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Forza Horizon 5: Rushing to review would be a crime with a game this beautiful and chill

I'm taking my time to see the sights, but that means I'm not making much progress.

I'm pretty blown away by Forza Horizon 5, to be honest. The intro, which sees you taking control of a number of different vehicles after being air-dropped into various locations on the map, is stunning, and this sets expectations exceedingly high. So far those have been met over and over again. I'm loving Horizon 5 so much that time has seemingly just ebbed away effortlessly. I'm cruising around with absolutely no desire to rush.

It's fair to say that the Horizon games over the years have felt almost hand-crafted for me, the man who loves Project Gotham Racing and games that let you discover cool stuff. Horizon has always combined a wonderful sense of discovery with an arcade-style handling model that is spot on. I don't think any other franchise comes close when it comes to open-world driving and racing, and Horizon 5's Mexico is the next step in that quest for perfection.

Once again the gameplay is complemented by an expertly curated soundtrack, which too seems laser targeted at my interests to the extent that I've already added a few new bands to my Spotify playlists. There are few games these days that I can feel truly engaged with, lost in without wanting to check my emails, but Forza Horizon 5 is such a game. When I'm playing I'm not thinking about anything else, and when I'm not I'm thinking about playing.

This no doubt all sounds a bit like I'm a paid shill, but it's just nice to play a new game and not be bombarded with niggling nitpicks. Maybe another 10 hours in the magical veneer will have been wiped away, but early impressions are about as good as my impressions ever get.

Of course, playing on Xbox Series X (in Quality mode, which runs at 30fps but still feels tremendous), the visuals here are often hyperbolically breathtaking. I hate it when critics go overboard with praise, but sometimes you need it to convey just how wonderful something is. The sights in Forza Horizon 5 are special and I've only really scratched the surface in terms of discovering the entire map.

I'm writing this in somewhat of a hurry, partly because I have loads of other work on, but also because I just want to get back to playing. This game deserves to be a huge deal for Xbox and for developers Playground Games. It's without a doubt the most exciting game to debut on Game Pass to date, and all being right in the world should do great things for the service and for the Xbox ecosystem.

This isn't a Forza Horizon 5 review for the reasons I've explained, but you can pretty much expect that upcoming article to be absolutely glowing. Enjoy the game however you wish. I'm going to savour every moment.

Disclaimer: Tested on Xbox Series X. A copy of the game was provided by the publisher. Also available on Xbox One, Xbox Series S, Xbox One X, and PC.

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