Voted by critics as the Most Anticipated Game from E3 2021, Forza Horizon 5 took the world by surprise with its lush, vibrant Mexican environments and its staggering level of visual flourishes. However, there’s so much more to this shared open-world driving adventure that evolve the series to new heights. So, here’s what we believe to be 10 crucial details you missed from this week’s Forza Horizon 5 reveal.
You read that correctly! Following on from the success of the LEGO Speed Champions expansion for Forza Horizon 4, which was the first time a racetrack built into the open-world appeared in the series, the world of Mexico in Forza Horizon 5 also includes a “really old” racetrack for you and your friends to race or drift around. It’s located right at the Horizon Mexico festival hub, which itself is built on an old, abandoned airstrip in the middle of the desert. It’s the festival atmosphere you already love, with a badass dragstrip going down the centre of it and a racetrack to the side.
Like Forza Horizon 3, there are multiple festival sites and by playing the Horizon Story missions in the campaign mode, you’ll have the opportunity to choose where it expands next. Playground Games Creative Director Mike Brown and Associate Art Director Conar Cross both shared the information during the Forza Horizon 5 Let’s Go! livestream earlier this week.
In most open-world games, the weather is identical across the entire map. So, if it’s raining in one location, it’s typically doing the same elsewhere. However, in what is quite a technical achievement, this won’t be the case in Forza Horizon 5. Instead, each biome can have different weather scenarios.
For example, there might be a gigantic dust storm in the desert while it drizzles rain in the jungle. Meanwhile, the city of Guanajuato could be radiating sunshine as a blinding blizzard encompasses the Gran Caldera Volcano – the highest point ever seen before in a Forza Horizon game. Even with the shared open-world of Forza Horizon 5, everyone will experience different weather conditions depending on where they’re currently located in Mexico. You might also see a tropical storm occurring at another part of the map, chase after it and drive straight into it as the leaves pound into your car.
With eleven unique biomes, there’s so much to discover. The full list includes a living desert covered with foliage such as destructible cacti and green plants, a golden desert with pristine sand dunes, a lush jungle, wet swamplands, historic cities and idyllic seaside towns, a tropical coastline and a rocky coast, as well as green farmland, arid hills, a towering canyon and of course, the almighty snow-capped volcano. You’ll also find hidden ruins and exotic beaches upon your expeditions, as well as a massive highway that runs across the entire map if you fancy shortening the journey.
These biomes aren’t just rich in detail. Your adventures will introduce you to all sorts of wildlife native to Mexico, including flamingos, parrots, donkeys, goats and wild dogs such as coyotes – you may see them sleeping at porches, so feel free to disturb them if you want to give them a chase. Just know that the animals are even smarter in Forza Horizon 5, so don’t expect to catch up to them anytime soon.
Mexico is the heart of Forza Horizon 5 and to celebrate its rich history and culture, the developers at Playground Games have collaborated with local music artists to produce authentic, original songs for the game – so be sure to listen out for them on the radio. The team have also incorporated murals into the world from local Mexican street artists, including Farid Rueda.
Forza Horizon 5 allows you to be yourself. Whether it’s through your character or the car you’re driving. Let’s talk about you first. The game features a more diverse cast of characters to choose from and you can personalize them in more ways than ever before. Change their hairstyle and colour, select prosthetic limbs, choose pronouns, pick from a range of voices and purchase clothing using in-game credits. These are much welcomed additions into the game to promote inclusivity, diversity and self-expression.
Car customization has also received significant upgrades with 100 new rims, hundreds of fresh visual upgrades – including new bodykits such as the StreetHunter C8 Corvette and a widebody Mitsubishi Evo kit, and finally, thousands of new performance upgrades. The Livery Editor is also overhauled, and its user experience now matches that of modern image manipulation software like Photoshop. What’s more, you’ll even be able to paint brake calibres in Forza Horizon 5.
If that isn’t enough customization, then the EventLab should fill your thirst. It allows you to go down into the fundamentals of the game to build new races, challenges, stunts and even entirely new gamemodes using a vast library of props to share and experience with your friends. Finally, there’s also a range of “vanity items” in the game. We’re not quite sure what these are yet, but those who purchase the Forza Horizon 5 VIP Membership included in the Premium Edition will receive some.
Despite the inclusion of an overhauled Livery Editor, Forza Horizon 5 allows players to import their existing liveries and tunes from Forza Horizon 4. Just be aware that cross-platform importing between Steam and Xbox versions of the game isn’t supported due to incompatible save data.
While tunes and liveries created in Forza Horizon 4 on an Xbox console can be carried over to Forza Horizon 5 on Windows 10, it’ll only be the case if you buy the game from the Microsoft Store instead of Steam.
Picture the scene: You’re driving through the coastline in your McLaren 720S but it’s a scorching hot day. Most would pull over to the side of the road to lower their roof and in Forza Horizon 5, you can do exactly that with a press of the thumbstick. No further explanation required.
Immersion is key to any racing game and with Forza Horizon 5, expect to find yourself drawn even closer to your car with improved engine sounds. This was one area of significant criticism from the community when it came to Forza Horizon 4 and Turn 10 Studios have certainly taken the feedback onboard. To prove it, they provided us with the following statement: “We have invested significantly in car sounds in Forza Horizon 5, and we're excited to share more info about this in the future; stay tuned!” We’ll just have to wait to hear them in-action – but if you listen closely to the gameplay trailer, then you might just hear those audible improvements already.
Once Forza Horizon 5 does release, one of the best locations to test out the improved engine sounds for yourself will be at the underground tunnel network located in the city of Guanajuato. It’ll be the perfect spot to rev to those high notes! Let’s just hope it doesn’t disturb the neighbours.
One of the best features in Forza Horizon 4 was how its online and offline modes blended into each other. If you got disconnected while roaming the shared world, the other players would be seamlessly replaced by Drivatars. This system carries forward into Forza Horizon 5. That means unlike other “always-online” games which boot you out to the main menu if you’re disconnected, you’ll continue to roam the colourful landscapes of Mexico regardless of your connection status. In general, an internet connection isn’t even required to play Forza Horizon 5 – it just works completely offline with no strings attached. The only time you’ll need an active connection is for installation.
Lastly, Forza Horizon 5 features 60FPS gameplay on the latest generation of Xbox consoles. While a deep-dive on the game’s graphical and technical capabilities is coming later, according to Turn 10, there are still a few aspects we can discuss today. Most obviously, the game looks stunning, and the overall level-of-detail and in-game asset quality is far superior to any past Forza title. However, the game will scale depending on your platform and configuration of choice.
A recent Digital Foundry analysis of the game’s technical abilities thus far have revealed that developer Playground Games has invested in “a number of scalable technologies, such as dynamic resolution scaling (DRS), variable draw distances and a robust levels of detail (LOD) system.” These allow Forza Horizon 5 to scale across a vast range of devices, from the original Xbox One all the way to the Xbox Series X|S and high-end gaming PCs.
On Xbox Series X, Forza Horizon 5 has two unique modes – 4K 30FPS and 4K 60FPS. It’s expected the latter will more aggressively utilize the new scaling options outlined above. Meanwhile, on Xbox Series S, the game similarly has two distinct flavours – 1080p 30FPS and 1080p 60FPS. Specifications regarding the Xbox One versions of Forza Horizon 5 have yet to be shared, but we expect those to come later in the year with the complete official technical breakdown.
Xbox Game Pass truly is the best value in all of gaming and if you’re an active member, you’ll be able to experience Forza Horizon 5 on PC or console for as long as your heart desires when it launches on November 9th, 2021.
That’s it! Hopefully, you learned something new about Forza Horizon 5 from these ten unique facts! Remember, there’s lots more to read up on – including our original E3 blowout article, the gameplay breakdown, and a close look at the different bundles available to pre-order.
Forza Horizon 5 is available to pre-purchase today on Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S and Windows 10 PC via the Microsoft Store. Lookout for Steam pre-orders to open later this year. Those who opt for the Premium Edition or acquire the Premium Add-Ons Bundle – handy for Xbox Game Pass users, will receive early access to the full game beginning on November 5th.
Alan is the co-founder and co-owner of FullThrottle Media. As someone who enjoys spending all his free time playing video games, he keeps the website updated with new and relevant content, including news stories, reviews and opinion pieces for the games he likes writing about the most. He also tweets too much, probably.