NEWS

Forza Horizon 5: The king of racing games returns

It doesn’t try to reinvent the wheel, but Forza Horizon 5 brings enough fresh ideas to take the best arcade racing series further up a notch.

By THE OMEN NEWSROOM TEAM | April 20, 2022

It really shouldn’t surprise anyone at this point. There are few developers in the triple-A gaming industry who manage to knock each new game out of the park. Playgrounds Games is one of them, and the studio has done it again with Forza Horizon 5. The open-world series has dominated the genre once ruled by Need for Speed, and the new game only serves to cement its place on the throne.

Those hoping for radical changes over the brilliant Forza Horizon 4 should temper those expectations, because Forza Horizon 5 follows much of the same template set by the previous game. But like each new action game draws you in with a new story or protagonist, the Horizon games do it with their locations. This time around, the Horizon Festival shifts to Mexico, beautifully realized in the game’s open world. It may not be a big jump from the previous game in terms of size, but Forza Horizon 5’s game world is designed to be an absolute joy to drive around. From long highways to winding mountains and expansive deserts to lush jungles, Mexico is probably the most visually diverse location this series has ever seen.

And the driving varies accordingly. Events in the game are spread across road, street, cross-country and Baja/rally disciplines, allowing the developers to highlight the game’s track and vehicle diversity. The main campaign is now segregated into each of these disciplines, with a new accolades system determining your progress through your career. Your objective is to unlock outposts for each of these disciplines, and once you’ve unlocked them all, you’ll compete in long, epic races that are the racing equivalent of boss battles. Showcase events return too, pitting you against everything from planes and dirt bikes to jet skis and monster trucks in set-piece laden races. The ultimate objective in the game is to attain Hall of Fame status, which most players can do quickly, since earning accolades isn’t only done through winning races. Pretty much every activity in the game – even free-roaming – grants you accolades, so you could well reach Hall of Fame without completing a majority of the events.

Besides the race events, Forza Horizon 5 offers a lot to do, to the point where looking at the game’s map can be overwhelming due to the sheer number of icons populating it. From stunt challenges to speed and drift zones to barn finds and XP boards, there’s so much to find and collect in Forza Horizon 5 that you’ll often find yourself distracted from events as you try to track down a nearby barn or an XP board that just popped up at the edge of your mini-map. The game does a great job of making you want to free-roam because there’s always something exciting around every corner.

Forza Horizon 5 is also one of the most liberal in its rewards, throwing new cars, character cosmetics, horns and cash your way so frequently that you’ll quickly end up with more than you might need. This is also one of the game’s drawbacks, however. Even some of the game’s most sought-after cars are given out at random, so you never really value working towards unlocking a new car. And in many ways, this nullifies the importance of the game’s fantastically robust customization, upgrade and tuning features. But that’s intentional – the game doesn’t want you to work too hard to have fun, and it certainly succeeds at that.

Aside from the campaign, the Festival Playlist adds daily and weekly objectives to complete for XP and new cars. For those looking for some human competition, the game presents several multiplayer options. In Horizon Open, you can enter standard online races and drifting events, as well as those that are a little more unconventional. There is The Eliminator, which is Forza Horizon’s take on battle royale; and then there are Playground Games, which are team-based party games inspired by modes from other genres, like capture the flag, team deathmatch, etc. You can also create a convoy, which is essentially and in-game party, which allows you and your friends to enter events together or just free-roam and explore Mexico as a group. Unfortunately, the servers have been acting up at launch, making it difficult to get into multiplayer and complete the Festival Playlist objectives. We expect these to be ironed out soon enough, and in the meantime, there’s plenty of single-player content to play through. 

We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention just how amazing Forza Horizon 5 looks. It is hands-down one of the best-looking racing games we’ve ever played. From the stunningly recreated cars to the beautiful and vibrant open world, Playground has outdone itself, and we were especially impressed by the game’s amazing draw distances and lack of texture and object pop-in. It also runs fantastically across a variety of PC hardware.

Forza Horizon 5 is the one racing game that every gamer should at least try; even if you don’t particularly enjoy racing games. Those who do will find here the epitome of arcade racing. Sure, it may not be a huge leap forward from its predecessor, but Forza Horizon 5 continues to offer an irresistible experience. As far as racing games go, this is the complete package.

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