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Forza Horizon 5 review: A petrolhead’s paradise

Forza Horizon 5 (Image via Playground Games)
Forza Horizon 5 (Image via Playground Games)
SENIOR ANALYST

Playground Games developed Forza Horizon as a spin-off from the Forza Motorsport series earlier created by Turn 10 Studios. The new franchise focuses on casual open-world street racing instead of professional closed-circuit race tracks, making the game stand out from its predecessor.

Forza Horizon 4’s overall success back in 2018 led Playground Games to diversify the series by creating Forza Horizon 5. The latest Forza Horizon game will arrive on Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox Cloud Gaming, Xbox Gamepass, and PC via Steam and Microsoft Store on November 5, 2021.


Forza Horizon 5 review - The roads untravelled

After exploring an open world in Australia and a fictionalized Great Britain, the players are transported to another geolocation for Forza Horizon 5, which is Mexico. The new location setting for Forza Horizon 5 features eleven distinct biomes that have their defining environment and style to represent authentic Mexico in their latest sequel.


Tires aren’t just made for asphalt

The open-world provided with Forza Horizon 5 is the biggest in the entire series so far. Players can choose to travel through the vast open world by driving fast on paved roads or by going off-road with their own fine-tuned cars.

Throughout the map, players are delivered with various race events in these environments, whether off-road, on streets, or on a race track, all of which are pretty enjoyable. The entire map also features multiple side activities for players to enjoy and encourages exploration.

Don't fear the dust storms, enjoy them. (Sreengrab from Forza Horizon 5)
Don't fear the dust storms, enjoy them. (Sreengrab from Forza Horizon 5)

The roads in the game are long and inviting to racers wishing to go fast and burn the rubber on their cars’ wheels. However, there are times when the player might feel to slow down and relish the scenic beauty of this game.

On the other hand, lush jungles or barren deserts give a sense of adventure compared to asphalt-covered roads. Players can customize their vehicles according to the terrains to drive and enjoy the off-road experience of the Forza Horizon 5.

Animals are interesting to look at (Screengrab from Forza Horizon 5)
Animals are interesting to look at (Screengrab from Forza Horizon 5)

The best part about Forza Horizon 5’s environment is how they are brought it to life by bringing in various livestock to fit in the huge topography provided in the game. Also, the fact that these livestock interact with the environment makes the game feel almost real.

The environment has been further enhanced by adding dynamic weather and seasons that affect the entire game visually. The dynamic season feature was first showcased in Forza Horizon 4, and with the new sequel, it improves on its season system with the addition of a weather system that affects the game accordingly. The summer season in Forza Horizon 5 also includes seasonal events to make the game feel more true to life and interactive.

Inside a dust storm (Screengrab from Forza Horizon 5)
Inside a dust storm (Screengrab from Forza Horizon 5)

Moreover, a lot of attention has been put in the environment and lighting of Forza Horizon 5. If players enter a rapidly approaching dust storm, the lighting and vision inside the storm suffer significantly, changing how the game looks and feels.


How many cars does one need?

Every collector’s dream is to obtain as many items as they desire. For car enthusiasts willing to collect cars in the Forza Horizon 5 are up for a treat. The game provides over 500 cars to collect, and all of them have their customization potential.

The game has more than 500 cars to choose from! (Screengrab from Forza Horizon 5)
The game has more than 500 cars to choose from! (Screengrab from Forza Horizon 5)

Famous brand manufacturers have provided cars in Forza Horizon 5 like Nissan, Mercedes-Benz, McLaren, Lamborghini, Ford, Toyota, and many more supercar manufacturing brands.

Open roads and a Mercedes-AMG ONE, that's the plan (Screengrab from Forza Horizon 5)
Open roads and a Mercedes-AMG ONE, that's the plan (Screengrab from Forza Horizon 5)

The intro sequence of Forza Horizon 5 gives the players gives an overall experience of notable cars in a fast and furious method. Featuring cars such as the 2020 Chevrolet Corvette C8 and Mercedes-AMG ONE created a massive hype by displaying not even a percent of the cars in the game.

Forza Horizon 5 also brings excellent attention to detail, even with every vehicle’s interior designs. All the internal parts of automobiles are thoroughly detailed, and every small indicative icon on the viper controls is also present.

Interior of cars are well detailed (Screengrab from Forza Horizon 5)
Interior of cars are well detailed (Screengrab from Forza Horizon 5)

The game manages to give every single car in the game its authentic feel, allowing a profound visual and performance customization. Customization in Forza Horizon is a tad bit complex. However, this complexity is what makes the game stand out.

Every little cosmetic detail like spoilers, roll-cage, and widebody kits affects the car’s performance in certain ways, which increases the game's realism. Even tires, which are merely seen as a cosmetic item, also affect the car's grip on the road.

Tires aren't just for show (Screengrab from Forza Horizon 5)
Tires aren't just for show (Screengrab from Forza Horizon 5)

Paints in Forza Horizon 5 are quite impressive in how the game accurately reflects every color coat type. Along with paints, the decal customization menu is quite feature-rich and allows the player to represent themselves to their heart's content.

Personalization doesn’t end with external items only. The engine, suspension, camshaft, and other internal parts of vehicles can be changed manually or automatically. The manual performance customization menu for veteran car experts is a treat as it shows all the necessary details to make their dream come true.

Prefer a different engine? Engine swapping is a thing in the game (Screengrab from Forza Horizon 5)
Prefer a different engine? Engine swapping is a thing in the game (Screengrab from Forza Horizon 5)

Engine swapping is another feature in Forza Horizon 5 that gives the players more flexibility on how they want their ride. For instance, if anyone chooses to swap their V12 engine with a V8 engine, that is entirely possible in the game. One more great thing about engine swapping in Forza Horizon 5 is that engine sounds change with the changes made to the engine.

Infinite gas, no repairs, and you can drive wherever you want. @ForzaHorizon 5 is like driving in car heaven with cheat codes enabledsee for yourself next week https://t.co/clNpIJEnO3

The uniqueness of Forza Horizon’s customization is genuinely remarkable for sim-racing gaming, which both looks and feels great. With a detailed car customization option, the experience gets a lot better as everyone gets a chance to build their custom vehicle, which defines their style.


The eventful world of Forza Horizon 5

Forza Horizon 5 welcomes its players with open arms to all race festivals around the Mexico-based imaginary map. The flashy look of the main festival in Forza Horizon 5 is truly something that ignites the adrenaline junkie spirit of players by hosting exciting and unique events all around the area.

The main festival starting ceremony (Screengrab from Forza Horizon 5)
The main festival starting ceremony (Screengrab from Forza Horizon 5)

Upon completing the first chapter, players are further introduced to more festivals, each featuring their style of events selection to fit a certain region of the map. For instance, the Horizon Wilds event is hugely focused on dirt racing, while the Horizon Street Scene event is all about street racing in the world of Forza Horizon 5.

Every festival is meant for different racing events (Screengrab from Forza Horizon 5)
Every festival is meant for different racing events (Screengrab from Forza Horizon 5)

In Forza Horizon 5, players have complete freedom to participate in all of the events around the map and immerse themselves in the festive atmosphere of Mexico.

The game does a great job at bringing the feel of an ongoing festival where the people celebrate racing. Every single festival around the map has its outposts with big stages and crowds celebrating those events.

The players can host custom events through these sceneries with the help of the new EventLab feature and host custom races, challenges, stunts, and completely new game modes in Forza Horizon 5.


The aesthetics and music of Mexico

Music plays a massive role in Forza Horizon 5, as it sets the festive mood throughout the game. Radio channels are pretty groovy in the game and have a mix of both copyrighted and non-copyrighted music.

To travel across the map, the game has multiple in-game radio channels that have their own set of music genre and makes traveling through Mexico fun.

To make things easier for streamers, Forza Horizon 5 also has a dedicated streamer mode. This allows players to stream their gameplay without any hassle.

Going fast is the true way of feeling roads (Screengrab from Forza Horizon 5)
Going fast is the true way of feeling roads (Screengrab from Forza Horizon 5)

The atmosphere of festive Mexico is bright and joyful in the daytime, while nights are as calm as deserts could be. The skies and environment are very pleasing to the eye and look great every time.

The small town of Guanajuato is colorful with pastel-shaded buildings and stone brick laid streets which all look lovely in the nighttime. On the other hand, the greenery of San Sebastian on the map's south side is mind-refreshing due to its lush and green jungle. Apart from specific locations, the entire world of Forza Horizon 5 is full of different flora and fauna, which visually strikes the eyes when traversing through.

The game's beautiful sceneries and smoky tires is the perfect combo (Screengrab from Forza Horizon 5)
The game's beautiful sceneries and smoky tires is the perfect combo (Screengrab from Forza Horizon 5)

To capture the beautiful world of Forza Horizon 5, the in-game photo mode is excellent at taking close to photoreal pictures of vehicles by simulating various photographic tools like shutter speed, exposure, and focus outstandingly. Anyone who doesn’t know much about photography can also take great-looking screenshots in Forza Horizon 5, thanks to the rendering algorithm behind their photo mode.

The photomode in the game never fails to amaze (Screengrab from Forza Horizon 5)
The photomode in the game never fails to amaze (Screengrab from Forza Horizon 5)

Apart from technical things, Forza Horizon 5’s diverse environment is always photo-ready and yields clean-looking photos every time anyone takes a picture. This is probably one of the biggest reasons it is addictive to take photographs in Forza Horizon 5.


The performance

The review copy of Forza Horizon 5 provided by Playground Games and Xbox was tested on PC via Steam.

The benchmark results (Screengrab from Forza Horizon 5)
The benchmark results (Screengrab from Forza Horizon 5)

The PC configuration and framerates are as follows:

  • CPU: Ryzen 5 3600
  • GPU: RTX 2060 Super
  • RAM: 16 GB
  • Preset: Ultra + Raytracing ON
  • Framerates: 70-90 on average

The optimization for Forza Horizon 5 has been done flawlessly and easily gives more than 60 frames per second on ultra with ray-tracing on at 1080p without any stuttering when played on an optimal system with RTX 2060 Super.


The conclusion

Forza Horizon 5 review (Image via Sportskeeda)
Forza Horizon 5 review (Image via Sportskeeda)

Forza Horizon 5 has completely set new bars on racing games by bringing a huge open world to explore and over 500 vehicles to travel it with. The weather system seems natural and aesthetic when looked at. The car customization is thoroughly detailed and influences cars when a change is made.

Overall speaking, the Forza franchise has come a long way and has been innovating for a long time. With Forza Horizon 5, Playground Games took the franchise to the next level and created another racing game milestone.


Forza Horizon 5

Reviewed on: Steam (Review code provided by Microsoft/Xbox)

Platform: Xbox Game Pass for PC and Ultimate (Day one), Windows 10/11 PC, Steam, Xbox Cloud Gaming (Beta)

Developers: Playground Games & Turn 10 Studios

Publisher: Xbox Game Studios

Release Date: November 5, 2021


Edited by Yasho Amonkar
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