horizon 5
Photo credit: Playground Games

Speaking of customization, the character creator in Forza Horizon 5 is more diverse than ever. In addition to 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 to a limited extent. You can also swap out artificial limbs for any of your character’s four, an important step in depicting people with disabilities.

This aspect is also covered under the hood. Accessibility features in Forza Horizon 5 allow for high-contrast, color-blindness-free UI modes, screen reader narration for the UI, text-to-speech and speech-to-text support for voice chat, and captions in cutscenes and gameplay. You can also adjust moving backgrounds and game speed. Microsoft places great importance on accessibility, including at its major events, and its Xbox games continue in that spirit.

Forza Horizon 5 is a game made for everyone – but, annoyingly, there aren’t many games like it. Need for Speed ​​is the only other franchise I can think of that bothers with open worlds, but the NFS has long since sold out. His new cousin, Dirt, never ventured into that realm. Could that change with EA’s ownership of Codemasters? It’s sticking to the whole route-based thing with its upcoming Grid Legends game, although it does offer more of a narrative. Essentially, there is a lack of competition – which inevitably results in a lack of innovation. Playground Games can deliver an iterative experience and raise money because Forza Horizon 5 is in a world of its own. It’s wonderful, but it’s also sad.


  • mexico looks beautiful
  • Varied regions, better with climate
  • Looks and works great 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 promising
  • Miscellaneous character creator


  • lack of innovation
  • iterative update
  • Horizon Arcade is a success
  • Expedition collectibles are meh

Rating (out of 10): 9

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

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

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

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