Forza Horizon 5 Hands-on Preview – Start your engines

Posted on October 12, 2021

With Forza Horizon 5 just around the corner, the newest racer set in the gigantic playground of Mexico is shaping up to be the most jam-packed open world racing game ever created. After our previous chance to see the game behind closed doors and chat with Mike Brown from Playground Games, we have now had the chance to get our hands on the title ahead of release, playing the opening of the game and around 90 minutes of additional content. From this taste alone, this seems to be the Forza Horizon we know and love, amped up to 11.

While I’d seen the opening of the game previously (featured in the video above) where multiple different cars are dropped into parts of Mexico as an introduction to some of the madness you can expect, playing it myself felt completely exciting. It’s a wonderful example of the various different environments, teasing what’s to come in terms of hidden secrets and puts the dynamic weather on full show. I got actual goosebumps when I first dropped from the plane onto the racing track below, and trying out each of the vehicles showcased how they handle differently across the varied terrain. Slow motion is put into great effect at times to give you a chance to breathe and take it all in, with the custom soundtrack in sync and pumping perfectly. It’s thrilling stuff.

“I got actual goosebumps when I first dropped from the plane onto the racing track below…”

Once you arrive at the inevitable festival, the pace slows slightly, as we’re introduced to some of the Festival organisers and the map opens up with icons littered about to travel to, and Forza Horizon 5 settles into its open world rhythm. It kicks off strong with one of the infamous Showcase races, where in this case you’ll be taking on a large colourful jet plane as you race around, music blaring and crowds cheering. These Showcase events have always been a favourite, and I can’t wait to see what other surprises the full game has in store if this is any indication of quality and excitement.

In my time exploring, there were a variety of races to take part in; unsurprisingly, cars continue to handle excellently, whether it’s on traditional roads or taking part in a scramble race on a dirt track. The Forza games have got racing down to a fine art at this point, and checking out different vehicle types gave me varying challenges as I adjusted to their style and to the type of surface I was driving on.

The world continues to encourage exploration as well, with XP boards littered about and many roads having the usual mini-challenges like Speedzones all over the place. Additionally, you can look forward to new types of quests; after all, you’re coming to this Horizon Festival not as a newbie, but as a legend. When tasked to drive into a dust storm to get the perfect photo, I took it very seriously and found it to be just the excuse I needed to dabble in the photo-mode as well. I’m looking forward to other PR opportunities such as this when the events on the map open up more and more.

Needless to say, Forza Horizon 5 looks incredible. The tropical coastlines, large canyons, sandy deserts and mountainous areas all with the dynamic weather make for a very breathtaking experience at every turn. Mexico is already looking like it could be my favourite location to explore, and with the level of detail packed in everywhere, I can’t wait for the guardrails to come off so that I can spend countless hours searching through historic cities, lush jungles and pristine beaches. My playtime finished as I was brought to what will be my home-base in the world, a place I’m looking forward to “living in” in just a few weeks time.

From what I’ve played, Forza Horizon 5 is looking to be the most well-rounded and exciting entry in the series so far. It promises the largest open-world yet across 11 distinct biomes in Mexico, a large campaign with new additions like Expeditions, dynamic weather and seasons along with over 500 cars to collect. For fans, there really is a lot to look forward to.

Forza Horizon 5 launches on Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One and PC via Xbox Game Pass on November 5.