As we approach the end of the year, there’s a lot of talk about Game of the Year, and it’s fitting that Forza Horizon 5 is in contention for the most coveted award in the game industry every year. We absolutely loved our trip to the Horizon Festival in Forza Horizon 5, but how does it compare to its predecessor, Forza Horizon 4? Well, we have looked at several different aspects of these open-world racing games to find out which one reigns supreme.
Map / Location – WINNER: Forza Horizon 5
Arguably the most important factor in an open-world racing game is how cool the world looks and how easy it is to explore. The Forza Horizon series has been knocking it out of the park for a few years now, but with Forza Horizon 5, it has reached its highest point yet.
In Forza Horizon 4, players had a UK-inspired map to explore. It had stunning views of the Lake District, the claustrophobic, narrow streets of inner cities like London and Edinburgh, and an area full of sheep and other livestock. It was also quite leafy and picturesque, but it lacked a sense of scale. Everything felt a little flat for the most part.
Forza Horizon 5’s map, on the other hand, is quite easily the best in the series, let alone the best between the two most recent entries in the series. With a sense of scale thanks to the towering volcano, and a perfect selection of winding roads for drifting, long straights for drag racing, and all manner of hazard signs jumps and average speed camera zones, love about Mexico Not too little to do.
There are dense forests where light seeps from the thick canopy above, which is the perfect spot for some moody action shots. There is a hairpin-filled road leading up to the edge of the active volcano, offering breath-taking views of the towns and villages in the distance below. Long stretches of beach and massive open areas are off-road that are perfect for just messing around with friends or trying to rack up a huge skill chain. There’s even a stadium with a big ol’ soccer ball so you can start your own Rocket League… kinda.
This variety doesn’t even come at the cost of visuals. Something that I will elaborate on later. But for now, just know that Mexico looks as good as it has to explore. The light and shadow effects are second-to-none, and the various dangerous weather effects that come with each season only add to the sense that this is a real, living world.
This is also now noticeable in the new Hot Wheels expansion for Forza Horizon 5, which is, in our opinion, a bit more entertaining and varied than Forza Horizon 5’s Lego DLC. Both are enjoyable, but if you’re looking for high-octane thrills and a more diverse, interesting area to explore than the world of Hot Wheels just suggests it for us.
Gameplay – WINNER: Forza Horizon 5
I initially toyed with the idea of leaving it as a draw. After all, the gameplay is more or less the same between the two Horizon titles, but the 5 has made some much-needed improvements that give it the edge here.
For those unfamiliar with the series, the Forza Horizon games have always been based around the Horizon Festival, a roaming celebration of all things motorsport. You complete races and improve your reputation in the festival, unlocking more events as you go.
Outside of standard races, there are danger sign jumps for you to break records, cameras with average speeds to set, drift zones to win, and even hidden treasures to find every once in a while. There’s an XP board, fast travel board, online leaderboards, battle royale-style multiplayer mode called The Eliminator, and more.
The only complaint I had when playing Horizon 4 was that things seemed to end very quickly. The campaign quickly ended, leaving your own drive to carry you through completing race after race. In Horizon 5, we have a much more full-feeling campaign with campaign missions that require you to complete a variety of objectives to open up new celebration sites. There’s a Hall of Fame to enter and mass endurance events make a comeback. Oh, and some showcase events in Forza Horizon 5? Chef’s kiss.
Simply put, it’s just More All the same, the great racing gameplay that’s become synonymous with the series in Forza Horizon 5, with a few new additions to boot.
Car Roster – WINNER: Forza Horizon 4
There isn’t much to differentiate the two games’ car rosters right now, especially with many more vehicles likely to be added to Forza Horizon 5.
Looking at the number of cars in the base game, Forza Horizon 5 raises the tally to 505, although that number has already increased to 528 with the inclusion of Welcome Pack cars and other DLC packs. That’s up from the 460 cars in Forza Horizon 4’s base game, though now with all of its DLC packs and updates, the roster now sits at 752 cars (including both expansions).
Ultimately, though, Horizon 5 has more or less all the ‘big’ iconic cars players could possibly want to use which are also in Forza Horizon 4, with some new, modern additions added for good measure. It will see its roster grow significantly stronger in the future with content updates and two upcoming expansions, but for now, if you’re looking for the widest selection of cars, you’ll have to give it to Forza Horizon 4.
Scene – WINNER: Forza Horizon 5
As great as Forza Horizon 4 looked, Forza Horizon 5 just takes it to a whole other level, and Mexico’s location only adds to it.
Whereas Horizon 4 released Series X last year. Noted and performing well after the S patch, the Horizon 5 runs at 4K resolution with HDR enabled at a buttery smooth framerate. To maintain a beautifully locked 60fps, Forzavista also has the option of playing in performance mode to lower the resolution and disable ray-tracing.
However, it is not just the technical specifications. There are so many stunning sights and amazing scenery in Forza Horizon 5’s open world Mexico that you’ll want to crank the handbrake just to take a moment to appreciate it. All 500+ vehicle models are fully detailed, and even the dirt and rocks along roads and off-road paths look photorealistic.
It may be a bit unfair fighting, but you can’t judge which racing sim is better without taking in the visuals.
Overall Winner: Forza Horizon 5
Surprisingly none, Better Racing Game 5 has a tour of Mexico between the two most recent entries in the Forza Horizon series.
As you’d expect from a sequel, it’s much bigger and better in every way. The core gameplay experience remains largely the same between the two entries, but when it comes to the open world and visuals, Forza Horizon 5 runs away with the lead. Mexico’s diverse terrain and sense of scale make for a world that is simply an immense pleasure to explore. Not that Horizon 4 didn’t, but Mexico is bigger and better in almost every sense. We’ll also say that Horizon 5’s Hot Wheels DLC is a step up from Horizon 4’s Lego expansion.
Along with that, add to the core gameplay with a few new additions like campaigns to visit each festival venue, and the whole thing is running on a crisp 4K HDR image at 60fps, and you’ve got the best racing game you can possibly have. Can buy now.
Forza Horizon 4 may not have won it, but it will take a long time for its successor to rise to the top spot.
Which do you think is the best Forza Horizon game? Tell us in the comments below.