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Forza Horizon 5 gameplay breakdown: 7 most exciting changes coming to the racing adventure

Forza Horizon 5
(Image credit: Playground Games)

Forza Horizon 5 is officially on the way, and we won't have to wait long to rev up our engines and get stuck into some next-gen racing goodness. Set to release on Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, PC, and Xbox Game Pass on November 9, 2021, the next entry in Playground Games' iconic racing series will take us to Mexico in what is said to be the biggest and most diverse open-world in the franchise so far. From gorgeous vistas that will take full advantage of the Xbox Series X's hardware, to all new features and a campaign to steer your way through, there's a lot to get excited about. We've gathered together the most exciting highlights from the recent reveal during the Xbox E3 2021 showcase. 

The Horizon Festival is coming to Mexico 

Forza Horizon 5

(Image credit: Playground Games)

After hitting the green English countryside in Forza Horizon 4 back in 2018, the latest upcoming title will be taking us to the vibrant setting of Mexico. From rainforests to seaside towns and active volcanoes, the team is committed to a faithful and authentic recreation of Mexico for us to drive through. It even features mural artwork from Mexican artist Farid Rueda. From everything that's been shown off so far, it looks utterly gorgeous.  

There's a new "adventurous" campaign 

Forza Horizon 5

(Image credit: Playground Games)

With a new location comes a new campaign, and this time around we'll be able to get stuck into what Playground describes as an "adventurous journey across Mexico". In a little snippet we get to see in the gameplay demo, cars are driving through the lush Mexican rainforest on an expedition. During the campaign, you'll get to explore new locations and discover new places that can be used to expand the Horizon festival. As with all Horizon games, it'll be exciting to see what kinds of races and adventures the new setting will deliver to us. 

Forza Horizon 5 showcases the capabilities of the Xbox Series X  

Forza Horizon 5

(Image credit: Playground Games)

Forza Horizon 5 looks set to make full use of the capabilities of the Xbox Series X and bring to life an incredibly detailed Mexico. The gameplay demo shows off some picturesque vistas and impressive light rays that bounce off of car windows - in fact, a lot of the in-game footage looks so realistic, you could mistake it for shots of the real-world locations. Forza Horizon 5 will take the graphics up another gear with ray tracing added to the cars, HDR captures, 4K 30 FPS on Series X, 1080p 30 FPS on Series S, and an optional 60 FPS performance mode. 

Seasonal weather makes more an impact this time around  

Forza Horizon 5

(Image credit: Playground Games)

Weather that changes with the seasons was first introduced in Forza Horizon 4, and it's set to make a comeback in the next entry. Only this time, the weather is said to make an impact in new ways. With many different biomes to drive through and explore, the new map in Forza Horizon 5 will be affected by the change of seasons in unique ways. There will also be certain areas that can only be accessed depending on the season. So, for example, if you're making your way through the rainforests and jungles, you can expect to be hit with some heavy rainfall at times.  

Forza Horizon 5 will be the "most social and connected experience"  

Forza Horizon 5

(Image credit: Playground Games)

Just like past Forza Horizon games that came before it, the series' fifth instalment will see the return of the multiplayer experience in what is said to be the most social and connected entry yet. Those promises are headlined by a feature known as Horizon Open, which brings together a host of traditional online multiplayer modes and competitive experiences, while other additions include Horizon Tour, where you can meet up with other players on the road, and Horizon Arcade, where you take on minigames and challenges with other drivers. Some of the new events we've seen include breaking piñatas on the road, so it'll be interesting to see what else is in store. 

EventLab lets your creativity thrive  

Forza Horizon 5

(Image credit: Playground Games)

EventLab is set to deliver a powerful toolset that will let you create your own custom stunts, challenges, races, and all-new modes. In the gameplay demo, we got to see a car veer into bowling pins across a custom racetrack, which looks set to be one of the many creative ways you craft and share your own custom challenges with the Forza Horizon creator community. 

More character customization options  

Forza Horizon 5

(Image credit: Playground Games)

Being able to select and customize your own character and change up your outfits for the next time you take the wheel is one of the simple joys of the game. And happily, you'll be able to do this once again in Forza Horizon 5, only this time there will be a more diverse selection of characters to choose from with customizable hairstyles. The team has also added in more inclusive options, such as the ability to select prosthetic limbs for your character and choose your voice and preferred pronouns.  


There's still more to come in the week ahead. Be sure to check out the E3 2021 schedule so you don't miss a moment. 

After trying to get into the industry for a number of years, I eventually landed my dream job as a full-time staff writer at GamesRadar+. You'll see all sorts of articles from me here including news, reviews, previews, and features.