Forza Horizon 5 Review: Not Bulletproof

Ouch!

You’ve probably seen the many reviews for Forza Horizon 5 floating around recently. Big surprise, it’s getting 9s and 10s all around and being hailed as the best open world racing game. It’s already the largest Xbox Game Studios release. Forza Horizon 5 is a slam dunk. I agree with this assessment for the most part, but I have a few caveats I’d like to bring to your attention about this release.

Despite all the high ratings pre-launch, Forza Horizon 5 had a rating of “2” on the Xbox store yesterday. This isn’t surprising, because a huge number of players, me included, could not get the game to run in any sort of stable condition on PC. Ultimately, running the game in admin mode worked for me, but seriously? This is a major release for both consoles and PC, and these stability issues were clearly not isolated to edge cases. I’m running a 3070 and could benchmark the game at a solid frame rate. Annoyingly, the game would crash before I could get through the super-long opening racing sequence, forcing me to start it over again.

I have a Series X, so I decided to fire it up, and my gold-plated PC eyeballs were immediately barraged by a default 30 frames per second slideshow. For some reason, Playground decided to default the game on quality mode on Xbox, which apparently provides more visual fidelity than performance mode, which runs at 60 fps. I honestly did not see that much of a graphics fidelity difference between performance and quality. The frames per second difference was night and day.

Forza Horizon 5 is a visual treat on PC

I eventually got the game up and running on PC. Ray tracing looks sharp on the 3070. I was able to run the game smoothly at 1440. The game looks great, although I will say textures will load in occasionally with a normal map attached or something. It’s weird, but overall, the game looks awesome. Racing through the jungles or streets of small towns in Mexico is a treat.

The driving in Forza Horizon 5 is identical to Forza Horizon 4. All the modes are there, along with an added item collection mode, which is fun enough. There’s seriously nothing new here. Although, there are some slight adjustments that add a bit of polish.

First off, the drivatars you face off against automatically will change to your car class and type in the open world. I appreciate this. If you’re driving an old Mustang, all the cars around you will be classic muscle cars. Having a bit more continuity reigns in the madness a bit, and I appreciate that.  

Secondly, the sound. Holy crap has Playground done something with the sound of the cars here. The radio can piss off. I turned the radio volume down completely in the options, but it was so I could hear the roar of the cars. Do yourself a favor and go into the cockpit of the cars to listen to the amazing sound work that is in this game. It’s truly impressive.

The sound of the cars is one of the more impressive aspects of FH5

What isn’t impressive is the wheel support. It was bad in Forza Horizon 4 and it’s just as bad in 5. You can use a wheel, but the default settings make driving off road nearly impossible. I don’t know how the hell they came up with the wheel settings for this game. There is no way a human being sat down and played this game before launch and said it felt good with a steering wheel. It’s that bad. Check out the RER YouTube channel for a video on starting wheel settings. This should at least help you keep it on the road. I recently ran an off-road race with the wheel and got last place. I ran the same race with the controller and got first place. It’s that much of a difference when I need precision during the races.

See ya!

Forza Horizon 5 is a mostly good mixed bag. It’s a fantastic game, especially if you like the Forza Horizon series. This game is not bulletproof by any means. They’ve refined what they did in 4. That’s good because 4 was a great game. There are some annoying launch issues affecting the PC launch though. Some big ones that would sink most releases. That’s slightly troubling, but for now, I’m enjoying this high-octane romp through Mexico.

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