Since the start of the spin-off series, Forza Horizon’s accessible and exciting racing action has appealed to a wide audience. Forza Horizon 5 continues this tradition of delivering great driving mechanics in a beautiful destination, this time taking players to Mexico for one of the best, most comprehensive racing games I’ve ever played.
Driving through Mexico in Forza Horizon 5 is a pleasure thanks to the excellent, dynamic driving mechanics that take into account the terrain, weather and handling of the more than 500 vehicles you drive. Forza Horizon 5 aptly demonstrates this through an incredible opening sequence, in which several cars fall from planes and land in disparate biomes of sandstorms, winding rivers and wide-open straights, all set to music. However, Horizon continues to hammer away at both the differences in controls and excellent mechanics the longer you cruise the world.
The speed feeling of Forza Horizon 5 is unbelievable. Whether you’re tactfully navigating an off-road course in the lush rainforests or screaming down a desert highway, the difference between staying on the road and running away in the brush is wafer-thin. Forza Horizon 5 excels at delivering diverse courses that offer you unique challenges ranging from traditional races to courses with objectives. The Drivatar system – which replicates your friends’ tendencies using AI racers – is now a mainstay of the series, but I loved developing rivalries with specific friends even though I wasn’t racing them in real time.
Playground Games’ lovingly crafted interpretation of Mexico and its 11 different biomes delivers some of the most stunning visuals I’ve ever seen in a video game. This open world is home to a venerable plethora of activities available to players, which is amazing – if not a little overwhelming. It is sometimes challenging to find some of the events I wanted given the number of activity icons on the map. Fortunately, you can apply map filters or ask your car’s AI to set your navigation to nearby events that you enjoy. However, that didn’t stop me from being distracted by the many events on offer along my route.
When you get tired of participating in standard racing activities, you can take part in Barn Finds, where you search for and rescue classic cars rotting in barns in the countryside. Meanwhile, stories help your characters through car-based missions. I loved hunting and completing those mission types, but the open world also offers a lot of fast, fun activities, like seeing how fast you can go through a speed trap, how far you can launch off a ramp, or how much you can go through marked drift zones to slide. These are fun ways to gain experience and accolades to upgrade your driver and vehicles with new perks, but my favorite part of these random world activities is how they instantly compare to your friends. More times than I could count, I noticed my friend reaching a higher top speed, which made me turn around and try the challenge again.
While exploring Mexico, you may also come across online events. These public activities allow you to work seamlessly with other players to achieve a common goal, such as building a certain distance from a jump or drifting and destroying piñatas in an area. You can even participate in a Battle Royale style Eliminator mode where you challenge other players in the session, take them out of the competition, take their car and try to be the last player standing. These are fun distractions, but my favorite online activities are creating a convoy of players, driving around the world, and participating in events together.
All of these activities culminate in Expeditions, unique campaign sequences based on set pieces that deliver some of the most memorable events in the game. From driving up a rocky volcano with raw music blaring over the stereo to dashing through an off-road track against some monster trucks, the expeditions and subsequent story missions are the moments that have stayed with me the longest.
If Forza’s many developer-created events aren’t enough, players can also create and share activities with EventLab. This tool makes it as easy as driving the route you want to take, placing checkpoints at the touch of a button and composing a name, description and ruleset. I enjoyed sharing these creations because they appear alongside developer-created activities in other players’ games, giving them the opportunity to test their skills in your designs.
At every turn, Forza Horizon 5 impresses in ways few games have. From the first kilometer I was on the edge of my seat. With so much to do in such an unforgivingly beautiful world, I suspect it won’t be long before I get the itch to jump back into the driver’s seat of my favorite car. Even in the midst of a competitive racing field, Forza Horizon 5 is a finely tuned supercar.