Forza Horizon 5 is already shaping up to be my favourite entry in the series, and that's simply based on my short time previewing it last week. Developer Playground Games has pretty much followed the golden rule of "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" with the upcoming racing sequel. Everything that made Horizon 4 a success is back in 5, but with all-new biomes, dynamic weather, and more.
During the preview event, I got to explore the incredible open world of Mexico in a variety of cars. I had access to the initial campaign experience, which was roughly around 90 minutes, but I also had free reign to explore the full map with its 11 biomes. The initial drive gives you just a small glimpse into some of those biomes, and each one is absolutely stunning in its own way. I previewed the game on an Xbox Series X using the graphics mode (resolution over framerate) just to be able to truly soak in the beauty of Mexico.
Like previous Horizon games, the initial showcase is designed in a way to highlight the variety of vehicles, landscapes, and races that you'll be able to take part in. It's made to be a huge spectacle to celebrate the launch of the Horizon festival. You begin by being dropped in a SUV next to La Gran Caldera volcano and already you can see that this is a step up from the highlands of Scotland. No offence to any Scots. From here you transition over to the desert, to the green roads of Tierra Próspera, to the jungles of La Selva. Each biome being a whole new wild adventure leaving a slim chance of you getting bored.
But Horizon isn't just about looking stunning across a variety of new landscapes. Forza is a racing series at its core, and there are a plethora of events and races for players to get involved with.
Showcase events are back, giving you some visually spectacular races showing off more of Mexico. The first one alone does a great job of teaching us to expect the unexpected, as we race against speedsters on dirt bikes near ancient Mayan ruins. This is just a taste of some of the wild things to come. There are also story events to complete, including one that had us driving into a sandstorm to snap a cheeky photo of an ancient ruin.
Speaking of sandstorms, Forza Horizon 5 will feature dynamic weather along with seasons again much like the previous game. While the seasons are the same as they were in 4, just in a new setting, the dynamic weather is something else. When driving into a sandstorm you feel as though you've just entered the world of Mad Max. The last time I had this much fun with dynamic weather in such a way was, funnily enough, in the last Mad Max game from 2015. While it is a lot less chaotic, it's still plenty of fun speeding through a sandstorm against other cars.
Of course you can't explore the world of Forza Horizon 5 without being equipped with a car. Fortunately, this game offers a comprehensive list of vehicles for players. While I predominately stuck to using the Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Coupé, I did dabble with a few other vehicles. Each one was unique and made to handle certain races, terrains, and even weather. You can customise them again much like you could in the previous games, but for the most part, I used them as they were. Once you get the handling nailed, you'll be able to speed and drift your way to first place in any race.
Forza Horizon 5 has a lot to offer, building on what already makes the series such a success. Despite only having limited access, I very much enjoyed my time with the game and I cannot wait to get my hands on the full version.
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