If I was asked about the best car game right now, I wouldn’t hesitate, even for a moment, to answer Forza Horizon. The series started as a part of Forza Motorsport, but it has evolved a lot since the first game, and while some might point out that there are more pure and realistic driving simulation games out there, it doesn’t have half of what Forza Horizon has to offer. Nine years after the first game was released, and now with Forza Horizon 5 on hand, the concept remains as captivating as it has been since day one. The possibility of picking up any car between almost five hundred and simply driving on the road without restrictions, accompanied only by the radio and the roar of the engine (or not, since there are now electric cars too) is an incredible feeling for anyone. He really loves to drive.
After four extraordinary games, Forza Horizon 5 is the culmination of all the knowledge that Playground Games have gained during that time. While Forza Horizon 4 Even introducing relevant new features like Seasons and fun multiplayer modes like Eliminator and Horizon Arcade, this new chapter focuses more on smoothing the edges than introducing new things. To be fair, it’s hard to think of more things to add to the Forza Horizon experience, the fourth game was already very complete and rich in content. Therefore, the main new features of Forza Horizon 5 are the map – this time the festival went to Mexico – and the ultra-realistic graphics. There are other small tweaks here and there, but overall, the feel you get is pretty much in line with the previous game.
Goodbye UK, hello Mexico. Forza Horizon 5 brings the race back to the sweltering heat. From the sandy deserts of Baja California to the azure beaches of blue waters, Mexico is filled with stunning vistas and views. Want more drama than climbing winding roads and ending up at the top of an active volcano? The combination of landscapes of diverse beauty fits in beautifully with the diverse vehicles we can drive, ranging from trucks, pickups, supercars, hot hatches, classics and many types of off-road vehicles. No driving game has such quality and variety, not to forget the ridiculous amount of possibilities for mechanical and visual customization. It really is a paradise for car enthusiasts.
Despite the new location, Forza Horizon Festival progression has a similar template. Participate in races of all kinds, earn points, complete objectives, and expand the festival to new territories, which in turn unlock more races, championships, speed cameras, drift sections, etc. All content is integrated into Horizon Adventure, a kind of campaign mode. The amount of things that need to be done quickly becomes overwhelming in a good way. No matter where you are on the map, you’ll always find something nearby that you haven’t done yet. The rewards don’t stop falling either, you always feel rewarded.
New in Forza Horizon 5 is how the festival is expanding. In the so-called Expeditions, you have to travel to the place where the expansion will take place, and as an option, you have to complete a series of secondary objectives. Frankly, these secondary goals don’t make much sense and stray too far from the primary experience. Secondary goals are to take pictures of specific objects in that location, find specific objects, destroy objects, or more specifically, plant wireless antennas. When I completed these goals, I didn’t feel like I was having fun, unlike all the other content. It really looks like Playground Games ran out of ideas and wanted to do something new aggressively. Although these objectives are optional, they give you points to unlock the next chapter of the festival, so you’ll always feel obligated to complete them. Anyway, these sections are only a small part of the game.
The seasons are back
Mexico has a tropical climate, so do not expect such dramatic changes in the weather as in the United Kingdom. There are basically four seasons, but don’t expect to find snow. There is a rainy season, a stormy season, a hot season, and finally a dry season. In practice, expect huge sandstorms that shorten the field of view and tropical storms of rain and strong winds accompanied by thunder. Each season, lasting a few days in game time, is also accompanied by temporary challenges to complete rewards and exclusives. It’s a game that is able to keep you entertained for months, even if you play regularly. In theory, the contents are infinite, considering that a community can create their own events using EventLabs (the evolution of the Blueprints system).
Visually, it’s the first Forza Horizon game designed for a new generation of hardware, and it shows. Forza Horizon 5 does not take any advantage from the previous games, it is distinguished by its realistic image. Playground games have simply taken it to the next level, using complex development techniques to create a real atmosphere like the ones you see now if you look out the window. But for me, the most impressive thing is the textured soil. By pictorial analogy you have a tangible texture, you can feel the material just by looking at it. It’s an impressive game, whether you’re standing around enjoying the scenery or traveling along roads at over 300 km/h. The advanced lighting system, along with the biggest map ever in the series, makes you never get bored of looking at the game. There is always something new to look at or a new background to take pictures of.
With the steering wheel, driving rises to another level
In a way, this is true for any driving game, but the difference is really bad. I started playing Forza Horizon 5 Commando, but the next day I built a Thrustmaster T300 GT Edition. Playground Games has implemented many improvements in the physics system, especially in braking and in the grip of the car on the road. Responsible, frankly, you can not tell. At the wheel, the story is different. By adjusting the difficulty level, you can have a driving experience that is closer to the simulation. Feel it all! The differences in the tread, the instability of the car at high speed, the mood of each car, the agility in cornering. All this is present in the console, but in a much smaller amount. In other words, the most significant improvements in terms of gameplay are for users using the steering wheel and pedals.
For car lovers, the new collectible screen is even more attractive. Playground Games made the equivalent of a passbook, just using cars of different brands. Each brand has its own row and there are incentives to fill everything, i.e. unlock extremely rare cars for each brand. Of all the small improvements made in Forza Horizon 5, this is one of my favorites. There is also a section dedicated exclusively to stones that work in a similar way. Doing a few achievements unlocks rewards, from ready-made Forza Link phrases to new cars. In general, the game looks more organized, that is, it is easier for you to keep track of what you have done and what you need to do.
“You get a more simulated driving experience. You feel it all! The differences in the surface, the instability of the car at high speed, the mood of each car, the agility of the turns”
Forza Link, if you’re wondering what it is, works like a smart matchmaking system. This system can be quickly activated on the D-Pad at any time and find players with similar stats to yours to play together. It will probably be a way for you to make friends to play Forza Horizon without having to leave the game. And while we’re talking about improvements, one thing that could have been improved and didn’t are Drivatars. Once the race starts, most cars pass you by inexplicably fast. Otherwise, the cars in front of you are very fast until you reach a certain point in the race where they seem to slow down to let you pass. I understand there is a need to create a challenge, but the system seems overly artificial.
Car lovers paradise
Forza Horizon 5 is the perfect haven for car lovers. The previous games were already there, but this new chapter has managed to go a little further. With five games over nine years, the Playground games format is seen to be at its peak or very close, with no room for major improvements as in the previous chapters. It’s a testament to the excellent and surreal work this studio has done, but for anyone who’s played Forza Horizon 4, the experience can quickly become familiar despite all the small improvements that have been introduced.
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