As we approach the end of the year, there’s a lot of talk around Game of the Year, and quite rightly Forza Horizon 5 is right up there in contention for the most coveted award in the game’s industry each and every year. We absolutely loved our trip out to the Horizon Festival in Forza Horizon 5, but just how does it compare with its predecessor, Forza Horizon 4? Well, we’ve looked at a number of various aspects of these open-world racing games to figure out which one reigns supreme.
Map/ Location – Winner: Forza Horizon 5
Arguably the most important factor of an open-world racing game is just how good the world looks and how interesting it is to simply explore. That’s something the Forza Horizon series has been knocking out of the park for years now, but with Forza Horizon 5, it reaches its highest point yet.
In Forza Horizon 4, players had a UK-inspired map to explore. It had the stunning views of the Lake District, the claustrophobic, narrow streets of inner cities like London and Edinburgh, and plenty of fields filled with sheep and other livestock. It was also pretty leafy and picturesque, but it didn’t quite have the sense of scale. Everything felt a little bit flat for the most part.
Forza Horizon 5’s map, on the other hand, is quite easily the best in the series, let alone the best between the two most recent entries in the series. With a massive sense of scale thanks to the towering volcano, and a veritable selection of twisting roads for drifting, long straights for drag racing, and all manner of Danger Sign jumps and average speed camera zones, there’s little not to love about Mexico.
There are dense jungles where the light seeps through the thick canopy above, making the perfect place for some moody action shots. There’s the hairpin-ridden road leading its way up the side of said active volcano, offering breath-taking views of the towns and villages in the distance below. There are long stretches of beach and massive open areas off-road perfect for just messing about with friends or trying to rack up a massive skill chain. There’s even a stadium with a big ol’ soccer ball inside so you can get your Rocket League on… kinda.
This variety doesn’t come at the expense of the visuals, either. Something that’ll I’ll get into more detail on later. But for now, just know that Mexico looks as good as it feels to explore. Lighting and shadow effects are second-to-none, and the various hazardous weather effects that come with each season only add to the sense that this is a real, living world.
It’s also worth now factoring in the new Hot Wheels expansion for Forza Horizon 5, which in our opinion, is a little more entertaining and varied than the LEGO DLC for Forza Horizon 5. Both are enjoyable, but if you’re looking for high-octane thrills and a more varied, interesting area to explore, than the Hot Wheels world just about tips it for us.