Forza Horizon 5 The Road to Mexico | September Update

Alan Walsh
Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Your Horizon Adventure in Mexico will be like no other as Forza Horizon 5 gives you the tools and freedom to craft your own unique journey through our largest game world yet – all by engaging in content as you see fit. Therefore, it’s only appropriate that throughout September, we focused on the campaign and multiplayer components that make up this ultimate Horizon Adventure! 


Buckle up as we recap The Road to Mexico as seen in our most recent Let’s ¡Go! streams. If you need to get caught up to where we were before September, here’s our blogs from June, July and August that’ll ensure you’re fully in the know with all things Forza Horizon 5. With that out of the way, let’s dive right in!



In Horizon Adventure, Forza Horizon 5’s campaign mode, everyone’s adventure will be different based on the festival outposts they open and the expansions built for them. This is brought together via an artistically stylish map that summarizes your Horizon Adventure in one place.


Accolades are a new progression mechanic in Forza Horizon 5 that span thousands of bitesize challenges across several gameplay categories, such as races, stunts, exploration, photography, painting, and more. Progressing to the next chapter of your Horizon Adventure requires you to earn a specific number of Accolades. While we don’t expect players to complete every individual accolade in the game, they will extend your gameplay in the areas of Forza Horizon 5 you enjoy the most.



It’s why we designed Horizon Adventure to be a “snackable” campaign. You can drop in, do a small piece of gameplay to earn Accolades, and drop out. Alternatively, take on an entire category of Accolades and steadily progress through them all in a weekend. Forza Horizon 5 is undoubtedly a massive game that you can sink hours into, but we’ve made it just as rewarding if you can only spare 15 minutes for a play session. We also know that every Horizon player has their own distinct play style so you’ll always have a choice in which Accolades to pursue next.


One of the best ways to earn Accolades early on is by completing races. To unlock the next stage of our Horizon Adventure, Marco Conti, the game’s Senior Vehicle Dynamics Designer, took on the Horizon Festival Circuit Race. This previously abandoned racing circuit proved to be an ideal showcase of the investments that we’ve made into wheel gameplay. In Forza Horizon 5, handling and force-feedback has been improved all-up. For instance, Conti was able to “catch” the car after losing the backend even with sim-steering enabled and traction off. He also noted that driving on the wheel now makes you feel connected with the road and every detail on the ground as the car, tires and terrain all vary the experience.


From there, we were ready to expand our Horizon Festival and build a new outpost. Each has its own speciality, so you can choose whichever speaks loudest to you:


  • Horizon Festival – Main Stage
  • Horizon Apex – Road Racing
  • Horizon Wilds – Dirt Racing
  • Horizon Baja – Cross Country Racing
  • Horizon Street Scene – Street Racing
  • Horizon Rush – PR Stunts



To kick off road racing in Mexico, we needed to build the Horizon Apex site at Tulum – requiring us to undertake an Expedition to reach it. These set-piece gameplay sequences introduce players to new areas of Mexico, where you’ll learn more about the environment courtesy of your tour guide, Ramiro. For the Tulum Expedition, he leads you through a tropical storm from his plane before embarking on the ancient ruins of the lost city of Ek’ Balam. Here you can complete optional side objectives to earn additional Accolades and even uncover a Barn Find clue!


Expeditions can also be undertaken with your friends, as we demonstrated on-stream. In fact, we’ve designed the entirety of Forza Horizon 5 around co-op play – available once you complete the first Horizon Story mission around 20 minutes in. The game uses a flexible drop-in and drop-out model that ensures all progress is preserved, no matter if you’re playing alone or with others.


To wrap up our Horizon Adventure for now, we checked out the newly-unlocked Playa Azul Circuit Race – a tropical paradise on the east coast of the map. This little village makes for the perfect holiday resort and also provides a great set of corners for our race event! Marco used this opportunity to further discuss our updated physics and wheel gameplay. He noted how the new upgrades system in Forza Horizon 5 lets you virtually transform the feel of cars – all while delivering a more fun, authentic experience on the wheel.



We also checked out the Car Collection screen in Forza Horizon 5. It’s like a virtual car sticker book that tracks the vehicles you’ve acquired from each manufacturer. You can purchase new ones at the click of a button and obtain exclusive rewards by unlocking a total number of cars per manufacturer. That way it’s always compelling to add new cars to your garage and complete each set. With this in-mind, we also shared a continuously updating list of cars coming to Forza Horizon 5 on day one.


As always, we finished up by inviting Creative Director Mike Brown and Senior Designer Ben Thacker-Fell to answer some of your Forza Horizon 5 questions! You can also click on any of the questions below to jump to that point in the livestream.


Q: Can you tell us if clothing items will be still in Wheelspins?


A: Yes, but you’re now also able to purchase both Common and Rare clothing items with credits. Rarer clothing items are unlocked through Wheelspins, the Festival Playlist or other such activities.


Q: What has been your favorite car to drive on your favorite road so far in Forza Horizon 5?


Mike and Ben handed the microphone to Marco for this one, here’s what he had to say!


A: I think the Horizon Festival Circuit is actually phenomenal. You can really bring any car, especially road car – I think it’s really good, especially when you get into driving S1 and S2 class cars. It’s really good fun and also, it’s really good for drifting. You can really connect all the corners right there and actually create a proper drift – so go for it!


Q: Is Abraham (voice actor) working on the Spanish version of the game too?


A: Great question, yes, he is! Abraham provides the English version of the character and also the Spanish version of the character in the Mexican-Spanish and Spanish versions of the game.


Q: Are weekly weather changes coming back?


A: Yes, seasons still change every week and with that, so will the weather and the world around you. 


Q: Will Barn Finds be more complex or harder to find?


A: To answer if Barn Finds are more complex to find, you’d have to ask the person how hard it is for them in the first place. Barn Finds are a really nice feature and we’re never planning on making that more complex in the beauty of finding an amazing old car hidden away in the world.


A slight twist on it this time is that a few of them unlock in different ways. One of them you unlock in a Horizon Story, another in the Tulum Expedition – when you take a jump over the temple and spot a barn. That gets added to your map, so when you finish that Expedition, you can go back and find it. There’s a couple of others that have interesting discovery criteria – to give it a dev-sounding term.


Overall, in some ways more complex, more fun and more interesting. There are lots of Barn Finds, we won’t reveal them all to keep them a secret!


Q: How close can you make the game feel like a sim? Or do you consider it to still drive as an arcade/sim-cade like game?


The perfect question for Marco! We recommend hitting the above timestamp for this one so you can follow along with his response as he demonstrates some in-game functionality.


A: This is the way I was driving. ABS is still on, but the Steering is simulation – it feels much nicer for me. You feel more attached, more responsive and more in control of the car. Traction control is off because it’s more fun, with manual shifting.


But let’s go through the new sliders that we’ve added so you can actually customize the way the force-feedback in the steering wheel works. So, we always have Force Feedback Scale, Center Spring Scale, Wheel Damper Scale – that hasn’t changed at all, but we have changed the Mechanical Trail so this one allows you to tune up or down the suspension component of the force-feedback so you can feel more of the backend or frontend – depends on what you like, depends on what you’re doing. If you’re drifting, just go up.


And then we actually added a Minimum Force which basically enhances the lateral force from the tires, so you feel a lot more – especially in the center point of the steering wheel. Then we have the Load Sensitivity, so you can tune up or down the maximum lateral force that gets sent to the force-feedback, so you feel more force when you’re at the peak of the grip.


Ultimately, the Road Feel is split into two parts – there’s the Road Feel for when you’re on asphalt and Off-Road feel for wherever you are off-road. So, you can really go down and tune every single aspect of the driving experience on the steering wheel. 


Q: How many players are on one online server?


A: We have overhauled how the Horizon Life servers work. So, whereas in Forza Horizon 4 you were connected in a server with up to 71 other players (to make 72 in total), it’s a bit different now.


You’re actually connected to everyone at the same time on the one server, and as you’re travelling around, you’ll still see up to eleven other players on-screen at once, but everywhere feels – or as appropriate, places feel livelier. We can tune how likely it is that you’ll bump into other people based on whether an area should feel full of life, like a city or if out in the jungle where we might tune down that density of players.


You’ll be meeting different people all over the world and you can even team up in a Convoy as we did earlier when we were playing in co-op.



The following batch of questions were submitted to us on Twitter using #DearForza. 


Q: Is there a radio station in Spanish? Just like in FH2 we had one in Italian, and I loved it, by the way.


A: We have huge Mexican influence across radio stations. We don’t have an entirely dedicated Mexican radio station, but we have music of the Mexican diaspora infusing every single station – brilliant representation throughout and we also have an artist, a Mexican DJ. Angelica Garcia, she is one of the artists on Horizon XS and she’s also the DJ of that station as well.


Q: Will we be able to experience the diverse atmosphere of Mexico with a demo?


A: We know that you are incredibly excited to get your hands on Forza Horizon 5 and wanted to let you know that while we will not be releasing a demo, you can expect to hear and see more about new game features on these Let’s ¡Go! livestreams.


Playground is delivering the biggest and best Horizon game on Nov. 9 and we’re excited to share more soon about how FH5 looks and plays across platforms – Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PC in the Microsoft Store and Steam, and Xbox Game Pass including console, PC and Cloud Gaming (Beta). 


And whether you’ll be playing on Xbox Series consoles, or Xbox One, or PC – for those wanting to try out Forza Horizon 5, they can check it out in Xbox Game Pass on day one.


Q: In the VIP Pass, one of the items you get is called Vanity Items. What is a Vanity Item? Can I [Don Joewon Song] appear on the show and create events using EventLab #WorthAShot?


A: VIP comes with some vanity items that includes exclusive clothing, an emote and there’s a car horn as well – more details on what this is later.


In addition, VIP grants you 2x credit race rewards, weekly bonus Super Wheelspins, 3 exclusive Forza Edition cars, a crown flair for your in-game profile and a Player House gifted to you.


Can you appear on the show? Yeah, I guess so. Reach out to us – should probably get you on, I feel like that’d be really fun. Can you make your stuff in EventLab? Sure, yeah. Everybody is obviously welcome to create some stuff on EventLab.


One of the cool things we’ll be doing this time around is taking some of those great creations and delivering them to all players through the Festival Playlist. So, when people make amazing experiences – races or gamemodes, we’ll then package those up and deliver them to everyone else. So, as well as the cool stuff we make, the cool stuff you make can get delivered to everybody as well so you can share it with the world. 


Q: What are Kudos going to be used for? Are Kudos going to be like Forzathon Points?


A: No, Forzathon Points still exist and are earned by completing Forzathon challenges. Kudos are a social currency, which you can earn for being one of the coolest and most social people in the Forza community. There’s a bunch of opportunities where you help other players out and they give you a Kudos, or someone helps you and you can give them a Kudos.


One of the examples is in Forza LINK – If I’m searching for a Barn Find and I’m in that Barn Find area trying to find it, then I might get LINK up and say, “Hey, does anyone know where this barn is?” I can press that, and maybe Ben has already found the barn and he’ll go, “Yeah, I know where it is!” That then gives me a clue on my map as to where it is, and because he’s helped me out, I can go “Thanks” using LINK and it’ll give Ben a Kudos.


Related to that Barn Find, once I’ve discovered that barn – a new feature is Gift Drops. So, once I’ve gone and collected that really cool Barn Find and I’m waiting for it to be restored, I can then go and create a Barn Find of my own using that empty barn. So, I can take one of the cars from my garage, I can paint it, I can apply an upgrade preset and then I can package it up and deliver it as a gift to another player. 


Maybe someone who has just joined the game and then when that person receives it, maybe they think “That was really cool, that guy is really nice, I’ll give him a Kudos” – and then I’ll get one Kudos point as well. So, it acts as this sort of social currency that rewards players for doing really cool things for each other within the community. 


Q: My question is about the props we can place in EventLab. Are there racing themed props like maybe kerbs or similar things? That would be really nice for us racing nerds who want to make nice tracks for track days.


A: Yes, they are! We kind of first dabbled in this stuff with Super7 in Forza Horizon 4, where all the props that we gave you are really geared around making big jumps and stunts. This time of round, we’ve massively expanded our props – I don’t know the exact number, but it does include all of that stuff that internally we call “race-ification.” That’s a word we made up to describe all of the stuff that makes a race, a race – all of the barriers, flags, chevrons, grandstands – all that stuff that turns a bit of road into a race will now be in there that you can go and place yourself to create cool races all over the world. 


Q: Will there be any cut scenes in the game, and will there be a definitive ending to the story mode of the game?


A: Yes, the game opens with a really cool cutscene that introduces you to Mexico. There is a cutscene when you arrive at the Festival for the first time that introduces you to all the main characters such as Ramiro, Hayley and Alexandria. As you’re playing through Horizon Stories, Showcases and Expeditions, there are loads more. 


No, there isn’t a point which the game goes “roll credits, you’re finished!” There is the goal of the campaign, it’s reaching the Hall of Fame but when you get to that point, there’s still loads to do. There’s all the Accolades, there’s loads of content still to complete and that’s before we talk about all of the updates and the new things we’ll deliver after the game launches in the way that we’ve done in the past – all the cool stuff that we add on!


Long story short: Definitive end, no. 


I would repeat, we don’t expect any one person to do all of that stuff. We make probably like thousands of hours of stuff, and you should pick your way through that – pick the things that you love to do. Festival Playlist this time has loads more discovery stuff, there’s treasure chests in there. So even if you’re not much of a racer, there’s things in there to keep you coming back week after week and give you “explore-y” things to do in the world. There’s something for everyone.


Ahead of our second Let’s ¡Go! livestream of September, Mike appeared on Forza Monthly to highlight some of the new customization features in Forza Horizon 5: from removable side doors on the 2020 Jeep Gladiator Rubicon to a Duke Dynamics bodykit for the 2018 Porsche 911 GT2 RS. We’ve also introduced off-road suspension for every car in the game, as well as off-road, rally and snow tire compounds. Between these options and our new off-road stat rating, Mike transformed the 911 GT2 RS into an off-roading beast geared to take on desert trails.



This was also a prime opportunity to showcase the improved Livery Editor which brings through the design language of modern image editing software. This includes a vertical stack – where paint layers are above one another, while functions like copy/paste, move, cut and recolour are now given their own tool tray. We’ve also made brake callipers paintable! With the Livery Editor already robust, Playground invested in the usability of the tools and overall paint quality by increasing the resolution of liveries on Xbox Series X|S for higher fidelity.


Meanwhile, over on Let’s ¡Go! we took a deep dive into Forza Horizon 5’s multiplayer features as 12 Playground developers explored Mexico together in a convoy taking on various online activities. Mike was joined by Level Designer Andrew Baranowski and Game Designer Anna Poliakova.



Horizon Arcade is a collection of minigames that anyone can participate in around the world. Once the ongoing event has ended, everyone can drive to the new designated location to play another game. On stream, we played 3 variations including Piñata Pop, Bullseye and Mini Missions.


Piñata Pop tasks players to smash the donkey piñatas – but watch out, hitting those angry red cacti will ghost your car – preventing you from earning points temporarily! 


In Bullseye, drive through as many of the floating targets as possible. Use the conveniently placed ramps to reach them. The closer to the centre you hit, the more points earned. Successfully smash a target and the next one appears. Miss and you’ll need to go back! 


Mini Missions is like a game of Simon Says – everyone must do the assigned challenge within the set time limit. The more players who successfully complete it, the more points scored. These challenges range from earning skills to smashing through objects and doing stunts.



Horizon Tour is a friendly and relaxed way to experience Forza Horizon 5 online. It’s a casual co-op racing mode where you’ll team up with other players to face off against a team of easy-going Drivatars. Everyone drives to the next location after each race and the theme changes every five minutes so you can try out different cars. The Horizon Tour starts at the Horizon Festival site by its own gorgeous mural. It’s a great location to meetup and socialize, either with new people or friends and to show off your tuned-up ride. Here you can use Forza LINK to suggest Horizon Tour to those nearby – everyone who “Accepts” will be grouped together to play.


Horizon Open presents four flavours of gameplay – Open Racing, Open Drifting, Playground Games and The Eliminator. On stream, we highlighted how the sheer scale and verticality of Mexico makes it a great open world for our battle royale mode. For instance, torque is key to climbing the Gran Caldera volcano, while the city of Guanajuato tests your map knowledge. Due to its roots in Mexican car culture, we’ve chosen the 1963 Volkswagen Beetle as the new starter car. We’ve also placed Car Drops around points of interest, making these areas rewarding but risky to explore. Check out the livestream to see the gameplay for yourself, featuring 50 Playground developers all battling it out to be The Eliminator!


Mike and our convoy later hosted a multi-class racer on the Horizon Baja Circuit, which interweaves a flat-track oval course, a figure-eight circuit, and stunt jumps all in one! We also used this opportunity to discuss improvements to Drivatars. We’ve massively overhauled them to better match you and your car and to deliver the closest, most enjoyable race experience possible – encouraging tuners to get the most from their rides when racing Unbeatable Drivatars!



Before heading into our Q&A, we took another look at our social features, including Forza LINK, Kudos and Gift Drops.


Forza LINK – A smart tool that tracks your progress alongside that of nearby players to make it easy and seamless to “Link Up” and complete activities together. In addition to in-game communications with teammates, rivals and drivers in the open world, LINK can even be used to help other players locate Barn Finds by leaving a clue on their map.


Kudos – A social currency earned for positive actions in the game prominently highlighted in your Storefront. Perhaps you’ve helped someone locate a Barn Find, sent a Gift Drop or received a compliment on your driving finesse in an online race.


Gift Drops – Choose any car from your garage, customized or stock and send it to another player to find in their world. Select a message to attach with your gift and sign off with your in-game name or Gamertag. Once you send the car, it’s removed from your garage because you’re giving it away. You can choose if you’d like the gift to go to Anyone, New Players, Returning Players, New Hall of Fame Members or Community Contributors.


Now, let’s answer more of your burning questions across the spectrum of all things Forza Horizon 5!


Q: I heard that Forza LINK will be adaptive to our status and other players’ status. Will it also be adaptive to the seasons, time, races, places and anything else?


A: The way LINK works, there are certain conditions that we pick that will determine what options are available, and places are absolutely one of those. It looks at what’s nearby and different options will become available. Like, when you’re near a Barn Find, you can ask someone for help. If you’re in Playground Games for example, it knows what mode you’re in so you can give commands to ask for help. You can tell your teammates that there are zombies around the corner, or to go in and flank them! It also pushes you towards seasonal events if you haven’t already done them, it looks at what’s available right now and you can suggest those to other players.


Q: Will we see the Auction House feature in Forza Horizon 5 or just the Autoshow?


A: Yes, the Auction House returns – it’s had a bit of a lick of paint and been all modernized, alongside the Autoshow as well.


Q: Can you tell us more about what to expect with Street Scene?


A: So, the Street Scene now has its own Festival. There’s already a street racing scene in Mexico when the Horizon Festival arrives, which you’ll meet as part of the story and then there’s a bit of a collab between the local Mexican street scene and the Horizon Festival to put on some events and setup an outpost. It’s a really awesome looking Festival – a great place to hang out and take photos at night because it has neons everywhere.



Plus, new to Forza Horizon 5, fully customize any Street Scene event using EventLab!


Q: In previous livestreams, the updated livery system has been briefly mentioned. Can we get a glimpse at the customization options of the updated livery system?


A: We looked at the improved Livery Editor on Forza Monthly! You can check that out on Twitch or YouTube as a VoD – or scroll up in this blog for the rundown.


Q: Can we import liveries from past Forza games into Forza Horizon 5?


A: Yes, that’s a feature we have. You absolutely can import them!


Q: It’s amazing to show the works of Mexican artists in the game. What prompted you to do so and what was their reaction to the idea?


A: We’ve talked at length about why we chose Mexico as the location – it’s massive, it has amazing diversity, there’s a big list of things. One of them is the culture. Inside the culture is the music, the art, the people. When you explore Mexico and you start gathering reference and research materials, you notice that culture and visual art really is all over the place in Mexico. 



These beautiful murals, they’re not like on every street corner, but you see them as you’re moving through Mexican cities. And that was something we wanted people to be able to discover in the version of Mexico that we were creating.


So, we reached out to a number of artists across Mexico to try and touch on the different regions that you’ll be able to visit in the game, so they would be filled with the culture of that particular area of the world. They were thrilled to be a part of the project, they were really excited as soon as we spoke to them, and we couldn’t be happier with the end results. I think players will really enjoy going and hunting down those murals in the game.


There you have it. Everything we shared on our Forza Horizon 5 livestreams throughout September. For even more of Mexico in your life, visit the Xbox Wallpapers website to download murals from CIX, Raul Urias, Senkoe and Spaik. Click any of their names to learn more about the artist and their works.



We also shared 30 minutes of ambient sounds captured from Forza Horizon 5’s natural world for your listening pleasure. Ideal for relaxation, work or study.


Catch our upcoming Let’s ¡Go! episodes on the official Forza Twitch channel and follow us on Instagram and Twitter for all the latest news from the Horizon Festival. Adios amigos!