Forza Horizon 5 - Before You Buy
Hey, we're back with another episode of Before You Buy. We're very busy here. You know what this show is. It's where we give you some straight-up gameplay and our first impressions of the latest games released. As usual, it's me, Jake Baldino, and today we're talking about Forza Horizon 5. Once again, here we have a new horizon game.
You know, these are spin-offs from the main Forza series that are a bit more hard-core and simulation-oriented. Forza Horizon games here embrace a bit more fun and craziness with a music festival party atmosphere around racing and just tons of stuff to do. The newest five take the adventures to Mexico with a more varied world, more stuff, and really just bring some improvements and developments that cropped up throughout Forza Horizon 4's years of community support.
It's very much more Forza, with a couple of strange new spins, but really just a big old pile of fun. And also, just so you know, we've been playing a review copy for the past week and all the footage here is captured on an Xbox series. The Forza Horizon games are solid because they find a great balance between hardcore realism and fun arcade style racing.
There are tons of options to fine-tune how you want the game to play, and there are quite a few sweet spots to it. You know, the game does a great job of setting up the excitement. It starts with a really cool cinematic intro that takes you through various locations and vehicles. Swapping on the fly, and once that's done and then you're out there, it's good at easing you into the world.
You start with one centralized festival with a couple of different race modes and open world random activities, and then as you do stuff and win, you level up, increase your ranking, and get to choose the next big event style thing which will open up more activities on the map. It's all extremely non-linear, so you know, you can unlock whatever you want, whenever you want, and kind of progress as you see fit.
In all honesty, the game throws so much at you that you might forget. For a bit, you'll think you are progressing to more modes, and then the game will remind you because there's so much stuff to work through. We'll get to more of that in a bit. Now the game at least keeps the progression and stuff straight forward here.
You know, you're not trying to become a famous racer. You kind of already are. You show up. You're not trying to level up by growing a social media account follower number or anything like that. It's just regular old ranking, leveling, and unlocking stuff now. It might make for a little less cohesive personality in the presentation.
I mentioned that you're already a famous racer, so you create your own character with like a nice couple of options and show up to Mexico to race the horizon festivals, but there are cutscenes with your character talking and other characters introducing you to the world and races, and there's a bunch of dialogue, and that's usually a huge red flag for me in games like this.
I don't need a story; it's admittedly a weird choice. I don't know, but I will say it's nice and it's slight here and it manages to work and make things feel slightly less lonely and a teeny bit more fresh. I really don't care much about what they're saying sometimes, but it's not that deep. It's mostly anecdotal type stuff.
But speaking of that, you know, the real star is Mexico itself. You know, I don't care if it's the biggest character in the game, it's a huge world with a ton of variety. There's like, mountains, flat deserts, dunes, some woods, lots of jungles, mud, small towns, city streets, beach straightaways, volcanoes.
Do you like blasting your way through a muddy jungle in a fresh new Ford Bronco? The game gives you a lot of opportunities for that and rally races. Got a wild Ferrari you want to blaze down the highway? There are plenty of races and challenges to keep you busy. Maybe tight streets and corners with a Nissan skyline.
There are also plenty of modes and things to engage with. My personal favorite has just been getting in a baja truck and bouncing around on the sand dunes. And also, there are some really great switchback courses all over the mountainous areas that are just really satisfying to drift around, but if we're keeping it personal for a second.
It's always being tracked and you're always filling up a meter or a bar somewhere. I don't know, my lizard brain just likes that feeling of accomplishment. The game is drip feeding you currency and new cars and clothing items for your car and, of course, barn finds, which are really well done in this game, in particular, the way it works and the way they're presented.
The little bit of story context I actually really like, but you're also earning randomized roles that can give you more money or more cars. The detail once again is freaking staggering, and there are like over 500 cars. It is really fun to grow a collection, and I've gotten a kick out of selling the occasional car in the in-game auction house.
I've made a ton of money from things like flipping this big weird Mercedes or off-road truck, so I could just buy another one of my favorite weird 80s Ferraris. Of course, all this stuff can be overwhelming. It's sensory overload. You know, a jam-packed map with tons of menus and multiple different screens of different rewards and stuff to track.
It's messy at times, so just be ready for that going in if you're new to the series, and then, of course, there's multiplayer. Not only does the battle royale style mode return that was established later in Forza Horizon 4, but there are big world events going on randomly that are like a group contribution.
Stuff like that is a nice extra, but it didn't really hook me too much, but the regular old online racing did. However, I was only able to get into a few races here and there as I played this game pre-release. Races are good, but I had a surprising amount of lag and an issue where some opponents' cars just animated weirdly and looked kind of unfinished.
Like weird wheels and tire stuff, i don't know if it was like a bug, or just due to the lag, or whatever. I don't know. I hope it's not a common issue. The game is being updated all the time. It's just the first day of launch stuff. It's something worth pointing out though, along with that it is early but first impressions.
I also tested out a bit of the PC version, and although it looked pretty, I had a few crashes on a pretty normal and solidly powered system, which was a bit frustrating. So keep that in mind and, you know, maybe look into it a bit more if you're considering it, because I mean, on the flip side, it is a gorgeous game.