Is That as Fun as It Seems?
In a word: Yeah. The actual driving and gameplay feel pretty much the same as before, which is to say quite fantastic. There’s a great sense of speed and controllability; the cars feel distinct even playing with a controller rather than an expensive wheel-and-pedal setup, and different terrain types require different approaches to traverse successfully.
It’s also extremely approachable for new and/or less-than-coordinated players. As always, the game’s difficulty is immensely customizable. Not only can you adjust how fierce your computer-based opponents are, but you can also toggle traction and stability controls, ABS, assisted-braking, and on-road driving lines. As an incentive for players to challenge themselves, the more talented the AI and the fewer assists you use, the bigger the post-event payouts will be. However, the gulf in reward is not so great such that newbies or butterfingers would feel penalized for playing on easy-peasy mode. Go ahead and make it as forgiving or demanding as you want. The game just wants you to have fun.
And Forza Horizon 5 is set to be an absolute boatload of fun. At launch, the game will ship with at least 440 cars with more to come in the future, ranging from racing game mainstays like Lambos, Mustangs, and Subaru WRXs to trophy trucks, the all-terrain Mercedes Unimog, Ford’s Crown Victoria Police Interceptor, and the M12S Warthog from Halo. Whatever stripe of car enthusiasm you happen to identify with, Horizon 5 probably has something up your alley. Toyota and Lexus, by the way, are back in full force right out of the gate—this time with the fifth-gen Supra, in fact, showing up early as one of the cars you can choose to explore the map with after completing those epic initial drives in the Bronco, C8, Safari 911, and AMG One.
As the first Forza game made for the current crop of Xbox consoles, the graphics are a step up from before. Even playing on the less powerful Xbox Series S, Forza Horizon 5 looked stunningly realistic. Its three-year-old predecessor was already quite the looker, but this next-gen version upped the on-screen pixel ante even more, featuring more detailed environments and crispier-looking cars.
As for game enhancements gleaned that may not show up in a splashy trailer, character customization is a magnitude more involved this time around. At the beginning of the game, you’re prompted to pick from a noticeably bigger roster of base human avatars and can then choose from a wide selection of hairstyles, hair colors, prosthetics limbs, and—get this—a male or female voice. Yes, unlike the mute protagonist of previous games, the person you play as actually speaks now.
On the subject of sound, here’s a car audio demo showcasing how some of Horizon 5‘s most exciting rides will hit the ear.