Playground Games’ Forza Horizon 5 is the most gorgeous and dynamic game I’ve played on the Xbox Series X by a mile. That said, the beauty of the game isn’t just in the mechanics alone. It’s in how the game loves, respects, and brings Mexico to life. In this Horizon adventure, racers are dropped into lush jungles, ancient ruins, tight street corners, daring heights, and more.
It’s a notably more geographically-diverse setting than the British backdrop of the previous game – I’ll get onto the new game’s map in a minute – and brings back memories of the fondly-remembered Australia, Southern Europe or Colorado locations chosen for previous Horizon titles.
This variety naturally adds to the music festival vibe while coalescing so perfectly into the game’s selection of motorsport challenges. You’ll have your pick of road, dirt, street, sprint, cross country, and drag races to choose from all over the map. These don’t even include Showcases and Expeditions that feature those extravagant scenarios like, yes, racing a train again or literal underground street racing through the tunnels beneath the city of Guanajato.
It’s true that a more engaged way of teaching cultural and historical elements would have been better, but each and every race offers a mountain of replayability. Whether it’s competing against rivals, competing against yourself, or taking part in an event created by another player, it’s easy to get sucked into Forza Horizon 5’s gameplay loop.
On the road, Forza Horizon 5 retains the franchise’s arcade-like feel, though to our fingertips the cars feel more secure and sure-footed on the road. Improvements have been made for wheel users, with the cars easier to control on the limit – and smoke-laden drifts easier to hold for sim-racing novices, including yours truly.
In addition to all of that, custom clubs let you create groups with friends to create the car club of your dreams. Blueprint Events return as the Event Labs feature that lets players set custom remixes of races. Accolades serve as achievements with in-game rewards. There’s also a photo mode I spent way too much time in. You’ll even see the return of online modes like The Eliminator (which I did not get a chance to play yet, but will absolutely be streaming once the servers go live). There’s so much to do in Forza Horizon 5 that, at first glance, it might feel overwhelming.
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