Forza Horizon 5 is officially on its way – and you don’t have to wait too long to play it.
First announced at E3 2021, the popular driving simulator heads to an “authentic” recreation of Mexico and will boast the series’ largest open-world environments to date. Expect to traverse jungles, deserts, urban sprawls and ancient ruins as you tear through the rubber of the world’s fastest – and prettiest – cars.
We’ve only seen a couple of trailers so far, but we’re learning more and more about the game and what to expect from it as we draw ever closer to its November release date, from its audio ray tracing to its more-dynamic-than-ever weather system. Not only that, as an Xbox title it’ll be on Game Pass on day one.
Below, we round up everything we know about Forza Horizon 5 so far, including its release date, price, compatibility and new features.
[Update: Forza Horizon 5 will have the most dynamic weather system yet and it’ll sound best on Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S, with ray-traced audio and audible upgrades for the very first time. Read on to find out more.]
Cut to the chase
- What is it? The fifth entry in Forza’s open-world Horizon series
- When is it out? November 9, 2021 (early access November 4, 2021)
- Compatibility? Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S and PC
Release date, price and compatibility
Forza Horizon 5 is scheduled for release on November 9, 2021 for Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S and PC, making it the first game in the franchise heading exclusively to next-gen consoles. Premium Edition owners will get early access from November 5, 2021.
The Standard Edition will cost $59.99 / £54.99 (around AU$75) at launch, with the Deluxe Edition – which includes the Car Pass – slightly pricier at $79.99 / £69.99 (around AU$100). The Premium Edition will cost $99.99 / £84.99 (around AU$130), with the Premium Add-Ons bundle – sold separately as an upgrade package for those aforementioned versions – priced at $49.99 / £39.99 (around AU$65).
Forza Horizon 5 will also be available on Xbox Game Pass, which costs $9.99 / £7.99 / AU$10.95 per month.
Setting and new features
Forza Horizon 5 is once again being developed by Playground Games – the studio at the helm of all four previous entries in the series – and swaps the British setting of its predecessor for a fictionalized version of Mexico.
Playground says this new locale will mark the largest and most diverse open world ever playable in a Forza Horizon game, with virtual landscapes ranging from jungles to deserts. These environments will also boast the dynamic weather mechanics first introduced in Forza Horizon 4, which could see you suddenly swept up in a thunderstorm as you drift across scorching sand dunes.
As for new features beyond its setting, Forza Horizon 5 is mixing up the tried and tested racing formula. For the first time, the franchise is introducing a “deep and rewarding campaign” under the umbrella term Horizon Story, where players will meet new characters and determine the outcome of their missions. Don’t expect an Uncharted-level narrative, but it’s exciting to see the game’s developer push the boat (or car?) out with its latest entry in the series.
Speaking to Eurogamer, Forza Horizon 5’s principal game designer, Mike Brown, spoke of the decision to introduce campaign-like missions into the game: “They offer us an opportunity to showcase a lot of the really exciting things that the game has to offer in a curated, story-driven experience,” he said.
“A lot of those things can and will happen in free-roam just naturally, while you’re exploring, but this gives a more curated way to do it. At the end of each Expedition, you open up a new Horizon festival site, and with that opens up a load of new races.”
There’s also the addition of Forza LINC, a new AI assistant that will track your status, the people you meet online and help you play together, as well as Horizon Arcade, where players will journey cooperatively across the map to engage in various challenges and mini games.
EventLab is new, too, and will allow players to create their very own races, modes and experiences. We don’t yet know the scale of this building tool, but at E3 we caught a glimpse of bowling pin runs, gigantic jumps and huge fans that propel vehicles into the air.
As for improvements to social play and PvP racing, Horizon Tour and Horizon Open will make it easier to jump in and out of different modes with other players across the world – to “capture the experience of a car-meet,” says the developer. There’s improvements to Forza Horizon 4’s battle royale mode, too – called Eliminator – where players race against others online, trying to avoid expulsion by keeping ahead of the pack.
Customization has also been overhauled for both vehicles and character models, with “thousands” more visual and performance upgrades available to players at launch. Right now, we don’t know the exact lineup of vehicles that will be playable in-game, though we did spot beach buggies, off-road racers and, of course, supercars in the reveal trailer.
Trailers and gameplay
Even wondered how developer Playground Games meticulously records car audio sounds to use in game? Check out this behind the scene video and see for yourself.
Applying upgrades to your car will change how it sounds and Playground Games has given a preview of how that will look (and, most importantly, sound) below:
Want to get a look at some of the impressive sky and weather in Forza Horizon 5? Then you can check out episode 2 of Forza Horizon Let’s Go below. It even gives you a look at one of the new weather effects: dust storms.
After an initial cinematic trailer revealed the game’s title and setting, we were treated to a more detailed gameplay trailer at Xbox’s E3 showcase event – and boy, does it look pretty.
We got our first look at Forza Horizon 5 in this official trailer, with “all in-game 4K footage” showing off just how good we can expect it to look.
Designed exclusively for next-gen consoles and PC, Forza Horizon 5 is all about the visuals. That next-gen power will see the game boasting 4K resolution at 60fps on the Series X, and 1080p at 30fps on the Series S, with a 60fps performance mode also available for both.
It’ll feature visual ray tracing, too, though only in the game’s Forzavista vehicle viewing mode with audio ray tracing more widely used. Still, Forza Horizon 5 looks mightily beautiful – with weather effects like sunshine and rainfall really showcasing the power of the latest console technology.
The system requirements for PC owners are live now on Steam, though they’re not too demanding, so the game should run fine on most hardware (you’ll need 80GB of available space on your hard drive and 8GB of RAM, basically).
If Forza’s latest offering plays as good as it looks, then gamers are in for a treat.
Forza Horizon 5 news and updates
The most dynamic weather system yet
Forza Horizon 5 will build on the weather system of Forza Horizon 4, making it more dynamic than ever. While in Forza Horizon 4, the weather changes but is universal, in Forza Horizon 5 there will be different weather conditions across different parts of the map.
The game’s Mexico map will be broken into 11 biomes, each uniquely affected by the seasons. So, for example, in the Spring Season, you may experience tropical storms if you’re in the jungle but will only experience light rain in the desert. This seasonal weather also means that during dry seasons you’ll be able to explore areas previously inaccessible in the wet season.
Speaking to IGN, creative director Mike Brown explained how the game will use the diversity of its setting and its “more interesting seasonality compared to the UK” to show off the advances the weather system has made.
“I think the UK, certainly for those people who live in a temperate climate, has really pronounced spring, summer, autumn, winter,” said Brown, “Mexico, being a country that has huge elevation changes and obviously quite a large country, has different seasonality in different regions, which we’ve tried to recreate as accurately as possible.”
“It creates great scenarios where you can have snow on top of the volcano and you can go up there and you can even get blizzards up there, while at the exact same time down on the coast it can be blazing hot,” said Brown. “It’s still four seasons – you’ll still see that seasonality change – but it affects the different biomes in different ways. You get dust storms in the dry season, you get tropical storms in storm season, which is autumn. So there’s these big, massive weather events that can occur as well based on which season you’re in. Both of those are just really dynamic; they have a really great impact on the driving experience.”
Two new weather effects
Speaking of that weather system—Forza Horizon 5 will have two new weather effects. According to episode 2 of the Forza Horizon Let’s Go series, tropical storms and dust storms will be introduced. You’ll even be able to do some storm chasing.
“Storm chasing was a big thing in our plans when we were starting the project,” said Art Director Don Arceta. With that in mind, you’ll be able to see these new storms from a distance and approach them. They won’t be there all the time though—they’re seasonal so you’ll see tropical storms from June through late November, while dust storms will emerge in the dry season of mid-October to April.
Forza Horizon 5 will sound best on Xbox Series X and Series S
Forza Horizon 5 will sound better on Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S, according to Playground Games. The new consoles unlock a new compression format that allows for much higher fidelity audio, which means that every aspect of the game will sound “cleaner and more refined” on Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S, including car sounds, music and even dialog.
Forza Horizon 5 uses ray-traced audio
It turns out that Forza Horizon 5 will use ray tracing to affect the game’s audio, which is used throughout the world. The game will send out ray-traced audio paths that can detect walls, buildings and ceilings as well. This means you’ll hear the roar of your car’s engine sounds bouncing off of all the buildings around you, and that will change depending on the environment.
Forza Horizon 5’s lead audio designer Fraser Strachan said: “As soon as we turned it on, it grounded the world in reality. It made the world really feel alive. If you’re listening with spatial audio, something like Dolby Atmos with your headphones on, you’ll be able to hear your car bouncing off the roofs as well.”
This feature will also be multiplayer modes by using occlusion, as the game can detect where every single car is in relation to your car. If a car’s behind a building, for example, you’ll know not to head directly there as their engine will sound muffled. This means you could choose to cut them off instead, as you’ll be more of their location.
Audible upgrades will change the sound of your cars when upgrading
Forza Horizon 5 is the first game in the series that will change how cars sound when applying new upgrades. If you add upgrades like turbos and superchargers, it will noticeably affect how your car sounds, which has been a highly requested community feature for some time.