Release Date November 9th, 2021
Genre Racing
Platforms PC/XBX/XBS/XBO
Developer Playground Games
Price $59.99 US
ESRB Rating Everyone
Players 1-12 Players

 

*A copy of this game was provided to FYIG by Xbox for review purposes*

I have been a huge fan of the Forza Horizon series ever since I played the first game back in 2012. It’s crazy to think this series will be 10 years old next year, it feels like just yesterday that I was driving around Colorado in the first Horizon Festival. Playground Games has consistently delivered with every new game that they have put out since then. That hasn’t changed with the release of Forza Horizon 5. Mexico is your playground and there is never a shortage of things to do and sights to see. 

Forza Horizon 5 Review
The dust storm is really cool to drive through.

The visual upgrades in Forza Horizon 5 are very pronounced as the lighting, tire smoke, and dust effects are better than they’ve ever been. It makes doing donuts in the middle of the road that much more satisfying as the smoke just engulfs the car. Similarly, driving through dust storms feels pretty perilous as it can be seen from miles away. The lighting is equally as incredible and nowhere is that more noticeable than racing at night and seeing the neon of the festivals or the way the sunlight hits a metallic paint job. It looks so much more lifelike than ever before. There are hundreds of new custom parts, performance mods, and rims that allow you to put more character into your vehicles than ever before. 

Mexico itself is such a diverse setting that really gives you a little bit of everything as you’ll see sandy beaches, dry deserts with dust storms, tight cobblestone city areas perfect for street racing, lush marshy forest areas, farmland, a soccer stadium, and even a volcano. It’s not an exact recreation or anything but it really gives you the best parts of Mexico all meshed into one cool open world. The Gran Caldera Volcano is the highest point in the Horizon series to date and it’s incredible to get to the top and look at how far the draw distance is from that point. You can see practically the entire map up there and it’s amazing to just perch your car at the edge to look at and see the ocean in the distance. 

Forza Horizon 5 Review
The volcano is an amazing vantage point.

Forza Horizon 5 features over 500 cars easily eclipsing the rival racing games on the market. There aren’t a boatload of brand new cars to the series but the new performance and visual upgrades make sure that each car can feel fresh even if you’ve used it in previous games. There are also higher resolution liveries available but you still can’t place them on glass. The game shines in 4K/30FPS quality mode or 4K/60FPS performance mode. I played it on both and the frame rate was solid in both. I chose quality mode although I will say it was hard to notice the differences without really analyzing them to spot them. It looks gorgeous no matter how you play.

The cars feel better than ever before in Horizon 5 to me. The physics and the handling feel very lifelike and each car feels very different from the next one. I noticed a big difference in how the off-road races feel, it just felt more authentic and required a bit more precision than in previous games. I feel like Playground is really hitting their stride on making the cars react properly with every type of terrain. The audio has even been revamped and most of the cars in the game sound much more distinct. You can even hear the changes in real-time as you rev your engine when swapping out performance parts. It’s a pretty awesome little addition for the true car buffs out there. 

Forza Horizon 5 Review
Dirty Purple Porsche.

I really appreciated how the main career mode unfolds gradually as you gain Accolade points to build new Horizon Festival outposts. These points are awarded for achieving major and minor goals all around the map. They’re reminiscent of the brick challenges in the LEGO expansion in Horizon 4. I found that I earned a lot of points simply by messing around all over Mexico and before I knew it I was ready for the next outpost. Once you’re ready for the next outpost there are expeditions that see you driving to a certain area to build the next outpost. Some even have optional challenges that will gain you some cosmetic items and other rewards. My favorites were the ride to the top of the volcano and the drive through a thunderstorm as lightning strikes all around you. 

The Festival Playlist and seasons return with new activities available every week. The Eliminator returns with Horizon’s take on battle royale racing. Super 7 Challenges are also back allowing players to create their own stunts and challenges for other players. PVP modes are no longer hampered by players who just want to grief others when they’re not winning. Forzathon Live has turned into Horizon Arcade which give you a greater variety of co-op events where players are all trying to achieve a common goal. These are still a lot of fun unless the event goes the full 10 minutes where it can become a bit repetitive. Story challenges, barn finds, and bonus boards remain largely unchanged. There is a cool feature where you can gift cars to other players now. 

Forza Horizon 5 Review
The co-op racing is one of my favorite things to do in Horizon 5.

I really enjoyed the co-op racing with my friend as we battled a bunch of other AI cars. It’s a fun way to race together that is unrivaled in other racing games. We had a ton of fun just driving around to the point that we’d race maybe 3 races in the 3 hours as we’d get lost in the Horizon 5 game world and upgrading our extensive garages full of cars. It says a lot for a game to be fun to play with other people while you’re both doing other things and Forza Horizon 5 is. It’s great to just jump in a convoy and travel all around the map. 

Forza Horizon 5 is the best racing game I’ve ever played. It’s Playground Games at their very best giving you a bunch of different ways to enjoy Mexico in hundreds of different cars that you can customize almost any way you want. I played this game for 7 hours the first time I jumped into it because I just couldn’t put it down. You’re consistently rewarded for everything you do and everywhere you go. It’s a world full of activities and yet it never feels daunting. It’s always a relaxing, fun experience driving down the roads of Mexico with good music, good friends, and fast cars. What more could you want?

Pros Cons
Mexico is a diverse, beautiful map  
So. Much. Content.  
Accolade points give you something to constantly strive for  

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