I think the most car fanatic thing I've said in my life is, "That's a roomy glove box isn't it?" So long as the atmosphere is ripe for a nice blast down a highway, I'm happy driving any old rustbucket. And that's why Forza Horizon 4 appeals to me. Even if you don't know your brake pads from your knee braces, it makes the simple act of kicking up dust on four wheels a cause for celebration.
And having seen roughly 15 hands off minutes of new Forza Horizon 5 footage, I can confirm that it does indeed look like a Forza Horizon game. Should we celebrate? Yes, absolutely. Let me take you through what I saw - and for added effect, I'd recommend sticking on some house music.
Now before we slam the accelerator, Playground Games haven't exactly been shy about showing off Forza Horizon 5. They've revealed the entire map and treated us to plenty of vrooms around its lovely looking Mexico. Although, these were deliberately sedate excursions used to highlight the growl of the engine and the thousands of cacti spines and the extremely detailed rocks. To Graham, these were "warm soapy baths".
But the footage I saw wasn't like that at all. Playground Games dropped a bath bomb into the Forza Horizon 5 tub and all of a sudden its cars were parachuting from the sky. This is how each of the three snippets of the game I saw kicked off: with cars falling out the back of a plane as music pulsed and the camera whipped around to unveil delightful scenery. I love a relaxing bath, don't get me wrong, but I felt a welcome rush of energy blasting into my pores, like I'd been lathered up in a sunshine and tarmac shower gel.
Immediately, we're screaming down a volcano in a sporty Ford Bronco 4x4. It's snowy up here, too, with flecks of white amidst the dusty gravel. The gravel is good too, a nice dark roast that crunches under tire. Out in the distance is the full spread of Mexico, before - oh! We're soaring through the air in slow-mo. Then bump, and we're sliding down into the Baja desert biome, a hazy, sandy place, all snow melted away into a distant memory. This highlights Forza Horizon 5's new tech, which lets Playground Games have separate weather conditions across different bits of the map, rather than just blanketing everything at once with blue skies, snow, or rain.
To reinforce this, later we're blazing along a desert road (in a souped up red sports car) when a huge dust storm looms in the distance like something straight out of Mad Max. Of course, we choose violence that day and motor straight into it. And damn, the car gets impressively dusty. It's super realistic just how dusty the dust is. Visibility is - as you'd expect - not great. According to the devs, these dust storms can appear randomly depending on the weather conditions, and they remind me a bit of Battlefield 2042's sudden tornadoes and storms. While not as severe, they serve that same purpose of hitting you with a little switcheroo, which in this case will make you more hesitant to push the throttle. I can see these weather events adding some welcome chaos to some races, perhaps opening up overtake opportunities for those able to adapt better to their swirling sands.
Later, we're in the swamp sliding around some mud. It's strong mud; thre's lovely lighting; Shrek would be loving this; I need to Shazam this song. We've already seen a lot of this bio, but know that it's filled with streams to clatter through and old temples you can handbrake turn around.
Last but not least is a lazy coastal road, taken in the Mercedes AMG Project One - which happens to be one of Forza Horizon 5's cover cars. Sure, the car looks nice, but it's still the scenery that I'm into. White sand, palm trees, baking sun. Actually, screw the super car, this is the sort of place I'd rather cruise through in a bog standard Fiat Panda.
In the end my look at Forza Horizon 5's Mexico was all too brief. I only really learned a couple of other new little details, including that the campaign is going to have a bit more structure to it this time around, and there are improvements to braking and suspension. All good stuff, I'm sure. But really, what I saw confirmed that the game isn't a world away from Forza Horizon 4 - but that's great! This is more of that warm soapy bath or tarmac shower you like, just in a more refined bottle. I know I'm lathering up when it arrives in November.