Interview: Forza Horizon 5 Creative Director Mike Brown reveals what makes Mexico so special

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Forza Horizon 5 Cover Image

After getting a sneak peek of the recently revealed Forza Horizon 5 opening, we, as well as a gaggle of other journalists, sat down with PlayGround Games’ Creative Director Mike Brown to talk over the details of what we’ve seen. 

Naturally, as a whole assortment of press we had a lot of questions to ask, and unfortunately not a lot of time to ask them in, but thankfully through our collective powers combined we were able to ask at least a few questions which garnered the response of “Ooh that is a great question.” 

After seeing another assortment of cars within this latest gameplay preview the question on everybody’s minds, which was repeated over and over again within the preview livestream chat, was, just how many cars are there in Forza Horizon 5

Sadly, the final number of cars within Forza Horizon 5 isn’t going to be announced just yet, as Brown disappointed us all by saying that “I don’t think we’re calling out the exact number yet.” After that blow, he did at least give us a morsel of information that “there are hundreds of cars. There are more cars than we’ve had at launch in any of our previous titles.”

With Forza Horizon 4 having 460 cars at launch, we can at least expect a slightly larger number than that, but we’ll have to wait until whenever “very soon” is to learn the exact number that the game has to offer at launch. 

On top of the new cars to look forward to, such as the new cover cars -the AMG Project One and the 2021 Ford Bronco Badlands-, there are also plenty of new features and mechanics which should make Forza Horizon 5 one of the most interesting games in the franchise to date, such as a new event type.

“One of the [new modes] that we’ve been playing recently in the office is called the Horizon Tour. It’s a really low friction co-op activity.” Brown explained. “There’s a little area in the world just at the Horizon Festival which acts a bit like a car meet and you head over there, and there’s all people checking out their cool liveries and stuff, and you join up into little groups and then it sets you off into a little championship against Drivatars.” 

“It’s really supposed to be quite laid back and quite chill. Easy to get into and find new friends that are fans of cars,” Brown said, emphasizing some of Forza Horizon 5’s more social aspects that should make it appealing to a wide range of fans, not just racing enthusiasts. 

While the new campaign, which is bolstered by Horizon Stories, Danger Signs, Drift Zones, and Speed Traps, should give plenty for all fans of cars to enjoy, there’s also an abundance of races to compete in, such as the battle royale Eliminator mode which has seen significant improvements in Forza Horizon 5 through the new map. 

Forza Horizon 5

Rather than being added to the game a year after launch, as with Forza Horizon 4, the Eliminator mode in Forza Horizon 5 has been considered from the very start, with Brown saying that “the world is now much better suited to Eliminator, as we’ve been able to build that level design into the world, thinking about how Eliminator would work and how it would play.”

This has allowed Playground Games to create a dramatic showdown on top of the game’s mountainous volcano which is where the final circle will close. With the expansive biome rich map of Mexico on full display for everyone waiting at the top, “it’s really fun” according to Brown in those final few moments of anticipation before everyone races off towards the finish line pin. 

Once everyone does get to racing down the mountain, through one of the number of routes we saw in the new trailer, you’ll be travelling through biomes that are each affected by seasons in a different way. According to Brown, the returning seasons “work a little bit differently in Mexico” compared to how they did in Britain, so thankfully roads shouldn’t be undrivable for one week in a month. 

Instead, Forza Horizon 5 is more about seasonality, as “you don’t get snow all over the world, as it’s restricted to areas of high elevation,” Brown explained. “When you enter the dry season then riverbeds can dry up, and when you enter the wet season they can fill up again and areas can become really wet and muddy,” he continued, explaining how the weekly changes should facilitate some interesting gameplay. 

Forza Horizon 5

When it comes to the raw driving gameplay itself, Forza Horizon 5 might feel a little different, as Brown revealed that they’ve “actually made some pretty huge investments to our physics model this time.” 

Thanks to the three-year development cycle, which has also allowed them to avoid some of the troubles that came with the COVID-19 Pandemic, Playground Games has “completely rebuilt the way suspension works,” For Forza Horizon 5. Brown joked that this “perhaps sounds like a small thing,” before clarifying that “suspensions is absolutely one of the main ways in which the wheels and body of the car interact with the road surface.” 

Brown went on to say that braking is “another area where we’ve been able to really improve the physical model … so when you’re really slamming on the brakes at high speed the pads will grab the disc in a more gradual way, allowing the brakes to come on in a more realistic and authentic way.”

As if two major areas of improvement didn’t sound like enough, Forza Horizon 5 is also introducing driving modes, which will be available across a variety of cars. These modes will change the characteristics of vehicles during free roam, with Brown explaining that “the AMG One actually has a really significant track mode, which lowers the car, pushes up the wing, and opens up different flaps around the car.” 

Forza Horizon 5 is due to launch on November 5th 2021, where it will be available on Xbox One, Xbox Series X and S, and PC. Forza Horizon 5 will also be available Day One on Xbox Game Pass for all members to enjoy. 

More about the topics: forza, Forza Horizon 5, Gamescom, Gamescom 2021, Mike Brown, Playground Games

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