The fifth Horizon Festival in Mexico brought together motorheads and professional drivers from all over the world. The pop-up races and crazy challenges dispersed around the furthest corners of the continent are enthusiastically referenced in radio station infomercials. Empty streets, except for the occasional family vehicle or commercial truck, are indicative of widespread enthusiasm. So, where are the residents and visitors? The general population, on the other hand, has gathered in large numbers at various areas of interest, waiting for you, the mysterious “superstar,” to appear and formally kick things off.
It’s all about player agency in Forza Horizon. This design philosophy is continued in the fifth iteration, which features an even larger automobile catalog, numerous activities, and comprehensive personalization possibilities for your avatar and vehicle (s). With screaming engines and breathtaking visuals complemented by the game’s great performance/quality modes, the opening cinematic is just as spectacular to play as it was to witness during the Gamescom showcase.
We chose our nickname, constructed our character (the prosthetics were an excellent addition, though we would have liked to see more options for disabled gamers), and climbed into our Stingray Coupe after being airdropped into Baja California. Driving is as smooth and responsive as you’d expect. Each roadster has its individuality, thanks to vibration patterns and varying degrees of “car feel.” Although both the Jeep Gladiator and the Ford Bronco are heavy-duty vehicles, certain elements, such as traction control, are noticeably different; your vehicles feel genuinely alive. This degree of attention to detail isn’t new to the Forza series, but it’s even more impressive in the latest Horizon installment as the list of available vehicles expands.
The AI opponents, on the other hand, do not accept defeat. To stay consistent in contests, you’ll need to master your vehicle’s habits, such as when to stop early on tight curves to avoid catastrophic wrecks and when it’s preferable to just floor it to build distance. You can even decide to visit the shop to have your favorite cars tuned for a competitive advantage. Manually upgrade various parts — which is more important: your engine or your handling? – or let the festival team choose the tweaks for you based on a pre-determined build.
Racing isn’t the only thing to do in Mexico. We raced through the wide environment, completing a slew of minigames, to gain plaudits (or challenges) and unlock Horizon Adventure Chapters. PR stunts including “Speed Zone,” “Speed Trap,” “Trailblazer,” and “Danger Sign” forced us to travel at breakneck speeds or soar high into the sky after barreling down constructed ramps. Your skill level is denoted by stars, with three being the highest, and giving you a slew of XP and SP (Skill Points) that you can use to purchase vehicle bonuses. Perks are usually experience multipliers, and the nicest part about rising, as far as we could tell from our time with the preview version, is activating the “Horizon Spinwheel” to earn goodies like currency and rare cars.
While Mexico’s beauty is unrivaled, traveling to each race or side activity was a blast. Dynamic weather elements like roaring sandstorms increased the urgency of exploration, and each aesthetically distinct area had its own set of secrets to discover. Horizon Stories, or narrative beats, lead you to intriguing sites of interest while introducing you to the game’s cast. She recorded her family’s relationship with the “Vocho,” or Volkswagen Beetle, and the Mexican cultural transformation that the iconic compact automobile spurred in the 1950s while bringing Alejandra to an abandoned garage atop a desert overlook. We kept count of the cactus-strewn deserts we passed through and the charming, multi-colored communes we passed through.
Forza Horizon 5 is huge, even with the short amount of stuff we saw. We braved the far-off jungles and mountain ranges even though much of the map was vacant in this preview version, picturing the number of PR Stunts, Horizon Stories, and races we’ll participate in on launch day. Additional modes like the Festival Playlist and Auction House were not yet available, but knowing that the entire game would include a plethora of material, such as in-game seasons and campaign progression, makes the journey to Mexico even more appealing.