I agree that seasons did in fact change everything ™, but after a few cycles in FH4 I got super sick of winter. That’s not to say I don’t want snow and ice at all in FH5, but I wouldn’t mind the intense winter stuff to be only in certain locations, similar to Blizzard Mountain in FH3.
I’ve also been pretty bummed about the surprising lack of Mexican music! There’s so much good stuff to pull from and I’ve heard maybe three or four contemporary tracks peppered across one or two of the stations. I mean, I appreciate that there’s at least SOMETHING. But like, they have a radio station devoted to classical music, let me have one devoted to a mix of norteño, tejano, cumbia, whatever. And they clearly thought of it because they have some play in the handful of seconds where you’re selecting a new campaign mission/race. I ended up just making my own playlist of norteño that would constantly be playing whenever I visited my grandparents house as a kid.
Yeah, it seems like an unforced error! Music from Mexico is distinct, and would have gone a long way towards selling the setting!
It looks like a bunch of the tracks on the classical station were recordings from Mexican orchestras, so that’s pretty cool!
Would you share that playlist? I’m already sick of the soundtrack and I’d love to listen to some appropriate music while I play
Counter point, it is selling the setting in a way no one has pointed out yet.
Forza Horizon is a game series about rich car enthusiasts showing up in “exotic” locations who setup gaudy festivals to show off their car collections and conduct races and stunts that disregard the actual inhabitants of the land. You as a participant and seemingly one of the biggest influencers is encouraged to drive off the roads plowing through the native vegetation, through the property of the inhabitants, and knocking over utility poles cutting off power to the homes of these same people who probably are not going to get power back until the Horizon festival leaves. This is explicitly laid out early in 5 where in your friends plane goes down while searching for the next place to setup some events and he crashes near some ancient temples. Instead of saying “Wow these temples are beautiful we should respect them and move on” you both decide “Yo this place is sick we should drop our equipment here and setup shop. Imagine how cool it’s going to be conducting races right next to and on top of these temples!” There’s even a comment made about how the people who were here doing an archeological dig had to leave because of the weather so I guess that gives you free reign to roll in. Not to mention the fact that these people are so rich that they are routinely flying a cargo plane incredibly close to towns in order to drop cars and motorcycles out of the back of them likely in an effort to drive viewer counts up.
Further proof can be found in the initial player creation where in there are only 2 voice sets to pick from and both sound like privileged oblivious assholes. This is reinforced throughout by your character apparently having no knowledge of Mexico except every so often saying “wow it’s so beautiful” like a rich tourist as the guy who might as well be your tour guide tells you about the history of the area. You routinely are just given free cars and points (aka untaxed monopoly money) and your character never is seen excited about the fact that they were just given a free Corvette, and why should they when they already have 6 sitting in their garage. It’s quite clear after only a few hours into this game that your character puts “Exotic Car Influencer” on their Tinder profile which is just filled with pictures of them sitting in or leaning up against various expensive cars and a picture of them drinking a Dos Equis at a hotel swim up bar with the caption “Enjoying the local favorite ”
The lack of appropriate music for Mexico is just more reinforcement on this. You and everyone else showed up and setup your own radio towers and started broadcasting. Someone, probably in marketing, crunched the numbers and found that “our viewers just aren’t fans of Mexican music” so it’s not getting it’s own dedicated radio station but as a show of “goodwill” they’ll slip a song or two in so they can point to them and go “see we do care about the music of the locals”.
Speaking of, has anyone actually seen any locals? It’s almost like everyone got bused out of the area like the NFL rolled in. All the people watching the events seem to be 80% white Europeans even when they try to do local events like a parade to celebrate the moon.
Basically Forza Horizon is just Burning Man but with cars and a new location every year for rich people to brag about visiting and I am having a fun time playing it.
This is all why I made my guy bald with wrap around sunglasses. I just know my guy’s Twitter profile says:
“Love Jesus, Guns, Fast Cars and my Family. ‘Anyone who would give up liberty for security deserves neither.’ - Ben Franklin”
You know, I hadn’t thought of it that way, but you’re absolutely right! In that same sequence with the ruins, one of the optional objectives is to literally setup a radio relay for the shitty pop station! That whole scene really skeeved me out! The way they talked excitedly about tearing up the mud in a truck with HUGE wheels when it was so clearly disrespectful to the place they were was kind of harrowing actually. I’m not sure if its intended (or if intention matters.)
I kind of fell off this game because of that dissonance to be honest! It’s been tough to play something set in Mexico when it feels deeply uninterested in that setting.
And the DJ’s straight butcher the pronunciation of Guanajuato even though a native speaker just said it properly.
Someone at playground games knows what they are doing here.
That said. Very fun game to play, even though my shame levels spike every time I wreck some poor persons shit just so I can hit a sandwich board for prizes.
I always try so hard to drive around/between fences and posts to get to those damn sandwich boards, only to lightly tap something with my bumper and have it all come crumbling down. Makes you think, really.
It’s unfortunately mp3s ripped from family CDs ages ago, so I don’t even know what a lot of it is because I am nothing if not a truly gentrified Mexican American.
BUT. I absolutely do know it contains some Ramon Ayala and Los Tigres del Norte. I think some Los Tucanes? No family gathering was complete without those staples. And if you want to get into some more contemporary stuff, might I recommend Maná (a hugely popular Mexican pop-rock band) and Celest (a much smaller, kinda Metric like band).
For real! It really hits different when you’re knocking down vital infrastructure that colonized people use, and not just the stone walls of the landed gentry in Scotland! I demolished that stuff by driving through it in a straight line like Pac Man!
I’ve been calling this game “Forza Horizon Colonialism” since it was announced — and so I’ve been kinda wholly unsurprised by how easily it slips into that mold. It was bound to happen if they did the obvious and just transplanted the gameplay from FH4 into a setting that’s not an imperial state. Because like, open-world games are quite literally built on colonialist tropes, right? They involve exploring, discovering, expanding, building, performing these repetitive tasks to amass resources and grow, in a way that maps onto those imperial obsessions. The only ones that I feel escape that are the ones about rediscovering or reconnecting a place after a cataclysm — Breath of the Wild, for instance, or Death Stranding to an extent. But mostly they fall into this vein really easily.
But uh… maybe I’m a bad person, but I’m not finding myself quite as bothered by it as I expected, or as bothered as I’ve been by the way certain other open-world games broadcast that colonialism (coughSpider-Mancough). I’m about four hours in, maybe? Past the mission with the ruins that’s been mentioned and past the first few quests. But there’s something that’s just too fantastical about this whole thing — the way every destructible object fractures into neat pieces, or the way your car can flip like six times, land upright, and still finish a race, the way every single character is just so fucking peppy about everything… it feels like a diorama, like a reconstruction, even like a weird interactive museum. I don’t feel like I’m actually driving through a version of Mexico, more like a dream of Mexico. The whole experience is dreamlike.
Like the Vocho quest is pretty neat. I had no idea Beetles were a big cultural object in Mexico, but after playing through that quest I had a conversation with my partner (who is Mexican) about it and learned that they’re actually really big in her hometown. Same with restoring old cars. Even if that’s an incredibly basic thing that I just somehow never encountered before, it feels… good? meaningful? to experience it like this?
I don’t really know what I’m trying to say. I don’t necessarily think the game is super self-aware, but it’s not… entirely unaware of what it’s doing either? I remember in Rob’s review of FH4, he brought up the irony of a racing game about seasons, considering the role of cars in driving climate change — ironic because a video game somehow becomes both a time capsule for a disappearing phenomenon and the most ethical way to practice the thing with those consequences. This feels like it’s operating in a weirdly similar space. I don’t think anything you can do in Forza Horizon 5 is particularly unethical because I think it’s being really upfront about the fact that its world is a fantasy, a fever dream even. Whereas I still have trouble telling anyone to play Spider-Man because of the way that game glamorizes beating up subjects of carceral violence.
But I might end up convinced otherwise, who knows. I was really just surprised with how little the thing I expected to bother me actually has so far, especially in comparison to other games in this genre.
(Also, incredibly low bar to clear, but good on the developers for allowing all the customization options related to gender to be selected independently of each other. Still too many games tether those things together when it’s such an easy thing to do. Though, it makes the forced Britishness of the player character even weirder. Did they just run out of money for voice actors?)
It feels like they’re trying, at least. Like they’re aware that some of the, ahem, problematic elements are baked into the DNA of the series at this point, and they’re doing their best to soften those edges by adding in things that celebrate, respect and highlight elements of Mexican culture as much as possible?
It’s weirdly paradoxical though, because on the other hand they’ve fallen into some really obvious traps, like the cliché “Spanglish” all the Mexican characters speak that was rightfully mocked by the Waypoint crew in the podcast segment about Far Cry 6.
I also sometimes feel kind of weird about enjoying it so much, but it’s more Forza Horizon. It’s my meditation. I can just put on a podcast, let my muscle memory take over, and escape.
Forza Horizon has always been about living your best life as a car influencer in all your favourite holiday locations. Local infrastructure, ancient stone masonry, and carefully planted crops be damned. This is kind of why I miss the cop vs street racer dynamic of NFS: Hot Pursuit, it would be cool to shut these people down in souped up police cars. But probably not worth bringing in police brutality via car crashes to the happy instagram vibes of Horizon festival.
I don’t think I’ve ever exactly talked about it here, but I started the series w/ Forza Horizon 3, and…this game series is weirdly kind of important to me re: my gender identity? I always liked “car games” to various degrees since I was a kid, and had a brief stint as a “car person” back in my college years (I had a 1973 VW Karmann Ghia I took to shows), but “car games” never really moved me or anything.
Then Forza Horizon 3 happened. It was a car game…that wasn’t about serious racing or about generic hyper masculine street racing bros being bro-tastic about bro bros and tough tuner cars and loud EDM, bro bro bro? It was a car game with bright colors and cheerful people where you could cruise around the beach in any car you wanted while listening to upbeat pop music (yes, Horizon Pulse is my favorite station, not sorry about it) without any particular goal other than enjoying the vibes…and you could make your driver not be a boy?
I was already undergoing my final crashing-out-of-the-closet days due to having previously gotten obsessed with the Mass Effect trilogy (FemShep was key to me figuring my stuff out) and Gone Home, and Forza Horizon 3 gave me another big outlet. At first I was nervous about WHAT IT ALL MEANT so I had the game refer to my driver gal as “Madame President” but soon after I went scrolling through the actual names in the options and I got to one and…Forza Horizon 3 was literally the first moment I heard another human being refer to me as the name I wound up taking when I came out.
So like yeah, the general upbeat positivity of the series combined with the character options are a big part of what makes Horizon important to me. I realize it’s on one level a game about privileged folks going to “exotic” locations and being a disturbance but the game’s general smooth dream logic never makes me feel particularly upset by it, and its importance to me figuring out my identity far outweighs it personally.
This is a great take. There’s an old story by a comic writer about going to a convention, and someone brought her a particular comic to get signed. As the writer was signing it, she casually mentioned how disappointed she was in the comic when it came out. The characters didn’t work, and the art wasn’t that good, etc, etc. The writer looked up and saw that this person had turned beet red. It turns out, for whatever reason, this comic, which the creator had just spent a minute trashing, had been immensely important to this person, and the creator felt terrible.
Cultural criticism is important, and ideally, we could have everything you mentioned without the colonial shit, so we must continue to push for the industry to be better. But it’s really cool that the game affected you in this way. I love to hear stories like this, and I hope that as I continue to critique games from a cultural perspective, I can do so without making anyone’s good experience with the game feel invalid.
Okay hold up — I’m listening to one of the radio stations and the two host dudes are doing their between-song banter and casually let slip that both fast travel and the whole Rewind ability are canon in the world of this game, like they know you can do it, everyone does, presumably everyone at this festival can do it too, while means humans in this game have solved both teleportation and time travel. Maybe this is a thing I missed in the previous games but like… from now on I’m choosing to believe that the worlds of Forza Horizon and 17776 are just two variations of the same timeline. No one dies anymore and there’s no more interpersonal conflict because we figured out how to manipulate physics on a molecular level and so everyone had to figure out what to do with themselves and the result was to stage elaborate and ridiculous racing festivals (rather than elaborate and ridiculous games of American football). It makes too much sense and therefore is my new unassailable personal headcanon, and I will not be taking questions at this time.
(This is on my brain because I taught 17776 in my creative writing class a couple weeks ago and it very much holds up.)
If time travel is canon in the Horizonverse then that could explain how those bonus boards ended up on the temple that supposedly hasn’t been visited before in the expeditions!
Sorry to bump this thread, but I hit the Hall of Fame last night, and I have some final thoughts.
A few people have mentioned the map as overcrowded, and I have to agree. But the worst part is the map seems needlessly overcrowded. Like, why are the bonus boards you’ve found still on the map. Sure, they’re a different color now, but they literally no longer exist in the world. Why are they still on my map?
And this criticism extends out into other events. Like, I beat a race and come in 1st. Why is it still on my map? If I want to focus on beating all road races, why can’t I only limit my map to the races I haven’t beaten.
Yes, there is a filter function, but even that feels odd. Why can’t I combine “New” and “Road Races” to get only new road races? I select both of them, and I get road races, as well as every other “New” item on the map. And, yes, there’s an “Accolades Available” filter option, but this is a live service game… there are ALWAYS accolades available for any given event.
Anyway, it sounds like someone looked at the map and said, “everyone wants to see everything all the time, right?”
Aside from my map gripes, I also have issues with some weird difficulty spikes in a few of the campaign missions…
Any campaign race that has you drive one on one against a boss(?) type opponent will automatically be the hardest race in the game, largely because your opponent doesn’t have to follow the rules of the race. The monster truck race in the Cross Country section is extremely egregious in this regard. The monster trucks will just fly across the entire map missing a million checkpoints. And while it looks cool to see the massive trucks flying across the sky like that, you don’t get that option. You have to stick to the checkpoints, or you fail.
After that monster truck race, you have a brief section where you get to drive a monster truck in an arena and do wicked flips and bust through shit and it’s cool in theory. But they put in a bunch of optional accolades and then put a strict time limit on achieving them. Some of the accolades are vague (destroy the bad cactus? The fucking what?!) and others just take time to figure out. You’re driving a vehicle you’ve never driven before, and you’re expected to achieve a score goal? And hit a speed goal? And find a bad cactus, whatever that is? All in three minutes?
This one is even worse because there’s no easy way to restart this section. You have to do the monster truck race again. And even worse, the arena event is five minutes away from the start of the race. So, you have to drive five minutes and do the whole race again just to get back to the arena. Ugh.
- They need to work on their definitions. So, there’s a story in the Cross Country section about doing stunts for a movie. So, you think… cool. Cross country, off roads shit. Am I racing down a mountain? Jumping off rocks? Literally, the first chapter tells you to drive down this road within a time limit, and stay on the road. Insert butwhy.gif. I loved the cross country races, because they felt like you just had this crazy wide track with all these cool options, and you could customize your car in neat ways. I hated every chapter of that movie story. It all just felt needlessly tight and finicky in a way that none of the other cross country events were.
Overall, I really loved this game. I thought it was and continues to be fantastic. I still have a lot of races left to do, so I’m sure I’ll probably jump back in every now and then when I want to just drive through the beautiful landscape and leave nerds in the dust, but I’m good right now setting it to the side and moving on to something else.