A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this game.
Multiplayer modes promote a social atmosphere with teamwork, communication, friendly competition. But open-world action -- on roads with civilian traffic, with no consequences -- could send message to young drivers that street racing isn't as dangerous as it really is.
Positive Role Models
Customizable main character -- who can be male, female, or gender fluid, and have prosthetic limbs -- is a good winner and a gracious loser, and eager to help friends who ask. That said, they're driving habits are extraordinarily dangerous and would certainly lead to injury or death in the real world.
All of the racing action takes place in a fictionalized Mexico. Several key characters are Latino.
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Ease of Play
Controls are standard for racing games, with joystick steering, one trigger reserved for acceleration, the other for braking, and a face button for the emergency brake. Players can make the game as challenging or as forgiving as they like, choosing from nine levels of AI racer difficulty and a huge range of driving assists.
Violence & Scariness
Cars get into crashes at high speeds and show moderate physical damage, but no one's ever injured or hurt.
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Products & Purchases
Familiar brands are everywhere, including scores of popular car manufacturers and automobile parts makers. Several cars have decals that promote popular consumer goods, such as Monster Energy drinks. Players can use real money to purchase in-game items, including car packs and a treasure map. This is the 2021 installment in the Forza franchise, which has split into two separate racing series. The Hot Wheels Expansion promotes not only the history of Hot Wheels cars, tracks, and content, but features a new section themed and branded around the popular toy line.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Forza Horizon 5 is an open-world racing game for Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, and Windows PCs. This 2021 game in the Forza racing franchise puts players in the role of a star driver helping to introduce the Forza Horizon racing festival -- a collection of races, challenges, and other car-focused events -- to Mexico. This driver can be customized as the player likes, including gender, pronouns, skin tone, and even limb prosthetics. The high-speed racing action is set in an open world rather than closed circuits, which means players zoom through towns and in and out of civilian traffic, often getting into high-speed accidents. No one's ever killed or even injured, but the lack of consequences may give young drivers the wrong impression about the dangers of street racing. Parents should be aware that real-world brands feature prominently throughout, including dozens of car and auto parts manufacturers as well as consumer brands painted on vehicles. Players can also use real money to purchase additional in-game items, such as car packs and a treasure map. The Hot Wheels Expansion promotes the history of Hot Wheels cars, tracks, and content. It also features a new section themed and branded around the popular toy line, which could get players and fans interested in checking out the toys in real life.
Is It Any Good?
If there's a racing game meant for everyone, this is it. Forza Horizon 5 is wonderfully welcoming, featuring instantly intuitive controls and a collection of cinematic events and activities bound to drop the jaws of both racing rookies and seasoned gearheads. Whether you're drifting around dirt tracks in the jungle, hitting ludicrous speeds on the drag strip, or engaging in wild one-off events racing against airplanes and people in wingsuits, it seems like there's always something new to do that takes full advantage of the game's lush setting and extraordinary driving physics, which can be made as realistic or as arcade-like as the player prefers. Indeed, with a bit of tweaking in the settings menu, even first-time racers should be able to handle some of the game's fastest and wildest vehicles. Hard-core racing fans, meanwhile, can adjust these same settings to create a deeply realistic simulation-style experience, fine-tuning each of their cars exactly how they like.
What really makes Forza Horizon 5 special, though, is that there's never a wasted second. No matter what you're doing -- working through a series of story races, exploring the countryside looking for a barn containing a rare car, or just driving across the map from one event to the next -- you're constantly being rewarded for every drift, near miss, and smashed street sign, earning experience, skill points, and chances to spin the game's prize wheel to obtain new cars and more credits. It's a powerfully satisfying feedback loop that (for better or worse) makes it very hard to put down the controller. Add in gorgeous graphics -- this may be the prettiest Xbox Series X/S game yet -- and an enormous array of social multiplayer opportunities, including team-based arcade challenges that see groups of players working together toward a single goal, and you've got a game that players are bound to keep playing for months, if not longer. This has been further extended thanks to the Hot Wheels expansion pack, bringing the sprints, drifts, and other activities high into the clouds in a fantasy environment built out of Hot Wheels tracks. It's awesome to tear around volcanoes, soar through giant racing loops, and get your vehicle accelerated thanks to boost pads scattered across the track. But even cooler, there's so much lore and history provided about the toys and cars that even if you weren't a fan of them before, you will become one shortly after tearing across each course. What's better is the fact that you also have the EventLab where you can build your own challenges with stunt pieces and tracks, which feels like it was borrowed from the racing kits themselves. You may not think you're a racing game fan, but spend a little time with Forza Horizon 5, and you might surprise yourself.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.