Forza Horizon 5 is an absolute dream from top to bottom and the most fun I’ve ever had with a racer.
It’s been an interesting year for AAA, perhaps the most sparse release schedule we’ve ever seen, but even if all the games released this year as intended, Forza Horizon 5 would still be right in contention for Game of the Year. It’s that good.
From the moment you boot up and dive out of a flying plane, zooming across the lush Mexican scenery, testing out four different vehicles before the game even starts proper, a smile starts gradually creeping across your face.
There’s so much satisfaction to be had in cruising, admiring, appreciating, bopping your head to a fantastic setlist as you explore this massive, gorgeous open world.
Forza Horizon has been slowly but surely scratching that Burnout Paradise itch that was void for the longest time, but this time Playground have gone a step further. You can race through sandstorms to snap the perfect picture, compete in Outrun esque time challenges to reach the next checkpoint, and even explore ancient ruins to find hidden secrets and fulfill objectives.
This redefines expectations in just about every way, challenging what it means to be a racing game, rewriting the rules while at the same time offering you best in class handling and showing off the best visuals this generation has seen to date.
The world is full of things to see and do, unique shortcuts to uncover, open roads to blaze through, but Playground Games have even woven a story through all of this, which might just surprise you and certainly adds to their credentials for working on the next Fable.
Forza Horizon 5 mixes things up so well, giving the player something fresh to do at almost every turn, but also leaving it open enough for them to decide how they want to spend their time. You can easily set a waypoint at any of the markers of interest and take to the open roads to move between them, all while driving alongside cars of other players who’ve played beforehand.
As you drive along, you can build up combos in a variety of ways, like driving recklessly on the wrong side of the road or performing an elegant 180. These build up your score and points which can then be spent on points to upgrade your car and your competency behind the wheel.
The game continues to reward the player with the option to spin a roulette wheel to gain a new car or by giving them XP by smashing through a billboard or by encountering a random one-off event like going as fast as you can to beat a speed camera or launch off an impending ledge.
Forza Horizon 5 just feels so dynamic with its offerings and even hopping into races and events is over in seconds as you transition between loading screens. Another example of the amazing processing power underneath the Series X hood.
Speaking of, the attention to details in visuals is breathtaking. I had to stop and stare multiple times just to take in everything I was seeing, and even then it wasn’t anywhere near enough to truly appreciate what Playground have achieved here. And what’s most frightening of all, this is still partially running on last-gen tech. Forza Motorsport 7 is surely going to blow us away even further.
Cars just look ridiculously detailed here, glinting and glistening underneath the warm Mexican weather, and each one is so deftly balanced to suit the road they’re traversing along and the type of vehicle you’re cruising in.
There’s just a stunning selection to choose from and explore in. From Lamborghini to Porsche, and even Halo’s Warthog. You can dive into a stunning retro mini or attempt some hardcore four-wheel drive, which is certainly appropriate for some of the game’s deep and muddier ditches.
Customization is also a massive part of the experience, letting you change the paint of the vehicle, some of its defining features, and even the sound its horn makes. Any game that lets me honk out the theme tune to DOOM has to be in running for Game of the Year!
And just a word on accessibility, as Forza Horizon 5 does an incredible job and is a big trend-setter in this regard with its character customisation, as well as proper subtitling, color blindness options and the upcoming ASL and BSL cinematic support, which is going to be an absolute game-changer. Playground Games have plenty to be proud of with the options available to the player.
I think the thing that really stood out to me about Forza 5, though, is the incredible party atmosphere the game offers. Sure, as a Brit I loved exploring in Forza 4 and I got the whole Horizon Festival vibe they were putting out, but in Mexico they’ve got a step further with grandiose set pieces, confetti, fireworks, flashy cars, and vibrant personalities.
If Forza Horizon 4 was a fun party, then Forza Horizon 5 is a world-class celebration.
No question about it, Playground Games have redefined the genre with Forza Horizon 5. Visually, mechanically, and everything else in-between. This is a remarkable achievement in every sense of the word and a truly incredible video game that’s the most accessible next-gen title to date. When Microsoft talk about how Xbox Game Pass will alter the landscape of the industry and is more than just a selling point for a console, Forza Horizon 5 backs up every word as its flagship title.
+ The most stunning XSX game to date
+ Some of the best accessibility we’ve ever seen
+ An entertaining open world full of things to see and do.
+ Incredible activity and car variety
– Map can sometimes get a bit too busy and overwhelming
Forza Horizon 5 is now available on Xbox and Steam
Played on Xbox Series X
Code Kindly Provided by Microsoft