Get excited, car enthusiasts, as Forza Horizon 5 lands this month, and we’re off to Mexico! STACK went for a spin with the game’s creative director, Mike Brown at Playground Games, to learn more.
Since the first series release, Forza Horizon has taken us to the US, France and Italy, Australia, England, and now Mexico. It was diversity that led to this latest location being chosen.
“From the get-go, we wanted this to be the biggest Horizon to date,” says Brown. “To do that, we knew we had to offer a diverse and contrasting world. Mexico is almost like the whole world in one country, with snowy peaks, vast canyons, beaches, modern cities and tropical jungles. When you also factor in its rich culture, it’s clear that Mexico offered everything we were looking for when deciding on the next location.”
That rich culture has presented many opportunities to expand on the Forza Horizon experience, and the people at Playground made sure to get an expert in so as to get things right.
“We’ve really tried to delve into the Mexican culture with Forza Horizon 5,” enthuses Brown. “This is something that’s very important for us. We worked closely with a local cultural consultant, Lalo Alcaraz, to help us with dialogue and campaign elements like Lucha that are dear to Mexican culture. We also worked with local artists to create seven murals, which are scattered throughout the world for players to discover.”
Naturally, the VW Beetle, which is a legend in Mexican auto culture, wasn’t overlooked.
“Of course, the ‘Bocho’ car, which is iconic in Mexico, is featured in the campaign,” Brown says. “From the start, we felt it was so important to us to deliver a game that feels like an authentic representation of Mexico, as well as showcase its beauty.”
“From the start, we felt it was so important to us to deliver a game that feels like an authentic representation of Mexico, as well as showcase its beauty.”
This showcase had led to the biggest world yet in a Forza Horizon game.
“We set out to make this the biggest map yet, and Horizon 5 is 50 per cent bigger than Horizon 4,” Brown proudly declares. “Additionally, Mexico is the most vertical world we’ve ever designed, adding new depth to the series.”
As with most ongoing franchises, lessons were learned from Forza Horizon 4 that have led to improvements in Forza Horizon 5.
“We always take lessons from the previous iteration when working on the latest Forza,” Brown tells us. “With Forza Horizon 5, we worked on several key features that really set it apart from its predecessors. The team have taken the last two-to-three years to completely rework our audio system, and have recorded hundreds of brand-new car recordings to our existing library. As you apply upgrades to your cars, you can even hear the real-time changes once they’re made! We’ve also improved the ‘Character Customizer’ to provide players with a more diverse cast of selectable characters. Then there’s ‘Expeditions’, ‘EventLab’ and ‘Forza Link’, which really offer a great gameplay experience for players, whether they’re playing alone or with friends.”
While most of us know the feeling of firing up the game for a quick blast and then spending hours joyfully driving around, sometimes we really do just want a quick fix. Playground have made this even easier in Forza Horizon 5, while still bringing players closer to achieving goals in-game.
“It’s really important to us that players feel like the game is respecting their time,” says Brown. “We make sure that even if you’re only playing for a short while, there’s still loads you can do to move your campaign forward. Even when you’ve finished the campaign, the ‘Festival Playlist’ gives you new activities to take on each week, and there are challenges in there that you’ll be able to start ticking off within a few minutes.”
Ultimately, Brown says that it’s all about pleasing the players.
“We think both fans of Forza Horizon and new players are going to be incredibly happy with Forza Horizon 5. We’ve put a lot of love into the game, and really hope they enjoy the breathtaking landscapes, and the crisp, high-quality gameplay that the series has always aimed to provide.”
Forza Horizon 5 releases November 9 on Xbox.
When asked his personal favourite car in Forza Horizon 5, Brown tries to be diplomatic, until…
“Obviously, I love all of our cars equally… But I especially love the retro Porsche 911 range. My fave is the 1982 911 Turbo. It’s an iconic car, beautiful to look at and a riot to drive!”