When Microsoft first announced the next Forza Motorsport last year, most of us thought that we wouldn’t be seeing the next Forza Horizon game for at least a couple more year- that’s the release pattern this series has followed for quite some time now, after all. Just a few short months afterward, however, rumours began emerging that that pattern would be breaking, with Forza Horizon ready to go first, and as early as later in 2021. At their E3 2021 presser, Microsoft officially confirmed Forza Horizon 5, set to launch on November 9, and followed up on that announcement with several new details on the open world racer. We’ve learned quite a bit about the game, and here, we’re going to talk about a few of the biggest details you should know about.
While there were some early rumours that claimed that Forza Horizon 5 would be set in Japan, since the beginning of the year, most leaks have had one detail in common- that the game is going to be set in Mexico. At the game’s reveal, Playground Games confirmed that. In the footage that we’ve seen so far, we’ve seen everything from beaches and desert to snow-capped hills and towns, so by the looks of it, it’s going to be quite a diverse open world. Speaking of which…
OPEN WORLD DETAILS
One thing in particular that Playground Games have emphasized quite a bit is that Mexico in Forza Horizon 5 is the biggest and most diverse open world in the series’ history. “Right from the start, we knew that we wanted to make the biggest Horizon ever and you don’t get that far down that path before you realise there’s no point making the biggest ever unless it’s also the most diverse,” said creative director Mike Brown during a recent livestream. Players can expect “snowy mountains, epic canyons, beautiful historic cities, stunning coastlines, jungles, rolling hills, farmland, multiple different types of desert,” and more. Brown said about Mexico as a setting, “then you add on top of that the fact that it has this culture that’s known and loved all around the world, the art, the music, the people, there couldn’t be a more exciting option for the Horizon festival.”
Changing seasons that had a tangible, mechanical impact on the entire world’s open was the big key hook in Forza Horizon 4. So are seasons going to return in its sequel? Well, yes, but not without changes. While in Horizon 4, the entire map would be affected by a single season, in Horizon 5, different biomes will be affected in different ways. Meanwhile, each biome and season will also have dynamic weather events. Brown said in an interview with IGN, “You get dust storms in the dry season, you get tropical storms in storm season, which is autumn. So there’s these big, massive weather events that can occur as well based on which season you’re in. Both of those are just really dynamic; they have a really great impact on the driving experience.”
Forza Horizon 5 is also making several improvements to the customization side of things. Where vehicle customization is concerned, the game has added “100 new rims, hundreds of new visual upgrades, and thousands of performance upgrades.” Playground Games also says that vehicle customization has seen “a complete UX overhaul to bring the experience in-line with modern image manipulation software.” In terms of character customization, players can now customize hair style and color, purchase clothing with credits, choose between different pronouns and voices, and even select prosthetic limbs.
Forza Horizon 5 is also going to have several modes, of which the main campaign, or Horizon Story, will obviously be the biggest chunk of the experience. While announcing the game, the developer explained that it will have a new campaign in which players will be tasked with exploring Mexico in order to expand the Horizon Festival. Players will ” meet new characters and determine the outcome of their Horizon Story missions”, while you can expect several new events, expeditions, and challenges set across different biomes. If the series’ track record is anything to go by, we can expect quite a dense and varied campaign.
One new feature that Playground Games have added in Forza Horizon 5 is Forza LINC which is a new AI assistant that will automatically “track your status.” What exactly that entails isn’t yet fully clear, but at least one part of it is going to be keeping track of all the people you meet in the game and then letting you link up and play with them. Playground Games have always further tried and expand social features and integrate them better into the core experience in a more seamless manner in each new Forza Horizon game, and it definitely seems like something they intend to do with the next one as well.
HORIZON OPEN, TOUR, AND ARCADE
Where dedicated multiplayer offerings are concerned, there’s plenty to sink your teeth into as well. There’s Horizon Open, which according to Playground Games, “refines the traditional Forza Horizon PvP experience with an emphasis on lower friction and fun.” Players can jump seamlessly into sessions for Racing, Games, Drift, Eliminator, and more. There’s Horizon Arcade, which takes players to markers across the map for challenges and minigames. In total, there’s 130 challenges spanning 11 total game themes. There’s also Horizon Tour, which will turn your game into a more connected shared world, allowing players to jump into races from anywhere across the world and letting you race against Drivatars on Average difficulty.
This one’s another big addition, and it promises to add quite a bit of replayability to what’s already looking like an endlessly replayable game. EventLab is a brand new addition, which will allow players to customize and create races, game modes, and more. Apparently, Playground Games is looking to deliver a very granular level of control, which should be interesting. “You customize everything,” Playground Games says. “Right down to the fundamental rules of the game.”
RESOLUTION AND FRAME RATE
As the first Forza game natively releasing for the Xbox Series X/S, expectations are quite high from the game on a technical and visual level, especially considering the series’ track record. Forza Horizon 5 has looked stunning in all that we’ve seen so far, but what resolution and frame rate is it targeting on newer hardware? According to Playground, the game will run at 4K and 30 FPS on Xbox Series X, and at 1080p and 30 FPS on Xbox Series S. On both consoles, however, it will also have a 60 FPS Performance mode, though there’s no word yet on what resolution it will target on either console. Forza Horizon 5 will also make use of ray-tracing in the Forzavista, the vehicle viewing mode. Meanwhile, where the base Xbox One and Xbox One X are concerned, the developers haven’t said much about what players can expect there in terms of resolution and frame rate.
DELUXE AND PREMIUM EDITION
Microsoft have also detailed the Deluxe and Premium Editions of Forza Horizon 5. The Deluxe Edition costs $79.99 and includes and base game and the Car Pass, which includes 42 new cars, which will be rolled out on a weekly basis, with one new car being added each week. It will also include 8 Formula Drift cars right off the bat. Meanwhile, the Premium Edition, at $99.99, has all of the above, in addition to two expansions, each of which will add a new world location, vehicles, and gameplay content. The Premium Edition will also include a VIP Membership and a Welcome Pack, as well as early access to the game on November 5, four days before launch. Players can also separate the digital add-ons bundle separately for $49.99, which includes everything other than the main game, including early access.