An Enthusiast’s Review of Forza Horizon 5

The bar for an open-world arcade racer has once again been raised.

A. Khaled

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Courtesy of Playground Games and Xbox Game Studios.

It’s been a while since I took a look at a game in as much detail as you’re about to see, but I’ve had so much fun with the latest entry in the Forza Horizon series that I couldn’t deny myself the courtesy. The vibes are reminiscent of those in late 2018 — when the UK-set one came out — and in the same way that Playground Games delighted its fans with what seemed like the quintessential racing game back then, they’re once again back at it–this time with even sharper focus on what defines the core experience, ironing out the few leftover kinks from the last game, and bringing it ever-closer to perfection.

This review won’t preoccupy itself with the beginner’s pretense since it is primarily written for those who’ve played a Horizon game before and are wondering if this entry innovates enough to warrant its existence. After about a dozen hours of gameplay, I can safely claim this is the case, and the good news is there’s plenty of room for improvement post-launch should the need arise.

It all starts with the oh-so-infamous Performance Index system, the primary dictator of gameplay balance within the Forza franchise. The game has set parameters upon which it calculates the performance of the car depending on a multitude of factors–there’s straight-line speed, turn-in ability, aerodynamics, power, torque, acceleration… a myriad of metrics comprise the calculus that makes the game spit out a numerical value denoting the aggregate of a car’s performance.

A sampling of PI ratings across different cars for illustration purposes.

The challenge with making such a system is it can’t be iterated upon post-release because of how logistically-complex it would be to retrofit given the highly-communitarian aspect of custom tuning–if developers tweaked the algorithm continuously throughout the game’s life cycle, tunes for a specific performance target would have to be completely reworked by their original creator to fit the new criteria. Much like writers and artists aren’t too fond of the arduous process of revising their old work, tuners wouldn’t exactly be thrilled with the prospects of…

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A. Khaled

Internet culture scribe with an interest in the digital economy, content creators, media and politics.