Welcome new Forza Horizon players! Forza Horizon has been my favourite game series since the first day I played the original game. It has all the car detail accuracy of the Forza Motorsport series, with all the ridiculous fun of an open world casual game that just wants you to be happy. Whether you like cars, racing, or just crashing into things while listening to good music, you’re in for a great time. Here are some of my best tips on how to get started in Forza Horizon 5.
You have options
While most car games want you to race, you could conceivably play Forza Horizon 5 for ages and only have to do a few races. Like, if driving around a track isn’t your jam, why not take photos of different cars around Mexico for credits (once you’ve bought Lugar Tranquilo near Playa Azul) or work your way through all the PR stunts, like Danger Signs (doing a massive jump off a cliff or ramp), Trailblazers (getting from point A to point B against the clock, no set route), or Drift Zones (you drift for points). You can also just explore around to find Barn Finds and Bonus Signs, or crash around the cacti in the desert to get your skill points up. Forza Horizon shows that car games can be about more than just racing.
Be careful what you crash into
Working out which trees can and can’t be broken for skill points is a learned skill. A good rule of thumb is that if the tree looks like you can’t snap it barehanded, the car probably won’t break it. Most structures with rooves can’t be broken either, no matter how flimsy they look. The good news is that all the cacti are breakable.
Get yourself a nice house and live the dream in Forza Horizon 5
Different houses give different bonuses, such as the Lugar Tranquilo that unlocks Horizon Promo, which is a challenge to photograph every car at the Horizon Festival in exchange for rewards. The other bonus of houses is that whichever one you set as your home, is the one your game will load at when you restart. So, if you’re working on a selection of events in a certain area, buying that house will save you a lot of time until you finish getting all the Fast Travel bonus boards.
Rewind is your friend
Crashed during a race, or accidentally took a Danger Sign at the wrong angle? Press ‘Y’ and you’ll rewind back a few seconds so you can reset and try again. You’ll lose any Clean Racing bonuses and skill score you’ve got going, and it doesn’t work on Drift Zones or Speed Zones, but it’s totally worth it when you’re trying to nail a race, Trail Blazer or Danger Sign.
Try everything Forza Horizon 5 has to offer
You might just fall in love with the one car for driving around the world, or switch between many depending on the occasion. But when you come to the game, try out as many cars as you can. You’ll get plenty from wheelspins and completing events, so you can get an idea of what works for you. Some cars just won’t turn the way you like to, change to one that does.
Save your skill points initially
Each car has its own skill tree. Eventually, you’re going to be able to unlock everything you want on every car you like, but initially, it’s better to save all your points for one big purchase on one car, rather than spread them widely.
Once you’ve found a car you like, work on upgrading it until you can unlock the Extra Life bonus. That’s usually in the bottom right-hand corner of the tree and costs a whopping 25 skill points. But, the bonus is that it gives you a second chance on your skill score if you crash into an immovable object. Once you have that, combined with a skill song, you’ll be able to rack up dozens of skill points in no time, allowing you to upgrade the rest of your cars to match.
Horizon Edition cars are very good
Sometimes you’ll get a special Horizon Edition car in a wheelspin. These give you bonuses on particular activities, like extra XP when you finish a race, or extra skill score. These are the best cars to upgrade and drive if they behave in a way you enjoy.
Slide into breakables
When trying to build up a good skill score, it’s best to do a drift into an object. Smashing into a cactus will give you 100 base points plus 1000 Smactus bonus points. But if you drift into it (by pressing A to do an e-brake drift) you’ll get an extra 100 drift points plus 1000 sideswipe points. That really adds up.
If your car gets stuck up a tree, just call for a new one
If your car gets stuck somewhere, just change cars in the pause menu and get it delivered to you. You can change back afterwards, but it gets you back on the road and off the jagged cliff, and it’s free. It’ll cop a bit of a load time on the Xbox One, but should be pretty zippy on the Series X.
There’s nothing wrong with being a tourist in Forza Horizon 5
Tourist difficulty mode is ideal for those who just want to explore and win races rather than really compete in races. The Horizon Festival in Mexico is a beautiful place to look around, so if you just want to experience the story and do the other activities, the Tourist difficulty mode will let you win any race you can’t skip, so you can just move onto the things you really enjoy. Forza Horizon 5 isn’t Demon’s Souls, it’s not supposed to be hard, it’s just supposed to be fun. If you find it fun to compete against the best of the best, you can do that, but if you just want to have a nice time exploring, then you should absolutely do that too.
Play around with the Forza Horizon 5 accessibility settings
There are so many accessibility settings that there’s probably one that will make your experience more enjoyable. While you’re playing with the difficulty settings to tune it to be best for you, don’t neglect the accessibility settings.
Forza Horizon 5 releases Nov 9 on Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One and Windows PC at retail and via Xbox Game Pass. Those who preordered the Premium Edition get four days of early access starting Nov 5.