Forza Horizon 5 hands-on: a Ford Bronco fever dream in the desert

Broncos. all. time.

That was my motto while playing Create Preview Forza Horizon 5, the latest iteration of Playground Games’ open world racing series. Horizon is Forza Motorsport’s cool cousin, with a party vibe, silly race tracks set in lush environments, and of course a virtual garage full of cool vehicles.

playground games

Horizon 5 It’s set in fictional Mexico, making the perfect terrain for the 2021 Ford Bronco, an SUV that I’ve been asking for over a year in real life. It’s the first new model in 25 years, modeled after the first-generation Bronco that Ford introduced in 1965, and best of all, it comes in cactus gray. However, for a number of reasons—the global chip shortage, supply chain slowdowns and the hefty expense of it all—I’m not likely to put my foot on the new Bronco pedals anytime soon. This is the place Horizon 5 Enter.

Horizon 5 It starts with the yellow Bronco Badlands strapped to the floor of the plane, a low slope behind with a clear sky flying beside it. The game starts dropping the craft from the plane, and parachuting you onto the edge of a snow-covered volcano. Immediately, you’re driving at high speeds, following a path down the fiery mountain and feeling the Bronco. It moves like a heavy piece of machinery, leaning on fast turns and slamming into the road, powerful yet delicate. (The obligatory, “I love my partners the way I love my SUV” here.)

And then the next car falls from the sky – the 2020 Corvette Stingray Coupe that drives much differently than the Bronco, flipping on a dime and floating off the road. A few minutes later though, a 1989 Porsche 911 Desert Flyer parachuted past a flock of flamingos, zooming over woodland trails with great handling. Finally, the Mercedes-AMG One, a high-speed hybrid sports car, finishes the ride by racing an airplane.

Forza Horizon 5

playground games

Each launch vehicle has its own sensitivity and strengths. They’ve all finally made it to Horizon, a massive music and racing festival that takes place in the desert of Mexico. This is the main focus of the game, a festive atmosphere filled with bright pink signs, throngs of jubilant fans and a barrage of fireworks, swirling confetti, and hot air balloons.

This is where you have the opportunity to choose a car for the first time, and this is the origin of my car Horizon 5 Mantra: Bronco. all. time.

Not that the Bronco is the fastest or smoothest vehicle in the game, but it does feel like it’s rolling properly across the rugged desert landscape. It’s the car I want to drive in real life, and it’s incredibly fun to maneuver through winding mountain roads, along charming city streets and into the heart of colossal dust storms.

To be fair, I don’t pick Broncos all TIME – There are some races that an SUV cannot win, given their top speed and wide cornering, and I would happily use one of the sports cars. But when it comes to exploration, I’m all about the Broncos.

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