Forza Horizon 5 Review

by Gamingstry

Release Date : 9 November 2021
Developer : Playground Games
Publisher : Xbox Game Studios
Platforms : Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PC

After a preview allowing us to discover Forza Horizon 5, here is finally the full version that allows us to get behind the wheel. Forza Horizon is not the classic series that takes place on the track, but the worthy son that is now doing better than its predecessor. This fifth episode will have to continue to convince a maximum of car lovers, while proving that it’s not just a Mexican sauce reworking of the previous English version. This sauce does excite the taste buds, but maybe it also hides a lot of subtleties…

It’s been three years now since you wore out the tires on the roads of Great Britain and flushed all the extensions. It’s time to get back under the sun with Forza Horizon 5 and what better way to do that than to go to Mexico to get some sunshine? Not much, I must admit. But let’s take a moment to put things into context.

The Horizon series is no longer the little brother of Forza. It has now become the spearhead of the license. While “Motorsport” the seventh in the series was in 2017 and Forza Horizon 4 was released a year later, we’re still waiting for its sequel. Horizon has clearly been favored by Turn 10’s efforts, and we can understand them. If the third episode sold just under four million copies, the fourth one reached ten (as many as the last Zevent, that’s saying something…)! Which simply made it the best-selling game on the Xbox ecosystem.

Caramba es magnifico!

Moderately impressed by the preview made on Xbox series X, this test on PC revealed the full quality of the graphics that FH5 can offer (settings in ultra everywhere). It is simply stunning and full of details. If we can only miss the absence of a big city like Mexico City, the small villages offer a particular charm with a luxury of dynamic details and features! Banners with pennants waving in the wind, tables, and chairs placed at every corner, rich jungle, seaside, or mountains. The unique biotopes provide a different atmosphere each time and highlight your shiny cars.

Well, shiny, but still almost undestroyable. Windshields crack and split, fenders get scratched, performance is degraded if you activate it in the options, but overall, there is still a lot of effort to be made on this side. We are far from what we could expect in 2021 on damage management. That said, you won’t want to destroy these little jewels, but rather admire them from every angle. The level of modeling is incredible overall and gives you a real little automotive encyclopedia.

Forza Horizon 5 pushes you to collect cars, but also to take pictures of them all. There’s nothing new here compared to FH4, but it’s still just as effective. It’s just even more beautiful, thanks to the changes in weather and light management according to the time of day.

The game that makes the rain and the sunshine

We already had a few hints of it with the FH4 extensions, but here, Playground has put a lot of emphasis on some amazing stormy effects. Through some scripted events, you will be brought through various types of weather conditions. With a headset on, you’ll be totally immersed in storms and drowned in water showers.

In addition to the visual effects of light reflection and the glitter of water droplets that move with the physics, the vehicle, whatever it is, is largely influenced by the changes of adherence imposed by the stagnant water on the road. This must be taken into account, or else it will take directions that even the most reckless of modern politicians would not dare to display. To take full advantage of this, it’s best to stay in the exterior view (you’ll find exactly the same suggestions as in FH4), an angle that will also be the most conducive to the long exploration and strolling phases that you’ll undoubtedly do. It’s so beautiful that you’re just riding for the fun of it.

On the other hand, if it’s performance you’re after, you’ll have to get behind the wheel.

Shake the plum tree or stick to the gravel with Forza Horison 5

Behind the wheel, the camera effects are present to simulate the physical effects of your adventures. You lean forward with the passage of fords, you are shaken on the bumps … This view is particularly successful and also highlights the great modeling of the dashboards.

Styled and covered with leather in the supercars, they will be stripped in the big 4×4. Each time the behavior is consistent and you should not expect to make miracles by going off the beaten track with a queen of the tracks. On the other hand, 4x4s will be real soaps on the road. Want to try the middle road? Rallycross is available to you with machines that come close to the WRC. With a garage of more than 500 cars, Forza Horizon 5 has something for almost every taste.

The sensations offered by the license are now well established and Forza Horizon 5 is no exception to this rule. The support settings ensure that you will have something to suit you. From the total arcade game with behavior close to Hotwheels, to the more simulation approach with inertia management, skids, and other wheel locks without ABS. This last choice puts the emphasis on driving, which becomes even more refined and interesting.

My vacation in Mexico

Forza Horizon 5 offers the largest campaign of the series to date. The open-world is substantial, but since players are eternal complainers, we find ourselves wanting to see even more. Since the first Horizon, the map has been constantly expanded.  It’s about time we were able to change countries and even continents while driving! The playground will have the means to do so in 2021!

However, let’s not hide our pleasure. Everything is more easily accessible and even less linear than before (and it was already quite free). Regularly, your Horizon Festival companions encourage you to make choices according to your preferences, but you will always have more events on the menu than you can eat. The so-called Colossus race, for example, is already offered after 4-5 hours of play to give a certain endurance dimension (15 minutes of driving with a machine capable of reaching 350 Km/H).

New features in Forza Horizon 5

On the new side, expeditions divide some trips into phases to find various places before advancing mini-scenarios. It’s a fun way to tour the country and learn more about the region. Just like the barn treasures are also in line with the Mexican automotive history. If you don’t know what to do, the seasonal challenges give you ideas (there are always the four seasons) and motivate you with exclusive bonuses, as well as the Forzathon which is based on the same principles.

Finally, if you really want to get carried away, the ANNA system guides you to nearby activities. All of this with achievement points that reward you and push you to keep driving. These recipes in Forza Horizon 5 aren’t necessarily new, but all the layers of previous versions are present each time with a little extra kick.

10 million drivers

Taking into account previous Horizon sales, you won’t have a hard time finding partners with this Forza Horizon 5. The game pushes you to drive as a community with a number of events that can only be completed if you ride as a team. An equivalent to the ANNA system has arrived to facilitate text dialogues with other players and create multiplayer sessions (convoys of up to 11) easily. This is known as the LINK, which can also be activated with a simple press of the directional cross.

Knowing perfectly well that streaming and video creation are now part of the essential panoply of a game’s success, Playground has even provided a specific mode that deactivates elements that could cause complaints on broadcasting platforms. While this doesn’t guarantee anything, it does limit the risks considerably. You will be able to show off your club’s achievements as they try to climb to the top of the leaderboard.

Forza Horizon 5, and you?

Always in the mood for sharing, an entire tab is now dedicated to the creation and sharing between players. New events, configurations, settings, paintings … To encourage the testing of all these rewards are offered when you succeed in the challenges of other players. Don’t forget to thank them by liking their creations and offering them “Kudos”.

Forza Horizon 5 is like the Russian doll of car games. At each turn, at each menu, there is something new. It evolves in small steps and it’s hard to find flaws in it. Of course, it’s not perfect, there are some bugs and some returns to the desktop on PC. But, even if we wish it to grow a little more, especially on the surface and the distances to cover (seeing what ASOBO did with Flight Simulator, we start dreaming of an equivalent in a car game), we can trust the developer and Xbox Games Studios to add content regularly. You already have enough to spend the long autumn and winter evenings in its company.

Conclusion

Forza Horizon 5 represents the ultimate in the series. It remains strongly based on Horizon’s foundations, keeping some annoying aspects for some (notably the overplayed tone of all the voice-overs), but it only brings up everything that already made the salt of the four previous installments. Beautiful to the point of knocking off bumpers, refined to the point of blowing a fuse, it’s a very beautiful baby. It’s (very) well on its way to becoming a system seller in the Xbox ecosystem and I wouldn’t be surprised if bundles arrive very quickly for the end of the year. Any owner of a device capable of running it should get a taste of it. Roll on youth!

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