Turn 10 Studios and Microsoft Games have built a good reputation on the back of Power franchise with seven Forza Motorsport releases and now the fifth Forza Horizon game. For me, the Horizon franchise has always delivered a great experience – some a little more amazing than others – by bringing a high level of fun, accessibility and longevity to the world. Turn 10 Studios seeks to keep this trend going Forza Horizon 5.
Although expectations are high, the chances of hitting a high note five releases in a row is a difficult task for any developer. What makes this goal even harder is the fact that the Horizon story never really differs from one iteration to another. Sure, locations, characters, and vehicles change, but the path it asks the user for is relatively similar.
With all that said, let’s get into my Forza Horizon 5 review and see if Turn 10 was able to work its magic once more.
What I like – Forza Horizon 5 review
So what happens when you take the same style of racing, drifting, off-roading and alternative travel and continue to use the same foundation from one version of a game to the next? For developers who understand how to continuously add features, fine-tune styles and refine the control scheme, it can work wonderfully, and that’s how it plays out in Forza Horizon 5.
If you’ve been playing this series from the beginning, as I have, the control system feels comfortable and reliable. At its heart, the Horizon series is a sim cade that leans heavily into the arcade aspect.
Once you understand how different cars react to different environments in Power series, you can start customizing your driving style and car upgrades to match the current challenge. Forza Horizon 5 sticks to this recipe and adds a splash of this and a sprinkle of it. In short, driving and racing feel as good as they have ever done.
If you are new to the series, you will learn it Forza Horizon 5 requires you to always be in control in these crazy and chaotic moments, and sometimes it’s easier said than done.
The series continues with the idea that there is not only minimum and maximum, but rather a real nuance to the control system. It asks you to understand how to “spring” both brakes and accelerators, often at the same time to optimally navigate the current road in front of you.
Forza Horizon 5 throws so many different locations after you that it’s a difficult task to master them all, but half the fun is figuring out how to have complete control while being completely out of control.
Location, Location, Location
With Forza Horizon 5, some of the funniest things come from being saturated in culture, no matter where the latest iteration takes us. In this case, we are in the heart of Mexico, and the definition of “heart” changes from race to race.
One race you experience as you travel with heartbreaking wildness through the jungles of Mexico, the next you drive a street race in the heart of the city or navigate ancient ruins. If that’s not enough, how about crossing mountains and mountain slopes filled with obstacles that can instantly change your race.
Forza Horizon 5 delivers a massive, open world map that covers miles and miles of changing landscapes, and each region feels vastly different from the others. The one thing that never changes Forza Horizon 5 Regardless of the location, however, the breathtaking scenery and graphics are so real that I can almost feel the sweat dripping from my forehead from the jungle’s humidity and persistent sunbeams.
What Turn 10 studios have created here is a playground for us that is nothing short of spectacular. From the lush greenery of the forest or jungle to the neon lights of the city night, the transformation from one region to the next is felt alive and vibrant.
Ultimately locations in Forza Horizon 5 are places and locations that I want to live, play at or at least vacation in (provided all cars come with the vacation package). It’s an interactive vacation that I’m going to take every time I start the game.
Although the story is short and sweet – and may not contain the depth that many are used to from this series – it is told in a way and unfolds in a way that does just enough. The story here is not the words of an AI character, a mission you have accomplished, and it has nothing to do with the number of cars you collect.
No, the real story does not unfold in words, but in the environment itself. Forza Horizon 5 offers the ability to get lost for hours at a time while delivering an experience that feels like it unfolds in a matter of minutes. That level of immersion is very rare, but for Forza Horizon 5 it is very real.
Forza Horizon 5 offers hundreds and hundreds of vehicles. And like previous versions of this series, the wide range of choices and options when it comes to car choices is almost overwhelming to try to consume.
To add to the impressive number of vehicles available is the level of meticulous detail that has gone into each and every car.
The vehicles have always looked incredibly impressive in Horizon, but now backed by the power of the Series X, it’s a brand new game. It’s one that made me constantly pause to look at every single incredible digital rendering, and it bumbled me as I ruined the aesthetics in a spectacular crash.
It’s not just about looks either, and as I mentioned in the “controls” section of this review, it’s the handling and how each car responds so differently to varying surfaces that adds even more here.
The combination of all the locations and vehicles is something that just works so well and the combination made my experience play Forza Horizon 5 and extremely addictive. Even now after writing all this, it still feels as if I am underestimating the impact of the experience.
With Forza Horizon 5, it finally feels like the developers have given me enough freedom to play the series the way I want. Now, for those who are familiar with this series and would consider themselves veterans of Forza Horizon series, you can feel that this series has always done that – and in a way you would not be mistaken.
Either way, my favorite aspect of Forza Horizon 5 is the simplicity with which everything is delivered to me in my time, in my way, and it is me who dictates how it unfolds.
Since I’m completely transparent, I’ve seen complaints about a faint story that lacks any real depth, but for me that’s where the real magic lies in this game. It’s true that character development is a bit delayed, but I was able to digest it in a positive way because it felt like the focus of character development was on me and my enjoyment of this beautiful world.
I find very little enjoyment of predetermined story lines that lead me down a linear path with very little room for my choices in how I want to see scenarios unfold.
Finally, Forza Horizon 5 let me decide how it all goes and do it with sincerity. It seems like such a simple concept, but very few developers know how to do this, or even better, understand how to implement it correctly in a game.
The developers at Turn 10 have reached this aspect, and while some may have wanted a story with more branched depth, I would take the liberty of roaming, the freedom to play, and the freedom to decide over a saturated story every single time.
What I Dislike – Forza Horizon 5 review
There is so much to love with Forza Horizon 5, but as with any game, it’s not perfect. Although the bugs and errors I experienced in the game could accurately be described as rare or occasional, they are still there.
Some of the problems are not new to Forza Horizon series. This includes issues like getting caught in a place where your vehicle cannot escape. This also includes AI drivers who love to fight you for every inch, at least until you pass them, and then they tend to disappear into the night. The injury model also remains extremely forgiving, but for most of us, it’s probably the best.
On other occasions, I saw AI-controlled vehicles hovering above the ground as they passed me on the highway. Now, Forza Horizon always offers an impressive range of vehicles with varying technical capacities, but hovering vehicles should not be part of the hundreds of vehicle options – at least not to my knowledge.
As I mentioned earlier, none of these little glitches or bugs had any real impact on my overall enjoyment of the game, but they are there and you will experience them in some form.
Music my way
Music selection is less of a complaint and more of a request that I had often wished during my many hours devoted to this Forza Horizon 5 review.
There are a number of radio stations in the game that can be changed with a simple left click on the directional keyboard, which is fine. What I often wanted – or wished for and hoped would be implemented in future versions of the Horizon series – was the ability to upload my own music from the hard drive.
Whether it’s the integration of a personal Spotify account or Apple Music or a list of uploaded music that I’ve created on my Xbox itself, the need (or desire) to have access to my own music styles was real. .
The game does an amazing job of allowing the user to crawl behind the wheel and travel thoughtlessly in the world, so I just want my own music as the secondary passenger on these rides.
Of course, most of us can put our headphones in or just have our own playlist play our smartphones. These options all work fine, but having the ability to get it integrated into the game would create another level of enjoyment for me.
Forza Horizon 5 does not make a whole lot of new here with its latest release, but what it does still pushes the series forward, while delivering an experience that can be enjoyed for months to come by people with all skills.
Even with the fifth round, I still love acquiring new vehicles, smashing XP-boards, taking a ride on the wheel, or aggressively bullying a friendly racing avatar. These are not new options, but they are made so well that they still resonate and still deliver fun in waves.
There is an addictive quality and nature to playing Forza Horizon 5, and as before, developers promise to keep adding new content for the foreseeable future. Whether it’s screaming down the highway at breakneck speed or trying to navigate an abandoned ancient site, Forza Horizon 5 feels like an old friend who has come home and has stories to tell.
Forza Horizon 5 is the type of game that connects people both in-game and out, and it’s just as fun to play solo or to play with a group of friends at a party. This game does not require you to be a fan of racing and it does not ask you to be good at driving games. It just asks you to have fun.