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Saturday, October 23, 2021

Forza Horizon 5 is Forza Horizon 4 with cacti instead of hedgerows

You can choose from a large pool of names in Forza Horizon 5. I choose ‘Chump’ because it reflects the kind of racer I am. Forza Horizon 5 lets you cut corners unpunished and it always gives you about a half a metre leeway with checkpoint flags, on every difficulty variant. I like that. It rewards you with points for virtually everything you do, like scraping against family sedans at high speed, or crushing cacti (‘smactus points’ they call them, 1,000 per smashed cactus). If you get a little bit of air, you’re rewarded for getting “great air.” I’m Chump, yes, but according to everyone I meet at the Horizon Festival I’m also a racing car hero, even though I’m playing with Drivatar intelligence in the ‘average’ zone, with full racing lines to boot.

It doesn’t matter. Forza Horizon has always been about the wow factor and it’s never been shy to dole out gratification—that’s its modus operandi. It wants to make you feel good, and boy does it not let up in that pursuit. Early in this preview build a companion summarises a particularly hectic racing event I’ve just been involved in. There was a cargo plane, two motocross bikes and a wingsuit involved, me in a Corvette Stingray Coupe. As always, Horizon 5 has these “boss battle” style races that deviate dramatically from the norm of simply racing against other cars.

(Image credit: Microsoft)

My companion shares the details of this race with her friends via text message, and then announces to me that it’s “time for Foo Fighters.” She’s a genius at reading the room because Forza Horizon is the Foo Fighters of videogames.

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