Forza Horizon has a new game set in the beautifully diverse country of Mexico so let's see if it does enough to warrant being a sequel.
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It's already been 3 years since the release of Forza Horizon 4; a game that I couldn't put down as I was constantly impressed by its awesome scenery, changing seasons, variety of events, and massive world. Forza Horizon 5 has now been launched for us racing fans to dive into and it definitely doesn't disappoint. For starters, the map is 50% larger than the one in Forza Horizon 4 with an increased assortment of locations to race in such as a desert, jungle, swamp, town, beach, and ruins. Each of these areas is quite distinct in not just their visuals but also weather effects, their affinity to certain types of vehicles, and unique landmarks to enjoy. It's all presented beautifully with great detail such as groups of people hanging out in the city as the sun sets or that you must dodge lightning strikes as you work your way through a tropical storm. v1d30chumz 3-238-199-4
Racing in Forza Horizon 5 feels like it has more meaning due to its ability to naturally weave story into the campaign. It's not rare to watch short scenes where your custom-made character has a chat with a local then they both hop in the car and you drive with them to the next event. Forza Horizon 5 manages to toe the line of making you feel like there's reason behind your obsession with crazy driving while not focusing too much on the story either although I must admit, I let out a couple of chuckles when I heard the announcer mention family on multiple occasions in what seems like an homage to the Fast and Furious movie franchise.
Unlocking events is done a little differently here than in the previous instalment as you slowly unlock tokens to expand on the collection of events. The map is split into areas that have their own little festivals going on such as one focused on stunt driving or another on dirt racing. When you finally get another token to unlock a new festival, a ton of new events appear on the map including at least one focused on a nearby landmark. When you visit a landmark, you can choose to complete challenges, take photos, or find items and this serves as a good excuse to explore and enjoy the hard work put into creating them.
Although there's still no local multiplayer, the online mode is quite seamless and can be toggled via the main menu. When playing online, you'll see other players driving around the map just as in the previous title. When joining an event with online players, the experience remains mostly seamless and avoids bogging you down in menus as it instead has you drive from one location to the next which helps maintain the feeling of realism.
Tour racing is one way to enjoy the online mode as you're presented with a race track that does a great job of taking you through the interesting scenery of a certain area. I was taken aback by some of the tracks and how they painted a picturesque landscape with staggering variety as I raced through while destroying every small tree and bush in sight. The online Arcade mode is a fun way to complete random challenges with other players if you can catch it on the map before it disappears and Event lab also allows you to create your own challenge arenas and upload them for others to enjoy.
The new Elimination mode has you trying to survive against other players as the walls around an area on the map start closing in while you hunt for cars that are dropped by giant drones. I was also challenged a couple of times by another player when in Elimination mode to race to a specific point which I honestly didn't particularly enjoy because I was in finding-and-surviving mode so to be suddenly asked to race felt odd. It was also a little frustrating when I was then eliminated early because I failed the challenge.
Even though there are a lot of events to partake in and tons of variety, I often found myself overwhelmed by the content. For starters, when you boot Forza Horizon 5 up, you're presented with what looks like a menu screen that pops with colour and fails to show the forest for the trees. This same feeling continued as I played and some kind of Xbox or in-game achievement would pop up and I would have no idea what it meant other than "You did a good thing!" The Forza Horizon series could really do a better job of presenting the hierarchy of events and helping you understand the event and award structure better or simplify them into easily digestible systems.
I played Forza Horizon 5 on Xbox One X and my main gripe with it is regarding performance. I'm sure it runs much better on Xbox Series X but as I played, the ground sometimes disappeared below me, there were sudden pauses in the middle of a race, and the same goes for the audio which stuttered on occasion. It even crashed once and got completely stuck while fast-travelling during an online race. Other online performance issues include waiting a very long time for a race to start and constantly having problems even trying to get online when I know I have a very good internet connection. Keep in mind, I mostly played Forza Horizon 5 before its official launch so I hope that a lot of these issues either have been or will be resolved in a patch.
Forza Horizon 5 introduces a larger, more varied map with even more weather effects and interesting challenges. The same enjoyable gameplay hasn't lost its momentum and there's enough to do that will keep you hooked for hours on end.
- + Huge map with awesome variety of scenery and stunning visuals
- + Nifty story integration with racing
- + Has new interesting event types
- - Slight occasional performance and online issues while played on Xbox One
- - The way content is presented can be overwhelming as it's quite unorganized