The wait until November for Forza Horizon 5 isn’t passing nearly as quickly as anyone would like. At least Playground Games is easing the time by with its regular streams, gradually sharing information about the game. For the latest episode, the dev team treated us to more examples of the many biomes within its rendition of Mexico — and threw in a shot of the entire world map for good measure.
This map is said to be 50 percent larger than Forza Horizon 4's United Kingdom. You can see it contains a little bit of everything: desert, mountains and a volcano with the appropriate switchbacks; highways, tropical coasts and even a little city modeled in the spirit of Guanajuato.
Slightly northeast of center is the stadium, a space where players can compete in and design their own challenges and obstacle courses using FH5's Events Lab. There’s also a racetrack and drag strip built around the Horizon Festival hub near the southwest corner.
Typically the larger an open world is, the more wasted space it contains — particularly for racing games, where you’re traveling massive distances in short stretches of time. It’s true that we’re only getting glimpses at choice cuts of FH5's Mexico. But the caliber of detail in every square mile and variety across the map is genuinely staggering, especially when you consider this world is 1.5 times larger than the previous game’s.
Every mesquite bush and cactus casts a shadow, and the granularity of the textures on the desert floor is amazing. Even the water level changes in areas of the map with the passage of time. You’ll notice little creeks and rivers form over roads during the stormy autumn season that won’t be present at other periods of an in-game year. And the summer heat means more smoke pouring off your tires. The visual candy kicks off at about the 12:30 mark of the video below.
I know waxing poetic over the lushness of FH5's world is beyond tired by now, but the game deserves the praise. Looking beyond the environments, the way the lighting interacts with vehicles and materials has taken a monumental leap forward, too. We see a silver A90 Supra in this stream, and its metallic paint plays wonderfully against the purple sky as it rockets through the dunes at dawn. By late morning, the sun is beaming off its roof.
Speaking of that Supra, the car will be given to every player from the very start of FH5, and with it players will receive a range of exterior modifications. You can apply the Heritage bumpers, wing and side skirts from that Mk IV tribute Toyota introduced for SEMA last year, or you can opt for the full-on HKS widebody kit. Judging from the stream there are going to be many new aftermarket wheels too, though it’s hard to tell what they are because their thumbnails are still absent in this prerelease build.
Forza Horizon 5 continues to progress pretty much as expected then, sounding great and looking even better. Release is almost exactly three months out from today, leaving lots more time for further reveals. We’ve always known the game would be a technical showcase, so I’m hoping to learn more about the campaign and progression in future streams.