A Closer Look at Forza Horizon 5’s Beautiful Take on Mexico

One of Microsoft’s biggest reveals at this year’s E3 was: Forza Horizon 5, which the company debuted with a stunning trailer showcasing some of the game’s Mexican locations. Last week I had the chance to chat with developer Playground Games’ creative director Mike Brown and art director Don Arceta about the game’s open world and the 11 different biomes you can visit.

There is a huge diversity of landscapes, including a tree-lined gorge, a jungle with hidden temples, a humid swamp and even a volcano – it seems as if players will constantly experience new and varied terrain. And there must be a lot to see, like Forza Horizon 5‘s map is one and a half times bigger than the one in Forza Horizon 4, according to Brown.

Brown and Arceta both emphasized that there is much more vertical exploration in Forza Horizon 5 than there was Horizon 4. For example, you can drive up and down that volcano (and yes, there will be places to launch your car off it, Brown said), as well as drive through hilly streets in the game’s display of the city of Guanajuato.

Checking out Forza Horizon 5‘s 11 biomes for yourself in these screenshots shared with The edge. The game will be released on November 9 for Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, and PC.

The arid hills biome, which has many rolling hills and pockets of trees. This area can be particularly affected by seasonal changes, according to Arceta. “We have a lake that completely dries up during the winter season, as well as the rivers that flow into it,” Arceta said. “That really opens up passageways and secret areas for the player to explore.”
Image: Microsoft

The canyon biome, where sound can echo around the towering natural formations. “Because it has these big rock walls, the sound of your car engine can bounce off those walls,” Brown said. “It’s a really cool effect when you drive through it in a hypercar.”
Image: Microsoft

The farmland biome. Arceta said this is one of his favorite biomes because of the colors and palettes they can place in the area due to agriculture.
Image: Microsoft

The jungle biome. You’ll see striking hidden temples as you drive through the lush surroundings.
Image: Microsoft

The living desert biome, which is filled with cacti and foliage as well as rock formations and rock piles. “It’s not a dead, barren landscape,” Brown said. “It’s a really vibrant space, despite being a desert.”
Image: Microsoft

The sand desert biome offers rolling dunes to drive around. “The sandy desert — and a little bit of the living desert — gives you that space where when you want to take a car and get to its absolute maximum performance, that’s a space where you can do it,” Brown said.
Image: Microsoft

The rocky coast biome offers impressive coastal views, and there will also be a resort for you to visit. (It has a golf course!)
Image: Microsoft

The tropical coast biome looks and feels different from the rocky coast with its white sand beaches and lush palm trees. “I like the tropical coast because it’s the image in your head when you think of Mexico when you want to go on vacation and just enjoy the sun, soak up the sun and be a little more relaxed,” said Arceta.
Image: Microsoft

The swamp biome has plenty of shallow water to drive through and a distinctive visual appearance thanks to the many mangroves in the area.
Image: Microsoft

This urban biome is based on the city of Guanajuato, which is filled with colorful architecture and rolling hills. It also has tight roads, meaning the sounds of your car will bounce off the walls, Arceta said.
Image: Microsoft

Not only does the Volcano Biome offer dizzyingly high vistas – it’s also the only area in the game where you’ll experience snow.
Image: Microsoft