New events, challenges and rewards are consistently unlocked every week in Forza Horizon 4 due to the Festival Playlist and its seasonal structure. It should come as no surprise that this system carries forward into Forza Horizon 5 with notable changes based on the feedback accumulated over the years.
Speaking to Eurogamer in an interview, Forza Horizon 5 Creative Director Mike Brown revealed that while “it’s not the same as Horizon 4,” the Festival Playlist is back. This time, the game has “a nicer intro and handoff between the main campaign and that live service Festival Playlist.” He describes it as “more of a natural transition” when playing the campaign mode.
Regarding the time commitment required to complete the Festival Playlist every week, Brown said “I think we did land on a bit of a sweet spot... where it takes maybe two and a half hours to do it all within a week – that might be an evening session on the game, which I think fits into people's lives really nicely.” There’s also a great incentive to complete the Festival Playlist too, as it typically features a new car every week, alongside several returning vehicles.
Each time the season changes in Forza Horizon 4, it arrives alongside a new Festival Playlist. This will also be the case in Forza Horizon 5, but now the changes affect each biome differently. In Winter, you might experience a blizzard up in the volcano with deep snow slowing you down, but towards the coast, it’ll be roasting hot with sunshine to see for miles.
Extreme weather storms now also play a large part in the world climate too. You’ll experience a dramatic tropical storm during one of the game’s Expeditions, which are considered high-points throughout the campaign mode. These will see you head out and explore a new area of the world, and they’re led by one of the local Mexican characters, Ramiro, or Rami for short. Another Expedition has you go up the Gran Caldera Volcano while it’s active. Brown explains, “They offer us an opportunity to showcase a lot of the really exciting things that the game has to offer in a curated, story-driven experience.” At the end of each Expedition, a new Horizon Festival site opens with a bucket-load of fresh races. What’s more, those thrilling storms can also naturally occur during freeroam exploration.
In the future, Playground Games might also spotlight unique custom modes or races created in the EventLab in the Festival Playlist. “It's actually based on our internal design tools,” Brown told Eurogamer. “We've had to take those tools, which were very much meant for game developers and get them fit for consumption by our players, which was a pretty huge undertaking.”
“It's very powerful,” he says. “It's a rule-based system where you put in: when this happens, this is the outcome, when this happens with these conditions, then this is the action.” These aren’t just specific to the gamemode either, as you can also add effects to make the car get heavier or reduce gravity. You can also create experiences that are tailored to single-player, co-op play or competitive. “This isn't the end, because honestly, I think we'll probably be adding functionality to EventLab for months and years as the community tells us what they want it to do,” Brown adds.
Depending on what you’ve created, it may appear in the game in different ways. Races can naturally appear on the map, but in addition to Festival Playlist integration, they may be added to Horizon Open – which brings Races, Games, Drift and Eliminator together to create a more welcoming, fun experience over the more compeititve-focused Ranked Adventure mode from Forza Horizon 4. “That name signifies that it's for all, it's intended to be more low pressure, more inclusive, more accessible,” Brown explained to Eurogamer. “Winning is still obviously the objective, and still what you want to do, but it's not intended to be the be all and end all of it.”
Forza Horizon 5 has also made changes to car selection in race events, Brown revealed. While its predecessor allowed you to use the wrong car on the wrong track without informing you that it might be an issue, this time the game educates players on good car and track combinations – you’ll see information telling you what the race is going to be like, and the cars that would be appropriate for it. This isn’t forced like in the Festival Playlist however, ultimately you can still use any car on any track if that’s your desired experience.
Meanwhile, Forzathon Live has been retired in Forza Horizon 5 and is replaced with Horizon Arcade. The former provided on-the-hour events to participate in with the community, but this new version has gamemodes happening all the time for anyone to join. Instead of the singular gamemode from Forzathon Live, there’s now 130 challenges spanning 11 total game themes that are designed to be fun, collaborative minigames. None of them are about finding the best driver, it’s all about working together to overcome the objective. Piñata Pop is one example we saw in the gameplay reveal, which encourages players to cooperate and smash all the piñatas to rack up score in a specific zone.
Once a gamemode finishes, you can follow the group onto the next one or just drive away if you’d like to do something else. No matter the time, there’s always a new Horizon Arcade event available to join in Mexico – and they’re completely seamless with no loading screens or menus. Just drive up to participate. Similar are Horizon Tours, which allow you to jump into races from anywhere across Mexico and compete against Drivatars on Average difficulty. This mode is designed to capture the experience of a real-world car meet. Simply get together with other players, race and then if you choose, continue to the next Tour location in the world.
Finally, Brown also provided Eurogamer with a deeper explanation of the new AI assistant in Forza Horizon 5, Forza LINK. It helps you find things to do with others you meet online. “It knows your campaign status, your progression, the kind of things that you like to do, and it also knows that for everybody else.” If Forza LINK notices that you and another player haven’t completed The Trial yet, one of the weekly Festival Playlist events, then it can notify you both to jump into it together and begin matchmaking for other players to join. “It's intended to be tracking you and all the people you meet online, what things that you like to do, and then suggesting content that you could do together based on that – just to remove all those barriers to make it as simple as possible to get into online activities with other players,” he said.
For more, be sure to check out the full interview with Mike Brown over on Eurogamer. Otherwise, you can read these 10 unique details about the game that you might have missed.
Forza Horizon 5 launches on Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PC via Windows 10 and Steam, as well as Xbox Cloud Gaming on November 9th. Those who pre-order the Premium Edition receive 4 days of early access and get the Car Pass, VIP Membership, Welcome Pack and Expansions Bundle.
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.