On Day 2 of E3 2021, we got our first look at a new entry in a classic Xbox franchise. Playground Games debuted the first trailer for Forza Horizon 5 at the Microsoft Bethesda showcase. The trailer offers a glimpse at the Xbox Series X|S’s graphical power, with beautifully rendered gameplay footage. Afterwards, the developers gave us some more information, including game types and a release date.
This Festival never ends. Welcome to Mexico. Welcome to Forza Horizon 5. pic.twitter.com/Ku0GyJRoLb
— Forza Horizon (@ForzaHorizon) June 13, 2021
Forza Horizon 5: The Festival Comes to Mexico
Let’s start with then When and Where of Forza Horizon 5. Then when? November 9, exclusively on Xbox consoles and Windows PC. Worried you won’t like the newest entry to the Forza Horizon series? No problem. Xbox Game Pass members will be able to play Forza Horizon 5 on day one.
The where? This year, the Forza Horizon Festival visits Mexico. The trailer shows off some of the countryside. Playground Games Creative Director Mike Brown talked passionately and often about how hard the team worked to faithfully recreate the open world you’ll be exploring. “The Horizon series is known for its uplifting beauty,” Brown said over gorgeous footage of a canyon. He even highlighted a real mural by artist Farid Rueda.
Which is why it’s extra funny when, later in the show, Brown shows off one of Forza Horizon 5’s arcade mini-games: Piñata Pop. I appreciate the emphasis on faithfully representing Mexico visually. I feel like you lose something when your only mini-game showcase is just Dropping Piñatas Everywhere, Run Them Over.
New Game Modes On The Horizon
The trailer opened with a campaign mode. You start in the jungles, on an expedition. As Mike Brown describes it, you are searching for unexplored places for the Horizon Festival to expand. There’s not much here, except that you get some dialogue that’s… fine. Playground Games also knows we aren’t here for single player and jumps straight into the multiplayer modes. There will be Horizon Arcade mini-games, like the above Piñata Pop. We didn’t see any other mini games. However, Brown did announce the Events Lab.
In the Events Lab, players will be able to design and build their own race tracks, mini games, and game modes. The trailer features a bowling mode giant bowling pins. You have to imagine, however, that you’ll be able to sculpt cool tracks as well. Honestly, it looks great. Racing games are better with track builders, and games that let players come up with game modes will have added longevity.
Forza Horizon 5 also teased a Battle Royale mode. Again, we didn’t get many details, but a brief clip of a player being challenged to a 1 on 1 race by an opponent in the open world. The UI has all of the things you need to be a Battle Royale, such as the Circle Timer and the number of players remaining. I think it’s genuinely good when non-shooter games try to do Battle Royales, so I’m excited to see how Forza Horizon 5 makes the popular multiplayer genre work.
What is Forza Link?
Brown also talks about something new coming to Forza Horizon 5: Forza Link. He describes Forza Link as a “new AI assistant that intelligently tracks that status of you and the people you meet online and helps you link up and play together.” It’s not really clear about what this means. Here’s Brown’s example: Forza Link knows that a player likes Horizon Arcade mini games, so it prompts another player to invite them to join theirs. I don’t know if Forza Horizon 5 needs to know my gaming habits to improve my experience, but I suppose results may vary.
The interesting thing about the announcement of Forza Horizon 5 is that it skips the order of Forza releases. Generally, a new Forza Motorsports game would be next, since Forza Horizon 4 was the latest game to drop. Vice President of Gaming at Microsoft Phil Spencer acknowledge this. He said Turn 10 is “hard at work on the next Forza Motorsport.” Forza Horizon 5 is set to launch November 9 on the Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, and Windows PC.