Forza Horizon 5 Xbox Series X Review. A Sophisticated Open-World Racing Experience

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It has been several years since a new entry in the “Forza Horizon” or “Forza Motorsport” franchise was released. The previous title, “Forza Horizon 4,” was released in 2018 and allowed players to explore the United Kingdom. The title featured several improvements, including seasonal changes and more diverse environments, all of which were incorporated into 2021’s “Forza Horizon 5.”

The latest title builds on the successful foundation of the previous title but also offers a deeper insight into Mexican culture and the country’s diverse biome, as well as significant graphical enhancements. But is “Forza Horizon 5” sufficiently differentiated from its predecessors? Read on to find out the answer to that question.

If you have owned an Xbox 360, Xbox One, or Xbox Series X|S, or played any of the games on PC, you are probably familiar with the “Forza Horizon” formula. But if not, you should know that “Forza Horizon 5” is an open-world racing game set in Mexico. You can drive anywhere from active volcanoes to dense jungles and participate in races and other events in various biomes.

While you can travel around the country in any car, building a car collection is another great game feature: collecting more than 500 cars, but you should have a few of the most highly recommended cars. For example, using an Aston Martin DB11 on a muddy riverbed is probably not a good idea. An all-wheel-drive car, such as a Ford Bronco, would be better, and in Forza Horizon 5, choosing the right car for the environment, and therefore for racing, plays an important role. Driving in the rain can be much more slippery than on sunny days. You need to factor in the weather conditions and be prepared.

In this game, cars can be purchased with credits, unlocked with wheel spins (like Wheel of Fortune, but with cars, credits, or found in barns), and acquired in various ways.

Exploration

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As you drive and level up in Mexico, you can participate in new races, objective-based missions, and showcase events. Races range from traversing the map to laps around the circuit. They are very standard races. The objective missions seem somewhat unrealistic, but they offer some compelling reasons, such as exploring an active volcano to measure seismic activity or recovering the organizer’s belongings at an abandoned airfield. It seems to me that trained professionals should set up equipment near volcanoes. Also, why would the organizer’s belongings be scattered on an abandoned airfield with a crashed plane, a Fast & Furious type situation?

Finally, the showcase event is the most spectacular because it is essentially a “Top Gear”-like a set piece. A lot is going on, including racing airplanes to the finish line. Showcase events are rare because they are large races that reward you for participating in many events in a particular biome.

Forza Horizon 5 also includes the purchase of a house as a starting point, the construction of an outpost that extends the scope of the fictional “Horizon Festival” car event at the heart of the “Forza Horizon” series, and the discovery of collectibles that unlock fast travel points and grant XP, among other A variety of mechanics, are available. My favorite, however, is the “barn search.”

The “barn hunt” in Forza Horizon 5 tells a personal story highlighting Mexican culture. For example, early in the game, you are tasked with retrieving a Volkswagen Vettel that belonged to one of the organizer’s grandfathers. Then, during a short drive to explore the place, we are introduced to various interesting aspects of the family’s life in this country. In my opinion, this personal touch sets this game apart from its predecessors, and I hope Playground Games develops this further in future franchise installments.

The map in Forza Horizon 5 is 1.5 times larger than in Forza Horizon 4, but I don’t see a huge difference. The striking contrast between the various regions makes it different from “Forza Horizon 3,” which also featured various regions of Australia. Of course, there are cities and deserts, but you can also explore ancient Mayan ruins and gorgeous beaches. The diversity of this snapshot of Mexico is truly breathtaking, as each section feels very distinct.

Graphics and performance

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How “Forza Horizon 5” unfolds is also up to you. At this point, you are the professional of the Horizon festival, and it is up to you to decide where to go next. This title offers you choices to customize your experience. For example, let’s say you want to see a ruin instead of an active volcano. You can do that. If you want, you can unlock more events in the area you’re currently exploring, giving you even more freedom in Forza Horizon 5 to play the game the way you want. With the right vehicle, you cannot only drive anywhere but also mold the game to your liking.

Forza Horizon 5 is truly stunning on the Xbox Series X, especially when it rains and the cars get progressively dirtier. The game has two modes, Performance and Quality, and surprisingly, both target 4K resolution on Microsoft’s latest console. Load times are around 1 to 2 seconds. During our analysis, we found that the Quality mode fixes the frame rate at 30 frames per second (FPS) but offers better lighting and rendering distance than the Performance option.

In Performance mode, the frame rate increases to 60 FPS, as expected, but the lighting, drawing distance, and even some textures are degraded, resulting in a noticeable deterioration in image quality. At 60 FPS, however, “Forza Horizon 5” feels much smoother, as input lag is greatly reduced. In multiplayer racing, split-second decisions are the key to victory, so competitive players may want to stick with this mode.

After 38 hours of play, there were no noticeable FPS drops or bugs in Quality mode, but there was a slight slowdown at the start of multiplayer races in Performance mode. Switching between Quality and Performance modes requires a “Forza Horizon 5” restart. The following table shows how the game performed on various devices.

Since Forza Horizon 5 is an arcade racing game, I spent most of my time playing it in the Quality setting, and even at 30 FPS, it stands out as a very responsive title when viewed on a 4K display. I’m a stickler for the best resolution and graphics settings, so that’s how I chose to experience Forza Horizon 5. But it’s up to you to decide what your priorities are.

Unfortunately, ray tracing is not used to render the vast open world of Forza Horizon 5. Nevertheless, you can taste it in Forzavista, where you can examine each vehicle and see it in greater detail. Think of it as a garage, and a photo studio all rolled into one. The lighting and reflections are phenomenal, and I wish ray tracing had been introduced into the actual game in some form.

It is unclear why ray tracing would be done during the race. If we add little ray tracing to some areas, as in “Resident Evil 7: Resident Evil,” or low-resolution ray tracing to the entire open world, as in “Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales” in “PlayStation 5. It would have been a truly next-generation leap forward in terms of visuals.

Multiplayer

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Forza Horizon 5 is an engaging experience and a huge step forward in capturing the essence of the graphics and locations, but so is Forza Horizon 4. I think the game needs to do more to highlight the country’s culture. Even if it’s not a next-gen leap in the strictest sense of the word, I think it’s a direction that this franchise should adopt going forward.

In addition to the base game, Forza Horizon 5 features several powerful multiplayer modes. Race against other players or participate in cooperative play; participate in various mini-games such as breaking objects and jumping over cars in Horizon Arcade; compete in low-stage matches such as Horizon Open to see who can drift the longest; and The band can also participate in low-stage competitions, such as who can drift the longest in Horizon Open.

On the other hand, Horizon Tour lets you team up with other players and race against Drivatar, a computer-controlled car that learns other players’ behaviors. My favorite mode is probably Horizon Open, called The Eliminator, because it offers a battle royale experience; it reappeared in Forza Horizon 4 and allowed players to compete in an ever-shrinking arena with other players in a series of races until one champion remains. Race.

EventLab

Forza Horizon 5 will feature a new EventLab level creator, allowing players to build their races and modify the basic rules for each piece. For example, circuit races with various objects can be cooperative instead of competitive. One person’s victory becomes the victory of the entire team. This way, everyone can cooperate, strategize, and talk to each other instead of trying alone.

While the multiplayer mode is fun, I prefer to play in single-player (called Horizon Solo in “Forza Horizon 5”). I don’t have to wait for the party leader to start an event, and there is no pressure to do well in a multiplayer race. I’m the type who likes to run through the woods, destroying objects and earning the title of “Ultimate Wreckage” rather than just driving down the road. Fortunately, the game tolerates both styles of play.

Choosing an EventLab is simple: Go to a current event in Forza Horizon 5 and press the X button. Then press the left bumper to bring up the EventLabs menu, where you can browse existing creations from the community or create your own. There are already a lot of incredibly complex levels, and playing them will have your car bouncing around jump pads and through narrow streets. It reminded me of the difficulty of Super Mario Maker 2.

If you want to create your race or obstacle course, you first choose the type of car you want to use and the type of course. It can be anything from a muscle car to a vintage car. Next, you can name your creation, add a description, choose the weather, and more. You can even change the music in the game, so there are plenty of options to play with. Fortunately, a helpful tutorial is available that explains each setting in detail.

EventLab is one of the most important additions to Forza Horizon 5 and should be fun for those who like to experiment in Halo Forge or Minecraft’s Creative mode. You can create anything from drivable spiral courses to jumping puzzles. So far, EventLab only has a few user-created levels, so discoverability will not be an issue. As the collection grows, we hope Playground Games will introduce new ways to find levels in EventLab. If so, the longevity of this work should increase dramatically.

Deep customization is essential to racing games, and in “Forza Horizon 5,” you can change everything from cars, car horns, clothing, and characters. You can create your driver when you first launch this title. There are more options here than in “Forza Horizon 4,” but not on the level of a role-playing game. In the character creator, you can choose one of several different backgrounds, and equip yourself with prosthetics, and preferred pronouns, albeit a bit limited.

The best part is that when I enter my name, the game has a pre-recorded list of names that it will say over and over again during the Forza Horizon 5 event. For example, my name is Asher, so the game recognized this and selected it automatically. However, dozens of choices are available, and you can change it to anything you like.

On the other hand, customizing and upgrading the car focuses on changing the car’s overall look, changing the engine and suspension to change the way it drives, and custom coloring to show off your style. I like fancy rims, so I spent a lot of time messing with them. But if you’re used to it, you’ll tinker with the engine and handling to create the ideal car; in “Forza Horizon 5,” I didn’t tinker much because it almost makes for an unwieldy machine.

Also, in Forza Horizon 5, each car has its personality. For example, the Toyota Supra is easier to drive than the Ferrari Portofino. Usually, when it comes to open-world racing games like “Burnout Paradise Remastered” and “The Crew,” which feature a myriad of car models, they tend to be quite similar if you play through them. However, this is not the case with this title. Although I haven’t collected many cars yet, each of the 100 or so cars in the garage has its quirks. It is a lot of fun to learn what each car is good at accelerating, braking, road surfaces, etc. As you use each car, you gain levels and XP faster by participating in various activities such as drifting and racing.

Unlike the “Forza Motorsport” series, “Forza Horizon 5” eschews strict realism and focuses primarily on exploration and free traversal. The cars are very easy to control and surprisingly accurate thanks to 60 FPS rendering in Performance mode. Still, several assists, such as automatic braking, are available to make them easier to handle during races.

If you find “Forza Horizon 5” unwieldy, or if you find yourself losing races in “Horizon Solo,” you can always adjust many parameters, such as the difficulty of the drive rotor, to suit your play style. Accessibility, like its predecessor, is also a feature of this title: the convenient ability to rewind with the Y button is back in a single player, allowing you to undo serious mistakes.

Music

As you might expect, Forza Horizon 5 includes some great music. All of this is controlled using the in-game radio. Numerous stations play a wide variety of music. Let’s say, for example, that you want to listen to pop music instead of classical. You can listen to it whenever you are in the mood. My favorite is “Radio Eterna,” but I also enjoy “Block Party.

There are dozens of songs on the game’s soundtrack, but here are a few of my favorites. Check them out when you drive through Mexico.

Some very famous artists like Dua Lipa are included, so you should recognize them. Just remember to turn on streamer mode in the settings to avoid copyright issues when posting videos or streaming games. You can also completely turn off the music if you only want to hear the powerful exhaust note many cars produce.

Conclusion

After all, “Forza Horizon 5” is about the open road and the freedom to go where you want. Playgrounds Games is a master of the genre, and the latest installment in the acclaimed franchise is one of the best racing games. However, it seems more repetitive than revolutionary.

Nevertheless, “Forza Horizon 5” is a highly enjoyable experience, thanks to its many objective-based missions, spectacular rainy weather, diverse environments, and ability to personalize Mexican culture… Similar to “Forza Horizon 4,” but with the open-world racing, The absolute pinnacle of the genre, this is a must-play title.

Forza Horizon 5 will be available from the Microsoft Store for $59.99 and for PC, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X|S on November 9, 2021. Those who pre-order the Premium Edition can play the game on November 5. “Forza Horizon 5” will be available on Xbox Game Pass upon release and compatible with Xbox Cloud Gaming and Xbox Play Anywhere.

Microsoft provided a review code for Forza Horizon 5. The game was tested on Xbox Series X consoles.

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