WE are nearly two years into the pandemic and it doesn’t look like any of us will be going on an exotic overseas holiday anytime soon – but fortunately, computer games have come to the rescue once again.
The Forza Horizon series has the appeal of exotic locations, fast cars, and stunning visuals – which sounds like a pretty good holiday to me, which is why it’s been good to see more of what Microsoft have planned for Forza Horizon 5, which is set in Mexico.
The Xbox Showcase at the digital GamesCom 2021 event showed off more of the amazing scenery and racing action players can expect when the game launches for Xbox and PC on November 9 (November 5 for people who pre-order the Premium Edition).
I’m particularly interested in the campaign which developers Playground Games have confirmed for the game. Sure, there was the “Horizon Life” thing in Forza Horizon 4, but it wasn’t an actual story in the way “Horizon Story” appears to be shaping up.
Mexico is a diverse country with terrain ranging from desert to jungles to urban centres to tropicalcoastline, and that is reflected in the Forza Horizon 5 map – which will also have a return of dynamic weather much like in Forza Horizon 4 (where each weather cycle lasted a week, so you’d get all four seasons over the course of a month in real-time).
Under the new system, the cycles will still be weekly, but they’ll be biome-specific so you’re not dealing with snow on a tropical coastline or – but you will get to experience tropical storms and dust storms in the appropriate biomes.
The announcement notes, “As you play through Forza Horizon 5 and explore our expansive version of Mexico, you can expect cargo planes, an active volcano, a race to the festival under beautiful Mexican skies, and more. You’ll see exciting sights like the Ford Bronco Badlands atop the active, snow-capped Gran Caldera volcano, the 2020 Corvette Stingray tearing up the asphalt towards a dust storm in the Mexican farmland, and the Porsche 911 Desert Flyer crashing through the dense jungle tree canopy. And finally, you’ll get to experience the stunning Mercedes-AMG ONE at full speed along Mexico’s sunbaked rocky coast.”
You may also have gathered also going to be a huge number of cars – the cover vehicles have been announced as the 2021 Ford Bronco Badlands and the Mercedes-Benz AMG One, and there are countless other racing cars, dune buggies, off-roaders and vehicles for players to climb into the driver’s seat of.
One of the other appealing changes is the introduction of a “Tourist” difficulty mode, intended for people who really just want to explore the world or (like me) don’t always want to be challenged in their games.
The title is clearly going to be a showcase piece for the Xbox Series X/S, with the developers promising 4K at 30fps as standard and 4K/60fps in performance mode for the Xbox Series X and 1080p at 60fps on the Xbox Series S. There’s no word on the official performance for the Xbox Series X yet, but the game will also be on PC too. The Steam page for Forza Horizon 5 lists the minimum specs as a 3.7Ghz Intel i3-4170 or 2.67Ghz Intel i5-750 processor, 8GB RAM, an Nvidia GTX 760 or AMD RX 460 graphics card, and 80GB of storage.
Bear in mind this is the minimum to get the game running, not to get it looking like the photorealistic racing-travelogue we’re seeing in the screenshots and preview videos, so it’s a safe bet the RTX 30-series card owners out there are rubbing their driving gloves together in glee.
I really enjoyed Forza Horizon 4 and am really looking forward to playing Forza Horizon 5 too – I reckon rally-driving through jungle is going to be an exhilarating experience. I like what I’ve seen so far and will be waiting for the green light to plant boot and get on with the review as soon as codes become available.