Forza Horizon 5 is shaping up to be the biggest (and potentially best) Forza Horizon yet. The hardcore-casual racing series has been a jewel in Xbox’s crown since the original Horizon made its debut in 2012.
Here’s everything that’s been announced about the game so far, including where it’s set, what the story is, the number of biomes, what biomes are, and when and how you can play it.
Where is Forza Horizon 5 set and what’s the story?
Forza Horizon 5 is set in Mexico, and, according to Playground Games creative director Mike Brown, the story continues from Horizon 4. You play as a superstar from the UK’s Forza Horizon festival and meet Ramiro, aka Rami, who is setting up the Mexican festival. Much like Horizon 3 you’ll be determining what gets set up where, and building the festival from the ground up.
If you haven’t played Horizon 4, don’t worry. All you need to know about that plot is that driving cars is fun, and for some reason entire countries will let you drive them very dangerously all year round as long as there is also a music festival.
All the racing, showcases, danger signs and PR stunts you know and love are coming back, as well as Horizon Stories, which will roll out over the life of the game. One of the most exciting new stories involves recreating a children’s book. “There’s one where you get to work alongside a Mexican photographer reliving the journey that one of her childhood heroes went on through this adventure book she had as a kid. So, you can explore Mexico as a photographer,” Brown said.
Horizon 4 fans loved the slightly non-sensical stunt driving story, which had an extremely bonkers plot. In Horizon 5, that movie is getting a sequel and once again you will be the driver for it.
Being an open world game, Mexico is the star of the show, and the main character ahead of anyone else you may interact with. It was chosen because of how diverse its climate and terrain.
Most of what we see of Mexico from Hollywood is sepia tinged deserts, poor neighbourhoods and luxury resorts where an American is about to have a whacky adventure. So, not everyone knows about the snow-capped mountains, living deserts, rocky coast, luscious farmland, arid hills, volcano, canyon, jungle, swamp, tropical coast, and urban cities. Those, along with the sandy desert make up the 11 distinct biomes that players will be able to explore.
What does the map look like?
The Forza Horizon Twitter account gave everyone their first sneak peek at what the map is going to look like, and true to their word, it is much, much bigger than Forza Horizon 4’s UK. It’s going to take a long time to drive every street on this map, and those fast travel bonus boards have just suddenly gone up in value. It also gives the first look at where the different biomes will be. The desert, beach, volcano and cities are easy to see from here. This is just what it looks like in the wet season, so there’s more to come.
Forza Horizon 5: Gameplay
As part of the studio’s Gamescom 2021 announcements, the developers showed off the first 8 minutes of gameplay. Much like older Forza Horizon games, you’re immediately dropped into a vehicle, with the perspective, location and vehicle shifting every couple of minutes to quickly showcase the breadth of the in-game world.
Forza Horizon 5 will have a better campaign with a new difficulty mode
If you just want to explore the Mexican countryside, Forza Horizon 5 will let you do so. In a briefing around the Gamescom announcements, the developers announced a “Tourist” difficulty mode that will focus on letting players explore and progress. There’ll also be more assists and accessibility features for those who are new to the franchise or racing games.
Forza Horizon 5 will also have a very cool custom controller
It’s bright, it’s vibrant, it’s partially translucent and I want it. It’ll be available for $99.95 in Australia through the Microsoft Store.
Forza Horizon is an arcade franchise, but even then that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for improvement for more serious drivers. In a Q&A, Forza Horizon 5 creative director Mike Brown confirmed that the physics model has been massively improved from previous Forza games.
“So we’ve completely rebuilt the way suspension works,” Brown said in a Q&A. “Which perhaps sounds like a small thing, but suspension is actually one of the main ways in which your wheels and the body of the car interact with the road surface.”
“Because the springs on the car behave much more like they would on a real car, the cars are now able to react to the terrain in a much more authentic way. Which actually, whilst improving the simulation, also improves the accessibility of that as well, which is a great result for us.”
The braking system has also been improved so that cars will slow a bit more gradually and realistically, while also stopping the cars from locking up so frequently. “[It’s] an area where it improves the simulation, so it’s more accurate to real life, but also makes the cars a little bit more accessible,” Brown added.”
Forza Horizon 5’s weather
The big thing in Horizon 4 was seasons. Horizon 5 continues this weather theme by keeping seasons (appropriate to those experienced in each area of actual Mexico), and adding unique weather patterns for each biome. So, in storm season, you might be able to see that it’s raining heavily on one side of the map, while you’re hanging out in an area where it’s sunny.
In Horizon 4 weather in one area was weather everywhere, so this shows a huge evolutional leap.
Forza Horizon 5’s Multiplayer
Multiplayer is back and better integrated than ever, no matter how you feel about that. Horizon Arcade is going to be the biggest change, with 130 mini-games spread across 11 game themes. Arcade can be played with friends or strangers (who are just friends you haven’t met).
A good example is piñata, which you can see below from the E3 showcase.
Unless you choose to partner up with a group and use voice chat, players are limited to the pre-set in-game text chat options. So, if you’re someone who avoids multiplayer because other people can be The Worst, this is worth giving a try.
The battle royale mode from Horizon 4, The Eliminator, is coming back too.
What is Forza Horizon 5 releasing on?
It’ll be coming out on PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series S and Xbox Series X.
It, of course, will be included on Game Pass, Microsoft’s game subscription service that every Xbox owner should consider. For those playing on PC, Forza Horizon 5 is launching via the Microsoft Store and Steam.
Game versions include Forza Horizon 5 Standard Edition (which will be the version in Game Pass) for $109.95, Deluxe (which includes the full game and Car Pass) $139.95, and Premium (which has early access, the Welcome Pack, Car Pass, VIP Membership and two game expansions when available) for $159.95. If you’re playing through Game Pass, but still want all the benefits of the Premium edition, there will be a Premium Add-Ons bundle for $79.95.
Forza Horizon 5 PC Requirements
According to the Steam game page, the minimum specs are pretty reasonable:
- OS: Windows 10 version 15063.0 or higher
- Processor: Intel i3-4170 @ 3.7Ghz OR Intel i5 750 @ 2.67Ghz
- Memory: 8 GB RAM
- Graphics: NVidia GTX 760 OR AMD RX 460
- DirectX: Version 12
- Network: Broadband Internet connection
- Storage: 80 GB available space
What even is “Ray Tracing Audio”?
So, apparently “ray tracing audio” is going to be a thing in Horizon 5, which sounds weird given ray tracing is all about light and audio is… not. But what it means is that sound will be affected by objects, whether they echo or muffle, which is going to make going through tunnels and driving past houses sound much more immersive.
You can see more in this handy video:
Forza Horizon 5: Trailers and other official videos
When is Forza Horizon 5 out?
Anyone who stumps up for the Premium Edition will be able to play Forza Horizon 5 from November 5, 2021. Otherwise, it’s out November 9.
This article has been retimed since its original publication.