The first expansion for Forza Horizon 5 is finally here, and it’s one of if not the best they’ve ever made. This isn’t the first time they’ve brought in the Hot Wheels license, after a sterling showing back in 3, but this is the craziest, most fun, and content-rich expansion yet. Featuring jaw-dropping graphics, an insane sense of speed, and excellent performance this is an experience that you do not want to miss.
Fun Fun Fun in the Sun Sun Sun
The premise for this one is simple. The (seemingly world’s wealthiest) people running the Horizon Festival have built three large flying landmasses interconnected with a racing hub. All of it is covered in gloriously large hot wheels track, featuring three distinct biomes. The first area you’ll race in is snow-covered, with icy roads, but within this frost-laden behemoth is an active volcano. Next is a forested area full of gorgeous waterfalls and tracks with water flumes doing their best to up the difficulty. Finally, we have the desert area “protected” by a toy-looking gigantic dragon. In the center of it all is an insanely fast straightaway to take you to your home in the sky at this ridiculous, completely unrealistic, and stupendously grand festival.
If you’re not big on the Forza Horizon style you’re in for a bit of a rough time. The writing and attitude are the same as the base game, but much like the ridiculous track design, it’s all turned up to 11. Much like the base game the progression system here is easily understood and doesn’t take too long to start opening things up. There are a series of missions and challenges which give you medals. As you reach certain medal counts you unlock the ability to get faster cars, access more races, stunts, etc., and continue through the “history of Hot Wheels” story that is constantly unlocking more and more Hot Wheels branded cars for you to race in. It isn’t complicated, and it features plenty of familiar content for the series. What makes it so special are the tracks and just how bloody gorgeous everything is.
This Expansion Is Stunning
I played a mix of PC at Ultra Settings and on a Series X in performance mode. New to consoles is the ability to change the Field of View slider, though it is only available in the Hot Wheels expansion. Everything felt and ran incredibly well, and the art design is impeccable. Every road is made of that famous orange and blue Hot Wheels track. They are complemented by metallic sections with magnetized floors and the previously mentioned water flumes that lead to absolute carnage. In the center of the screen is an interesting, if sometimes a bit in the way, crosshair that is constantly adjusting to tell you which way gravity is pulling on your vehicle.
This is important because the handling changes drastically as the pitch of the roads changes a lot from turn to turn. It took me a short period of time to adjust to these new rules as I attempted to win each race against increasingly difficult AI. Not everything is on track, as at various points, much like with the first Hot Wheels DLC, you can go off-road to do various stunts or just take a look around. Some areas are a bit buggy though, with my car hovering above the ground and things completely disappearing if I panned the camera around in third-person mode. A few times PR stunts wouldn’t activate where I thought they would, and it turned out the zone for a stunt was far bigger than I had realized.
Fast travel is free, which is great because the classic straight line style travel here simply doesn’t work. If you had to drive from one end of the map to the other every time you wanted to do a new race or stunt it would become old quickly. Multiple new achievements were added in as well for those interested but overall this is very much the Forza Horizon 5 I played back at launch and it’s more brilliant than ever. This full embrace of the absurd and arcade extends into new lab events as well with crazy jumps over impossible landscapes making me giggle like a kid.
Few games have made me feel a true sense of nostalgia. I wasn’t the biggest fan of Hot Wheels growing up, but I had my fair share. Seeing Bone Shaker and Rip Rod in full-size as I jump 2000 feet through one of if not the best-looking video game landscapes of all time is everything I could have ever dreamed of. If you enjoyed the base game at all then you owe it to yourself to play this expansion.
|Reviewed on||Windows PC & Series X|
|Available On||Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, Windows PC|
|Release Date||July 19th, 2022|
|Publisher||Xbox Game Studios|
|Rated||E for Everyone|