It’s safe to say Microsoft hasn’t had a ton of exclusives on the Xbox Series X. As PlayStation 5 saw games like Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart, Demon Souls, and Returnal spearhead its opening year, Xbox focused more on making Game Pass it’s shining light. While that might be the case, the game is about to be shaken up in a huge way. Halo Infinite is almost upon us, which is more than exciting. However, it is the release of Forza Horizon 5 that has more than levelled the playing field.
To say Playground Games has made something special is an understatement. Forza Horizon 5 is the best racing game of all time. The setting of Mexico is beyond stunning. The selection of cars is by far the biggest yet. The amount of opportunities to race, take part in stunts, and explore a beautiful country are vaster than anything that has come before. While you might be overwhelmed by the amount of things to do, there’s no denying the amount of enjoyment on offer. Guys, this is the future.
Forza Horizon 5: A beautiful world
Mexico is filled with different biomes that span a map 50% larger than that of Forza Horizon 4. Open deserts, dense jungles, bustling towns, farmlands, and sandy beaches fill the environments. There’s such diversity in every area you set foot (or wheel) in. It’s breath-taking. Roads dip down mountains and run through towering trees. Every single area has a sense of wonder. I’ve never seen a game look as detailed or as real as this. The trailers don’t do it justice. Getting behind the wheel and experiencing it for yourself is an honour and a privilege.
The weather system in Forza Horizon 5 is like nothing I’ve seen before. It feels like a living, breathing world. Driving through a sand storm as the grains fly past your car is a unique experience. When the rain falls and you’re in the middle of the storm, it feels remarkable. Mother nature has never felt more realistic in a video game. Even when the sun is out and it’s blazing through the trees or down onto your car, the sight is one to behold.
Forza Horizon 5 boasts over 250 cars, each one expertly designed. Another facet of the delightful visuals is seeing the light bounce of their bodies. The attention to detail is ridiculous. With so many different types of races and challenges, there’s a car for every situation. The Lamborghini Centenario LP 770-4 was my car of choice whenever I was cruising around the sprawling map because it handles brilliantly and can reach some great speeds. Regardless of your favourite, each race, story mission, or challenge will see you get in plenty of different motors, all of which handle differently.
Tons of rewards
Playground Games rewards you around every corner. Levelling up often provides you with a Wheelspin where you unlock cars, credits, horns, and outfits. Completing Accolades also means you’ll be unlocking new stuff along the way. These Accolades are the bread and butter of Forza Horizon 5. They are earned by completing story missions, performing skills in certain cars, finishing different races around the map, nailing speed traps and drift zones, smashing bonus boards, and so much more. By earning Accolades, you can progress in the story and unlock new chapters in one of the six Festivals.
These Festivals follow stories of some of the people you’ll meet along the way. In one mission, I helped a woman reconnect with her Grandad who had passed away. In another, I drove a festival float through Mexico and launched it off a cliff. There’s Luchadores, ancient historical sites, and giant storms that all play into the narrative. Every story mission involves taking a car and either racing it, completing skill challenges, or exploring areas for certain items. There’s always something fun to do. My favourite thing had to be the ride through the jungle at the start of Horizon Wilds. It was intense, invigorating, and showed off just how gorgeous the natural side of Mexico is.
Forza Horizon 5: Driving is a dream
Of course, none of what I’ve talked about would be enjoyable if the driving wasn’t great. Forza Horizon 5 feels incredible. Although there’re so many cars to drive, the handling is so tight that it won’t take long to get to grips when racing or exploring. Whether you’re racing cross country, drifting, or sticking to the roads, driving feels sublime. Mistakes are rectified once again with the rewind button, so you’re never punished for braking too late into a corner or crashing into an unnoticed tree. Playground Games want you to have fun, and it’s at the forefront of everything.
The sense of community is staggering. Ghosts of other cars fill the map. Online challenges are there if you want them through Horizon Open. The ability to build a convoy of friends to race around with is available, meaning those who want to play with others can do at almost every turn. Community challenges are also on offer through Horizon Arcade. Whilst competition is obviously there if you want it, so is the option to just enjoy Forza Horizon 5 with others. You can play on your own and enjoy the many challenges solo. It’s entirely up to you. One of the coolest features is the Gift Drop. Players can leave cars from their garage for other players to find. Mexico is a happy place, and you’ll always find something fun to do, be it alone or with others.
Create, race, have fun
EventLab is back, allowing you to create your own races for others to take part in. You can also design liveries and tune cars in certain ways for others to use. Photo Mode allows you to take some stunning shots of the hundreds of cars across the environment. You can even fly a drone across Mexico to see the world without having to step foot on an accelerator pedal. Seasons is back, meaning you’ll get to experience changes in weather at different times of the year. It’ll make playing Forza Horizon 5 all year round well worth it.
Forza Horizon 5 has it all. Loads of cars to choose from, endless races and challenges, a map ripe for exploration, and magnificent visuals. Whether you want to track down Barn Finds, cruise around and listen to the amazing soundtrack across the various radio stations, or play through the story, Mexico is your oyster. There’s so much content for you to get stuck into that you’ll never be lost for something to do. There’s no doubt I’ve missed something out here, but that’s because there’s far too much to ever mention in one review. My advice? Get this game. You won’t regret it.
Plenty of rewards
Driving is sublime
So many races and challenges
Fun story missions
Heavily populated map