Busy Gamer Review - Forza Horizon 5: The Fast, and What Makes Me Furious

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Forza Horizon 5 smashing boards Forza Horizon 5 is both a revelation and a great disappointment. At least so far. We are only a week in.

In case you don't follow me closely, I've played every Forza game and especially love the Horizon series. Forza Horizon 4 really sucked me in, and I've played nearly every day for the past three years. I'm addicted to the hourly, daily, and weekly events and grind to earn more Forzathon points to unlock bonus items and wheelspins.

At first glance, Forza Horizon 5 promises to be more of the same. But it's not there yet.


Here's my first play (actually a bit over 45 minutes) to give you a picture of the game on Day 1:


Driving force
The world is HUGE. This is both awesome and terrible, as you will spend a lot more time driving from place to place until you unlock Fast Travel and hit enough boards to bring the cost down to a reasonable amount (note to devs: why is it the same price regardless of distance?!). Fortunately you can use the menus to travel for free to your house or the festival, so that will save you some virtual scratch. And frequent leveling will give you lots of wheelspins, which tend to refill your coffers pretty fast.

I, of course, picked up the Premium Edition for the early access and all of the bonuses (expansion pass, car pass, VIP items like weekly bonus wheel spins). When I first jumped in, it was packed - a lot of Premium Edition buyers were determined to get their money's worth from the first weekend. Alas, it was buggy as hell and I got punted from online play more often than not.

Things seemed to stabilize a bit after the full launch, which includes the free-with-Game Pass no-frills version. But the number of people in any given session always seemed to be less than 10. On Forza Horizon 4, I would routinely see sessions with 50-60 players, which made Forzathon Live (now rebranded as Horizon Arcade) easier to complete.


Arcade: no tokens, no high score
Speaking of Horizon Arcade, there are a lot of changes to this and so far it's a hot mess. I've entered a dozen or more events but only officially completed one. Usually there's just me or one other person doing the challenge, so we don't make it past Round 2. Also, the mechanics have changed - wreckage skills only count if you hit unique items in a series. Hitting the same item (such as fencing or trees) only gives you one hit, so you need to alternate - or have a big enough crew playing that it doesn't matter that you can't spam a field and clean up (like I did so many times in FH4).

Forza Horizon 5 Shop error Also, Arcade events happen every 15 minutes and only last for 10. And there are always two different ones going at the same time, further splitting the focus of the few players in a session who might be inclined to join in. I've also had people playing in a session who were completely invisible so I couldn't even see their identifiers. Not ghosted, just not there except for evidence of their contributions.

Rather than more frequent events, I had hoped the would improve the core mechanic. For instance, ranking each round with who drew First Blood (earned the first point), was MVP (scored the most), and Finisher (scored the winning point). This would offer fun little bragging rights and help players evaluate winning strategies. For instance, I hold that more frequent runs at speed traps generate more points than running off to score higher speeds - this would help me prove it!

All of the sloppy online availability and scattered challenges have left me avoiding my favorite activity. Also, it's been more than a week and the Arcade Shop still comes up empty (just throws an error) and the Forza app on Xbox doesn't include Forza Horizon 5 yet for either weekly bonuses or overall Forza game leveling. Next week?

The good news is that I unlocked the DeLorean:

DeLorean unlocked in Forza Horizon 5


The long road ahead
All of those criticisms aside, there is a lot to recommend in Forza Horizon 5. The expeditions are awesome - I'm hoping we get more with the expansions next year. Driving around an active volcano, collecting data and popping steam vents will never get old (so why isn't more of this dynamic in the game?!). I also managed to drive every road in the game within the first week. I was just disappointed it popped when I still had 5 undriven roads set aside as I was planning to savor getting it on my terms.

Honestly, I expect all of my complaints to be addressed in the coming weeks. It's just annoying that they weren't managed at launch. We paid a premium to get early access, and what we received was half-baked. But I still have tons to explore, and once the game supports enough simultaneous players I expect Arcade will be fun too.

Until then, I guess I'll just drift a bit.


If you want to drift with others, we have a no-pressure club - mostly we just hang out and share the occasional image or clip. Join us:

Busy Gamer Nation club on Forza Horizon 5

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This page contains a single entry by Gamewatcher published on November 14, 2021 6:44 PM.

Busy Gamer Streaming - 1st 30 mins of Forza Horizon 5 Premium Edition was the previous entry in this blog.

Busy Gamer Streaming - 1st 30 mins of Doki Doki Literature Club Plus! is the next entry in this blog.

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