Alongside Halo Infinite, Forza Horizon 5 is one of Microsoft's biggest games this holiday season, and its November 9 release date is coming up fast. The beloved open-world racing series heads to Mexico in the latest entry from UK developer Playground Games. Ahead of launch for Xbox and PC, we're rounding up everything you need to know about the game from its announcement leading up to today.
Who's Developing It?
Fans may be happy to know that series creator Playground Games is returning to develop Forza Horizon 5. It is one of the UK-based studio's multiple projects, the other big one being the new Fable game that was announced in July 2020. Playground Games is a wholly owned Microsoft subsidiary, following the Xbox company's acquisition of the studio in 2018.
After a good amount of speculation and insider reports, Microsoft officially announced Forza Horizon 5 during the Xbox E3 2021 briefing in June. The game's setting in Mexico was confirmed during the event, while the announcement trailer showed off some of the speculator-looking places that players will get to visit in the racing game. In a shift for the series, Playground Games had an extra year of development, as the Horizon series is normally released every two years but it moved to three for Horizon 5. The developers have since spoken about how the extra year of development helped make Forza Horizon 5 a better, more accessible game.
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Playground Games creative director Mike Brown explained recently that the extra year of development allowed the team to make "bigger investments" that contribute to help make Forza Horizon 5 a better sim and also a more accessible game for newcomers.
"The fact that we took three years rather than two, our usual two-year cycle, has allowed us to make some bigger investments than we otherwise normally would have been able to," Brown said.
The most immediate and important thing to know is that Forza Horizon 5 takes players to a new location--Mexico--which is a huge departure from Forza Horizon 4's setting in the British countryside. From what we've seen and learned so far, Forza Horizon 5's version of Mexico is presented in stunning and rich detail, with 11 different biomes to explore. It's a huge world--it measures in at 50% larger than Forza Horizon 4's. Some of the biomes include a tropical coast, farmlands, a living desert, a jungle, a swamp, and a city, among others. Forza Horizon 5 also brings back Seasons, so the game will dynamically change and introduce new weather and lighting effects based on the particular season.
Playground Games sent developers and researchers to Mexico (during pre-COVID times) to gather images and details to represent Mexico as faithfully and authentically as possible.
And speaking of authenticity, Brown said Playground Games worked with a Mexican scriptwriter and a cultural consultant to ensure the team is avoiding stereotypes.
"We want this to be a game that when a Mexican plays it, they feel like it's been made with care and love and I really feel like we've taken this very seriously," Brown said. "And really wanted it to not feel like it was playing on those stereotypes. And instead feel like it was real and authentic and full of love."
Like past games in the series, Forza Horizon 5 lets you drive and race through an open world and take part in challenges as you go on your own. It also includes a suite of multiplayer options, which feature updates for the new game. For example, the Horizon Open mode is now more accessible and fun, and it no longer has a skill-based ranking system. There are four activities in the Horizon Open, including Open Racing, Open Drifting, Playground Games, and the Eliminator battle royale mode. Check out the video above to see Forza Horizon 5's multiplayer mode in action.
Sports games have their cover athletes, and the Forza Horizon series has its cover stars. For Forza Horizon 5, the AMG-1 Mercedes hypercar and the 2021 Ford Bronco Badlands grace the cover--and they look fantastic.
Forza Horizon 5 is set for release on November 9, 2021 for PC, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X|S.
Preorder and Collector's Editions
Preorders for Forza Horizon 5 are available through Xbox.com. The base game costs $60, while the Deluxe Edition is $80 and the Premium Edition is $100. The Premium version includes access to Forza Horizon 5's two expansions when they release, as well as a VIP membership, the Welcome Pack, and the Car Pass. This version also unlocks four days early, beginning November 5. The Deluxe Edition, meanwhile, comes with the full game and the Car Pass. Like all of Microsoft's other first-party games, Forza Horizon 5 will launch day one on Xbox Game Pass, though this is only for the Standard edition.
Two expansion packs have been confirmed for Forza Horizon 5, though all we know so far is they will each add a new location on the map, more vehicles, and additional gameplay elements. Forza Horizon 4 had some impressive expansion packs, including Fortune Island, so fans will understandably have high hopes for Forza Horizon 5's expansion content.
Special Edition Controller
Being one of Microsoft's biggest and most important games of 2021, the company is going big to promote Forza Horizon 5, and this includes launching a limited-edition controller. The controller has a slick-looking yellow color scheme that looks like it's been splashed with blue and pink, which also cover the sticks and face buttons. It also has "racing inspired" texture grips modeled after real steering wheels, along with textured bumpers and triggers.
If you are lucky enough to find one in stock, the special edition controller sells for $75.
We will continue to update this story as new information comes to light about Forza Horizon 5. While you wait for the game to release, you can check out GameSpot's ranking of all 13 Forza games from worst to best.